Dave Allan

Founder and Chairman

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ave is an entrepreneur, passionate innovator and co-founder of ?What If! with Matt Kingdon. Dave loves helping world-leading consumer goods companies grow new businesses and develop organisation-wide strategies for innovation. His belief is that winning businesses of the twenty-first century fuse the adventure, experimentation and commercial nous of the startup with the efficiency and power of the global corporation. Dave has backed this belief with hard cash, investing ?What If! funds and resources into new ventures in partnership with ?What If! clients.

Based in London, Dave sits on the ?What If! global board. He works on the front lines of innovation with world-leading businesses and a series of startups. Recent work includes the the Google Magic academy, developing Pernod Ricard’s innovation ecosystem and Byotrol, a revolutionary new hygiene startup. Dave brings a deep understanding of innovation, fueled by hundreds of client engagements across FMCG, healthcare, media and finance. Plus the experience of developing organisation-wide innovation strategies and infrastructure with the likes of Red Bull, Coors, Abbott, J & J and Citi.

At the opposite end of the spectrum Dave is an active angel investor. He has worked with businesses in events, retail, healthcare, finance and technology. He has the battle scars of both success and failure. This interest also lead him to help ?What If! set up its foundation focusing on social entrepreneurs. To date over 50 groups have received ?What If! support in fields as diverse as education in Kenya, fair-trade gold and drug and gang prevention in the favelas of Rio.

These experiences mean Dave’s advice reflects both the realities of innovation as well as the needs of large organisations to scale and repeat success. Dave is increasingly asked to speak to boards, companies and conferences on topics such as leadership in the age of innovation, building innovation strategy and capability and personal creativity.

A country boy by birth, Dave inherited a love of words from his English teacher mother and business from his accountant father. He escaped the UK to study economic development in Japan and Chile before finally settling at Unilever, first in marketing, then innovation, helping start Unilever’s first European innovation group.

Dave lives near Bath with an artist wife and precocious 8-year-old son who rates his slight involvement with the creation of KFC Chicken popcorn his best innovation to date.

FROM the greenhouse