Startup Bootcamps: Your Gateway To A High-Value Open Innovation Program

By September 6, 2018No Comments

With our Startup Bootcamps running everywhere from Hamburg to Vienna to Bangalore during this second half of 2018, for clients ranging from Airbus to Wien Energie and Merck, it’s a good time to take a look at what exactly a Startup Bootcamp does for our partners. To put it succinctly, the goal of a Startup Bootcamp is to define collaboration best-fit startups and use-cases ahead of a fully-fledged Open Innovation program.

Even if your company already has its own startup initiatives, such as a corporate incubator or accelerator, you still need to establish which startups to invite and why. Because success of such a program always depends on selecting the right startups and defining the right innovation use-cases.

It makes sense for corporate industry experts and startups to learn at the very outset whether collaborating as equals will work out or not. If there’s no fit, there’s no point wasting months on a project. That’s why a Startup Bootcamp, with its streamlined structure, is the best way to kick off any program.

The Pioneers Discover Startup Bootcamp format has developed organically from our many projects, answering an evident customer need. Here are the steps we recommend following if you want to set up a similar program.

Planning A Startup Bootcamp:

Step 1: Define innovation areas and topics relevant for your business. One method is to collect ideas with a tool like be-novative, which we use for our projects. More importantly, you need decision-makers who will be idea owners. They can drive the topic in-house and work together with potential startups in an ensuing innovation program.

Step 2: Scout for startups that fit your program. Let them apply for your challenge via an online application tool like Piobay, our online dealflow management service. Keep the application form short, asking only the essential questions.

Step 3: Let corporate industry experts and internal innovation champions evaluate applications – Piobay is also ideally suited for managing this. We also suggest running a remote pitching/interview session with a shortlist of around 30 startups.

Step 4: Invite the top ten startups from the shortlist to the Startup Bootcamp. You also need to invite internal and external corporate experts and mentors to help them with expertise and feedback. You need a jury of internal and external industry experts to judge pitching too.

The Bootcamp Itself:

Here’s the essential structure of one of our Startup Bootcamps.

Day 1: Easing in with a half-day start, the startups get an overview of the company and the goals of its startup program. A keynote from a leading executive about the importance of open innovation and collaboration shows that the company takes this initiative seriously. The startups might invest months of their time, so they need to feel that the decision-makers behind the initiative really walk the talk.

Then it’s on to some ice-breaker programs, startup introductions and connecting everyone to a dedicated communications channel, such as slack, for sharing information and documents throughout the Bootcamp.

After that comes the first workshop: use-case ideation. Using our dedicated canvas, the corporate experts and startups gather first collaboration ideas and define team roles.

Day 2: After sleeping on those early concepts, the second day starts with use case development. Following our canvas for this topic, teams answer the most relevant questions regarding problem, solution, potential customer segments and channels to reach them, value proposition and unfair advantage. There’s also a first calculation of costs and potential revenue streams. In the afternoon the teams develop their use-case roadmaps, using our canvas to define milestones and responsibilities going forward.

With three filled-out canvases defining how the collaboration use case could look, team roles and a first roadmap, there’s now a feedback session from different mentors, coaches and experts. One format we often run is a ‘speed-date your mentor’ session.

Following the lean startup methodology, we run a couple of feedback loops to find out the right problem-solution fit. Day two often ends with completely new ideas!

Day 3: It’s time for the pitching day! The first session is about validation, implementing the previous day’s feedback before planning those afternoon presentations. Then comes the growth roadmap workshop, which helps teams come up with a structured project plan, including calculating financial requirements to run a pilot in the innovation program. This information is very important for the pitch – every proper pitch ends with a call to action.

The third session prepares the teams for pitching, with training led by an external pitch trainer or Pioneers Discover consultant. After giving the teams a couple of hours to finalize their presentations, the high point arrives. Many corporates invite board members and leading executives to this final session.

But it’s the jury that evaluates the pitches and selects the teams to make it into the innovation program. We recommend our clients don’t promise a final number to be selected, so they don’t have to commit too early. When the jury deliberates, Pioneers Discover usually moderates the session, and the closing ceremony where the winners are announced!

Interested in a Pioneers Discover Startup Bootcamp? Get our contact details here. Or you can ask our Product Manager for a free Piobay trial.