SwitchPitch is Atlanta-Bound in October to Connect Startups and Enterprise Companies

A role-reversal experience where big brands pitch funded innovation programs to qualified startups

It is not networking. It is deal-making. Established companies are looking to invest in startups by aligning their technology offerings with internal innovation projects. However, large companies often lack the bandwidth to network with credited startups, leaving holes in their developmental program, until now. SwitchPitch, presented by the Metro Atlanta Chamber and Invest Atlanta, is coming to Atlanta, Thursday, October 15 at 1:30 p.m. at FlatironCity. This role-reversal event allows enterprise companies to pitch funded innovation projects to qualified startups looking for the right partners.

“SwitchPitch has successfully connected startups and large companies through live events in targeted locations for three years. Atlanta continues to be a hot market for startup and tech activity and this event offers the perfect breeding ground for connecting big brands to startup resources,” says Michael Goldstein, founder of SwitchPitch.

Not only will this year’s event offer ample time for networking, there will also be an after- party that will include a post-event wrap up discussion where enterprise companies and entrepreneurs have the opportunity to discuss their experience with SwitchPitch and learn more about the newly renovated FlatironCity.

Call for presenters
During the event, large companies have the opportunity to meet and engage with some of the most innovative minds in their communities, allowing for the possibility of long-term relationships. Big brands in the Atlanta area interested in presenting will be joined by brands such as Global Payments and The Weather Company on stage.

“Bringing together a group of entrepreneurs in the early stages of their companies’ development to listen to the challenges that larger companies need to solve creates an environment for creativity and innovation,” explains Ashok Vantipalli. Vice President of Technology at American Cancer Society. “We recently participated in SwitchPitch in D.C. and the experience was remarkable, we were not only able to access local talent and ideas but a national startup network as well, SwitchPitch offers a unique opportunity to build a network, solve problems and foster innovation.”

Startup participation
Startups looking to broaden their network and interact with leaders from enterprise companies within the region are encouraged to register to attend. As part of the agenda, all startups will have the opportunity to listen to pitches presented by big brands as well as attend a speed dating session in which each startup will have time to discuss specific needs and projects with the brands in attendance.

“Since its launch, SwitchPitch has generated $2 million in revenue for startups across the U.S. by holding annual events in cities with high startup activity,” states Jennifer Sherer, Vice President, Innovation & Entrepreneurship at the Metro Atlanta Chamber. “We are excited to bring SwitchPitch back to Atlanta this year to help the startups in our region interact with some of our most reputable Fortune 1000 brands. The energy this event generates is addicting and the results are profound.”
Where to begin
Startups looking to gain exposure to some of the most influential companies in the nation should register here https://connect.switchpitch.com/site/register/t/startup. Similarly, enterprise companies with innovation projects looking to present should visit https://connect.switchpitch.com/site/register/t/bigcompany to learn more about registration.

MEDIA CONTACT
Carrie Crabill
Trevelino/Keller
ccrabill@trevelinokeller.com
404-214-0722 x102

The New Way for Startups to Engage with Large Companies

Connecting with large companies poses a problem for startups and growing businesses for three reasons:

Confused Startup Founder

1. Emails are not routed to the right individuals
2. Companies that need innovative solutions do not have the bandwidth to vet inquiries
3. Startups do not have knowledge of specific project needs

As a result, best-suited startups do not have enough information to craft meaningful proposals and perfect-fit solutions are lost in an abyss of email inboxes.

Traditional pitch competitions rarely lead to actual deals and are not segmented or direct enough to match startup talent with funded projects. During these events, startups feverishly pitch a general overview of their entire product offering because they do not have a clear picture of the project requirements. In the 3-10 minutes allotted to each startup in events such as Hatch Pitch, LAUNCH Festival and FastPitch, startups fail to adequately communicate their value.

Knowledge is power.

What if you could operate from a place of power when proposing your solution to a large company? At SwitchPitch events, large companies describe the precise needs of their funded projects. It is a targeted approach fueled by immediate needs and a willingness to work with early-stage businesses for an infusion of innovative, nimble tactics and startup culture.

