The BridgeCommunity by Coca-Cola is unlike any program we have worked with before. It is tailored specifically to ensure startup success with its affiliated companies. This is achieved through startup friendly policies on financing, organization, and ongoing support.
Unlike conferences that charge steep prices for booths or accelerators which often require startup equity or fees, BridgeCommunity does not impose financial commitments. In fact, BridgeCommunity has been a financial boon for our startup. Their lodging and travel reimbursements have allowed us to come to Atlanta to work on deals.
Organizationally, the BridgeCommunity commercialization program is unique due to the clarity of its goal – to set up deals between startups and large Atlanta-based enterprises. BridgeCommunity has a laser focus on cultivating pilots and demos for the startups involved by introducing them to decision makers who are excited to adopt emerging technologies. Any programming that is not directly tied to putting startup founders in front of stakeholders at large companies is extremely limited. The 2-day onsite sales seminar is a great example. Instead of a typical week-long sales seminar, our class was focused on how each individual startup in the cohort could best leverage their opportunities with particular companies in the program. The condensed nature of the seminar showed us that the program was sensitive to the time-crunched nature of startups -providing a lot of value in a small period of time. The BridgeCommunity also works on training the large enterprises in the program, ensuring that their contracts are shortened and their engagement processes are simplified.
Lastly, when it comes to ongoing support, BridgeCommunity has found a perfect balance. Although there are pre-organized connect days with affiliated companies, the program is by no means restrictive. Startups have free reign to engage with partner companies in any way that we find productive. On several occasions we had already pitched a demo to a company by the time we met for their scheduled Connect Days. BridgeCommunity understands that what startups need is an opportunity to get in front of a receptive business leader, and after that they get out of the way. However, if there is any confusion after a meeting or if a lead goes silent inexplicably, the BridgeCommunity team is at the ready to step in and get things back on track. This saves us a lot of nervous hand wringing when a deal goes off course. The program’s approach also relieves many issues around timing and power imbalances that can arise from engagement between massive enterprises and small startups.
Author, Memme Onwudiwe, is a JD Candidate at Harvard Law School and Executive Vice President of Evisort Inc. – a 2018 cohort startup focused on Artificial intelligence for contracts