In our fourth episode of the “Platforms 4 Future” podcast, we had a conversation with Sebastian Brenner, CEO of CheMondis (www.chemondis.com), the leading B2B platform for the chemical industry.
This time, we explored what it takes to launch a platform as an incumbent and traditional company and what are the key requirements to become #1.
Launching a platform in the 3rd biggest market in the world
CheMondis is still a young platform, born in 2018 by the mother company Lanxess – one of the largest players in the chemical industry, but developed and run 100% independent. Since then the platform has grown and is now the leading marketplace in Europe.
Sebastian explains: “The idea of Chemondis actually was born out of an initiative that was run at the company to identify digital levers for Lanxess for basically their entire operations. And what the guys identified was that it was lacking digital sales channels in this industry, and I think it was actually an interesting idea and I got fascinated immediately right from the start to build something number one of this kind.”
But usually it is not the point to have the idea of a platform and being fascinated by it, but actively launching it. So Sebastian continues, “If you don’t do it, someone else is going to do it for you.” Simple, but to the point when we talk to companies it’s very often that they don’t face the challenge of finding the right whitespace, niche or market to launch a platform. It is also not the force from outside, like e.g. Amazon, they say it’s just to get things started being in the driver’s seat.
Or as Sebastian explains: “And I think it’s the smarter and better decision to be actively running, that change and proactively transform the entire industry.”
But this is just the beginning, to establish a marketplace in an industry that starts with the right conception of oneself.
We are a software company
Incumbent companies know how to build excellent products, but building a marketplace is different. And CheMondis made it clear right at the beginning: “We are an independent software company. We provide a software for the chemical industry, but we are not a chemical company. And this is a different way of working and a different kind of DNA, different processes, different kind of profile of people that you require and need to hire.“, Sebastian continues. You need the right people on board and most of them come from outside and not from inside the incumbent company. Sourcing and forming the right team is a key part of the success.
Focus, Focus, Focus
After you assembled a great team, it comes to the second most important aspect, Focus. Very often teams tend to dream and act big at the same time. Losing time trying to build the perfect solution or to work on multiple “features” at the same time. CheMondis also went through this learning process as Sebastian outlines:
“And I think for us, the breakthrough was really to focus and narrow down the scope very much.”
It’s easier said than done and maybe the toughest management task, but it helps accelerating a lot, and helps to gain traction.
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Note: This article appeared first at https://platforminnovationkit.com/how-to-launch-a-platform-as-an-incumbent-company/