Selling into a Fortune 500 is a ton of work. If you don’t have sales experience or a warm intro, it’s going to be like digging for gold. You have to search the web, flex your network, and look under hundreds of rocks before you meet the right person that can champion you into the company – especially as an early-stage startup. Even after all that work, your contact can change roles or leave the company and then you have start all over!
Worse than rubbing elbows… corporations can be slow moving when it comes to cutting deals. As a startup, waiting for months or even years for the gig to land is a huge potential problem. We don’t have that kind of runway!
Since joining the BridgeCommunity we have been able to cut out both the introduction merry-go-round, and the drag-your-feet nature of corporate negotiations.
Here’s three of the biggest benefits we’ve garnered from the program:
Contacts are Hand Picked for You
This part is amazing. Literally, whatever problem your product solves, you will be connected to an executive with a budget line to review your product. The best part? You don’t have to search linkedin, referrals, or even cold lists. The BridgeCommunity selects corporate strategy partners from participating enterprises to talk with you and set up one-on-one meetings at the corporate HQ with the right decision maker. I guess you can consider it as an arranged blind date – you can guarantee that you’ll meet a decision maker, but it’s up to you to take it to the next steps.
You are coached
How often does an enterprise coach you to sell to them? Never. Unless, you’re in the BridgeCommunity where each participating corporation supplies a program liaison, or startup champion. Here’s how one of our intros went:
“This team is TopPick, they’ve built a platform to engage, screen and hire better quality talent. We chose TopPick as one of the startup companies we want to work with. When you meet with them, keep it informal and help TopPick understand our business and how they might best add value to us. This should be a two way dialogue with questions from both sides, not a pitch. If an opportunity surfaces, we’ll dive in later. TopPick has a lot of potential – they could use your guidance on how to work with us.”
Wow. Talk about setting the meeting up to build rapport and lower the barriers to entry. Here’s where you have your chance to shine and take it to the next steps.
You land gigs
Lastly, of course. This is what everyone wants… your startup lands gigs. Most teams that go through BridgeCommunity land pilots with at least one of the Fortune 500 teams. In 2016, nine pilots and proof-of-concepts were created.
For some, landing a pilot is even better than receiving funding for equity. 3 months in, we’ve received a verbal confirmation from one of the companies and within the next few weeks, we’ll update you all on how things ended.
After three months in the BridgeCommunity, we’ve been able to get in front of 10+ executives from 5 of the world’s largest enterprises. We have received a verbal agreement from one and two more enterprises are moving us to the next stages of the process to become partners.
We have already received such clear, positive results in our short time in the program. With no equity taken for enterprise sales training, help landing huge enterprise clients, and only a nominal time commitment, our involvement has been a win-win-win.
Author, Justin Ham, is the CEO of TopPick – the candidate engagement platform that engages your candidates faster than ever before with their bolt on application for your ATS – helping you reach candidates through text, calls and video.
It was the fall of 2014 and we were finally ready. Nearly 10 years after getting my MBA in Entrepreneurship from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, we had finally built up enough savings and it was time to leave the corporate world to embark on the new, uncertain path to building a new company. But my home in San Antonio, TX wasn’t the right fit for the new venture – lacking in both a strong personal and startup network – we needed to move.
But where? Since I’m in the cloud computing space, the Bay area in CA is an obvious first choice, but after looking at how quickly we would burn up our savings, it seemed too risky. We could go back to Dallas and I could make great use of all the school and business connections there, but the tech startup scene is only just emerging and more importantly, our family was really feeling a need to reconnect with our roots in the South – so we took a look at Atlanta.
At first glance, the main redeeming qualities for Atlanta were the major airport and the relatively reasonable cost of living. I figured worst case, the flights to San Francisco and Seattle would be reasonable and we’d be within a day’s drive from our families in Alabama and Florida. But after beginning the process of inserting our family into the fabric of our local community we found that, almost by luck, we had found the ideal place for us to start our tech company.
Soon after moving to Alpharetta, the fastest growing large city in GA and the home of great schools for our 2 sets of twins (as well as a number technology companies large and small), we joined Georgia Tech’s Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC). Our membership turned out to be a great way to get engaged with Atlanta’s technology community and an amazing source of resources.
