How do we build innovative, commercially viable companies? What are the biggest challenges in scaling a vertical? And what can large, traditional companies learn and adapt from startups? Venture capitalist Simon Levene hosted a panel with Gisbert Ruehl (Klöckner & Co SE), Niki Kolev (Deloitte Digital) and André Schwämmlein (FlixBus) at DLD18.
Flixbus is a technology driven business re-inventing a very old industry: providing a bus service across Europe. “As a startup, you have nothing to lose”, founder André Schwämmlein explains their advantage towards established companies. “It’s very difficult for corporates to compete with that and develop the same kind of visionary mindset.”
Gisbert Ruehl shared his experiences driving the digital transformation processes within the traditional steel distribution and service company Klöckner & Co. To realize their vision of an open digital platform for the steel industry, they started developing prototypes in a startup-like setup with a small team in a co-working space in Berlin. It’s all about finding the right balance so that a crew can work relatively autonomously on innovation in an agile environment while they can still leverage the assets you have as a larger company, Gisbert says.
What are the biggest challenges? Niki Kolev of consulting firm Deloitte Digital thinks it’s especially difficult for German companies to change their business concept: from delivering perfectly finished products & services to adopting a platform logic which enables them to launch products and services earlier to co-develop them with customers. The whole ecosystem, CEOs, but also investors have to rethink their model in order to nurture innovative, successful and customer-oriented businesses.