Jen O’Toole is a Director in Global Corporate Client Group at NYSE Euronext. She is responsible for managing...
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Many management books and articles promise to help large corporations think and act like startups. There are different reasons well-established companies seek to tap entrepreneurial dreams—fresh ideas, technology and opportunities for growth are a few. The authors of “Community-Powered Problem Solving,” in the current issue of Harvard Business Review, argue that a radical change in how business is done offers another good reason for corporate leaders to connect with entrepreneurs. The authors call on corporate leaders “to be community organizers who strive to engage the customers, suppliers, employees, partners, citizens, and regulators that make up their ecosystems.”
At NYSE Euronext, we have built a platform to help well-established public companies try out new ways of engagement, to tap fresh ideas and procurement channels. Corporate Connections is an electronic matching engine that brings together startups and large companies. Already it has gained the support of The Coca-Cola Company, Wal-Mart Stores, General Electric, Intuit, Jones Lang LaSalle, American Airlines, Greenway Medical Technologies and many others. Some 420 early stage companies have signed on. And we’re just getting started.
The early-stagecompanies can become the larger companies’ suppliers, “sources of innovation” and/or acquisition targets, providing “a turnkey way for issuers to play in this space,” Gregg Krowitz, a VP within NYSE’s global corporate client group, told Forbes for a recent article about the Corporate Connections platform. Startup companies have said they see the platform as an entryway to capital, infrastructure and, of course, customers. It “is about access to big players,” and each step taken creates “a tipping-point for other opportunities,” Krowitz explained.
To speed the corporate – startup dating process, the corporate connections platform is using sector-specific tactics. For instance, in healthcare services and tech-oriented Nashville, we’re working with Nashville Entrepreneur Center CEO Michael Burcham as a “regional champion.” Burcham’s network is tremendous and he is working to sign up both large corporations and emerging growth companies that work in healthcare and tech.
Burcham is one of many dynamic people involved in the Corporate Connections program. We look forward to building new partnerships, bringing more listed companies into the fold and engaging with many more emerging growth companies. Small businesses and entrepreneurs are our neighbors, our customers, and our future. And America’s corporations can be part of the economic solution. Please visit Corporate Connections to learn more about how you can get involved.