I quickly realized that Atlanta had a vibrant technology startup scene with Tech Square, Atlanta Tech Village and lots of startups – especially in the Mobile, Fintec, Security, and, increasingly, the IoT space. And unlike my experience in the Bay area, there’s a strong faith based component to our technology communities with organizations like High Tech Ministries, which was an unexpected but welcome bonus to being part of the Atlanta technology scene. The other thing we have going for us is the large number of innovative large companies in Atlanta, companies like Coca-Cola, SunTrust, The Weather Company, Intercontinental Hotel Group, UPS, Cox Enterprises, Delta, NCR and many others that could serve as early adopters of new technologies.
Atlanta’s strong community of large companies is a clear benefit for B2B startups focused on businesses, but there’s a catch – corporate cultures can be risk averse, slow to move and difficult to navigate, and this is a real challenge for startups. Enter Coca-Cola’s BridgeCommunity. This program, sponsored by 7 Atlanta companies, was created to bridge the gap by partnering startups with Fortune 500s for pilots and the commercialization of new technologies. It wasn’t easy for us to get in – we went through 2 rounds of selection, and out of more than 200 startups, we were one of just 22 selected. Now, as a BridgeCommunity startup, we are in a great position to build deep corporate relationships and potentially land one of Atlanta’s giants as our customer – a win that would catapult our startup to the next level.
Atlanta provides a unique place for startups. For us, the combination of faith and family, the vibrant startup scene, and the strong corporate business economy have proven to be an ideal fit. I know that we’re losing large numbers amazingly talented Ga Tech, Ga State, KSU, Emory and other grads to competing tech hubs, but as they mature and want to start families while still participating in world class innovation, they’ll realize that coming home to Atlanta is a great option. Our company is still early, but with the help of our Atlanta community and the BridgeCommunity, Convergent is in great shape to be a huge success.
Author, Tyler Johnson, is the CEO of Convergent – Convergent’s Onto™ Integration Fabric accelerates innovation by helping companies rapidly create new ways to engage customers. With their platform, in a few days you can brainstorm new ways to engage, build multiple prototypes with data from anywhere, and test each approach on a customer sample. It’s now cheap to throw out ideas that fail and rapidly scale ideas that work. Convergent is a member of the 2017 BridgeCommnity startup cohort.
Our startup workshop covering pilot program principles, models & case studies with Scott Sambucci was a roaring success. In line with our focus on building Atlanta’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and our belief in the power of collaborating with other programs in the community, we opened up the workshop to B2B and B2B2C early-stage tech companies in other accelerators all over Atlanta. Five local startups joined our 2017 startup cohort and got to work building out a pilot program for their company’s active sales opportunities.
We cherry-picked Scott Sambucci to lead the workshop because of his 20 years of experience in building and selling technology products – leading three Silicon Valley startups each to their first millions in revenue. His most recent startup, Blend Labs, was backed by Andressen-Horowitz and Peter Thiel. Scott is also a marketing professor at Hult International Business School and has been a featured speaker at a TEDx event in San Francisco, The Lean Startup Conference, and at the US Chamber of Commerce.
Here are four top takeaways from Scott’s workshop on startup piloting:
Astrid Fontaine Porsche Cars North America’s VP of HR, Culture, & Innovation Astrid Fontaine was attending BridgeCommunity startup interviews at the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and was asked why it is important for Porsche to be involved in the program and the importance of cultivating an open environment for innovation in your company.
The BridgeCommuity program is heavily front-loaded with educational workshops for both our startup and corporate participants to learn best practices for building relationships with each other over the duration of the program.
Our storytelling workshop, led by Marcie Anthone of Marcie L Anthone & Associates and Stephen Walker of Headmint, takes each of our 22 cohort startups through a one-on-one coaching session to hone their messaging when communicating with a corporate audience. This exercise helps startups to better understand their brand and how it might be helpful to prospective corporations and culminates in a developed brand logline (an elevator pitch) so that the startup can speak succinctly about their brand.
The process kicks off with Marcie and Stephen interviewing the BridgeCommunity’s seven corporate partners to find out how each is hoping to drive specific startup relationships forward. The dynamic duo then meets with the startups individually for a one-day intensive workshop to help them customize their messaging for these interested corporate partners.