Upcoming SwitchPitch Events in Atlanta (October 2015) and New York (November 2015) will provide a forum for large companies to pitch funded projects to startups. Expectations and requirements are clearly defined during five minute presentations. Startups have an opportunity to address those demands in face-to-face, one-on-one meetings with decision-makers at the event.

Can’t make it to an event?

SwitchPitch Connect is a marketplace that allows startups to review the presentations and videos from SwitchPitch Events and respond with targeted solutions. Each submission is reviewed by decision makers and startups are provided with contact information and status updates throughout the process.

Startups get the information they need to approach large companies with customized proposals that address project needs while large companies enjoy a streamlined review process. This innovative approach drives 45 percent of projects to result in deals that, to date, have generated $2 million for startups and growing businesses.

3 Essential Elements of Identifying Best Fit Startups

Partnering with a startup company infuses some of that early-stage mojo into your own business. The excitement and tenacity that embodies a startup has a way of rubbing-off on the larger companies that are fortunate enough to find the right one with which to partner.

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However, identifying the right startup is difficult; there are so many players in the game that weeding through all of the non-starters can look like the first few episodes of America’s Got Talent. But once you find the right one, it’s magic…not only does the startup bring innovation and creative solutions, they are often fiercely committed to the success of the project; for an early stage business, the stakes are high.

So, how can you identify the right startup for your project?

1. Define Skill Sets: Which skill sets do you already have in-house? Which do you need? How are those two sets going to work together to compliment one-another in a team environment?

2. Provocative Project Model: How does your in-house technology benefit the startup? In addition to a contract with a big player, what does the startup have to gain? What are the core values of your business and how do those align with the startup. A startup that is equally interested in why you do business as it is in how you do business is thinking ahead and assessing company dynamics. They are often looking to create the basis for a long-term partnership and not just a quick buck.

3. Clear Objectives: What does success look like? Explain your project in terms of quantifiable goals; clearly establish your intention and work with the startup to identify a common set of metrics to measure the project throughout its lifecycle.

Working with the right startup provides large companies with an opportunity to gain access to emerging technology before the rest of the marketplace. The key to a fulfilling and mutually beneficial partnership is in clearly establishing the goals and expectations of the project and identifying an early-stage company that aligns with your core values.

4 Ways to Create a Business Partnership that Increases Flexibility and Agility

Business development partnerships are quickly replacing traditional resourcing plans to keep pace with marketplace demands for agile, flexible responses. Through these partnerships, businesses gain access to fresh talent and a startup mentality that infuses innovative culture and skills into existing teams without the burdens associated with traditional headcount.

Conventional talent acquisition methods require extensive, often painful, recruitment methods that promote long-term commitments and discourage team flexibility. This limits the ability of the business to meet changing needs and creates an environment that promotes reactive resource planning over proactive planning.

Hire startups instead of traditional recruiting

Business development partnerships provide a reliable, low-cost resource plan that allows companies to apply talent when the need demands. Crucial to the success of the partnership is a strategy that prizes clear communication of project needs and expectations.

To ensure that your partnership is success:

1. Articulate Business Needs. Conduct a detailed analysis of current needs and projected future needs. Translate this list into structured requirements that clearly link business needs to partner requirements.

2. Define the Need/Role. Determine the skill level and business involvement expectations. Will the partnership fill a critical, specialist or operational role?

3. Create a Comprehensive Picture of an Ideal Fit. Traditional recruitment methods cannot begin without a clearly defined job description. Apply the same care when defining potential business development partner’s qualities, skills, experience, team composition and strategic offerings.

4. Prioritize Requirements. Further categorize this comprehensive list by breaking requirements into wants, needs and amazing. The requirements that belong in “wants and needs” are easily determined. However, there may be some qualities that are so amazing the business would consider a partnership even if a few needs were missing. These are the traits that clearly give any potential partner a leading edge.

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Business development partnerships provide an excellent alternative to traditional staffing methods which can be time consuming and limiting to long-term, strategic business growth.

Startups and large companies – SwitchPitch is rolling out 10 events over the next 12 months. Be on the lookout for our full event calendar coming soon!

