Be an employee or be an entrepreneur? Many talents would like to go ahead and found their own business and also have the capability to do so, however taking one step further to do so is a big decision. Being an entrepreneur, you will enjoy the freedom to work in the way you prefer and do what you love and make success that you own.
However, as an entrepreneur, it’s hard to avoid the financial pressure, lack of resources or manpower, instability and certain degrees of isolation. If there is a third option, to have all the support and financial stability as an employee, but work freely, create real business and bring real impact like an entrepreneur, this would be an amazing solution for many start-up enthusiasts.
What is Sparrow Ventures?
Sparrow Ventures is a company builder and investor and part of Migros which is one of the largest retailers in Europe. We launched in August 2018 with the mission to be innovative and build start-ups for Migros that are relevant to the overall group.
We take investment ideas from different fields, analyze both the European and the US market, and identify potential startup ideas that also make sense within the Migros group based upon their strategy and values. After a period of extensive market research, we select certain topics for further development by building the first Prototype and later an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) stage which is comparable to the seed stage of a normal startup. If the business model and the most critical hypotheses can be validated within MVP stage, the startup is carved-out, gets its own founder team, moves into the growth phase by becoming an independent entity from Sparrow Ventures.
What do you do as a Venture Architect?
My tasks as a Venture Architect widely range from analyzing a topic, managing the project to building the MVP together with the core venture team.
Similar to a real business founder, I’m making sure that everything is on track according to the project scope and timeline. There are days where I am executing like a Chief Executive Officer. There are other days where nothing else matters than a hands-on mentality which is crucial especially within the first stage of the project. If the project requires, I take care of customer care tasks, the fulfillment of orders the same as sales that helps a lot to get a feeling for the product and the market.
Within our daily work, we receive a high level of trust and a lot of freedom. We are our own bosses with the capability to take decisions and manage our teams independently. We are highly driven by our venture projects because we are building them from scratch implying the same roller coaster of emotions as in a real startup. With a highly data-driven approach, we try to test our venture projects extensively during the pilot phase to validate the most relevant hypotheses. Even if it’s hard sometimes, we only continue if there’s a significant proof of concept.
What is the difference between Sparrow Ventures’ startup creation and normal startups?
Having a budget and have a team around you that you can rely on for certain topics is just a great situation. We are supported by our marketing team, product team, finance team. It’s a luxury to have so many people with different expertise working on a venture project. This makes a huge difference. What a normal start-up can achieve within two years if they are bootstrapping, we can achieve within this setup over a few months of time.
What is the team dynamic like?
The working environment is very open. We have bi-weekly meetings where we come together with all Venture Architects and talk about our learnings or fuckups. We laugh about it sometimes and cry about it as well. More importantly, we learn from each other, which I find really nice. No poker faces, no pretending to know it all and can do all. We all learn together.
I really enjoy the teams surround me. We are a group of many different personalities and everyone is also so talented and kind. I really enjoy spending time with them not just inside the office and work time but also after work or during team events.
What motivates you to wake up to work in the morning?
I genuinely love what I do. I have a great passion and curiosity for entrepreneurship since my early career, that I can greatly express in my daily work as Venture Architect. I also really like the varieties of my job. The diverse roles and tasks can be challenging but there’s a great learning curve for personal and professional development. I can’t imagine myself doing the same every day. Overall, I’m driven to put ideas into implementation and lead them to success and even sometimes failure — that is also part of our job. And in general, I like to work with a fun team that I enjoy spending time with.
What are the typical backgrounds of Venture Architects at Sparrow Ventures?
We all have different backgrounds. Most of us have founded our own company at some stage in the past. However, this is not compulsory. Yet you need to have an entrepreneurial mindset, be ready to take risks and be self-organized, have the ability to drive and manage a venture project relentlessly like a founder from the research stage to the spin-off.
This interview originally appeared on the Startup Weekend Blog and was conducted by Emma Beath.