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The Interplay of Entrepreneurisms

Over the past twelve newsletters, I have walked you through the 9 Entrepreneurisms. I hope you will have come to the conclusion that it's not possible to have all, or what we call a “full hand”. You can’t focus on Realism, yet be Risk-taking or Innovative. The Entrepreneurisms you need to embed in your organization will vary with the stage of the company, the environment and the team you have.


Having the right team is as important as getting the “Business Frame” right. That’s because the frame defines both what you have and what you don’t, where you are and where you are going. Self-efficacy can only be achieved by getting the right people in at the right time, something that kills almost every startup.


This week let me share our observations of Nestle and its love-child Nespresso;


Nestlé acquired the underlying technology in 1974 and yet took more than 24 years to make it a success. Why it took so long is an interesting story. The concept was simple: Take high-quality ground coffee, pack it in aluminum capsules, to prevent degradation and then use a specialized machine to deliver high-pressure steam, for a premium, barista-equivalent cup of coffee. 

Nestlé was already a dominant player in the instant coffee business with Nescafe, but it was not participating in the newly emerging gourmet coffee business. It correctly decided that a small initiative like this could be crushed by the bureaucracy of a large corporation, and hence incorporated Nestlé Coffee Specialties to work independently on this initiative. They developed the machine and after struggling for a while decided to bring in an outsider.

In 1988, Nestlé recruited Jean-Paul Gaillard, from Phillip Morris, where he had proven his entrepreneurial mind-set by launching a fashion line under the Marlboro brand. Gaillard was able to overcome the prevailing culture and restructure the business by licensing machine production, selling through in-store demos, creating the Nespresso Club and allowing for on-line purchase and delivery of orders. By the time Gaillard left 10 years later, Nespresso was firmly established. By 2014, Nespresso was a $5 billion business, almost a quarter of the Nescafe coffee business, which was established in 1938, 50 years before Gaillard was recruited. Nespresso remains an independently-run company of Nestlé.

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