Alex Mahr: Stryber

So here we are! We have arrived at the last show of the year! And we have a really interesting and different perspective to close things out the year with.

This is a podcast that focuses primarily on the world of corporate venture capital, but as we look at corporate innovation more widely, is CVC the best tool available to bring innovation into a larger organisation?

According to this week’s guest, Alex Mahr, co-founder and managing partner of venture-building firm Stryber, the answer is no, or at least not necessarily. Having worked in corporate innovation for many years in a number of capacities including consultant, corporate VC, and now venture building, he sees corporate VC as perhaps a suboptimal tool to rely on, at least in isolation.

The problem with CVC, according to Mahr, boils down to one of its defining characteristics, namely the lack of control. Corporate VC is, by definition, a game of minority ownership, but without a more-than-50% stake, he argues, the innovation won’t show up, as shareholders expect, on the operational P&L.

It’s not that he doesn’t believe CVC has a place, but that it’s not very effective if it’s the only innovation tool used. We talk about the shortcomings of CVC as he sees them, whether taking a shareholder-centric approach to evaluating innovation is the right way to go, and how to best define what innovation looks like in this context.

We also touch on how to manage risk in venture building, where you are the majority shareholder, what the most effective KPIs are, what best practices corporates looking to set up their own venture builders should follow, and more.

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