Corporates are finding it ever-harder to recruit talent because “most of the smartest people work for someone else”, start-up accelerator Slingshot’s CEO Karen Lawson told the audience at CeBIT Australia 2017.
Why’s this important? Competition is increasing and corporates are being disrupted more than ever, not to mention, their lifespans are getting shorter. In 1953 a corporate would have a 60 year lifespan, now they’re averaging 17-18 years.
“It becomes increasingly challenging to disrupt your own business,” Ms Lawson told the crowd. Which leaves corporates asking the question, “how do we grow and scale when we know it’s inevitable to be disrupted?”.
The answer? Match-make corporates and start-ups! Ms Lawson shared her wisdom on how the two groups can work together for mutual gains.
Matchmaking start-ups and corporates
Connecting corporates and start-ups isn’t easy, but Ms Lawson has made significant inroads. She told the crowd about her recently-launched platform CoVentured, a matchmaking platform that connects corporates looking to explore the unknown, or partner with start-ups who can help them become more innovative, while creating new IP. In one case, Ms Lawson said a corporate executive team decided “they didn’t know what they didn’t know” and that an idea from a start-up might transform their business. Twenty-four corporates including Australia Post, Westpac and Woolworths, have all paid $25,000 to sign up to the platform.
Understanding corporate accelerators
CoVentured isn’t the only way Ms Lawson works with start-ups. As the CEO of Slingshot, a corporate start-up accelerator, she’s passionate about educating start-ups on how to work within the corporate sector. She told the CeBIT crowd that any start-up accelerator has to adhere to a strict criteria to officially be counted as an accelerator. There must be investment funding, a cohort of start-ups, co-working facilities, curriculum to follow and designated mentors. A corporate accelerator must also specify a specific corporate goal to be reached and a defined engagement process, “so start-ups don’t get crushed and corporates are helped on that journey,” Ms Lawson said.
What results can be achieved when start-ups and corporates work together?
There’s proof in the pudding. Brands like Amazon, Marriot and Disney all have their own accelerator programs producing radical results. Disney teamed up with technology start-up Sphero, who develops app-controlled droids. It took them 10 months to create their Star Wars themed droid BB8. When stock hit the shelf it didn’t last long, US $22,000 worth of BB8 droids were sold in the first few hours. That year saw a 20% rise in US toy sales. Since then, Sphero has raised more than US$72 million in capital.
“You never know what might happen when we connect you with a corporate,” Ms Lawson told the crowd. With more and more corporates recognising their age-old institutions are not indestructible, it looks likely that several corporates will soon follow suit.
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