The startup workshop content is rich and dense, yet beautifully digestible. The results of the workshop are revamped taglines, pitch decks, and in-person elevator pitches – with 22 startups poised to discuss their offerings with eager corporations.
Pratter, one of our 2017 startup cohort companies, had an especially enlightening experience in the workshop:
By rearranging a few simple words, we created a better slogan. Pratter does save consumers money on medical care but “Transparently Saving Healthcare” means so much more. We are now stepping in almost like a superhero to rescue employee consumers from the rigged system. We just happen to do it with medical cost transparency. Also, the larger the villain, the better the superhero. Instead of selecting the hospitals or the health insurance companies or the government as the villain – it’s all of them! The system is rigged to make us purchase medical care blindly and be ripped off. By making “the system” the villain, we have created Pratter as the easy-to-cheer-for superhero. –Bill Hennessey MD, CEO, Pratter
As a CEO of a fast growing startup, getting selected to participate in the BridgeCommunity Program was a great win. Reading about past cohorts, I had no doubt this would be a great learning experience for me and our other executives. However, GridQuire Labs is much more than three people. We have other employees, clients, partners, and investors. To get the most out of the BridgeCommunity, I devised a plan to transfer the knowledge we gained from workshops, talks, peer-learning, and interfacing with large enterprises to everyone our company touches.
DEFINITION: Knowledge transfer is the methodical replication of the expertise, wisdom, and tacit knowledge of critical professionals into the heads and hands of their coworkers. It is more than just on-the-job training. It is the planned movement of the right skills and information at the right time to keep a workforce prepared, productive, innovative, and competitive.
Read again, the definition only mentions coworkers. Various academia, dictionaries and “experts” only mention coworkers and workforce, I disagree with all of them. Knowledge Transfer can be applied to everyone an organization touches as there is value for more than just our workforce. A prime example is the first BridgeCommunity workshop we attended about enterprise negotiation tactics facilitated by Vantage Partners. We learned about an older, but innovative, clandestine method to negotiate. Of course I shared this with my team, however, I also shared it with investors, clients, and partners.
Outcome: One investor recalled some of the theory back from his MBA days. We had a long conversation about it and this conversation led to us tweaking how both of our companies negotiate complex deals. I also shared my recent education with one of GridQuire Labs’ clients. He took multiple valuable points away from the conversation and called me a week later saying he used the tactic and it helped increase his margin on that particular deal by 15%.
Takeaway: Knowledge Transfer is critical and valuable for our internal workforce. However, you should transfer knowledge to more than just your employees. Doing so, you may find yourself even adding incremental value to others outside your organization.
Author, Andy Katz, is the CEO of Atlanta-Based GridQuire Labs – a location intelligent mobile advertising plus sales enablement platform. GridQuire Labs is a member of the 2017 BridgeCommnity startup cohort.
This year we significantly increased our startup recruitment outreach efforts – resulting in triple the number of applications and double the number of participating startups compared to last year. A big welcome to both our two new enterprise members, Suntrust Banks and Porsche North America, and the 22 startups chosen for the 2017 BridgeCommunity cohort!
With a commitment to put Atlanta on the map as a fertile location for innovation, we focused on cultivating local startups and also drawing national and international startups into the program and the city. In addition, we’ve cooked up a digestible and actionable educational curriculum for both startups and enterprises that will significantly streamline how each approaches commercialization, even beyond the confines of the program.
Starting this month, 22 startups will gain access to a heavy-hitting list of corporations – Capgemini, Coca-Cola, COX Enterprises, InterContinental Hotels Group, Porsche North America, SunTrust Bank, and The Weather Company – motivated to build relationships during the six-month program based in Atlanta.
This year’s all-star startup line-up includes
accessnow (Atlanta, GA) – The premier Privileged Access Management (PAM) app for the Salesforce platform, enabling governance, compliance and agility.CinaMaker (Atlanta, GA) – A multi-camera HD live streaming and recording made easy. Make your videos more interesting and professional w/4 camera angles.Convergent (Alpharetta, GA) – Convergent’s Onto™ Integration Fabric helps you imagine and test new customer data use cases in the cloud in days, not months or years.
Cybraics (Atlanta, GA) – Cybraics is an advanced analytics and artificial intelligence company, focused on solving the hardest problems in cybersecurity.Dasdak (Washington, D.C.) – Mobile commerce in large, populated venues.
