Funke details the 4 pillars of its business growth setup

By Dawn McMullan


Dallas, Texas, USA


Anna-Katharina Kölbl, head of business development/news media at Funke, is a digital native but not a native of the news publishing industry. So she comes at the question of how to create a sustainable, digital-first business model for the future a bit differently than some of her industry peers.

For one thing, she pays close attention to the small business initiatives at her company, she told attendees at the recent INMA Media Innovation Week in Antwerp, Belgium. 

“New business initiatives start very small, but over the years, they become the new core business. You need to focus on them in the beginning, while they’re still small.” 

Kölbl’s job is to scale revenue-producing initiatives throughout the Funke organisation, which consists of five locations across Germany. Here is her four-point road map to doing just that:

1. Innovation culture

Funke hosts an in-house innovation lab annually, receiving applications from people throughout the country. The outcome is seven new ideas per cycle, developed by 40 to 50 employees from its five locations.

“From last year, we have two projects still up and running, which are very fruitful,” Kölbl said. “People … are a critical part of the equation.”

2. Growth organisation

This isn’t sexy, Kölbl acknowledges, but structure is key to growing an organisation. Funke used to have no cohesive structure throughout its locations. Now it has:

  • New business leads for every location, responsible for generating new ideas.
  • A new business process, consisting of five states from ideation to embedded in the organisation.
  • New business tools to help the team decide if an idea can generate the needed revenue.
  • New business board, which collects ideas, decides the priority of a project, and helps with scale.

“We scaled 15 new business projects a  year across five locations,” she said. “You start with a lot of projects, and you eliminate most of them.”

3. Audience centricity

Cross-functional approaches to initiatives like content-to-commerce across the company have created significant revenue increases, Kölbl said.

“We create content that leads the customer through their e-commerce journey. We are the beginning of the funnel, and we guide them through the funnel. This can play a big role in the future of ad monetisation and is a top priority for the next year.”

4. KPIs and measurement

This is hypothesis-based work, Kölbl said, involving KPIs and testing. 


“Revenue increases 20% when we do this. You have feedback directly from the people working on the project. I call this quick wins. We also stop projects that aren’t working. You don’t have that many resources of people, and they get frustrated when something isn’t showing success.”

About Dawn McMullan

By continuing to browse or by clicking “ACCEPT,” you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance your site experience. To learn more about how we use cookies, please see our privacy policy.