Innovation leaders are eager to connect and learn from one another — especially across industries. And the meetups and gatherings we’ve hosted at SXSW, CES and Disrupt always generate several startup innovation takeaways.
So we decided to build on these meetups with a series of Innovation Salons, in partnership with Revel. Our Innovation Salons feature firesides and panels, a Startup Showcase with curated fast pitches, and a networking reception.
Verizon hosted us at their innovation space in New York, and Comcast NBCUniversal welcomed us to its brand-new Comcast Technology Center in Philadelphia. These locations first and foremost help set the tone and inspire attendees. They also give corporate innovators a peek into how their peers operate.
Our Innovation Salon speakers — from Verizon, Estee Lauder, Diageo, Comcast, Dow Chemical and Techstars — have openly shared their hard-earned insights. And Innovation Salon attendees have peppered them with great questions based on their experiences and frustrations.
All of us working in innovation understand that no one has all the answers or everything figured out. But the willingness to discuss successes and failures helps everyone get closer to their objectives.
The 10 startup innovation takeaways here represent only a fraction of our Innovation Salon speakers’ pure-gold nuggets. Some address strategy and mindset while others focus on tactics. Indeed, you can likely imagine the experiences informing many of them.
Please feel free to share these startup innovation takeaways with your colleagues and peers. If you’d like to host an Innovation Salon in your city or know when we’re headed your way, ping firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. When considering effort to work with startups, remember: the fear of not changing must be greater than the fear of change.
2. The customer experience presents a huge opportunity for companies to find and implement new innovations. The key: use tech that improves the customer experience, not solely for the sake of something shiny and new.
3. Structure teams in small units so they can act like startups. Otherwise you wind up waterfalling your way into development, and you have to go slowly.
4. Bringing in new talent and merging it with legacy talent helps in navigating the startup ecosystem. It also translates to the legacy business and can accelerate innovation success and adoption.
5. In innovation, “the answers” do not come solely from the world of startups or the corporation. Rather, they come from combining startups+enterprise to benefit both organizations as well as the partnership itself.
6. Take an attitude of “give first” with startups. That doesn’t mean “give always” — but demonstrate that you value integrity and community.
7. When speaking with leadership about ROI of the opportunities being explored, make sure you have the right message and KPIs for the CFO vs CDO vs CEO. Communicate in a way that your stakeholder will understand how it relates to them. Also, having the right or wrong people in the room can alter that conversation. Be tactical in your approach.
8. To help ensure successful startup+enterprise partnerships, 1) set clear expectations of what will be done and measured and 2) be clear in communications. This includes having startups articulate the value proposition and ensuring startups listen to the needs of the enterprise and express their value in a way the enterprise understands.
9. It’s important for your organization to have coaches/mentors for startups because they need an insider to guide them on corporate culture.
10. Companies must have a startup-friendly process in many areas, including IT reviews, payment terms and contracts. Six months pass very differently for them than for you.
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