Special Event: Reverse Pitching and Speeddating | Corporate meets StartUp

Dusan Todorovic, Program Manager for aws Connect, is talking about the importance of collaboration and the magic of networking for business success.

More than 20 years ago Austria Wirtschaftsservice was a pioneer in introducing start-ups and investors by launching i2 Business Angels. For more than 3 years aws Industry-Startup.Net has been bringing startups and corporates together. What is the motivation for facilitating cooperation between startups, corporates and investors?

Austria Wirtschaftsservice (aws) currently supports around 44.000 innovative company projects. We work close to our customers, which allows us to know their needs and challenges. The goal is to intervene where there is market failure and that is why the initiatives address information deficit, the lack of visibility and lack of transparency in the innovation ecosystem. Startups work on emerging new technologies and business models while corporates want to bring new products and services to the market. In fact, established companies often suffer from rigid structures and want to sustainably strengthen the entrepreneurial spirit by entering into cooperation with startups. Similarly, Investors looking for new investment opportunities want to get an easily accessible and qualitative overview of the market. For the startup, finding the right partner at the right time will often be the key to success. aws acts as an independent partner which brings together startups, corporates and investors – contributing significantly the business location of Austria.

Two months ago you launched aws Connect, combining your networking programs aws Industry Startup.Net, i2 Business Angels, Equity Finder and the Global Incubator Network. What has improved since then?

With the launch of aws Connect we enable a more comfortable access to our networking programs. Startups, investors and corporates can create and manage their profile on a simple interface, defining matchmaking criteria, viewing documents and contact information of potential partners. Thus, aws Connect acts as a one-stop shop for startups, investors and corporates looking for partnerships. New features will be added to the platform in the future to offer customers further services around networking in the innovation ecosystem. 

Now you are joining the FinTech Week for the first time with a special event on start-up and corporate collaboration. Established banks and corporations will have the opportunity to pitch in front of the start-up public. As well you are hosting the speed-dating in Talent Garden. What are your expectations?

Corporates face internal challenges that are often invisible to others. The idea behind the reverse pitches is to bring start-ups and corporates closer together. This event will allow corporates to share the challenges they are facing at the moment and to find out how FinTech and start-ups can help to solve their issues by offering their technology solutions.
Speed-dating is an innovative tool to build bridges between corporates and start-ups. During short sessions, both sides get to know each other as well as each other’s skills, expectations and objectives. Most of the time, these talks lead to deeper exchange and conversations. Therefore, the speed-dating is often just the beginning of further discussions about possible ways of working together. 

When corporates and start-ups collaborate, they must bridge cultural differences and face other challenges. Why should this effort pay off for both sides? 

Not only the cultural spirit but also the organizational structures of corporates and start-ups differ to a great extent. Bridging these differences can in fact be challenging. However, the effort pays off: Corporations can integrate the dynamic start-up work culture and mindset into their own. By collaborating, corporates gain access to new service and business models. Corporates can optimize their processes, which will have a positive impact on efficiency and revenue. All in all, cooperating with start-ups may help corporates to overcome challenges and to solve issues faster than their traditional structures would allow. Additionally, the time-to-market will be shortened. Nevertheless, in our opinion, start-ups will benefit most from collaborations. They can learn from corporate’s experience and their in-depth knowledge of the industry as well as longstanding customer relationship management. During joint projects and close cooperation, start-ups have the chance to gain access to their corporate partner’s infrastructure, such as financial or human resources.

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