05.10.2023 01:00 PM

Venture Building: A Decade of Evolution and Innovation in Germany and Beyond

The concept of Venture Building, which may have been a quieter whisper in the entrepreneurial realm in Europe a decade ago, has now evolved to become a resonant voice in the modern startup ecosystem. This progression isn’t just a fleeting wave, but a substantial shift in how budding ventures are nurtured from embryonic ideas to flourishing enterprises. Venture builders, often likened to startup studios or startup factories, dive deep into the entrepreneurial journey, offering a sturdy platform for growth encompassing operational support, strategic expertise, and often, the essential capital infusion.

Now, what makes venture building a topic of animated discussions in startup circles? The essence of its appeal lies in its inherent ability to curtail the ominous failure rates that haunt startup ventures. Startups that originated from a venture builder have a 30 % higher success rate compared to the “traditional” way of creating a company. By laying down a more structured and nurturing pathway, venture builders help to assuage the risks and hurdles inherent in the entrepreneurial voyage.

The rising prominence of venture building isn’t merely a tale of statistics and success chronicles. It epitomizes the collaborative ethos it engenders, the innovation it propels, and the boundless opportunities it unveils for aspiring business minds. As we step into an era where technology is the bedfellow of entrepreneurship, delving into the journey, the intricacies, and the prospects of venture building becomes pivotal for anyone with a zest to leave a mark in the business sphere.

The operational working of a venture builder

Venture Builders adopt a proactive stance, weaving together Lean Startup methodologies, design thinking, agile principles, and innovation accounting into their work ethos. They stand apart from venture capital firms by diving head-first into the daily operational helm of a venture, engaging in a broad spectrum of activities crucial for a triumphant launch. This spans from crafting software to validating business models, and incessantly testing minimum viable products. This agile framework empowers venture builders to swiftly and efficiently conceptualize, refine, and unveil new products in the market, markedly truncating the time-to-market and securing a competitive advantage.

The voyage of venture building initiates with a meticulous comprehension of business ambitions, segueing into strategizing and ideation to draft a robust roadmap. Validation through market scrutinization and customer feedback acts as a crucible for fine-tuning ideas before transitioning to the execution and development stage. Here, the birth and testing of a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) are cardinal. Post-launch, data-driven refinements are made to snugly fit the product into the market, and as the venture blossoms, scaling operations shift to the spotlight. The final leg involves offboarding, ensuring the venture stands self-sustaining before the venture builders retreat, marking the finale of a carefully choreographed venture building narrative.

A ten-year review for a historical context of venture building

The landscape of venture building and startup support in Germany has undergone a remarkable evolution over the past decade. This journey not only reflects the changing attitudes towards entrepreneurship, but also the shifting focus of support mechanisms aimed at nurturing early-stage ventures. Let’s traverse through the significant milestones that marked this evolution.

Origin and Maturation of Venture Builders and Startup Studios

The concept of Venture Builders and Startup Studios emerged as a comprehensive response to the evolving needs of early-stage startups, offering more than just a financial lifeline. Their role in the German startup ecosystem started gaining prominence as they provided a blend of financial backing, strategic guidance, technical expertise, and operational support to fledgling ventures.

The early inklings of this model aimed at creating a collaborative environment, often likened to a startup studio, where multiple startups could grow under one roof, sharing resources, knowledge, and expertise. Over the years, the venture building model has matured and proliferated. From a handful of venture builders in the early 2010s, the number has grown significantly, with more than 200 venture builders now operating across Europe, many of them also in Germany.

Venture builders have made a significant impact on the startup ecosystem in Germany. They have a unique approach to company building, which involves working on a project from the problem-identification stage to launch. This model has proven successful, with startups that launch from studios seeing 30 percent higher company success rates. In fact, 84% of startups coming out of studios go on to raise a seed round, and 72% of those ventures make it to series A.

Prominent venture builders in Germany include Rocket Internet, which is often seen as the pioneer and holds more than 200 investments. In the fintech environment, FinLeap is probably the most known example and has founded 18 companies to date. These venture builders are not only investing but also acting as co-founders, providing the necessary tools for startups to grow and succeed.

The journey from a nascent idea to a thriving business is fraught with challenges and uncertainties. The venture building model has proven to be a boon for many entrepreneurs, mitigating risks, and significantly enhancing the chances of success.

Early 2010s: The Incubator Boom

The dawn of the 2010s marked a significant surge in the establishment of incubator programs within Germany. Incubators such as Berlin Startup Academy and Hubraum by Deutsche Telekom, fueled by a desire to nurture early-stage startups, provided an environment where budding entrepreneurs could develop their ideas. These incubators offered a plethora of resources including workspace, mentorship, and often seed funding, creating a conducive environment for startups to flourish during their infancy. The success of many startups emerging from these incubators created a buzz around the model, attracting both domestic and international entrepreneurs to Germany.

