Marcus Funk of FLYACTS is developing trend-setting digital products to help identify and use the opportunities and challenges of digitalization and innovation.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Marcus Funk: I’m good, thanks. Fortunately, my family and I have been spared from Covid so far.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded FLYACTS.
Marcus Funk: I always liked to lead others. It probably started when I was around 15 and became captain of my soccer team.
Shortly after starting my career, I spearheaded the first German Live Shopping Portal as CTO. I set up big development teams and studied business administration with a focus on IT Management at Steinbeiss University.
Then I founded my own startup, flywai – and failed. But I saw it as an opportunity to grow and do better. Since then, “fail and learn from it “is my motto.
I launched my second startup, FLYACTS, one year later – as a first-mover and technology pioneer for modern web technologies. Step by step, I have transformed FLYACTS into a company for consulting, developing digital innovations, and venture building.
During the past 10 years, I have managed over 200 digital transformations, over 30 disruptive innovations and helped build more than 10 startups. Numerous big players, such as 3M, Commerzbank, DB, Fresenius, Lufthansa, Rhenus, RWE, VHV, and Zeiss, as well as hidden champions and emerging startups already rely on the success and innovation power of FLYACTS. We help to identify and use the opportunities and challenges of digitalization and innovation.
How does FLYACTS innovate?
Marcus Funk: Many important factors come together:
· understanding the stakeholders
· analyzing pains and gains
· observing and interviewing target groups
· understanding their point of view and creating hypotheses
· looking at benchmarks from other industries to see how they address the hypotheses
· monitoring trends
· generating and evaluating ideas and solutions
· making these ideas tangible to validate them
· successively mapping out potentials and concrete business, brand, and tech approaches
· continuously researching, measuring, and validating those approaches in order to make adaptations and expand upon them
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Marcus Funk: The effect on the cooperation within our teams as well as with clients was minor since everything had already been fully digitalized before the pandemic started.
Of course, we notice our clients are somewhat uncertain, and the market has weakened.
Therefore, we try even harder to show them the opportunities digitalization offers and motivate and encourage them to be bold and creative.
Our team spirit and company events are an important part of our corporate culture and the foundation for good cooperation. We try to carry on in digitalized form and even have created new formats to exchange ideas – both professionally and personally.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Marcus Funk: So far, no difficult decisions had to be made in the context of the crisis. At least nothing has felt difficult for us. Maybe it’s easier for us because we are used to constant change and transformation, both internally and regarding our clients.
Once again, it became clear that standing up for the values (core values) of the company and staying true to our principles are fundamentally important.
In regard to the crisis dealing openly with the situation, monitoring what is happening with our business and with our partners, talking about it directly with clients and co-workers is essential.
I’ve developed different scenarios early on and introduced my thoughts to my teams – innovation research has taught me this method, and it helps get a grip on the unknown. It certainly helped a few team members to find orientation and perspective. Especially in the first few months, when no one really knew how serious the whole thing was going to be and where the journey was going to go.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Marcus Funk: We don’t use specific tools to navigate the crisis. We were already well-positioned before to communicate and work remotely within our teams and our clients.
In order to stay close to each other and cooperate smoothly, we use tools like Slack, Mural, Favro, Google Tools, and Whereby.
Our culture at FLYACTS, the great trust, ownership, and our self-organizing teams inspire and facilitate this kind of digital collaboration.
But of course, some things are missing that can’t be replaced easily:
– the human interactions when sharing an office
– unintentional meetings/running into each other in the hallways and spontaneously exchanging ideas, small talk
– giving each other a smile or a high-five
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Marcus Funk: The list of competitors for each of our services is huge. But we differentiate ourselves with our years of experience, our mindset, and our culture.
We see ourselves as team players. The sustainability of the relationships and the ventures is important to us. We do not see ourselves as a service provider. We define ourselves by the success of the ventures we build. For us, innovations are not projects with a defined start and end. We build ventures, products, and business models that scale. We work in fixed teams that are interdisciplinary. The units identify themselves completely with the vision of the ventures they build. Team members do not do project hopping or conventional consulting.
Our Teams are:
· stable & well-established
· highly flexible
· burning for the product vision
· contribute ideas actively
· act as a unit
· work transparently
· have direct access to every stakeholder, team member and information needed
Your final thoughts?
Marcus Funk: The pandemic shows the importance of digitalization. People finally understand it as an opportunity to tackle really big social issues, and it is becoming increasingly clear that the task for digital applications is to create values and a high impact like:
Improving coexistence & strengthening society
Optimizing production & saving resources
Protecting the environment & the climate
Transforming agriculture & increasing yields
Enabling education & spreading knowledge
Protecting health & prolonging life