Whether it’s a popular hot-right-now word or not, our recent ‘Act Like A Start-Up’ event, in association with Pakhuis de Zwijger, saw 225+ people show up to hotly discuss the hows, whys, and wherefores of what it means to be a start-up.On stage were four entrepreneurial spirits, each with their own individual perspective on how the start-up mentality can effect consumer brands and companies alike. Our very own Kerrie Finch was on hand to moderate and ensure quick cross-examination between audience and speakers.
Simon Neate-Stidson, Senior Strategy Director at Blast Radius, which is safe to say no longer a start-up, kicked off the evening. Simon was upbeat and positive about the possibilities to implement characteristics we love about start-ups – flexibility, creativity, passion, responsiveness – into large corporations and brands. He even coined a name for the unique people who manage to do this in-house: intrapreneurs. Apparently, a lot of them work at Blast Radius.
Simon went on to point out the resemblances between start-ups and ‘networked brands’. Never heard of the term? It basically means a brand that manages the eco-system of people, platforms, products and devices more effectively and efficiently than most large global brands. They are digital, social and innovative. Similar to start-ups in that way. Blast Radius, said Simon, helps large global brands become a networked brand, a brand incorporating the start-up mentality.
Next up? Entrepreneur extraordinaire Steven Blom, developer of Sendsteps and currently working at TomTom. Immediately seeking interaction with the audience with his tool Sendsteps, Steven asked everybody to get their phones out and tweet, text or email him questions, which appeared on the overhead screens.
“Fear prevents us from asking questions in large groups”, said Steven. Fear is also what takes over in large corporations. People are afraid to make mistakes and be judged.”
Loving us all (so he said), Steven encouraged the audience to make mistakes, not judge themselves, and to truly listen to their feelings. Reconnecting to what you are really feeling often gives you the best ideas, according to Steven.
Tara Ross, Chief Community officer at Appsterdam sees both sides of the coin, with experience at large corporations, as well as within the app-development start-up environment. She gave a more nuanced view of what companies can learn from start-ups and how they can really change. She brought up one of the big pains at large companies – the lengthy approval process. To diminish this pain – and we’ve all experienced it – it is necessary, she tells us, for an intrapreneurial shift to be supported from the top down. Oh, and you know you’re no longer a start-up when you’ve got an HR department. Wise words.
Gilles de Smit, founder of the online music jukebox 22Tracks, kept his presentation short. Because his bladder couldn’t take it. His key message for the evening: if you have a burning idea, just get on it, don’t wait. 22Tracks is surely a good one to learn from; working with zero marketing budget and no funding, the company aims to grow across the world’s largest 22 cities.