On December 8th I had the amazing opportunity to join the group that is at the avant-garde of corporate innovation. I was invited to share my perspective on Venture Building and Portfolio Management at the Innov8rs Connect Conference from my experience as a startup founder.

I remember exactly one year ago, I was watching these exact talks, with awe, amazement, and brightness in my eyes, like a child seeing the Avengers in action for the first time.

And it really moved and humbled me to then see a couple of these same “idols” actually watching my talk this time and…


In the last couple of weeks, the main buzz going around the tech and innovation scene was the shutdown of Hollywood’s hyped entertainment/tech company Quibi. As I read through all the news and articles talking about what seems to be the innovation flop of the pandemic era, I couldn't help but notice so many patterns and similarities with the 2000s dot-com bubble.

To be fair, the last thing I want to do in this article is to sound like a nasty critic/hater, pointing out what went wrong in hindsight. That is very easy to do when you don't have skin…

Photo by SpaceX on Unsplash

In a previous article, I did a deep dive into how Lean succeeds in great start-ups and how this success does not always translate in large corporations. Often, these corporations fail because they’re matching Apples to Peaches.

The Lean methodology is driven by internet-age thinking models. It is fluid, fast, and largely free of the rigid, multi-level oversight that underlies the core business processes of large corporations. Successful startups that have applied the methodology admittedly benefit from an agility driven by their small size. But that’s not their only advantage. …

Photo by Li Lin on Unsplash

Why do large companies struggle with Lean Startup? The answer to this question can often depend on where you are considering the problem from.

Many experts have tried to address the question already. Some, very well, like Steve Blank in his recent interview with the MIT Sloan Review, others, not as much. But one thing is certain… I will not bore you with another shot at trying to do so.

Instead, this article is devoted to providing a more pragmatic approach to what large corporations must do to avoid failing with Lean Startup. While many have pointed at different reasons…

Unless you’re either an economist, work in the financial markets, or is a modern economy history buff, chances are you’ll have a short-term memory for these kinds of things, but working for many years as a trader and portfolio manager, most of the economic crisis that happened during my adult life are still very vivid memories in my brain (and also the reason I insanely called my friends to buy stocks when the COVID-19 outbreak collapsed the markets — you’re welcome for the 40% there, buddies).

When I decided to leave the stock market to build startups in the early…

It has been for too long that corporate innovators have been losing their sleep… well, better yet, their budgets, to other business units in board meetings, simply because innovation “doesn’t generate short-term revenue”, or “is only accounted as a cost and liability”, and my favorite one: “is more of an art than a science that can be measured”.

This might have been true in the past but in the data-driven world we live in today, that is no excuse. The good news is that it is fairly simple to start bringing up strong arguments to counter the ones above during…

There’s no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has hit individuals and businesses hard all over the world.

Reports indicate that in the US, more than 3 million people have filed for unemployment already this year and in their best estimates, experts predict that the economic turmoil of the pandemic will cost the global economy trillions of dollars. Essentially, we’re smack in the middle of a global crisis of unprecedented proportions.

For most businesses, the natural instinct at this time would be to enter into disaster management mode. …

How far are we from having true ambidextrous corporations as the norm? When is corporate innovation, in the 2020 sense of it, finally going to become mainstream? Companies that have the ability to both focus on their core business and yet, still look forward and truly invest in new, disruptive (and, yes, quite uncertain) horizons of innovation? Why is it taking so long? Because more and more I feel that companies are napping at their posts and letting startups come in and take over.

We all know the famous cases of empires that got buried by innovative companies, like Blockbuster…

Rafael Chaves Lopes

I help corporate innovators measure and improve innovation R&D performance.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store