Dream Agility (Manchester, UK) – A multi award winning, 2 patent pending, integration free, cloud based Adtech. One of only 35 Google Shopping Partners globally and a Google Premier Partner.
GridQuire Labs (Atlanta, GA) – Location intelligent mobile advertising plus sales enablement platform.
MARK Labs (Washington, D.C.) – Helps companies achieve their social impact and sustainability goals through payment and data management software.Mile Auto (Atlanta, GA) – Insurance provider which only charges you for the miles you drive. Low-mileage drivers enjoy quality coverage for 50-60% less.PayLow Rate (Detroit, MI) – Provides a marketplace that allows for direct-to-consumer financing that is fast, simple and secure – all in the comfort of home, for free.Pratter (Greensburg, PA) – America’s medical cost savings company helping millions save billions via medical cost transparency. Sold as an employee benefit.Pyur Solutions (Los Angeles, CA) – Cuts out the ubiquity of synthetics with non-toxic, biodegradable, plant-based pesticides, full of ingredients you can trust.Reply.ai (New York City, NY) – The enterprise level chatbot building & management platform that makes B2C communication suck less.
re:3D (Austin, TX) – Is pushing the limits of 3D printing. Their flagship technology, the Gigabot®, is the world’s largest, affordable 3D printer.SiteWhere (Atlanta, GA) – An open-source platform for the Internet of Things. It provides a framework for rapid development of complex IoT applications.Skignz (Stockton-on-Tees, UK) – A multi-award winning unique Augmented Reality (AR) platform placing visual content in location, accessed via a smartphone or tablet device.Starling Trust (Washington, D.C.)- Generates insights into firm culture from internal communications data to improve performance and to address hidden systemic riskTawkers (New York City, NY) – Create & manage real-time text conversations between influencers, with no production cost, reduced influencer effort & maximum engagement.
TopPick (Atlanta, GA) – Reduce up to 60% of waste created in the interviewing process by combining digital interviewing and messaging to accelerate your hiring process.Trust Stamp (Atlanta, GA) – Trust Stamp provides identity and trust as a service by empowering enterprises to authenticate and recognize their customers and transact business safely and more efficiently using cutting edge biometric solutions.Verady (Atlanta, GA) – Blockchain based critical data assurance.WAVLINKZ (Atlanta, GA) – Powers real-time music sharing and discovery.
In the 2016 cohort, which included 10 startups and 5 corporations, the commercialization program went beyond enterprise and startup matchmaking – catalyzing nine pilots and proof-of-concepts. During the program, participating startups collectively hired 32 new employees, experienced an average increase of 150% in month over month revenue, and raised $2.9M in VC funding.
We’re excited to see what the addition of two new corporate partners and doubling the number of participating startups will propel us to next. Stay tuned to find out about the first deal secured, corporate & startup relationship best practices, and the results from this incredible pool of innovative startups and corporations.
We are thrilled that Let’s Talk Payments is spreading the word on why Financial Technology startups across America should take part in our program. Check out the article:
The BridgeCommunity is based in Atlanta because it is a hotbed for FinTech startups and Fortune 500s:
- Georgia FinTech companies generate annual revenues of more than $72 billion, placing 3rd in the nation.
- Roughly 100 FinTech companies are headquartered or have a significant presence in Georgia. Six of the 10 largest US Payment processing firms are GA-based.
- Georgia FinTech companies process over 118 billion transactions per year representing over $2 trillion of purchase volume each year, supporting nearly 4 million merchants
Atlanta is also home to the FinTech Atlanta Taskforce, an organization that works to recruit and retain companies, capital and talent in the FinTech industry. As a partner of the BridgeCommunity, the FinTech Taskforce will provide a depth of knowledge into the program by tapping into their networks, creating additional training opportunities and social events with guest speakers.
Momentum from the Bridge Community’s first cohort of 10 startups and 5 corporations is still snowballing. In 2016, 9 pilots and proof-of-concepts were created over seven months and participating startups collectively hired 32 new employees, experienced an average increase of 150% in month over month revenue, and raised $2.9M in VC funding.