Also, check out our new startup video here.

3 Ways Startups Force Big Companies to be More Innovative

Use Startups to Innovate

The behemoth size and ingrained processes of many big companies make it difficult to quickly respond to today’s fast paced business environment. A high-level perspective governs decision-making which is based on legacy products and past experiences.

By comparison, startups are agile and employ fewer employees operating close to the ground; often through individual communications with clients. This niche-level perspective allows teams to gain client insight and quickly adapt to emerging trends.

Partnering with startups, especially those still young enough to question processes and challenge the status-quo, is an excellent way of infusing a startup vibe into big-business offices.

1. Constant Flow of New Ideas

Startup teams are encouraged to chase disruptive innovation while large companies value process improvements. This focus, coupled with a mindset based in risk aversion, encourages large companies to sacrifice innovation. Challenging traditional thinking is born from the youthful naiveté and minimal histories of startup companies which have a way of bleeding this thinking into their partners.

2. Cost Efficiencies

Startup teams are resourceful and focused on developing products that provide quick cash infusions; on creating something that is worth paying for instead of a product that simply meets the specification.
Additionally, they are often staffed by resources fresh on the professional scene; as a result, salaries are lower and soft-benefits comprise a portion of their compensation package.

3. Niche Experience

The narrow focus of startup companies often comes from the talent of team; resources deep-dive into a very specific niche and become experts or even leaders within the space. This dynamic is most evident when partnered with a startup with inventor-level resources on staff. The business gains access to the developers of the product and leverages this talent to achieve employee buy-in and decrease learning curves.

Big companies have a way of falling into a rut; a behavior that is rewarded with incremental gains and slow growth. Startups are marked by rapid acceleration; the business may grow by 50 or even 80 percent in a single year. A partnership with a startup that values rapid growth potential and innovative thinking jump starts creative juices.

Startups and large companies – SwitchPitch is rolling out 10 events over the next 12 months. Be on the lookout for our full event calendar coming soon!

Also, check out our new startup video here.

5 Big Company Objections to Working with Startups

SwitchPitch atlanta

In my last post I outlined three important reasons big companies should partner with startups. I’ll now delve deeper into the common objections I typically hear from large companies regarding these partnership. In addition to listing these objections I will respond to each.

The objections I hear most often from the front lines of large companies:

1. Not a priority; they have too much else going on
2. No internal owner to manage the projects and/or startups
3. Needs are too proprietary to have external discussions
4. We’re happy with our current suppliers/vendors
5
. We do our own outreach (this answer is incredibly popular in Silicon Valley)

My response to these objections:

1. Not a priority – it will be, you may want to at least know who’s going to eat your lunch next year
2. No owner – it depends on the company, but usually every organization has a few entrepreneurial/intrapreneurial people who would love to own these projects
3. Too proprietary – even Apple lists job openings for automotive industry experts. There is no need to be specific, let the startups come to you with solutions
4. Happy with suppliers – hmm…I was happy with over-the-air tv until I saw cable. I was happy with standard definition until I saw high definition and so on…
5. Own outreach – in the HR world, do big companies only list their jobs on their own sites? Sure if they want 4 resumes, but if they want 400, they go to where the job seekers are like indeed, Linkedin, Monster. Go to where the startups are…

Top 3 Reasons Big Companies Need Startups

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Nothing frustrates me more than complacency. When I hear large companies in legacy industries happy with their pace of change and innovation, I’m tempted to short their stock. Market share doesn’t take long to erode, especially when technology costs have largely become a level playing field for companies across the board.

Knowing this, I’m making a case for large companies to engage with early stage companies on a regular basis. Why? Simple, to remain competitive in the market by gaining access to the most innovative, earliest stage technology available.

Are there risks associated with this approach? Sure. But in my opinion, it’s riskier to not take this approach.

Here are the top three reasons why startups are an incredible resource for large companies:

1. New ideas: The technology cost for startups to create innovative solutions has significantly decreased, meaning more advanced innovation is taking place with very small teams.

2. Efficiency: Many times, the fastest and most efficient way to market is to buy – rather than build – and get market validation.

