#YouMeEntrepreneur meet Christopher Bowles and Mike Rawitch

Toni Vicars

By Toni Vicars

January 2, 2021

Christopher and Mike work for Ramboll and are currently in the process of starting an internal startup called Galago

Why did you decide to get involved in an intrapreneur programme at your business? What was the motivating factor(s) that pushed you into this pathway?

Chris and I both come from a strong technical background with training and experience as scientists and have always tried to figure out the best way to get work done. At the time Ramboll opened applications for the Innovation Accelerator we were both heavily involved in a digitalization program and we’re growing the adaptation of drone technology within the business. We viewed the accelerator as a way to better understand our technology within a commercial context, find value for our clients, and advance our own careers. How little did we know! The program would completely change our professional careers and interests. It quickly became apparent to both of us that corporate innovation is challenging and fun and we both fell in love with the intrapreneur way of life. Today, more than two years after starting down this path, Chris and I still eat, sleep, and breath innovation at Ramboll.

Emotionally what sort of process did you go through or did you not think much about it and just jumped? Was it important to get buy-in from anyone?

At the time we started our journey, I don’t think either of us realized we were essentially applying for a new job within Ramboll that we were responsible for defining on the fly. We jumped in with both feet somewhat unknowingly! As this realization became apparent it was very emotional to move forward each step of the way and it instilled a sense of pride, ownership, comradery, and competitiveness in the business we were building together. Throughout the process we had to get loads of buy-in from our customers, investors at Ramboll, teammates, and our families supporting at home through a challenging professional and personal journey.

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How has building Galago impacted your lives?

Building Galago has changed our lives in many ways. We’ve made friends all over the world, been connected with some of the most interesting and impactful client projects, and had the chance to completely craft a new career that wasn’t imaginable just a few years ago. There’s plenty of added stress and lots of work, but also the unique opportunity to be a trailblazer of innovation at one of the world’s most impactful companies for society and nature. Our careers have been accelerated by new opportunities and this has turned into a remarkable chance to be the first to innovate in the areas of science and business we’ve been passionate about most of our lives.

Looking back is there anything that has taken you by surprise in the process of building something from scratch

It’s a truly amazing experience to see an idea come to life, change so many times, and grow into what it is as a profitable business several years later. Our first draft of the business plan was sticky notes on a printed business model canvas that we sketched out at a client’s former mine site in the mountains of Colorado. We applied to the Accelerator with that business model, modified it countless times based on our experience with customers and Ramboll, and we have now developed several successful services operating under a scaling business model in the Ramboll innovation portfolio. We’ve already gone places we could barely imagine a few years ago, and we think we’ve got plenty of green fields in front of us for years to come.

What is the best thing about becoming an Entrepreneur? Why would you recommend it? Why would you not recommend it?

Being an entrepreneur allows the opportunity to perfectly mold your skills to focus on your client’s needs in a way that is very difficult to accomplish in many positions. Being an entrepreneur within a larger company comes with some great experiences (e.g., participating in an accelerator and being exposed to the inner workings of your parent company), but it also comes with a great deal of stress and challenges that are not typical of traditional work. Before becoming an entrepreneur, I recommend people consider checking out the first section of the Adobe Kickbox program “Motivations” to lay out what you’re hoping to obtain from being an entrepreneur.

What advice would you give someone thinking about starting a business?

Listen to your clients! During COVID you cannot “get out of the building” as per typical in most parts of the world, but there are still plenty of opportunities to meet clients and learn about them in a remote setting. The more you talk to your clients the better your chances for success as they ultimately hold all of the answers around what value you can provide to them.

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