How large firms and startups are partnering to drive the innovation agenda

What are the models of engagement and the challenges of such a partnership in India? A panel discussion with Qualcomm India’s Larry Paulson, Kellogg School of Management’s Prof Mohanbir Sawhney, True North’s Haresh Chawla, Anunta Tech’s Ananda Mukerji, and SPJIMR dean Dr Ranjan Banerjee

Founding Fuel

[From left: Dr Ranjan Banerjee, dean, SPJIMR; Larry Paulson, vice president and president, Qualcomm India; Prof Mohanbir Sawhney, Kellogg School of Management; Haresh Chawla, partner, True North; Ananda Mukerji, co-founder and chairman, Anunta Tech.]

What are the most compelling challenges businesses face right now and how ought they be dealt with? These were some of the questions that came up at the SP Jain Institute of Management and Research (SPJIMR) Business – Academia Conclave (SBAC) on January 20, 2018. It was curated and organised by SPJIMR and Founding Fuel.

SBAC 2018 was witness to deep conversations and lively discussions with some of the finest minds from India and other parts of the world and focused on how established corporations and agile startups are coming together to innovate.

This is Part 3 of a four-part series.

Models of Engagement

From a large corporation’s perspective, the need to collaborate with startups is clear: One, as Larry Paulson, Vice President and President, Qualcomm India, says, its resources are focused on running the day-to-day business and there is little bandwidth for innovation. Two, innovation doesn't always come from the most visible areas—you have to reach out to the community and partner for innovation.

It’s simple but not easy. “You can’t rely on vendors to do innovation for you,” says Prof Mohanbir Sawhney, Kellogg School of Management. You need to commit to innovation—through the quantum of your investments and your willingness to change your business model. As Haresh Chawla, Partner, True North, puts it: “The sums invested [by large firms] are meaningless. Unless you are committing to changing your business model, you are doing nothing.” That commitment means investing in capacity building. And having a technology team that is leading the industry, and working closely with vendors, partners and start-ups. In the process, they can learn consumer focus from the start-ups.

But there are challenges in working with start-ups in India. A start-up doesn't want capital from corporations—the best of them are going to get funded by a venture capitalist (VC). “A startup ultimately wants market access. And if it’s a tech startup, it wants preferential access to knowledge of what’s happening in the technology ecosystem,” says Ananda Mukerji, Co-founder and Chairman, Anunta Tech. “But in reality, large corporations fail in making their distribution available to a startup.”

There are somethings start-ups need to bear in mind as well. At some point it is going to have to move from an innovative idea, a concept, a solution, a problem solve to becoming a business.

There are two models that work. One, the corporation is outsourcing innovation and then buying the innovation it thinks is useful. Or, it is using innovation in a sort of outsourced model. Where you can successfully partner with a large corporation is if your idea sits at that borderline between what is very important to the corporation, but is not core to it. And if it is core, then go to them at a later stage and say buy me.

Watch the discussion moderated by Dr Ranjan Banerjee, Dean, SPJIMR (View Time: 43.09 min):

Learning From Entrepreneurial Journeys

Also watch an informal chat with Rimjhim Ray, co-founder, Frapperz; Ruchi Jain, founder and executive director, Taru Naturals; Nidhi Saxena, director, founder & CEO, Zoctr; and Prof Shirish Kotmire, head, Start-Up Incubation Centre, SPJIMR. The discussion was anchored by Sonali Krishna, editor, ET Now. (View Time: 18:47 min):

Also Watch

Transforming the soul of the enterprise

Smart people don’t work for you

Agile start-ups, large firms and a jugalbandi for innovation

Was this article useful? Sign up for our daily newsletter below


Login to comment

About the author

Founding Fuel

Founding Fuel aims to create the new playbook of entrepreneurship. Think of us as a hub for entrepreneurs- the go-to place for ideas, insights, practices and wisdom essential to build the enterprise of tomorrow. It is co-founded by veteran journalists Indrajit Gupta and Charles Assisi, along with CS Swaminathan, the former president of Pearson's online learning venture.

Also by me

You might also like