Mid 2010s: The Rise of Accelerators

As the ecosystem matured, the focus shifted towards scaling startups that had validated their business models. This era saw the rise of accelerator programs aimed at propelling startups to the next level of growth. Prominent players like Axel Springer Plug and Play, and Techstars Berlin emerged as notable accelerators, offering intensive mentorship programs, networking opportunities with investors and industry experts, and a financial boost to help startups scale rapidly. The accelerator model became an attractive proposition for startups ready to take the leap towards scaling.

Late 2010s: Focus on Sustainable Business Models

The latter part of the decade witnessed a perceptible shift in the startup ecosystem towards embracing sustainable business models. The narrative moved from merely chasing rapid growth to building businesses with long-term viability and a positive societal impact. This shift was also mirrored in the venture building scene in Germany. Venture builders like Entrepreneur First and Rocket Internet began to emphasize the importance of sustainable growth, contributing to a broader discussion on responsible entrepreneurship. This period also saw the rise of impact-focused venture builders like Impact Hub Berlin, which centered on nurturing startups aiming to tackle social and environmental challenges.

The trajectory from incubators to accelerators, and finally towards a focus on sustainability, reflects the evolving ethos of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Germany. Many venture builders emerged as a holistic support system, aligning with modern-day values of responsible, sustainable, and collaborative entrepreneurship. This progression has not only reshaped the startup support landscape but also set a strong foundation for the venture building model to thrive and continue evolving in response to the changing needs of the entrepreneurial community.

Unraveling the jungle of different venture creators

Venture Builders and Incubators both support startups in their nascent stages but differ significantly in their approach and involvement level. Incubators offer a conducive environment for startups to develop their ideas, often providing workspace, mentorship, and networking opportunities. They tend to have a more hands-off approach, allowing startups to navigate their journey with some level of autonomy. Venture Builders are building and scaling startups from the ground up, often having a significant equity stake in the ventures they support.

Venture Builders vs. Accelerators

Accelerators are akin to a fast-track lane for startups that have validated their business models and are ready for scaling. They offer a short-term intensive program, usually spanning 3 to 6 months, focused on rapid growth and scaling to attract further investment. Venture Builders, contrastingly, can be in for the long haul. They often extend their support up until the launch of a venture, post which their engagement may taper off. However, if they hold equity in the venture, their involvement persists post-launch, transitioning into an investor role. This equity stake aligns their interests with the long-term success of the venture, ensuring continued support and guidance as the venture navigates its growth trajectory. They are engaged over a longer term, working closely with the startup to ensure sustainable growth and success. Their involvement goes beyond mentorship to strategic and operational engagement, making them a more comprehensive support system for startups.

Venture Builders vs. Venture Clienting

Venture Clienting is a relatively newer model where large corporations engage with startups to solve specific business challenges. Here, the corporation is the client, and the startup is the solution provider. This model allows startups to acquire reputable clients early on, fostering credibility and revenue generation. Venture Builders, however, are more like co-founders, partnering with startups to build a viable, successful business over time. They provide a spectrum of resources and expertise, focusing on long-term success rather than short-term engagements.

Unpacking these differences provides a clearer lens through which entrepreneurs can evaluate the support avenues available to them. Venture Builders offer a unique, holistic, and long-term partnership that goes beyond mere mentorship or client engagement, embodying a hands-on approach towards building successful, sustainable ventures.

Which path to traverse: The internal or external Venture Building road?

Venture building has embedded itself firmly within the entrepreneurial domain. The methodology of venture building can diverge, primarily categorized into internal and external frameworks. Delving into the nuances of these models sheds light on the versatility and adaptability venture building introduces to the entrepreneurial realm.

Advantages and challenges of internal Venture Building

Internal Venture Building, a path often trodden by entrenched corporations, aims at igniting innovation from within the organizational structure. By harnessing internal resources, expertise, and knowledge, corporations orchestrate new ventures in harmony with their strategic visions.


  1. Resource readiness: The pathway of internal venture building facilitates smooth access to a corporation’s resources, networks, and expertise, thus mitigating the initial stumbling blocks a startup might encounter.
  2. Strategic synchronization: Ventures blossoming from internal venture building frequently resonate closely with the strategic intent of the parent corporation, assuring support and synergy.
  3. Risk resilience: The inherent risks accompanying the birth of a new venture are more manageably navigated with the backing of a robust corporation.


  1. Innovation impediment: The bureaucratic maze and rigid structures of corporations might dampen the innovative zest vital for a startup’s triumph.
  2. Interest clashes: Discrepancies might arise between the objectives of the new venture and the established strategies or operations of the parent corporation.

