TechSparks 2019: Corporates and startups need to coexist to build a vibrant ecosystem

At a panel discussion at the 10th edition of YourStory's TechSparks, corporate executives explain what they look for in startups, and how this is a strategic partnership for both parties.

The thriving startup ecosystem in India has found ample support from the investor community. But, there is another important element, which is acting as a catalyst for these young companies - large corporates and enterprises.

Today, corporates and startups understand the need to coexist in order to create a vibrancy in the ecosystem. Taking a cue from this, entrepreneurs at TechSparks 2019 had a panel discussion on 'Business Transformation Via Corporate Innovation'.

Setting the ball rolling, Avnish Sabharwal, Managing Director, Accenture Ventures & Open Innovation, said, “Every corporate wants to become a startup and every startup wants to become a corporate.” 

Though it is easier said than done, they represent two different worlds. While corporates consider size as an advantage, startups focus on agility. Thus, it is a journey for both entities.

Talking about their own journey, Pavan Cheruvu, Program Director, Oracle for startups, said, “One needs to measure innovation, and Oracle itself has transformed over the last two years.”

At the same time, there is also the question of whether corporates really need to look outside for innovation through startups.

Pankaj Bagri, Senior Director – Data Sciences, Target in India, said, “Any organisation, which does not realise that there is talent in-house, is missing out on a lot of things.” 

On intrapreneurship, where talent is nurtured internally, Pankaj said there is a lot of potential within organisations and there is a need to harness it.

There are polarities between startups and corporates on how they view their goals, processes, failures, and taking risks. Avnish said that there are very few organisations which can transcend these differences.

"There is a phenomenal opportunity for enterprises and startups to coexist,” Pavan said.

The executives from Accenture, Oracle and Target described their positive experience of engaging with startups. These corporates are always seeking out for innovation from the startups as they feel their ideas can be used globally. It also brings about an interaction between India and global startups.

Avnish said that they are constantly taking Indian startups to overseas locations and also bringing global companies to the country. “We are helping the startups to scale through market access," he added.

Though startups are buzzing with ideas, they need to have focus and vision on how they plan to achieve their goals, Pavan said.

The one thing all the speakers had in common, and also served as a word of advice for the startups was, "Never give in to any kind of free Proof of Concept (PoC) with corporates, and always demand your share. Nothing comes for free."

(Edited by Suman Singh)

YourStory's annual extravaganza TechSparks brings together the best and the brightest from the startup ecosystem, corporate world, policymakers and, of course, the investor community. Over the past decade, TechSparks has grown to become India's most loved tech and startup platform for knowledge sharing and networking. A big thank you for all your support over the years and a big shoutout to our sponsors.