July 19, 2023

Harnessing the Power of Startups

Discover the power of Startup Collaborations in Logistics: Insights from Ronja Stoffregen, Head of Global Startup Management at DB Schenker.

Startup Collaboration I DB Schenker

Harnessing the Power of Startups: A Conversation with Ronja Stoffregen - Head of Global Startup Management at DB Schenker

In today's fast-paced business landscape, corporations worldwide are increasingly recognizing the importance of collaborating with startups to drive digital transformation. DB Schenker, one of Germany's largest logistics companies, is actively embracing this approach.

In a recent panel discussion at the COPETRI Convention, Julian had the opportunity to engage in a conversation with Ronja Stoffregen, Head of Global Startup Management at DB Schenker. The discussion revolved around the pivotal role of startup collaborations in driving digital transformation within corporations. 

This blog post aims to share some key insights from the interview after the panel discussion, which offer valuable perspectives on the dynamics of corporate-startup collaborations.

The Crucial Role of Startup Collaborations

One of the key takeaways from Julian's interview with Ronja was the importance of startup collaborations for both large corporations and SMEs. The critical role of venture client units in large corporations cannot be overstated. By partnering with startups, companies can significantly enhance their efficiency, conserve resources, speed up the time-to-market for new technologies, and bolster their branding among customers and employees. Embracing startups allows DB Schenker to play an active role in its digital transformation journey. In essence, startups can serve as catalysts for innovation and growth within more established organizations.

Collaboration with startups at DB Schenker primarily revolves around supply chain, green tech, and sustainability. While these topics are of utmost importance to their core business units, the company's functional units, such as sales, procurement, legal, and marketing, also actively seek out startups. The goal is to find tools, methods, and technologies that drive digitalization across the organization. Ronja Stoffregen acknowledges that collaborating with functional units tends to be relatively easier, given the presence of software and technology-driven solutions, while piloting in business units may take longer due to hardware dependencies. However, the ultimate aim remains to integrate startups throughout the entire organization.

Future-Proofing Your Business

During the interview, Ronja offered some valuable advice for organizations looking to successfully collaborate with startups.

First and foremost, it is essential to align with the company's digital strategy. Ensuring that the organization is dedicated to incorporating new solutions from startups, even when challenges arise, lays the foundation for learning and growth. She encourages companies to adopt a "pull approach" by identifying internal use cases and problems that startups can address effectively. This approach fosters sustainable impact and scalability, benefitting both the organization and the startup.

The success of DB Schenker's venture client unit serves as an inspiration to other companies seeking to embark on a similar journey. While the process may seem daunting, it is crucial to recognize the long-term benefits that collaboration with startups can bring. By actively involving startups in their digital strategy, companies can tap into innovative ideas, gain competitive advantages, and foster a culture of continuous improvement. Embracing startups is not only about immediate gains but also about future-proofing the organization in an ever-evolving business landscape.

Here are the key learnings from the conversation with Ronja Stoffregen:
  1. Importance of Startup Collaborations: Collaborating with startups is crucial for big corporations and SMEs alike. By becoming customers of startups, companies can boost efficiency, save resources, accelerate time-to-market for technologies, and enhance customer and employee branding.
  2. Areas of Collaboration: DB Schenker engages with startups across various units, including core business areas like supply chain and sustainability, as well as functional units such as sales, procurement, legal, and marketing. They aim to digitize processes and find solutions that drive positive change.
  3. Recommendations for Success: Ronya suggests being part of the digital strategies of the organization and starting with a "pool approach." By identifying internal use cases and problems that can be solved by collaborating with startups, organizations can achieve sustainable impact, scale solutions, and create multiple winners.

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