Last Tuesday, Munich Business School welcomed Gregor Gimmy, founder and CEO of 27pilots, to a guest lecture. Students of the program Master Innovation and Entrepreneurships received exciting insights on “How can companies benefit strategically from startups?” and learned all about the Venture Client Model, which Gregor developed at BMW in 2014. He also reported on the first Venture Client Unit, the BMW Startup Garage, which he set up with his colleague Matthias Meyer in 2015. Due to the success of the BMW Startup Garage he founded 27pilots in 2018 with Matthias Meyer, Carolina Alex and Max Marquart. The goal of the founders: to help other companies to build and operate Venture Client Units.
Achieving competitive advantages with startups.
After three years in the BMW innovation strategy, Gregor Gimmy faced the following challenge: How can you profit from many more top start-ups faster, cheaper and with less risk than is possible with traditional corporate venturing vehicles such as Corporate Venture Capital or Accelerators? Because startups have unique and protected intellectual property to solve complex problems quickly. They use billions of venture capital to turn their ideas into top products that best meet the challenges of large companies. Companies that manage to make the best use of the best start-ups achieve considerable competitive advantages. The solution: The Venture Client Model.
Venture Client Model: Profit from Top Start-ups
How does the Venture Client Model work and how does it differ from CVC and Accelerators? The key feature is that the company does not become an investor but a client of the start-up. As a venture client, it buys the product, not the shares of the start-up. It is elementary that the product is immediately used by the company’s employees in a real use case and is not developed further together with the start-up. As a result, the company immediately achieves strategic advantages without delaying an investment or an accelerator program. In addition, the company gets to know the new technology immediately and complex problems can be solved directly. This saves costs or increases revenues. After the first “Venture Client Purchase” and the piloting of the product, the company can now decide with low risk how to proceed: a long-term partnership, adapted to the results, or an acquisition?
However, it is not easy to find exactly those startups out of millions that can solve business problems. In addition, it is a complex undertaking to directly apply the start-up technology, which is often not yet tested. Therefore, a solid Venture Client Model, i.e. specific processes and proven resources, is needed to achieve strategic advantages via start-ups.
Create your own Venture Client Unit with 27pilots
Spurred on by the success of the BMW Startup Garage, 27pilots was created in 2018. 27pilots supports companies in creating their own Venture Client Unit. In the meantime, the founders have successfully established Venture Client Units in several companies from various industries with different business models and organizational structures (e.g. BSH, household appliances, and LafargeHolcim, cement), proving that the model can work for any company!
The online guest lecture was moderated by Academic Director Prof. Dr. Anne Tryba. Numerous students participated via MS Teams and took advantage of the chat function to interact. We would like to thank Gregor Gimmy for his exciting lecture and are curious to see whether one or the other research project will develop from the Venture Client Model.
For more information about the Venture Client Model, we recommend to visit Venture Client Units. Furthermore, a Havard Business Review publication is available for download. On the website of 27pilots you can find further publications on the topic.