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Build Winning Ventures With Corporate Partners, With Leen Nabulsi

Updated: Apr 1


Episode 23: Build winning ventures with corporate partners, with Leen Nabulsi




Hi everyone,


Last week, it with my birthday and I turned 32 years old. Excuse me whilst I go off for a moment on a tangent away from tech in the Middle East... looking back over the last year, my single biggest personal achievement was getting back into the sport of CrossFit. Besides having a rockin' career, I do believe that staying healthy and being physically fit is an essential part of being a human being — we were meant to be mammals that run marathons to hunt for food, so why stop moving just because food is now easily available in your kitchen?


To share bit more of what I get up to when not creating podcasts for you behind a mic — my favorite lift is the Thruster because it's a combination of a squat and an overhead press (and what else goes a gal need in life to feel powerful?). Below are some of my favorite in-action pics, taken courtesy of the box that I train at (Crossfit Alioth). If you're down to do a training session with me, just hit reply to this email and we'll sort a time out — I really mean it!


Now, let's get down to business (quite literally) and talk about this week's episode on corporate venture building...


In our latest episode, we sit down with Leen Nabulsi who is a Venture Lead at Rainmaking. Leen focuses on corporate venture building, where she works on scoping, validating, building, and launching new ventures with large corporations. Leen was also the Managing Director of Dubai Smart City Accelerator- one of the Startup bootcamp programs and is an active member within the startup community in the UAE.


Together we discuss:

  1. The process of venture building with corporate partners

  2. Strategies to build ventures that cater to corporate objectives

  3. The importance of relationship building and partnerships (in the business world)



Building ventures with corporates is not like building a startup from scratch


Creating ventures with corporates works differently than kickstarting new businesses otherwise, because you have to keep that corporates' objectives in mind. The venture ideas come from the corporates. Venture builders align with them just like how the corporates align with the strategies that have been given.


Regardless, when building any venture, you have to scope the opportunity, study the industry, and prototype the product. Combining this process with corporates' existing understanding of the opportunity gives an advantage.


The process of venture building with corporates begins with the scoping phase. This is often a 6-12 week process where the assigned team analyzes the market, gaps, challenges, and opportunities, and then conceptualize solutions.


After the early scoping stage, the team presents their findings, blueprints, and action plan. This is where the "go" or "no go" status is given regarding whether to continue or not. Once approved (also known as the MVP phase), where the minimum viable product and visual prototypes of the product are made. After an MVP is confirmed, building and launching phases begin. These take up to 8-12 months as the venture team becomes solid and a go-to-market strategy emerges.



In corporate venture building, the equity owners are the corporates, the venture builder, and the assigned team


When it comes to the founding team, it can consist of experienced founders, team members, experts, or partners. Founders can either join early on and be a part of the scoping stage or they join after. This is because the early scoping and validating stages have a learning curve and a lot of information required for founders to understand the process - and therefore, a bigger equity stake is granted in return.


All equity owners share the upsides and risks. Alignment workshops are a great way to hash out ideas that best fit all stakeholders' requirements.


Funding ventures depends on the available resources of the corporate. The corporate either funds its own ventures or has a setup of funds in place.



Form partnerships to create opportunities for your venture, expand your network, and understand regional markets


Corporate relationships are run differently based on which region in the world you're operating in. The real struggle is unfolding the whole process and finding the right methodology for every market.


When presenting ideas in regions that have mature innovation ecosystems, there is tons of knowledge sharing and understanding of the end goal. While, in emerging innovation ecosystems, corporates are still learning and understanding venture building. So, there's a lot of learning and relationship building!


Partnering up with big innovative companies is a great idea because they have the great infrastructure already, hence, allowing a lot more opportunities and venture ideas that are difficult to execute by startups.


Tap into the right resources with corporates to get the best out of their assets

One of the advantages of working with a corporate venture builder is the massive network of entrepreneurs they know. This provides great resources and international reach. Tap into the right resources with corporates to get the best out of their assets and make use of their advantages. It's all about maximizing and utilizing what corporates already have to create something successful!

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