Adrián Heredia, CEO & Founder of Byld tells us more about how they build and co-found new ventures with corporations.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Adrián Heredia: We are all good, thanks for asking. This year has been really challenging and definitely a good one in terms of innovation since it has given us the opportunity to be more dynamic, fast and versatile than ever in order to overcome industry ups and downs.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Byld.
Adrián Heredia: During my role as CEO of Sonar Ventures, I’ve observed how large corporations were looking for new innovation models (really) aligned with their strategy. There was a point along the way when we started having interactions with corporations. One of these was the Hotusa Group, which was drawing what would be its innovation strategy, thus getting to know accelerators, incubators, venture capitalists and companies like us. There was a fit with the model and a strong and good feeling between us, so we started to work and created Hotusa Ventures. We did several initiatives (such as challenges, interviews, scouting…) to detect problems, opportunities and ideas. That’s when we detected that one of our startups met Hotusa’s needs. With this in mind, we sold Wysh Travel to them in February 2017.
After Wysh’s exit, I saw that this made sense and I wanted to do it more times, more repeatedly and in a more scalable way. The idea arises with the conviction that corporations can reach McKinsey’s first innovation horizon, defending and optimizing current business. But to achieve the next two, which are focused on cultivating emerging business models and creating disruptive innovation, they require more agility, more focus and face internal challenges (governance, politics, ambition, brand…).
With a journey full of learnings, I decided to embark on a new one called Byld, putting all my efforts and passion there. I founded the company with a clear mission: to combine the startup agility and culture with corporations’ muscle and resources to create grounded and disruptive ventures. As a Corporate Venture Builder, we focus our efforts on creating new businesses covering the needs and opportunities of corporations and the market.
How does Byld innovate?
Adrián Heredia: We like to be as scientific and methodical as possible on everything we do in order to minimize risks as much as possible. We have been able to prove to ourselves that it is a logical and successful structure to execute corporate innovation projects and launch new ventures. Our company works towards achieving two specific objectives: improve the traditional business and grow by launching new business models. In this way, we help protect the current business in the short term while building solutions that will allow us to continue being leaders in the future.
And that’s basically our way of seeing Corporate Venture Building: a new formula for innovation that is more effective, less risky, and linked to the strategy of the corporation in the medium and long term. This allows (i) to face the fierce competence and changes in the market dynamics while (ii) tackling opportunities and trends by transforming them into new disrupting businesses. This way, our final goal is to develop strong, competitive and disruptive new ventures with a small range of failure.
As a result of the success of all the projects we’ve embarked on and of course, having worked in close collaboration with corporations with different objectives, we have understood that, in addition to venture building, our model allows us to define corporate strategies and take on different innovation projects to generate growth and transformation. In this sense, corporations may expect outcomes when partnering with us, ranging from the design of the innovation portfolio, the development of new business models or even the construction of a venture client strategy.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Adrián Heredia: Covid-19 has forced all companies to adapt fast and be flexible due to the evident uncertainty that it carries. One of our advantages is that we work at a high-speed pace, with a startup mindset, and always following the lean methodology within our company. Since our end goal is to help corporations create new business and innovation models, we are always looking for ways in which we can anticipate different future scenarios while adapting ourselves!
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Adrián Heredia: For us, the lessons learned are framed in the speed of reaction, the flexibility to adapt to new environments, but most importantly, to never lose sight of keeping delivering value to our stakeholders even in atypical circumstances. We must say that it’s difficult not to be able to plan ahead in the mid and long term, but that also unlocks other skills that we all human beings have when hard times come: resilience, adaptability, creativity and collaboration.
Internally, it should be noted that during the most chaotic moments of the pandemic, when all companies were forced to reduce their workforce, we were able to hire new talent. When companies were going crazy to make the transition to telecommuting in a frictionless way, our office was already closed, and the team was 100% productive from home. For sure, we suffered moments of uncertainty as our partners were forced to redefine their priorities and budgets, and it caused that some projects and opportunities were paused.
Even in times of uncertainty and changes in the strategic plans of companies, we put our experience in designing and developing solutions at the service of the community through the creation of Ventures for Change: a collaborative platform of ideas that allowed the rapid implementation of initiatives to face the challenges that have arisen as a result of the pandemic. Thanks to this platform, “Apúntamelo”, a marketplace to support local businesses during their total closure in quarantine, became a reality in just a few days.
What specific tools, software and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Adrián Heredia: The way we were organized internally before the pandemic helped us navigate successfully through this time. We follow lean and agile methodologies and tools in every workstream, both internally and externally. Also, the implementation of the OKRs methodology helps us to stay aligned no matter where we are.
Slack, Miro, ClickUp and Google Meets were an important part of our lives before the pandemic!
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Adrián Heredia: In general, we consider competition all corporate accelerators, venture builders and other companies focused on corporate innovation. We compete for the same money, although our model, as far as we know, is the only one that assumes risk together with our corporate partners.
And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Adrián Heredia: At Byld, we have clearly identified 4 differential factors that will help us not only stay in the game but also to drive the company to the next level:
1. Having a tier 1 team with proven experience both in the corporate world and in the entrepreneurial world.
2. Alignment of interests, since Byld bears part of the development cost in exchange for future remuneration derived from the success of the new company, which is identified by the corporations as an active commitment to the success of each project.
3. Unlike consulting firms that focus on the definition phase, Byld is responsible for the execution from the beginning to the end, which is an added value to the client and a key factor by which to trust us.
4. Minority partners who are recognized Business Angels and named within the corporate and innovation world who have allowed the company to have the necessary contacts for the construction and development of an extensive pipeline of corporations that are committed (and or curious ;)) to our model.
Your final thoughts?
Adrián Heredia: First of all, thank you for the interview!
We would also like to highlight that the reasons behind our model lie in the need that corporates have in acting agile as the only way to survive. Although corporations have the means, they also have difficulties innovating quickly and decisively, given their size and excessive bureaucracy. On the other hand, we have startups: they are able to adapt and innovate much faster but often see themselves limited by the resources available and lack of awareness. And that’s why more than 90% of startups die. Something is not working, and we want to change it.
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