Book Review: The Corporate Startup by Tendayi Viki, Dan Toma and Esther Gons

The story of modern business reads somewhat like the tale of David Vs Goliath, in that young, impudent startups have made significant inroads into the markets of the corporate giants.

This is a trend that shows no sign of fading away. Quite the opposite, in fact, as new award-winning business guide The Corporate Startup makes clear. The established order is struggling to keep commercial pace with the innovation factory that is the start-up.

It’s no mystery why this should be so. For years, corporations have stuck rigidly to a tried-and-tested business model based on execution. They continue to roll out the cash-cow products to what they assume is a loyal consumer base while investing heavily in new offerings based on little more than market intuition.

Compare that with the lean startup model, where what they may lack in funds and size is more than compensated for by a drive for ongoing experimentation and adaptation based on consumer feedback as they search for scalable new goods and services.

The question is how corporations can respond to this challenge before it’s too late.

Winner in the Innovation and Entrepreneurship category at the prestigious CMI Management Book of the Year Awards, The Corporate Startup provides the answer in the form of a radical new ‘dual model’ devised by its three co-authors, leading innovation experts Tendayi Viki, Dan Toma and Esther Gons.

This model enables established companies to innovate successfully and sustainably, without damaging their reputation or the trust they have built up with customers.

It is based on the premise that corporations can learn a lot from the startup approach to innovation while combining it with their traditional strengths in executing business plans and rapidly taking them to scale thanks to their financial and commercial clout.

The book is a practical guide that covers all the essentials of establishing an innovation ecosystem within the company – a fertile environment for innovation where different management and monitoring tools are employed depending on whether the product is already scalable or still searching for scalability.

Drawing on their wealth of experience in helping both corporations and start-ups prosper, the authors are armed with a wide range of practical exercises, templates, frameworks and techniques that they use with their clients and which can be replicated to build a robust business without sacrificing its commercial identity.

Each of the book’s chapters looks at a distinct principle or practice of corporate innovation, using real world case studies to deftly illustrate how it all comes together. In Part I, the book sets out the key principles of a thriving effective ‘Innovation Ecosystem’, while Part II shows how to bring this ecosystem to life through good practice.

As the authors point out, the challenge of having to respond to change is not new, but, “What is remarkable about our time is the sheer pace of change in social trends, economic factors and technology.”

This book identifies the challenges and takes the guesswork out of confronting them head on. As such, it makes for invaluable reading for forward-thinking British business leaders, corporate strategists and innovation teams.

The Corporate Startup (Vakmedianet) is out now, priced £33 in hardcover and £16.17 as a Kindle eBook. It is available for sale on Amazon UK . Visit


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