Now we are back for round two and aiming even higher! The plan is to triple the number of participating startups to 30 and expand our corporate innovators list too. Porsche Financial Services has already been added to the killer corporate lineup from last year including: Coca-Cola, COX Enterprises, InterContinental Hotels Group, The Weather Company, and Capgemini. Expect more to be announced soon.
2017’s three verticals of focus are FinTech, Consumer Engagement, and IoT startups. We’re looking for 10 cream of the crop startups in each industry to take part.
The upcoming cohort will gain access to large corporations motivated to run pilots and enter licensing agreements during the program. From April-Oct 2017, the Bridge Community program will engineer and accelerate startup and corporate relationships with the singular focus to help startups find the right customer inside the walls of large corporations and get a deal done.
Startups receive world-class enterprise sales, marketing, and negotiations training to understand corporate innovation needs and hone offerings, while corporations are coached on minimizing roadblocks to streamline pilots and simplify contracts. This educational programming is followed by targeted introductions and relationship mediation to solidify a deal and launch pilots a’ plenty.
We are keeping things simple for the startups, because If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it (said in a southern drawl). The program only requires a commitment of 2 hours per week from one person on the startup team. No equity or IP taken or cash given to startups.
Do you know any early-stage, scale, or growth stage startups looking for large enterprise customers? Shoot referrals to our Managing Director, Carie Davis at Carie@bridgecommunity.com and find the application (due March 28th) on f6s: https://www.f6s.com/atlantabridgecommunity2017
The Bridge Community:Atlanta | A Coca-Cola Founded Commercialization Program Finds Serious Traction With First Cohort of Startups & Enterprises
The Bridge Community:Atlanta has gone beyond enterprise and startup matchmaking and catalyzed four pilots, five proof-of-concepts, and a laundry list of tangential benefits including an acquisition and close to three million dollars in venture capital investments.
Real deals have been made and the Atlanta startup ecosystem strengthened as a result of the commercialization program’s targeted introductions, streamlined agreements, and tactical training. Startups in the area won marquee enterprise clients and in turn those enterprises uncovered new revenue generation and cost saving potential.
The Bridge started three years ago in Tel Aviv as an initiative of Coca-Cola’s global IT group. It found quick success with a mix of branding, positioning, storytelling, and target audience identification programming. The Bridge Community:Atlanta program takes the methodology established in Tel Aviv and is using it to amplify the city’s blossoming startup scene and density of large enterprises (metro Atlanta has twenty-six FORTUNE 1000’s, of which thirteen are FORTUNE 500).
For seven months, five local giants – Capgemini, Cox Enterprises, Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) and The Weather Company – joined Coca-Cola to explore potential relationships with ten startups, building solutions ranging from vending machine software to data storage on the block chain.
We’ve broken down this pilot program in terms of internal/direct results, halo benefits, and future programming. Due to the nascent nature of some of these agreements, understand that we can‘t share many details on these new relationships just yet:
- The Results
- The Halo Effect
Startup Growth Metrics
- Plan for 2017
“Cox is committed to finding innovation through the eyes of entrepreneurs in Atlanta. Through our participation in The Bridge we have been able to explore pockets of new services, and our employees’ engagement with the startups has given them a renewed enthusiasm for their internal initiatives.” – Tim Howe, Senior Director Corporate Strategy & Investments at Cox Enterprises.
THE RESULTS – INTERNAL PILOTS
The Bridge Community:Atlanta created a transparent and accelerated environment which resulted in four pilots. Each of the five enterprises in the program selected an internal champion, who then identified fellow employees with a combination of the niche expertise needed to vet the individual startup teams and technology, and the motivation to get a pilot off the ground. The Bridge management team (Carie Davis and Shane Reiser) then prepared the startups to meet with stakeholders through training and coaching that involved discovering the true needs of enterprise clients, creating ideas for pilots, and sales, negotiation, and storytelling training.