Advantages and challenges of external Venture Building

Contrastingly, external Venture Building unfolds beyond the boundaries of an existing corporation. External venture builders, often autonomous entities, join forces with entrepreneurs to construct new ventures from scratch.


  1. Idea infusion: The external venture building avenue welcomes a broader spectrum of innovative ideas, unshackled by a corporation’s strategic confines.
  2. Operational agility: These venture builders usually maneuver with a higher degree of flexibility, aptly responding to the demands and hurdles of the startup ecosystem.
  3. Network nurturing: External venture builders regularly harbor expansive networks that can be harnessed for the advantage of the startups they champion.


  1. Resource restraints: Unlike their internal counterparts, the initial resource availability might be sparse in external venture building, and securing funding could pose a greater challenge.
  2. Long-term liaison: The enduring commitment demanded from external venture builders can be resource-draining and fraught with risks.

Peering through the prism of these models, it’s apparent that venture building presents a multifaceted approach to fostering nascent ventures. Whether steered internally by corporations aiming to diversify and innovate, or externally driven by independent venture builders aspiring to craft impactful ventures, the venture building model encapsulates a comprehensive methodology for nurturing and propelling startups.

Technical innovations and their implications for venture builders

The advent of several technological innovations over the past decade has not only reshaped the venture building landscape but also provided potent solutions to the challenges faced by venture builders within corporations.

  1. Big data and analytics:
  • Delving into the depths of Big Data can unveil hidden narratives and trends, providing a solid foundation for setting clear objectives and evaluating performance metrics.
  • Navigating through expansive datasets, corporations can sharpen their strategic focus, ensuring that innovation units are synchronized and contributing effectively towards broader organizational goals.
  • Moreover, the foresight garnered from analytics can preempt potential hurdles, enabling proactive measures and thereby amplifying the overall success trajectory of innovation pursuits.
  1. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML):
  • The magic of AI and ML lies in automating the mundane, liberating human intellect to focus on the strategic and creative facets of the innovation journey.
  • Their self-learning prowess fosters a culture of continuous refinement, essential for honing strategies and ensuring alignment with corporate visions.
  • Furthermore, the crystal ball of predictive analytics facilitated by AI unveils market dynamics and business risks, providing a panoramic view to make enlightened decisions.
  1. Cloud computing:
  • Cloud platforms are the bedrock of collaborative innovation, enabling real-time dialogue and resource amalgamation among diverse units and even external allies.
  • The scalability and open-door nature of cloud computing ensure that burgeoning ventures can swiftly adapt to evolving needs without a heavy toll on infrastructure investments.
  • Additionally, the fortified security bastions within cloud platforms safeguard sensitive data and intellectual assets, crafting a secure haven for innovation to flourish.
  1. Emerging fields of innovation

As venture builders continue to explore new horizons, Blockchain and Climate Tech emerge as fields ripe for innovation. While not transforming the venture building process per se, these domains represent fertile grounds that venture builders are, and will continue to, explore for novel solutions. Blockchain, with its promise of decentralized and transparent transactions, opens avenues for innovations in various sectors. Similarly, the urgency of addressing climate change propels Sustainability and Climate Tech to the forefront of venture building initiatives, encouraging the development of eco-friendly, sustainable solutions.

Embracing these technologies, corporations can construct a robust scaffold to bolster their innovation units, strategically aligning them with corporate ambitions. This ensures a fluid transition from ideation to commercialization, thus navigating through the challenges that often impede the internal innovation process.

Your executive summary of the last ten years of venture building

Venture Building is a structured, hands-on approach to startup support that is distinctly different from other startup support structures such as incubators and accelerators, which offer resources and mentoring but no day-to-day operational involvement. This structured approach seamlessly combines operational management with strategic guidance, creating a conducive environment for startup growth and innovation. A notable aspect of Venture Building is the integration of technological advances such as Big Data and artificial intelligence (AI), which help refine the process by supporting strategic direction and increasing operational efficiency.

The venture building process is carefully thought out and includes multiple phases, from discovery to scaling to offboarding, using agile methods to ensure efficiency and adaptability. This step-by-step, systematic approach significantly shortens time-to-market and gives participating companies a tangible competitive advantage. A special aspect of venture building lies in its models – internal and external. Internal venture building often dovetails new ventures with corporate strategy and leverages existing resources, while external venture building involves autonomous companies working with entrepreneurs who have been there from the beginning. Each model offers a range of benefits and challenges that are significantly influenced by the availability of resources, strategic direction, and scope for innovation.

The engagement of venture builders, internal and external, often extends to the launch of the company and transitions to an investor:inside role after launch when they hold shares. This long-term engagement aligns the interests of venture builders with the success of the company and ensures ongoing support and guidance.