In the startup world, we like to jibe the enterprise for being slothful in this day of agility, moving fast, breaking things and all round disruption. However, harbored deep in the startup soul is a yearning for collaboration and partnership, fully aware that to break scale and make bank on the levels that our spread sheets project, needs a little extra that only a well-heeled – capital and market share partner can deliver.
The benefits of partnership and even assimilation are many and it is important for the enterprise to understand their structure and how it fits into innovation cycles. Keith Jones who founded the SW7 technology accelerator out of South Africa struck a chord with me when he made a presentation based on their work over 4 years across 8 programmes.
As charged executives take annual leave for the festive season, here are three pointers on how to play better for value maximization.
Engage with commercial intent
Do not set up offices or programs as a reaction to market trends where peers are busy forming crack squads in the pursuit of what is next. We are also past the stage of sponsoring hackathons for the PR and feel good. Put skin in the game and have an auditable process of engagement so that nothing can be misconstrued.
Many times the enterprise hides behind size as an excuse to why things take time. Setting up processes that allow for ingest and processing of the maximum possible opportunity pipeline will be of immense benefit. Avoid vanity metrics that really don’t amount to much. The key KPI should be how many commercial deals have closed and how quickly those are headed towards attaining a baseline return on investment. Do not get distracted; there will be some level of capital set aside should the organization choose this path, but it does not mean that an independent investment fund should be set aside. Work with others who have this as a core competency.
Your singular investment in time and capital will probably not be sufficient to sustain innovation partners past growth stage. Facilitating access to market and creating network effects is critical to driving transactional value which drives up book value, allowing for the on-boarding of other capital partners and an almost assured return.
Reframe your world and get involved.