Feedback following the pilot cohort showcases that The Bridge Community supplied the tactical guidance necessary to navigate a process typically riddled with stumbling blocks:
“One of the real benefits to this program is that the enterprise companies had skin in the game. People in the enterprise organizations owned the job of proving that their participation was worth it. That accountability meant that the enterprises were not just technology tourists – their goal was to get deals done, not look ‘innovative’ or conduct unpaid experiments.” – Rob Kischuk, CEO & Founder of Converge
“The Bridge gave the strategy team clarity into what we were really looking for. Things we thought we would need versus what our business actually needs to stay ahead of the curve in multiple verticals.” – James Lewis, Strategy & Investments at Cox Enterprises
An Outline of the Four Pilots:
Storj + Cox
Storj helps people make money renting out their empty hard drive space. Their goal is to be the largest provider in the market without owning or operating a physical data center. Over eight thousand developers have used their infrastructure to store data and now Cox can count itself among their users.
During their time in the program, Storj was one of the only pre-revenue companies featured at Venture Atlanta, the Southeast region’s largest investor showcase. During their pitch they announced Cox as their first enterprise customer. Storj is currently storing one Terabyte of data on Cox’s cloud-storage platform and the relationship has kicked off Storj’s first month of revenue in December.
DecisionIQ + Coca-Cola
DecisionIQ is commercializing revolutionary IoT analytics technology developed at Georgia Tech. Their software platform monitors mission-critical assets in the energy, manufacturing and telco industries. The platform provides automated decision making to continuously optimize operational capacity and reduce asset support costs. With a deep reach into operations, their deployments are able to provide industry best ROIs.
Andrew Lewis, DecisionIQ’s CEO, credits the program with providing the guidance necessary to secure a master service agreement for platform deployment into Coke’s field service network on the back of a successful pilot. On top of their Coca-Cola contract, DecisionIQ is developing a pilot with a second corporation in the program. What would have taken a year of relationship development was reduced to a few months with The Bridge program.
“This is an enabling innovation program for both the startups and corporate sponsors. It is not a sell – it is a motivated, team oriented discovery to find a high-payoff connection between startup innovation and enterprise objectives.” – Andrew Lewis, CEO of DecisionIQ
Streem + Cox
This greentech company noninvasively monitors water usage via computer hardware and software systems. As a result of the program, Streem landed a pilot monitoring Cox’s Manheim car auction space in Atlanta. Cox was interested in how much water they use in vehicle preparation for the auction and Streem provided the needed advanced metering infrastructure. This information can be used in managing load-reduction programs and forecasting to optimize water procurement procedures.
In addition, Streem is developing a relationship with IHG’s Green Engage system. The hotel group has a 2013-2017 target to reduce water consumption by 12% per occupied room in water-stressed areas and are working with industry peers in the Hotel Water Measurement Initiative to develop a common methodology to measure and report on water consumption across the hotel industry.
“The exposure to different enterprise customers helped refine our product. We realized we needed a core message for two different customer types. It has caused us to look at our business opportunities differently and expand our B2B capabilities. I wish The Bridge program had been available to us when we originally launched.” – Jeff Leaders, Founder of Streem
EngageCX + Coca-Cola
EngageCX is a real-time engagement product for brands looking to create memorable experiences in a next-generation store or venue. The platform can do things like track concert goers behavior patterns or alert retail associates to a loyal customer walking into the store.
EngageCX is now working with Coke McDonald’s team and will be running a Coke-sponsored pilot on several McDonald’s locations.
“We took our solution, did homework on each business and came up with our own idea for how we could partner. Then we presented a branded use case to each company – showcasing ourselves as a solution that could be used by their business today. The Bridge gave us the opportunity to test our new go to market strategy and sharpen our message and approach with a captive audience of engaged enterprise customers.” – David Trice, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of EngageCX
THE RESULTS – INTERNAL PROOF-OF-CONCEPTS
Five proof-of-concept projects sprung up between The Bridge Community’s startups and enterprises. A proof-of-concept is run to prove the feasibility of a solution or the feasibility of a critical aspect of a solution before progressing to a pilot.
Both DecisionIQ (mentioned above) and Gimme Vending (mentioned below) have entered into exploratory relationships with The Bridge program enterprises that can not be elaborated on at this time.
Authomate + Cox, The Weather Channel, and Capgemini
Authomate is a security startup focused on removing the pain of passwords by combating credential theft and user fatigue while helping manage security costs, providing a user-friendly interface, and mitigating vulnerability risks. They are currently working with Cox’s IT security team, developing a use case with The Weather Channel, and tackling futuristic concerns with Capgemini.
