Something from nothing. Filling a void. Seeing an opportunity. These are just some of the sparks that ignite the engines of new businesses. Yet in order to succeed startups need more than a spark—they need someone to fan the flame once it’s lit.
That’s what drives B2B accelerator Tech Wildcatters, based in Dallas, Texas. Founded in 2010, to-date Tech Wildcatters has invested in more than 68 promising companies worldwide, helping to create more than 250 jobs.
Without the kind of help accelerators provide, many young companies fail to thrive in today’s competitive environment. Businesses have to be nimble. They need to be able to respond quickly to customer demands and maintain a prominent place in the market. And, of course, they need to meet every challenge in the most affordable way possible. That’s where technology plays a critical role. That’s also why Tech Wildcatters enlisted Dell Digital Business Services to take part in the inaugural members of their new Corporate Innovation Network.
“The entrepreneurial spirit is something we’re well acquainted with here at Dell,” says Raman Sapra, Executive Director and Global Head of Dell Digital Business Services. “It’s exciting to be a part of a network that connects us with new, innovative businesses.”
It’s the primary benefit of being a part of the Corporate Innovation Network. New businesses are like snowflakes—everyone is unique. And every new businessperson brings innovative thinking and solutions to business challenges.
“We specifically approached Dell to be an inaugural partner because they have meaningfully worked with our startups in the past. That level of commitment is critical to the mission of this network,” says Gabriella Draney, CEO and Co-Founder of Tech Wildcatters. “We've asked our alums which corporations they'd like to work with, and Dell keeps coming up as a top organization they would like to plug into. While large, Dell is also really nimble and what we would almost consider a corporate startup. We're passionate about including name brands that embrace innovation, so Dell was really a no-brainer when we made the decision.”
As the first program of its kind, the Corporate Innovation Network plans to bridge the gap between corporations and startups whose products are solving modern day problems. Members of the network are encouraged to pose challenges to the startups in the Tech Wildcatters network, which in turn accelerate the go-to-market process. Both corporate and startup members commit to beta-testing in at least one startup in the Tech Wildcatter portfolio.
“This has been a long time coming,” Draney said. “With the hiring of our new Executive Director Molly Cain in October, our team now has the bandwidth to pursue initiatives we've been wanting to do for years. Also entering our sixth year, we knew it was time to increase our offerings to stay competitive, and forming stronger bonds with corporations was a logical next step. This network is for C-Level executives who fully support innovation at their companies.”
Tech Wildcatters accept companies into their program through an application basis. Once accepted, startups are funded and given access to a 12-week education and mentoring program that culminates in a Pitch Day. Beyond those initial three months, companies can become eligible to work with the accelerator program longer-term, developing a network and support structure that helps them thrive. The Corporate Innovation Network was created as a direct response to corporate requests build understanding and insight into the thought process of today’s startups. Essentially, the Corporate Innovation Network offers its members access to the new products and solutions—without the risks commonly associated with early investments of time and resources.
“We look forward to the bold thinking that can come during the incubation stage of a product or service,” Sapra says. “Those first steps in the development process are often challenging for larger corporations with intact architectures and processes. Our involvement gives us an opportunity to look at challenges through a fresh set of eyes that may be looking at a problem from a much leaner, more agile point of view.”
“The deadline for the Spring Class of 2015 was January 23,” Draney says. “But it’s never too late to get started planning on your next big adventure. The Corporate Innovation Network is just getting started, so I’m sure we’ll be able to extend the network beyond this initial stage.”
After all, there’s never a deadline on a good idea—something Tech Wildcatters and Dell Digital Business Services know all too well.