A while ago, I went to the Construkt Festival, which, for aspiring entrepreneurs, is the calendar event of the year. For smug gits like me who enjoy a spot of people-watching, the networking bits are an absolute treat. Frenzied conversations that graduate from small talk to business pitch in under ten seconds, everyone breaking out the arsenal of buzzwords they’ve been waiting to use and my personal favourite: the exchange of business cards. I can’t be the only one who finds the manner of this networking ritual oddly fascinating: the delicate two-handed submission of the business card, accompanied by a slight, but deferential, forward-body tilt. Always whips up the image of an obsequious squire daintily holding out medieval England’s tiniest tea tray for his omnipotent Liege-Lord.
More seriously though, full props to the good folks who put Construkt together; it really was the ultimate treasure trove of resources for anyone who’s serious about starting-up. I was at a great session on how start-ups can engage with big business and fundamentally, it raised a fair question: why would Fortune 500 companies want to work with wet-behind-the-ears start-ups?
Speaking at Kyron’s office, angel investor and veteran entrepreneur from the Silicon Valley trenches Venkat Raju pointed out that for the most part, top companies inevitably hit a wall with innovation, courtesy layers of quasi-bureaucratic middle management. It’s then that they look outside for fresh perspective; nimble innovators who have the creativity, expertise and can pivot their products to specific needs, but are looking for a foot in the door.
This is where a corporate accelerator, like Kyron, comes in. As opposed to an incubator, the accelerator isn’t creating new start-ups; it takes viable, but fledgling start-ups and guides them to the market. The accelerator identifies the big players’ specific wishlists and scouts for budding talent to fill those gaps. It really is, as Mr Raju puts it, “matchmaking from both sides of the fence”.
Apart from just the funding or prospects of acquisition, the real takeaway from accelerator programmes, I gathered, is the inside knowledge of what companies want fixed, so start-ups can develop a more tunnel-vision problem-solving approach. Kyron picks up promising newbies for its invaluable 16-week accelerator programme. And just two years in, Kyron already has success stories like the recent Yahoo acquisition, Bookpad, on its portfolio. So if you think your start-up’s ideas are as disruptive as Mr Kejriwal on the warpath, the corporate accelerator is the next step forward.