Big Companies should love Startups – or atleast know what they’re up to

December 20, 2006

One of the biggest issues facing big companies is the white space – those new growth areas that could be big one day.  Simply put, younger, less restrictive organizations are better able to jump into and exploit these opportunities than established corporate giants.  This could be good or bad for the giant.

It’s good if the giant doesn’t have his eyes closed.  That means every giant corporation should have some eyes on what is happening in their industry white space – if not, then one day it won’t be ‘their industry’ any longer.  An internal team tracking innovative startups, concepts, etc. that could be a great opportunity for success.A great example of this is Google – yes Google is now a giant – who has grown from being a nibble company but has not lost focus.  Now, instead of having to invent the next great idea, they buy those that have done so the best (YouTube, JotSpot, Writely, etc.).

A bad example is most telecommunication companies.  I say this with respect of course, but from my experience of having many telecom as clients, they react to market threats instead of seeing opportunities. Granted they’re too big to create the next big thing, but that doesn’t mean they should recognize and partner early with the two kids in the garage that can.  

The CIO of a prominent telecom recently told me that he doesn’t agree that his company may one day lose the consumer content relationship. Basically, that they may only own the pipe to the customer but not the content relationship. An example is how in the past, energy companies used to sell you the light bulb and the electricity but now can’t compete on bulbs.  I suggest that is exactly where the digital world is heading and those that own the ‘pipe’ – telecoms, cable – should be looking to add value to services they can offer on the pipe.  How about buying an online storage company? Enhancing T.V. on the pipe through interactive services? There are a lot of possibilities. 

Thinking that you can stem the wave of online television, or worse, that your website will be the consumer destination for video instead of YouTube or iTunes isn’t smart business.  Recognizing the two guys/girls in the garage that can make your business better is.

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Under the Radar – great people doing great things!

December 20, 2006

Sean Wise (his blog is great) invited me to attend a great event.  It’s from the IBD Network, and its called Under The Radar.   First I should say, I love visiting Silicon Valley.  If you’re a current or budding entrepreneur and haven’t been, just go.  It is very inspiring to interact with others with bright ideas and feel the support structure that is in place to support innovation.

Under the Radar – Mobility was an event where startups that are ‘under the radar’ show their stuff.  This one was about mobility and there were some very cool companies there. Notables include:

  • Greystripe:  ad-supported mobile games – they one best in show and could be a real game changer
  • Loopt: location aware service, lets you know where your friends are and communicate with them
  • SharpCast: you’ve probably heard of these guys.  Content synching, cool.
  • MotionDSP: makes crappy video quality great.  Not sure what the business model is but its cool technology.
  • Plusmo: easily puts the web you want on your phone.  Plus the CEO is a cool guy.
  • Deam Interactive:  these guys were from Spain and their technology is awesome! You take a picture of an ad with your phone (on a bus, billboard, magazine, whatever), it gets scanned and compared against an database of ads (complied through agency-partnered campaigns), and you get back a promotional offer. Wow.

There were a ton of other great companies there that could one day be the next big thing. Thanks for Sean for turning me on to the event (and IBD is general) and Christine and the great ladies at IBD Network for putting this together.   Can’t wait for the next one this spring!