Working with Startups: The Innovation Leader report

Innovation Leader’s Q1 “Peer to Peer” report explores the ways that leading companies are tracking, investing in, and partnering with entrepreneurs and disruptive startups in their industries. The report is a 25-page PDF file, and includes examples and case studies related to:

    • Corporate venture capital
    • Accelerator programs
    • Hackathons
    • Connecting to your local startup ecosystem
    • Providing office space to entrepreneurs
    • Determining how “startup friendly” your company is

Organizations featured include:

    • Athenahealth
    • Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts
    • Campbell’s Soup
    • Coca-Cola
    • Constant Contact
    • eBay
    • GE
    • Google
    • Hasbro
    • Koa Labs
    • NASA
    • Qualcomm
    • Revolution Ventures
    • Tesco/dunnhumby
    • Time Warner

From the introduction:

Disruptive startups are springing up to challenge incumbents, and they’re able to win customers and gain market share faster than ever, thanks to social media, online purchasing, new on-demand labor models, and the ability to deliver service and support efficiently through digital channels. Has your industry been knocked on its butt yet by an Amazon, Netflix, LinkedIn, Uber, Airbnb, Sodastream, Zappos, RetailMeNot, Rethink Robotics, Postmates, or TaskRabbit? If not, it will be.

Yet as soon as a company joins the billion-dollar revenue club, it tends to lower the portcullis and make it incredibly difficult for startups to get in — to discuss a sales or distribution partnership, an investment, a new technology that could reinvigorate a tired product line. Even when the portcullis isn’t down, employees of the company very rarely cross the drawbridge and interact with fledgling companies.

The best large companies are developing new skills related to working with startups. Some, like Tesco, are visiting startups in their native environments. Others, like Hasbro, are holding hackathons open to anyone, to spark ideas about new directions for their products. Disney announced in February its intention to join the ranks of more than a dozen companies that host accelerator programs for entrepreneurs . Not long after, Siemens created a new $100 million investment fund that will invest in startups focused on industrial automation and manufacturing technologies.

Not all of those strategies will work for every company, and starting all of them at once is a recipe for disaster. But companies that want to maintain their status as innovation leaders in the 21st century need to cultivate what we call Startup Mojo…


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Startup Engagement: Best Practices for Large Organizations
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