LIFAS: A ‘corporate-startup’ in the startup jungle

LIFAS: A ‘corporate-startup’ in the startup jungle

26-Mar-2019 by Tasneem Hooghart

Lifas was one of the 12 teams that presented on the big stage, during the recent FinTech & CyberSecurity (FTC) 2019 Demo Day. They aren’t your usual startup though – this team, made up of co-founder Anneke Funk and Marian van Bruggen, is what we call a corporate-startup.

Their journey began with an innovative idea that evolved after PGGM (one of the largest pension services providers in the Netherlands), held their first moonshot campaign in 2018. (Wondering what a moonshot campaign is? Think of it as an internal acceleration program, that gives employees a platform for presenting innovative business ideas). The Lifas team emerged as the winning idea, and as a special reward, they were given the opportunity to take part in the 2019 FinTech & CyberSecurity accelerator program.

The goal? PGGM wanted Lifas to evolve from being a concept, into an actual Minimum-viable-product (MVP)! True enough, at Demo Day Lifas pitched their MVP, and also announced some valuable partnerships between PGGM, SVB and Novem. So, What was their unique corporate-startup journey like? Read on to find out:

Anneke Funk and Marian van Bruggen @ the FinTech & CyberSecurity Demo Day (18th Feb 2019)

First, a quick recap:

Back in 2017, when Startupbootcamp Amsterdam started its flagship FinTech & CyberSecurity program, PGGM was one of its pioneering partners. As a pension processor that fully supports open innovation, PGGM wanted to be connected to the startup ecosystem (and the other corporates in the network who were equally interested in finding collaboration opportunities with startups and scaleups).

PGGM’s goals for the program evolved over the years. Here’s a brief rundown of their innovation journey with Startupbootcamp:

  • Initially (year 1), they came in with the goal of exploring and understanding the startup ecosystem and innovation methodologies. They had one Intrapreneur-in-Residence (IIR). IIRs are important linking pins between our corporate partners, startupbootcamp and the startups in the program.

 

  • In 2018 (year 2), instead of just one, PGGM participated with two IIRs to enhance collaboration possibilities. PGGM also targeted their efforts in specific areas: scouting for startups, mentoring the teams and working towards proofs-of-concept with the startups/scale-ups in the program that matched their requirements. PGGM’s Head of Innovation and Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) also joined in the scouting trips, which gave them great insights into new innovations in the market.

 

  • This year (year 3), PGGM took its partnership with Startupbootcamp a step further. Not only did they co-host Final Selection Days with us, but they also sent a corporate-team powered by PGGM to join the program!

 

Marjolijn Pouw (left), at the FTC’19 Selection Days held at the PGGM HQ

Marjolijn Pouw, an Innovation Manager from PGGM, who was an IIR in the second program said:

“What I’ve noticed, was that having two dedicated intrapreneurs-in-residence gave PGGM the capacity to be able to join all of the events and workshops! One of us could put all our attention and energy to mentoring the startups, and the other was able to focus on the process, making sure that the right PGGM experts were connected to the startups and making sure that PGGMers joined Startupbootcamp’s initiatives and workshops.”

Taking it from ‘idea’ to ‘reality’

Lifas’ idea stemmed from the fact that there are so many websites that share information on different ‘life events’ – but often the information is fragmented, unclear and out of date. What does one do when they’re faced with navigating the ins and outs of the big milestones in life – i.e. marriage, buying a house, having a child?

The Lifas platform is a concise, central source of information. Their website provides you with checklists for all the different life events. You even get a personalised overview, for the key milestones that are most relevant to you, with direct links to the websites hosting all the necessary information.

“When I think back to the first few weeks in the program, I’d say we found the customer discovery workshops really helpful. The business model canvas workshop also helped us think about how to really market our product. We enjoyed the pre-mediation sessions and in particular, the Experiment Design Workshops brought real value to us. Learning how to build and experiment has been an important process for us.” – Anneke Funk (Management Trainee) and co-founder of Lifas

Their unique accelerator experience

Back in November when the program kicked-off, Lifas was still in the ‘idea’ stage. The idea was deemed too broad, as it revolved around ‘life events’ in general (which could basically be any milestone from birth to death). Therefore, they ran experiments in order to validate the market for their product and really pin down their target market. Interestingly, the life event people responded to the most was marriage, and further experimentation with Facebook ads revealed their target market was women between 20-30. And so, that’s where the team started with their MVP.

“We are not some 40 plus-year-old guy inventing things that millennials should want. We know that market because we are that market. My co-founder and I are in our mid-20s and we truly know our customers. We are creating Lifas for millennials and by millennials.” – Anneke Funk

The team got plenty of help from the network of mentors and partners. Capgemini even offered ‘coding’ assistance to help Lifas with setting up their website!

“It was challenging to not have our own tech person. We built the website ourselves, which definitely did slow things down, but it was a great learning opportunity. Luckily Capgemini offered us some help with coding and that was much needed and appreciated!” – Anneke Funk, Lifas

Mentors to guide the process

At the beginning of every Startupbootcamp program, startups are matched/linked with specific partners during a ‘Mentors meet Startups’ session. The matching is done based on interests and in this way, it is ensured that during the key workshops (such as Customer Development, Experiment Design, Business Model Canvas etc) that happen in the course of the program, the startups always have experts that are available to provide them with hands-on help and advise.

Sigrid Stoffer, Manager Business Development at Pensioenfonds Horeca & Catering (PH&C), was one of Lifas’ key mentors during the course of the program.

Sigrid Stoffer from Pensioenfonds Horeca & Catering

Lifas started with just an Idea. They had to catch up. The clock was ticking and during the Business Model Canvas, we worked together.  There was a click and Lifas really could need some help. That’s where we started. The workshops were also of great value for us. For example Experiment Design. Learn to fail fast is a real challenge for corporate teams, so learning how to build and run experiments is important for us and the workshop was really hands-on”.

…Working together on Lifas’s value proposition triggered me also because I’m not only a mentor but also a potential partner later on. For PH&C it’s really difficult to get to our customers. The planning horizon of our customers is not reaching further than a year ahead. With Lifas we can generate more traffic to our portal” – Sigrid Stoffer, PH&C

Lifas today

Not only is PGGM interested in taking Lifas to the next level, but SVB (a social insurance bank) and Novem (Netherlands Agency for Energy and the Environment) will also be joining Lifas in taking their platform further. The corporate startup also has several other potential partners on their horizon. Their goal this year is to reach 10K users and continue on to hit half a million users, within the next 3 years! Plus, they’re also looking to onboard one additional partner by the end of 2019, so if you’re interested, contact them!

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Marketing & Content Lead