3. Cost: Compared to the “go-to” vendors like Accenture, startups are a bargain.

Unfortunately, big companies may have to deal with internal objections when wanting to work with startups. Next week we will address how to overcome those internal objections.

5 Ways to Avoid BD Pitfalls between Big Businesses and Startups

miscommunication

As SwitchPitch’s founder, my mission is to help big companies and startups get deals done. Throughout the process, we hear from both sides when they have successes and when they run into stumbling blocks. Often times those stumbling blocks come down to miscommunication.

Here are some examples of what big businesses say and what startups hear.

1. Big Business Says... “We’re launching a global innovation center.”
Startup Hears…”We’re getting plugged into their resources and ecosystem!”

Reality: Big companies do create innovation centers to foster, incubate and/or invest in new ideas, as well as attract small businesses with fresh ideas. But startups need to do homework to distinguish between an innovation center that is active and funded and has a real mission vs. one whose primary role is to create an image of innovation for the brand.”

2. Big Business Says… “We’re open to anything in terms of product and features.”
Startup Hears…”Our product is spot-on with their needs!”

Reality: Startups take this to mean their solutions are a direct hit with what the big business needs. Sometimes big businesses don’t know what they need or want. Sometimes they know but don’t or can’t share because the information is proprietary. By setting realistic expectations, big businesses can keep startups from leaping to the conclusion that it’s a wide-open situation for which they can deliver the perfect solution.

3. Big Business Says… “We’re really interested in your company.”
Startup Hears…“They see the value in what we’ve built and love the team!”

Reality: Startups take this to mean the big business understand the impact of what they’ve built when in actuality there’s a good chance it’s the startup’s founder and co-founder they want. “Acquihires,” when startups are acquired more for their innovative talent than their product, are becoming more common as a way for big companies to get an infusion of innovative DNA.

4. Big Business Says…“Our engineers can’t seem to build what you’ve got.”
Startup Hears….”Innovation just isn’t in their DNA.”

Reality: The big company may be running out of time waiting for the internal R&D or a product team to deliver. This is where a startup can fill the fast need. Or the large business may be close to launching and wants to see what else is out there in terms of features and value—to help spur their internal folks to make the product even better.

5. Big Business Says…Nothing for 2 months.
Startup Hears…”Maybe we should go ahead and build those features they mentioned.”

Reality: This is a tough one, because nothing drives startups crazier than radio silence—especially after they think they’ve garnered good traction. While priorities may have shifted internally, keeping in touch will keep the startup from moving on. In other cases it is simply time to move on. If the big company resurfaces, great. But the reality is that startups—like big companies—need to have multiple irons in the fire.

The Bottom Line

Big companies – try to keep the lines of communication with startups open. You play a critical role in sponsoring and spurring the innovations about which they are so passionate—and on which much of our economy depends.

Do you have examples of typical miscommunications between startups and big businesses? We’d love to see them—just use the “Comments” field below.

11 SwitchPitch Projects Expiring August 8th

As a heads-up, there are 11 large-scale corporate innovation projects whose bidding deadlines are on August 8th. The majority of projects listed on our platform are currently Marketing projects, Data-intensive, and/or involve Mobile/Web Development.

Some of the projects on our platform expiring August 8th are:

* Leveraging Social Media by The Washiongton Redskins (Marketing)
* P2P Communications Prototype by HP (Mobile Dev)
* Content Aggregation Platform by Warner Brothers (Web Dev & Data-Intensive)
* Aircraft Design Game Simulation by Boeing (Game Dev)
* iOS Device Meter by comScore  (Mobile Dev)
* …and 6 more listed on our platform that can be seen by logging into your existing SwitchPitch account

To date, most projects listed on our platform still have fewer than 10 bids, which makes your odds pretty favorable considering these projects are typically $25k – $100k in scale and give way to creating longer-term corporate partnerships.

Sign in to SwitchPitch Connect now to check out available projects from all recent events, and watch their presentations. We don’t want you to miss out.

SwitchPitch DC 2014: Meet the Presenting Companies

On Thursday March 27th, SwitchPitch returns to D.C. to match-make startups with big companies.  We believe that partnerships between large companies and startups are a huge benefit to both.