“The Bridge program offered an immediate champion inside each of the companies. This accelerated us to the right people and provided better information around needs and requirements, allowing us to tailor our message. In addition, it gave startup companies a seat at the table, where it would have been hard to do without having inertia and support from the program.” – Jeff Schmidt, President & CEO of Authomate
THE HALO EFFECT
The commercialization program has created contagious momentum beyond internal projects. Many participants attribute the wins described below to the program’s lessons and the vote of confidence created by their association with The Bridge community.
THE HALO EFFECT – STARTUP & ENTERPRISE RELATIONSHIPS
During the program startups secured external pilots and proof-of-concepts, saw significant growth in their overall enterprise pipeline and month over month revenue, raised venture capital investments, made new hires, and experienced other noteworthy achievements such as winning competitions and being acquired. Startups are now top of mind for enterprise representatives and the relationships continue to deepen and widen via referrals and ongoing engagements.
FIXD + A Dealership Group & A Shop Group
FIXD helps repair shops better retain their customers via a device that plugs into their car to help drivers better understand and stay on top of their car maintenance needs. During the program FIXD landed two pilots with a dealership and a shop group, each agreeing to test the platform for four to six months. John Gattuso, the Co-Founder & CEO of FIXD, credits The Bridge’s negotiations and marketing curriculum with helping their team of engineers craft the messaging necessary to make their external pilots a success.
Mogean is a data science startup. Their patent-pending mobile location data collection and analytics technology enables companies to build relevant interactions based on contextual behavior patterns. Nate Halsey, Chief Revenue Officer and Co-Founder of Mogean, attributes The Bridge with teaching them that their key enterprise audience is marketing departments, and not the IT departments they had focused on as an initial entry point. Halfway through the program they took that knowledge and went out to enterprises poised to be a great fit. Mogean is now discussing a pilot with a company they were exposed to via a relationship with a Bridge enterprise.
“The storytelling and brand development curriculum changed the way we describe our business and it was where we learned the most about ourselves in the program. As technical founders we are engineers and scientists, not natural marketers or salespeople. Learning how to tell our story has been invaluable.” – Nate Halsey Chief Revenue Officer and Co-Founder, Mogean
In addition to quietly developing a proof-of-concept with one of The Bridge enterprises, Gimme Vending builds mobility and inventory tracking tools for unattended retail environments. This start-up makes a device that transmits vending machine data to the cloud for more efficient inventory management and product merchandising analytics. Gimme’s award-winning and patented plug-and-play solution replaces legacy handhelds to deliver valuable data, providing operators with better cash and inventory accountability and machine state data, synchronizing or hand-keying.
“We were very excited about The Bridge because of the opportunities and big business networking it provided us as a startup. We especially loved learning from Coke and gaining insights into their bottler investment group, fleet management, and marketing support. It was incredible to get a multi disciplinary view of the inner workings of the company.” – Cory Hewett, CEO and Co-Founder Gimme
TEQ Charging + 5 Hotels
By capitalizing on a cleantech angle, this electric vehicle charging startup landed their first five pilots installing charging sites at hotels (including four large chain hotels and one boutique hotel). With these fully paying pilots TEQ Charging will no longer be a pre-revenue startup by the end of the year. The hotels are engaging TEQ to test their technology and messaging on their patrons in an effort to reduce the cost of charging by 90% and increase the charging capacity of each power line by 4-6x.
“TEQ Charging’s ability to create a prototype in a dynamic industry is outstanding. They really have a lot of knowledge in this space. Cox helped TEQ tweak their business model and focus in on a software solution.” – James Lewis, Strategy & Investments at Cox Enterprises
Converge helps companies connect with customers from their digital marketing activity all the way to in-store retail purchases. The marketing platform team had indirect relationships with two of the participating enterprises, driving their decision to take part in the program. Now they are maintaining strong relationships with many more of the participating companies.
“Typically when you get introduced at a company you’ll get connected at one very particular point, but probably not the right department and they might not know where to refer you internally. Instead The Bridge gives a 30,000 foot view showing us the places to plug in and connect to. Finally we would meet with the first person who had a need for us, not the first person who would met with us.” – Rob Kischuk, CEO & Founder at Converge
Enterprises achieved new levels of employee engagement, compared best practices with peers through the program, and refined their approach to vetting and engaging startups.
