Magic Ventures — Turning Passion into a Business Strategy

By Matthias Roebel

“We just delivered our first wine in Hong Kong!“ — proudly receiving such a message is exactly why we founded MING Labs in 2011. This might be a bit of a surprising statement, but it actually describes the reality very well.

Let’s take a step back: We started a user experience design company five years ago, as we strongly believed in the differentiating factor of good design for digital products and new business ideas in general.

We successfully built a world-class team of more than 60 designers, developers, and creative consultants over the years, and supported many big clients around the world in revamping their digital experiences with mobile applications, responsive websites, and all sorts of other digital products. And indeed, we are very proud of this outstanding team making magic happen for our clients every day.

Dare to Fail

However, we also started to co-venture with entrepreneurs very early on in our company history. Actually, it was as early as 2011, when we supported a Valley-based venture called Emota with our design services — and hey, they made it to CES 2012! Unfortunately, they didn’t make it much further — despite the great idea (a platform to connect generations from TV to Facebook including a smart device). They were lacking a clear go-to-market strategy.

In addition to that, we had a lot of own ideas and, consequently, also tried to build our own products and what we believed to be start-ups. For example, we created a really slick hyperlocal flirting app called Qutee, which we brought to beta launch in Shanghai. But we were missing the execution team to bring the app into the market, and a real founder to actually drive the whole thing.

Never Give Up and Make the Right Choice

We had learned an important lesson: It really is all about the team. There are myriads of good ideas out there. But without the right people and a lot of focus, they would probably never take off.

Going forward, we decided to focus on co-venturing with business founders. They bring the expertise how to best roll out a new product or service, while we know — from 100+ projects over the last years — how to build the best digital experience around it.

One of our most successful co-venturing businesses is BottlesXO. Just half a year after launching their one-hour wine delivery service in Shanghai, they proved that they can indeed scale their business. So finally in December 2015, CEO, Mischa Schulze gave me a ring and told me about the first wine that had just been delivered in Hong Kong. Even better: 10+ Asian cities would follow shortly.

BottlesXO

Magic Ventures — „From Founders for Founders“

Success is not exactly predictable, though you can certainly help it along. At MING Labs, we do so at the very beginning of every project with our Magic Sprint. Having designers, developers, and business owners at the table turning everything upside-down, helps a great deal to set the right direction for the venture to come.

After 2–3 weeks, the minimal viable product (MVP) is usually defined — including visual design directions as well as the alignment with marketing and sales strategy.

And not to forget: time to market is another crucial success factor. If possible, we work towards a beta launch within 3–5 months after project kick-off. If the topic is a bit more complex, it may also take a bit longer. But even if hardware engineering (like in the case of Luke Roberts — the world's smartest lamp) or packaging design (we did this for Pumperlgsund’s Good Eggwhites) are involved — first tangible results can be seen in half a year.

Pumperlgsund

In the end, it all comes down to our mantra „From Founders for Founders“. With our experience, we enable business founders to become tech entrepreneurs. We can help them to avoid costly mistakes when it comes to design and development, so they can focus on bringing their product to market. If you are interested in some more examples, have a look.

Accelerating the Way Forward

We are constantly looking for entrepreneurs with great ideas, and are currently already working with a fresh batch of start-ups that will launch in 2016. A big variety of different founders and topics, all of them amazing in their own right.

If you think we would be the right partner for you, then please reach out to us. We will be more than happy to discuss your venture idea with you. If there’s a fit, we’ll be your dedicated partner to create your corporate identity — including a brilliant logo, product packaging, and whatever else might be needed. We will design and develop your app, website, or any other user interface with a magic touch. And of course, we will connect you with our global network of start-up entrepreneurs and investors to maximize mutual synergies.

We also very much welcome corporations who want to explore co-venturing or risk-sharing engagement models, to discuss their innovation projects with us.

As we believe so strongly in the mutual benefits of our Magic Ventures model, we’ve decided to actively look for investors who are interested in accelerating our current activities, to eventually create a full-blown venture builder.