The extinction of the mavericks — or why hybrid ventures are our last hope
The days of the lonesome Maverick, striving only for increasing profits and entering collaborations for their own benefit, are over. Today’s challenges are more impactful and more important than increasing profits.
Once upon a time, the lonesome rider was the hero of an entire era. The Marlboro cowboy, a role model of independence, coolness, and untouchability. A true maverick. Many of them have been active in the business world for the longest time. A habitat of constant strikes for increasing profitability and skyrocketing profits, a rough battlefield for competitors. Collaborations were only made for economic reasons, mainly for the benefit of the more powerful partner while side effects, especially societal and environmental, were neglected.
But these days are over.
Today’s challenges are more impactful and more important than increasing profits. Today, the world is at stake. We’re entering a new era where our societal, climate and health challenges have reached a systemic level. If the corona pandemic happened only for one reason, then it is to show us that the well-being and prosperity of the whole world is at risk and can not be taken for granted. It is the final wake-up call to change direction.
But what does that mean for your business and your industry?
First, we know that without systemic innovation in climate and health, there will not be any societal or economic prosperity in the future. This needs to be understood on every level of a company, starting at the top.
Second, the models we have been using in the past have not been successful — especially not in preventing us from being in the situation that we are in today. Collaborations were more fake than real as the depth of a real relation was never provided. Startups were only seen as an additional entity to provide minimal value next to the actual big business. But it was always a player on the side-line of the game field with ROI as the only measurement in place. Even if there was a great new technological innovation involved — why should a corporate share it with its competitors?
We need a new approach that has the power to keep up with the growing challenges.
The ingredients we have at hand are corporations and established organisations with their massive fire-power. Then we have experienced entrepreneurs, who have proven themselves in being able to build highly successful, digital companies. Last but not least, we have the governments, providing the necessary regulatory framework to accelerate positive change.
Now, we need to find a model that combines the power of governments and law-makers, international organisations, corporates and entrepreneurs of whole industries to collaborate cross-border and cross-industry. A model that uplifts the positive effects on a shared, common, systemic level, not a strict profit-oriented focus of individual mavericks.
Let’s quickly look at the health sector as an example. Creating innovations and products with meaningful impact requires an interplay of actors just as we know it from orchestras: hospitals, doctors, patients, insurers. All of them need to be aligned including the governments and legal regulators to make it sound good. Corona has put the finger on some of the most vulnerable areas to show how outdated our current systems are. To close these gaps and improve the core infrastructures, innovators need access to strong networks within industries, access to market, customers, licenses, etc. A startup can’t have all that. Not even one corporate. We need to align all of them to be able to move fast. The result of such a true collaboration is merged into a new entity: the hybrid venture.
Why can’t corporations solve the issue themselves? That’s simply because the creation of new (platform-based) digital businesses is not their core area of expertise. Identifying the right market-need to build and scale new businesses needs the experience of seasoned tech entrepreneurs. They know how to do it. The problem today? Fear and trust. Corporates need to trust these entrepreneurs and give them the responsibility and power to handle provided budgets and resources in the right way. Even more, it needs an updated incentive system for all parties involved, sharing risk and reward on eye level.
While digital innovation is the key, we don’t have to rethink everything from scratch.
That would also not be realistic. But we need to give purpose to existing assets by rearranging them to new, unprecedented formations creating even bigger value.
Hybrid ventures will be able to dock on corporate structures with high flexibility while working as real entrepreneurs. Being able to do this, hybrid ventures will play the sound of the future in an unseen composition, where entrepreneurs and corporations share responsibility, voice, risk and operative business in a way that every member can optimise based on its key strengths under an aligned mission. It’s a big move by all players in the same direction.
This is why we urgently call on you to get up and move forward into a new era of “Innovation made in Europe”. If you don’t know how to start, we are here for you to talk, exchange ideas and provide guidance in creating hybrid ventures together with you.