Here’s a basic review of how it works: Large companies who need nimble startups to tackle their fully funded innovation projects pitch their projects to the D.C. startup and tech community. Startups in attendance sit back and relax, come up with solutions to the pitched projects, and apply via our online platform to score those projects, post-event.

There are nine amazing companies presenting projects for startups at this week’s event. While we can’t tell you specifics, we can tell you who they are.

The Washington Redskins
Washington_Redskins3
The Washington Redskins are a professional American football team located in Washington DC. According to Forbes Magazine, the Redskins are the third most valuable franchise in the NFL behind the Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots, and were valued at approximately $1.6 billion as of 2013. They have also broken the NFL’s mark for single-season attendance nine years in a row.

The Washington Post


The Washington Post is the most widely circulated newspaper published in Washington, D.C., and was founded in 1877, making it the area’s oldest extant newspaper.

Population Council

The Population Council is an international, nonprofit, non-governmental organization. The Council conducts biomedical, social science, and public health research and helps build research capacities in developing countries. One-third of its research relates to HIV and AIDS; its other major program areas are reproductive health and poverty, youth, and gender.

PBS

PBS is the most prominent provider of television programs to public television stations in the United States. Since the mid-2000s, Roper polls commissioned by PBS have consistently placed the service as America’s most-trusted national institution.

NPR

NPR is a privately and publicly funded non-profit membership media organization that serves as a national syndicator to a network of 900 public radio stations in the United States.

Monumental Sports

Monumental Sports & Entertainment owns the NBA’s Washington Wizards, NHL’s Washington Capitals and the WNBA’s Washington Mystics. Monumental Sports additionally owns the Verizon Center in Washington D.C. and manages the Kettler Capitals Iceplex and George Mason University’s Patriot Center. Formed in 2010, Monumental Sports & Entertainment is the only privately held company in a top-10 market to own and operate three professional sports teams and its arena. In January 2013 Monumental Sports & Entertainment launched Monumental Network, a digital platform that serves as a hub for Washington’s sports and entertainment news.

Georgetown University

Georgetown University is a private research university in Washington, D.C. and was founded in 1789.

comScore

comScore is an American Internet analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to many of the world’s largest enterprises, agencies, and publishers.

Colliers International

Colliers International is a global commercial real estate services organization with approximately 15,000 employees in more than 482 offices in 62 countries. They provide a range of services to commercial real estate users, owners, investors and developers worldwide. The organization serves the hotel, industrial, mixed-use, office, retail and residential property sectors.

The event kicks off at 1:30PM at Arena Stage, 1101 6th Street SW.

Be there.

Don’t have your tickets? Register here.

SwitchPitch Empowers Business Development Deal Between Assurant and Codelitt

Assurant contracts with startup for an innovation project it pitched at SwitchPitch NYC

SwitchPitch New York presenter Assurant, “the premier provider of specialized insurance products and related services in North America and select worldwide markets,” has contracted with New York City startup codelitt. Both participated in our SwitchPitch New York event, and connected post event via our online platform.

Assurant and Startup CodeLitt form successful partnership thanks to SwitchPitch The two will be working together to meet Assurant’s goal to build a digital warranty platform. This platform will act as a single place to store and track all of a person’s purchases and associated warranties. Consumers can take a picture of their receipt (if purchased in retail store) or forward their purchase confirmation (if purchased online) to the interface and have that information in an organized, safe place. They can then be informed of when their warranty will expire, get any updates from the manufacturer, or choose to purchase additional protection for their products.

This is one of three projects Assurant presented at our SwitchPitch New York event. Watch them present their three projects below, live from SwitchPitch, at the NYU Skirball Center.

You can view all of the presentations from SwitchPitch New York on our website.

Codelitt, the startup they’ve contracted for this project, works with clients to define, conceptualize, prototype, and create new technology and emerging media products. The products range from web and mobile applications, to custom operating systems, to integration of technology platforms.

We are very excited to see the innovative solutions codelitt will provide for Assurant and are enormously happy we were able to help facilitate this partnership.