THE HALO EFFECT – STARTUP GROWTH & RECOGNITION
Since April, 12 2016, The Bridge Community:Atlanta’s 2016 startup cohort collectively:
- Hired 32 new employees
- Raised $2.9M in venture capital funding
- Increased month over month revenue by 150% on average
Highlights of other growth opportunities that the startups experienced during their time in the program:
- Storj started and concluded a partnership with the Heroku developer platform which has over a million users.
- Streem filed new patents based on some of the product features they discovered could be applicable to enterprise customers. Also, they were acquired in the fall by a global plumbing company.
- Authomate issued a second patent, had three patents pending that moved forward, and trademarked their solution. They also garnered coverage by Gartner which spurred a continuing relationship with this world leading information technology research and advisory company. In addition, they closed a $125K deal with New York City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene as well as landing a contract with Christophe’s To Go, a local foodservice delivery company in Atlanta.
- Being invited to multiple industry events and showcases including CyberLaunch, CyberCon, and the Advanced Technology Development Center’s annual showcase. Each event spawning an opportunity to work on a use case inside five non-Bridge enterprises.
- Converge engaged in a partnership with LiveRamp, an identity resolution provider offering data onboarding. They tie marketing data back to real people across 1st, 2nd, or 3rd party digital and offline data silos and activate people data anywhere it’s needed.
- Earlier this year Mogean beat 180 other startups in an Internet of Things/IoT technology competition sponsored by Verizon & Georgia Tech and hired their first CEO, Matt Reilly, to lead the company after a year long search.
- Gimme Vending was named ‘Pros to Know’ & ‘Best Product’ in 2016 by Vending Market Watch.
- TEQ Charging secured Envirospark Energy Solution as a partner, filed a utility patent, and was accepted into the inaugural TechStars Internet of Things Class in New York City – the first program that Techstars has done with a group of industry partners instead of a single large corporation.
THE HALO EFFECT – COMMUNITY BUILDING
The Bridge Community:Atlanta coalesced community stakeholders prior to formally launching the program by encouraging them to reach out across the entire ecosystem in order to cultivate a well-balanced first cohort. Venture capital firms, tech publications, professional technology associations, coworking spaces, accelerators, and startup service providers all rallied together to source participants around the common cause of invigorating both the enterprise and startup communities. In particular The Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, Atlanta Tech Village, Advanced Technology Development Center, Hypepotamus and Flashpoint went above and beyond to help.
“Fortune 500’s are looking at what innovation means for their company and how they can cultivate it from the startup community. The Bridge gives these large businesses not only the opportunity to get to know the startups, but also access to the broader network of startups in The Bridge program.” – Hillery Champagne, Director of Mobility Ecosystem Expansion at the Chamber of Commerce
As a result of The Bridge Community, Atlanta’s broader startup ecosystem is left with better educated and experienced citizens, new portfolio projects, job and revenue growth, and exposure for local companies and talent.
PLAN FOR 2017
The Bridge Community:Atlanta is considering an expansion in 2017, adding new areas of focus like FinTech, Smart Cities and Consumer Engagement – to mirror the current strengths of these verticals in Atlanta.
“This year exceeded our expectations. The Bridge Community has enabled Coca-Cola to partner with both startups and other corporations in a new way. We are excited at the potential to grow this unique collaborative program into 2017 and beyond.” – Anthony Newstead Glb Grp Director Emerging Technologies & Strategic Innovation
Cox is already preparing for the next cohort by surveying all of their internal branches including strategy, business, and technology. The conglomerate is canvassing to find out which new problems or projects each would tackle if they could essentially extend their team by working with startups.
Applications for startups to participate in the 2017 cohort will open in February and the next round of corporate citizens are being cultivated now. Corporations looking to bring innovation into their organization should reach out to Carie Davis (email@example.com), Managing Director of The Bridge Community:Atlanta program to discuss details.
“The Bridge came into Atlanta’s fertile business ecosystem to create more inroads for startups and more ways for Coca-Cola to bring innovative solutions to their core business challenges. We have taken tried and true methodology created by Coca-Cola and expanded it to an entire ecosystem in Atlanta, helping corporations learn from each other and remain competitive while helping startups grow.” – Carie Davis (firstname.lastname@example.org), Managing Director of The Bridge Community:Atlanta