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We turn insights into strategies

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The Challenge

Before COVID our business operated as a pretty standard consulting business. We provided advisory services and workshops in corporate innovation. Usually we would meet people in person or in larger groups.
Our main competitors are the ‘big four’ consulting firms. While they have better brand recognition and the ability to offer a much wider spectre of services, we compete on domain expertise and on the ground experience. In order to showcase our strengths we used to spend a lot of time speaking at events and conferences. 

When COVID first emerged we quickly transitioned our client engagements from face to face meetings to zoom meetings. But beyond that we didn’t change much. Like most businesses we didn’t know whether this would be a temporary setback for a few months or something worse. So we adopted a wait and see approach.

A few months into the pandemic a couple of things became clear to us. Firstly; this is not going to be over any time soon. Secondly; we are not going to survive long term if we don’t adopt our business to this new reality.

Our main problem was that we were not getting any new business. Competing against the big four consulting giants is no easy feat. They are formidable opponents with strong brands and stellar track records. Our competitive advantage is that we know how things work on the ground, we are actively investing in start-ups and working side by side with some of the largest corporate investors here. So when we get a chance to talk to potential clients about specific solutions and strategies, they tend to be very receptive. In order to do this our two main channels for reaching clients used to be:
1. Speaking at events and conferences – this was obviously not happening with COVID
2. Referrals from current clients – they were also not going to conferences and meeting their colleagues in other companies, so no referrals were coming in either..

Like many other companies at this time, we realized that COVID was going to have a major impact on our business, and we had to take action quickly to turn the tide.

As corporate venture advisors helping our clients benefit from a changing business environment is our bread and butter. However COVID had a dramatic impact on our business and we had to apply our skills on our own company in order to survive. Here is our story;

The Changes

As we are in the business of corporate innovation, taking a step back and strategizing new opportunities is nothing new. Yet, this time it was out own company that was the patient so it did feel different. Here are the changes we have made over the past year:

Switched to 100% online modelAll our client engagements are now conducted via Zoom. This is our default engagement mode and it will remain so even after COVID.

Rebuilt our online presents -
Our website got a revamp. Previously it contained a lot of resources that our clients could access. We have now shifted those resources elsewhere and given the site a cleaner look so that it is easier for new clients to navigate.

Launched a new product – CVC Reports
Strategic advice and frameworks are only effective if they are used in conjunction with accurate on the ground data. Based on feedback from clients we know that you frequently feel that you don’t have enough data points to make important strategic decisions. As a result we have built up our analytics team and we are able to offer bespoke reports on markets, technologies and companies.

Launched an online learning portal – Expara Academy
Expara Academy offers classes Corporate Venture Capital, Venture Capital and fundraising for start-ups. The classes are a combination video lectures and live coursework. All available online.

Launched the VirTech Global Accelerator program
This is a global accelerator for start-ups developing solutions directly or indirectly related to the global pandemic. The accelerator has already graduated two batches of start-ups. It is a great way for us to stay updated on and invest in the latest technology. It is also a great pipeline for our corporate partners.

The Result

With the launch of our new products we were able to capture new clients. So after an initial slump our business is back to pre-COVID levels. Additionally we are now much better positioned as we have products that are timely and relevant in the new post-COVID era.

Going 100% online has also made us more efficient. No more time spent traveling to meetings. No more organizing hotel venues for workshops. Now we are fully focused on the things we do best - delivering the best advice to our clients. People going online has also made it easier for us to work with overseas clients and we have broadened our market coverage during the pandemic.

Built a better relationships with our clients. As strange as it may seem, going through our own challenges in parallel with our clients brought a sense of togetherness in a challenging time. Our clients saw first-hand that our advice is not a hypothetical academic exercise because we applied the same concepts to our business as we recommended to our clients.

Get in touch! 

Are you working in Corporate Innovation and would like some help with:

- Defining best practice for your operation
- Reviewing or benchmarking your performance
- Expanding access to opportunities
- Other aspects about setting up or running a corporate venture unit

Get in touch! We would be happy to assist.


Our clients include:

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