Why innovation needs a sponsor

innovation entrepreneurshipEven when faced with less than optimal environments for growth – which is certainly the case if you look at the latest jobs report posted last week, scrappy small- to mid-sized enterprises consistently post higher new employment rates than their big-business or government counterparts. According to a recent report from the Kauffman Foundation, firms two years old or younger are leading the way when it comes to post-recession hiring and job creation. Fueled by ambition, guts and gumption, they are the engine for economic growth and increased revenue, innovation and productivity around the globe.

Yet, in order for entrepreneurs to take full advantage of their position and successfully innovate, they need access to capital, networks and knowledge — resources large corporations have at their fingertips. Corporate executives and entrepreneurs often have needs and strengths that are both opposite and complementary. By joining forces we can achieve our goals, be it a small company looking to grow quickly or a large company seeking innovation – and together have a great impact on turning our economy around.

Dell’s approach to business development and acquisition is a great example of this. Many of our acquired companies were scrappy small- to mid-sized enterprises serving a market of their peers, and since becoming part of Dell they are bringing new, innovative thinking with them and expanding their capabilities to give large companies – like Dell – the benefits of agile, scalable IT.  We’re taking full advantage of these capabilities inside of Dell, and I’m meeting with hundreds of large customers who are also finding value in our  “design to scale” approach as well – meaning we give them open systems that are highly affordable, user-friendly and designed to grow as they grow.

At Dell, we use Dell Boomi cloud integration technology to integrate new acquisitions like Compellent and SecureWorks, moving quickly to combine separate sales pipelines and sales channel partner deal registration programs into one system. The normal integration process would have taken months, but using the Dell Boomi AtomSphere application platform we were able to shorten integration time-to-value and in the process, strengthen data security and prepare for future acquisitions.

And through our acquisition strategy, Dell has remained true to its startup roots. While VCs tend to be focused on ROI, at Dell we’re focused on integration and incubation first. We provide brand awareness and go-to-market capabilities to smaller companies through acquisition, enabling them to go big with their innovative offerings. Systems management company KACE runs on a “startup” inside of Dell and growing the business at a record pace while staying true to the Dell KACE value proposition. It’s our M&A efforts and solid relationships with the startup community that have brought Dell its strongest-ever portfolio of solutions, intellectual property and differentiated products, backed by new skills and capabilities in our global team.

Acquisition isn’t the only route to developing mutually beneficial relationships with growing businesses. There are many ways big businesses can open their doors and make resources available to support their growth and success. One great example is Goldman Sachs, which runs a $500 million program called 10,000 Small Businesses. It supports small companies by providing them with mentors, management training, and access to capital. By investing in entrepreneurs at this stage, Goldman is building a strong brand affinity early on and supporting job creation, something our global economy so desperately needs.

Recently at Dell, our Office of the EIR (Entrepreneur-in-Residence) hosted a first-of-its-kind event called Tech Innovators Day that gave promising entrepreneurs the opportunity to meet and pitch their firms to me and other senior-level executives. We discussed their business needs and priorities, while giving them critical feedback on their pitch, company, and business plan, and making connections where appropriate. Companies in attendance ranged from Datafiniti, the world’s first search engine for data, to security platform Risk I/O, to pattern-based analytics solution provider Emcien.By supporting the growth of entrepreneurship, companies like Dell and Goldman Sachs can play our role in resolving issues in the current small business landscape and help cultivate the future generation of entrepreneurs.

All big corporations have the ability to make a positive difference in the lives of entrepreneurs and their companies and sponsor innovation in a way that benefits us all. It just takes understanding how much entrepreneurial thinking can influence their success, and as a result, how their success can influence entrepreneurship for the better.

Steve Felice is president and chief commercial officer of Dell Inc.

Steve Felice

Steve Felice

Dell Contributor at Tech Page One
Steve Felice is president and chief commercial officer of Dell Inc.
Steve Felice
Tags: Business,Entrepreneurship