Interview with Felix Staeritz, Founder & CEO of FoundersLane

FoundersLane is the largest independent Corporate Venture Builder (CVB) in the world. Our mission is to combine the networks, assets and resources of large enterprises with the innovative drive and digital know-how of experienced entrepreneurs in order to create the new digital business models that are so needed to tackle today’s most pressing health and climate related challenges. It is an innovative approach that we have proven works across highly regulated industries, where corporates can harness a competitive advantage over ‘traditional’ startups. Our ambition is to create €1bn worth of start-ups by the end of 2022.


How did you come up with the idea for the company?

I have long believed that if we could combine the resources, scale and network of corporations with the mindset and digital understanding of entrepreneurs, we could create new business models and solutions that make a meaningful impact, quickly. But the most widely adopted approaches today – accelerators and innovation hubs – do not incentivise the right behaviours or set-up organizations for long-term success. That is the conclusion I reached from working as an entrepreneur and innovator over the past 20 years, guiding startups as an angel investor, and helping companies scale successfully towards IPO.

As a proud father and a member of the Board of Digital Leaders of the World Economic Forum, my core concern is to solve our major global challenges with innovation and to co-create a better future for generations to come. That is why in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis, I have co-authored a book, Fightback Now, which offers a blueprint to be radically more inventive and urgently recreate our world in a way that means we emerge stronger.


What advice would you give to other aspiring entrepreneurs?

Corporate leaders need to find new ways to make the most of every available asset in order to realise key strategic goals – staying viable in the short term, shaping the business to ensure a sustainable future and contributing to the structural changes that will help build a better society.

There is a huge opportunity for them to use the digital economy to their advantage and leverage three powerful, but little understood, strategic tools – platform business models, digital ventures and the special skills of experienced tech entrepreneurs.

Our existing models of leveraging technologies are either too short-sighted or too slow to help us deal with these big and complex problems. More than 90% of corporates do not have a strategy and positioning in respect to building, integrating or partnering with digital platforms. We now need new tools and new collaborative structures and alliances to break the innovation limbo. And thus, enter hybrid ventures that redefine the possibilities to unleash tech entrepreneurs.

What can we hope to see from FoundersLane in the future? 

In the face of the biggest global threats, we need to use our assets, from new technologies to data, distribution channels and everything else we have at our disposal, differently than we used them before. Uniting inventive forces through aligned incentives is the key to taking control of our destiny, at every level, and finding innovative answers to today’s challenges.

We are inspiring a growing movement that is fighting back against innovation inertia by adopting a completely new approach. We believe we have identified a great need, and a great opportunity, in the areas of Hybrid Entrepreneurship and Corporate Venture Building.

By invoking a structured, disciplined and effective methodology that combines the scale, expertise, resources and networks of large organisations with the creativity, technology expertise and drive of proven and highly motivated entrepreneurs, it is possible to rapidly innovate and bring transformational new digital businesses into the world.
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