weXelerate and HYVE are strategic partners. HYVE is an innovation agency and consultant to corporates. wireX Magazine Editor Ruth Reitmeier interviewed CEO Giordano Koch in Munich.
wireX Magazine: HYVE and weXelerate are partners? – What is HYVE’s contribution?
Giordano Koch: At HYVE we have a lot of experience in how corporates approach and handle innovation. In this area, we can make our contribution. We are an innovation agency and consultant to corporates. This has been our core business over the past 16 years. We introduce our clients to innovation processes. We support them on how to optimise their innovation and we set up completely new innovation processes for them.
At weXelerate corporates and startups will soon work in a shared ecosystem. What can corporates learn from startups and vice versa?
Giordano: The huge tankers want to become more agile. Startups on the other hand are fast like speedboats. But they don’t have experience in many areas and make mistakes. They also lack networks and resources. An exchange between corporates and startups can be profitable for both sides.
I had the opportunity to participate in a co-creation workshop at HYVE (read my report). I was surprised how creative my team members were, all of whom work in traditional industries.
Giordano: If you are watching pitch sessions, startups usually appear visionary and confident presenting their ideas. But if you offer similar formats to corporates, it can be quite impressive how they apply the mindset of startups and what they can achieve that way.
Your list of clients reads like the Who’s Who of global business.
Giordano: That’s right, and we are very proud of our client portfolio. We are also happy that it is now possible to offer our know-how to medium sized companies. When we started out, only the top league had the budgets for innovation projects. This has changed now.
Exchange and cooperation between corporates and startups are one of many innovation instruments. When is this method best applied?
Giordano: When you are looking for radical innovation. When you are trying to figure out the next big thing, something beyond the latest product feature. This is an area, were successful corporations are usually weak. Because they are so busy optimising their products and services that they cannot look further ahead.
Enter startups …
Giordano: Exactly. By taking a radical approach to innovation, it is a great idea to take a good look at startups and their entrepreneurial logic. Especially if your new business model will be digitally driven and you are looking for completely new services. When you are building a new product you do not need to produce the finished goods but to try out things.
Trial and error …
Giordano: The faster you move between your prototype and customer feedback, the clearer it will become which product you are actually building and how to make sure it fits its target segment. While doing this, the target segment and the product may change a few times over. And this is basically the logic of the startup. That’s what they excel at. To see how this is done is fascinating and very valuable, especially for traditional industries where people are not used to doing things this way.
What is HYVE’s project at weXelerate?
Giordano: We will set up the Innovation Lab. The idea is to accompany and coach corporates with their questions and tasks as well as help their ideas make as much progress as fast as possible. So on the one hand, we will adapt startup logic and try out new things while at the same time there is a deeper layer of learning to understand what drives the customer. There will be an engagement plan at the beginning, which is basically a learning program for corporates. There will be a consultant to guide the corporates and to ensure a good exchange and flow with the start-ups at the accelerator.
What can corporates expect from their time at the Lab?
Giordano: There are a lot of new things to be learnt and a curiosity to be satisfied: How do startups think, operate, and approach new projects? And of course, it’s important to have as many take-homes as you can.
Can the drive experienced at the innovation Lab be maintained, once corporate people return to the headquarter?
Giordano: This is an important question. Indeed, the integration into the accelerator and also the re-integration into your corporation isn’t always easy and needs to be properly managed. There can be a culture clash when people who are used to a military-style command structure arrive at an innovation lab, finding themselves in an environment with very different rules: “What’s happening here, three weeks into the program and we are still talking about the customer, where is our plan? Where are we heading?” – These initial doubts are over once people realise how much they have achieved in very little time. And then, there’s the danger of yet another clash when people return to their corporate offices and their project gets stuck. That’s why it is important to support them to implement their projects. If this works, it can bring sensational results.
How close will corporates and startups work together?
Giordano: In our experience, the best formats are workshops over two days with a focus on a concrete task. Most of the time startups and corporates will work on their projects, embedded in this innovative ecosystem.
Giordano Koch trained to become a professional cellist. “I was fortunate to realise at an early stage that I didn’t have what it took to make it into top 0,3 percent good enough for a career as a professional musician”. So he went to Passau to study Cultural Studies, Politics, and Economics. For his Master’s degree, Giordano specialised in Economics and Information Management at Zeppelin University in Friedrichshafen. His next step took him to Vienna. While working on his PhD at the Vienna University of Economics and Business he met Professor Johann Füller, founder of HYVE. Giordano started as a trainee with HYVE. Today he is responsible for the business areas of public sector innovation and innovation consulting, managing 60 people.
HYVE has a solid business in Austria, working with large corporations and institutions. „Our partnership with weXelerate is a great chance for HYVE to bring open innovation to the next level“, says Giordano Koch.