SWOOP Analytics celebrated its 2nd Birthday late last month with our distributed workforce face to face, many for the first time; and also many of our early adopter partners and clients. Unlike most start-ups addressing the consumer market, SWOOP Analytics targets the ‘big end of town” i.e. large corporates and public institutions who’s procurement practices go far beyond someone simply pushing the ‘buy’ button. We have been fortunate to have several highly experienced executives and consultants advising us on our product startup journey. We thought we would take advantage of their presence to conduct a mock Q & A panel session, modelled on the ABC show Q & A. We chose our panel members based on their experience with working and advising both start-ups and large corporations. Our panel topic was “How can Startups work Effectively with Large Corporates”.
Here were our selected panel members:
Eileen is an experienced executive and company director for big end of town companies like BHP, OneSteel, Boral, GPT, Port Waratah Services, Oil Search and the CSIRO. We also identified Eileen as one of the most connected female company directors on the ASX in our ASX networking studies. But most importantly she is also an Angel investor in Swoop and a former chair of Hunter Angels, so she was well qualified to join our panel.
Ross is recognized as one of the world’s leading futurists. He is regularly engaged for keynote speeches and consulting advice by the ‘big end of town’ clients like Macquarie Bank, Ernst & Young, Proctor & Gamble, News Ltd and many more about what is coming ‘down the pipeline of future technologies’. A long term friend of the Swoop founders, Ross is an entrepreneur himself, with several startup initiatives on the go.
Allan is the founding director of the Hargraves Institute, celebrating its 10th birthday this year as a leading community for major corporations focusing on innovation. Many of Australia’s leading organisations have been sharing their innovation experiences and practices in the Hargraves community. And Allan has had a front row seat in observing how large and complex organisations are addressing the innovation challenge.
The panel were actively ‘grilled’ by an enthusiastic audience. And the panel to their credit, responded in good spirit. Here are some nuggets of wisdom shared by our panel:
- How can big corporations work more effectively with start-ups?
Eileen shared the mindset is different in a large corporate, where you have to look at risk in a different way. The balance between risk and reward is tilted to risk in a large corporate and reward in a start-up, which is why the majority of start-ups fail. Interaction between the two works well when there’s a genuine need that the large corporate has, which aligns with what start up is doing. Her advice is investors will not get rewarded if corporations don’t take risks, it’s ok to fail which we need to learn to celebrate.
Ross shared that it’s key for big corporations to set up mechanisms to deal with start-ups, like accelerators, incubators and hackathons. There needs to be more structures and governance to support transformation. As a Futurist he helps people think about the future to make better decisions today, that will make a different in the future.
From his work at Hargraves Institute, Allan shared that large organisations are maturing rapidly. His advice to start ups was to find the most mature area which has the need for your service and give them a solution that doesn’t give them great risk to test and try.
- Quality versus innovation?
An audience member asked about the importance of IT security for starts ups and another shared it can be boring to get the basics right, how crucial is this for successful innovation? Panelist’s shared:
- Start-ups need to get their disaster recovery and IT security right, at least to the level of the Organisation they’re engaging with.
- Start–up products need to have their quality right and be tried and tested. Quality is more important than innovation where there are winners and losers.
- Start-ups need to adopt a philosophy of forever getting better in the basics and making sure they’re improving.
- Can Australia become the Silicon Valley of the Southern Hemisphere?
For Australia to further foster the success of start-ups Panelist’s suggestions included:
- Linking the quality of Australia’s research to effective commercialisation on a global scale
- Promoting innovation as ‘invention accepted by the market’ by private and public businesses spending more in this area.
- The Government providing tax breaks and recognition of greater risk.
- Universities taking a what’s best for the whole country mindset versus what individual academics might want to do.
- Encouraging small businesses to be more innovative and teaching kids how to have fun doing new things.
Our takeaway message was large corporates have multiple entry points, so it’s important not to get discouraged and keep looking for the people that have roles with a larger risk profile in them.
Image citation: https://www.tnooz.com/article/startup-chic-vs-corporate-geek-can-gen-y-retention-predict-success/