FightBack: A guidebook for disruptive growth in the digital era

Felix Staeritz
Dec 9, 2019 · 5 min read

How to win in the digital economy with platforms, ventures, and entrepreneurs

Digitalisation will disrupt every corporation, in time. Trusted mindsets and existing business models are collapsing, corporations are struggling to react to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, by risking too little, transforming too slowly.

We need to wake up. We need to fight back. Because we all share the responsibility. As decision-makers across industries and sectors, it is our duty to ensure that the changes we make today will have an enduring impact on the future.

CEOs like myself are starting to recognise that the threat of disruption can only be countered, in the longer term, by embracing a more radical approach.

But what is this new approach?

In FightBack the book, due to appear on bookshelves in January 2020, Simon Torrance and I combined our experience of working with leading companies at FoundersLane — a founders-driven corporate venture builder — with detailed analysis of 1,000 corporate financial statements, along with extensive international research with dynamic entrepreneurs to lay the foundations for a new approach for corporates to stay in a leading position, as their industry digitalises.

Fightback is a blueprint that will enable business leaders to use the digital economy to their advantage by leveraging three powerful, but little understood, strategic tools — platform business models, digital ventures and the unique skills of tech entrepreneurs.

Businesses need to understand which digital business models they can and should be building. As asset-rich corporations, they are in a privileged position to leverage their untapped assets. What we’ve experienced working with giants like Vattenfall, Trumpf, Adidas etc is that these companies are crying out for a new way. They have all tried the classic digital transformation approach, touted by the big consultancies, and the results have been disappointing, to say the least.

Leaders know that they need to adapt to this rapidly changing digital economy, and they are on the lookout for business models that are strategically relevant — for a new advantage.

In the book, CEOs of top global corporations, world’s top digital thought leaders, luminaries of academia, and hand’s on practitioners (blue chip consultants), came together, and the result is a powerful playbook for corporate rejuvenation.

Hear the insider stories of how the business leaders like Gisbert Rühl, CEO of Klöckner & Co SE managed to convince the board to create a digital platform.

I had to communicate with our stakeholders, the supervisory board and the investors.” It was difficult to explain to them that all of a sudden we would be helping our fiercest competitors do business against us on a new digital platform that we had introduced.” ~CEO Klöckner & Co SE, Gisbert Rühl

Indeed, platform-powered business models consistently perform better than linear businesses on every measure — growth, margins, return on assets and market capitalisation. You can see the way valuations of the top platform-based companies have pulled far ahead of the Nasdaq, Dow and DAX averages in the last three years, simply because investors have recognised they are inherently more profitable.

Exponential growth

Above all, what we wanted to do with the book was address the following:

  • What is the real driving force behind the new digital business models that are disrupting every industry?
  • What are the key elements of adapting and/or competing with them?
  • How do globally leading corporations react by changing their approach and strategies?
  • What are the essential tools for a new approach, i.e. allocation of capital to digital investments, attracting young entrepreneurial talents, how do they function?
  • How to create the most effective organisational set-up to take advantage of new high margin digital growth opportunities fast and how to create a portfolio of digital ventures that could become more valuable than the core business.
  • Understand how to rapidly create new high growth/high margin digital ventures in practice.

The entrepreneurial DNA

“You have to have risk awareness, the confidence to take decisions and a willingness to take on accountability and ownership, the things they don’t teach you at university,” says Daniel Krauss, Co-Founder of Flixbus, which he reveals in an in-depth interview (exclusive to the book) about how he built a mobility empire, spanning 29 countries and providing transport for over 100 million people.

Michael Stephanblome, Co-Founder of FoundersLane, echoes that sentiment:

“Entrepreneurs — because they operate, especially in the early days, in areas of high risk — are mostly incredibly risk-aware. They’re constantly trying to assess probabilities, weigh up the situation and make sure they take only calculated risks.”

This attribute is in stark contrast to the traditional managerial mindset, with its addiction to planning, its carefully calculated KPIs and its underlying assumption that tomorrow will always be just like today.

Delivery Hero, founder, Markus Fuhlman laments the fact that

“Corporate guys don’t treat venture building as R&D. “They aren’t prepared to tolerate failure in the corporations with a uniquely effective way to fight back against today’s inertia and tomorrow’s threats of disruption.

Time for a radically new approach

If you are on the leadership team of a large organization, you have probably already realised that you can’t radically change a business model within your core business — it’s like solving a Rubix cube on a rollercoaster.

Why? There’s always a good reason to snuff out a new initiative. The voices around the table always seem to sing from the same hymn sheet. “Too far outside our area of expertise.” “Too risky.” “Return on investment is too long.” “Reputations at stake if we fail.” “Even if we succeeded, think what it might do to our existing business.” “We know what our customers want and this isn’t it.”

The Entrepreneurial Co-Creation model

A new approach called the Entrepreneurial Co-Creation model — ECC, for short — is already helping a wide range of incumbent businesses, including long-established market leaders across many different sectors and geographies. The new methodology devised by proven entrepreneurs — documented in the book — guides large organisations and inspired entrepreneurs to collaborate with remarkable results.

We talk in extensive detail in the book about the organisational structure that best supports the ECC method. The process has already been implemented successfully by companies of different sizes, from $250 million to $130 billion, in many different countries (including the UK, Sweden, Germany, Austria, Finland and Russia) and in a broad range of industries, from banking and insurance to energy, logistics, packaging, construction, mobility, retailing and infrastructure services.

The process involves five stages, leading from the realms of research and imagination to the launch and rapid expansion of a high-impact digital venture or platform business. The five stages are documented in-depth within FightBack the book.

For a sneak preview of the book click the link:

It’s time to fight back!

The Fightback Movement & Book

Felix Staeritz

Written by

Founder at FoundersLane, the leading independent corporate venture builder. Entrepreneur-driven digital ventures built for the future.

The Fightback Movement & Book

We are forward-thinking entrepreneurs, investors, policy-makers, and CXOs​ driving digital change in Europe.

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