It was with great pleasure, being part of the SwissParks workshop at the EPFL Innovation Park.
The EPFL Innovation Park has more than 250 companies and projects, 14 buildings and 2’ooo people on sight.
During the event, the first speaker was Massimo Lucchina, Head of Europe, Samsung Strategy and Innovation Center (SSIC) based in Lausanne. During his presentation, Massimo stated that acquiring other companies was more efficient than hiring and searching for new talents. This is why, from a large companies’ perspective, you have to identify the real threats, which in this case are successful Startups that could potentially be partnering up with larger corporations.
Emile de Rijk, CEO and co-founder at Swissto12, spoke about his experience and point of view of becoming a threat to large corporations. Hence, despite trying in vain to follow up directly with his target and loosing a significant amount of time, he went to target the clients of those large corporations. In his case, that was a successful way to make the large corporations close the deal with Swissto12.
Ata Tuna Ciflik is the CEO and founder of Lunaphore Technologies, one of Switzerland’s most successful Startup. We had the chance to receive his advice and steps to follow when closing a deal with big corporations. The highlight of his advices, was that from a large companies perspective, they will not position themselves at the same level of a Startup. Meaning that in a large corporation, they have a strategy team of more than 10 people to negotiate with the CEO and Founder of a Startup company and they will use that leverage to make an offer and put pressure on you. Ata talks from experience and even though you are against a bigger team than yours, you should be prepared to be patient and not let the pressure take over you by closing an unreasonable deal.
Last speaker was Raphaël Rollier, Head of Digital Innovation and Transformation department at Swisscom. He shared with us his experience of Startups pitching their projects to Swisscom. In this case, we learned how the first interaction between small corporations and large corporations is critical for the decision to make a partnership. Raphaël also shared with us how Swisscom partnered with Matrixx Software, a Startup, thus creating the cockpit to measure roaming once using data in a foreign country.
“MATRIXX is transforming our business as we innovate, expand and monetize our services.” said Heinz Herren, CTO of Swisscom.
Another example shared by Raphaël was that Swisscom introduced the Swisscom Kickbox Process which makes the employees of the firm become entrepreneurs. First phase is the red box, two months long, to validate or not more than 300 ideas collected. Kickboxers get 1’000 CHF with 20% of their working time to prepare an 8 min pitch for the next phase. If their pitch is validated they are taken to the next phase. Second phase is with about 50 projects, and takes four months, the objective is to run run a pilot project with real customers. Kickboxers get between 10’000 and 30’000 CHF budget., coaching and mentoring. After four months, if their project is scalable they are handed over the Goldbox. The Goldbox is symbolic when a pilot has been successful, it can contain company building support, a spin-of process or simply a new work contract tailor made for the project at hand.