In the fast-paced world of traditional venture capital, corporate venture sometimes gets a bad rap, but often it depends on the people involved rather than the brand name, logo or misguided perceptions. Likewise corporate accelerators. However, many have been getting a makeover in the last couple years, so outfits like Founders Factory is linking corporates up with startups in a sort of pact of mutual benefit across several verticals.
The new kid on the block in this sphere is Venturespring, the brain-child of serial entrepreneur Cassandra Harris (founder and CEO) who has been building a network of corporates such as IBM, Vodafone and Unilever who have problems startups can potentially solve.
Venturespring is now launching Venturespring Ignite — a six-week programme where startups are strategically matched with relevant corporate partners and giving them access to capital via Venturespring’s investment fund.
The idea is to also unlock corporate resources and investment. Tata Communications is now joining as one of the lead collaborators.
“Venturespring Ignite goes beyond a traditional accelerator”, says Harris. “It isn’t about corporates paying ‘lip service’ to digital transformation or startups being able to leverage a big brand – this is match-making and collaboration that fundamentally changes the economic prospects of both established businesses and the disruptors changing the markets they operate in.”
She adds that Venturespring takes equity in the startups but “we do not dictate how much equity we want like some accelerators do. We only take equity in the companies that we want to invest into and that want to be invested into by us.”
It also doesn’t take equity without first putting in investment capital. “So just because they get selected onto the Venturespring Ignite programme doesn’t mean we take equity.”
Not all of the companies that are selected for the Venturespring Ignite programme are given capital, but if they are selected for the programme they will still get the free resources to help them grow, says Harris. “At the end of the day this is about empowering the startups via corporate resources.”
As part of the Venturespring Ignite programme, one of the fast growth businesses will be invited to Richard Branson’s Necker Island to attend a week-long summit in February 2018 attended by (it says here) Fortune 500 leaders, top global VCs and Sir Richard himself. Singularity University is also a co-producer of the event and will be responsible for the programming. Proceeds after the expenses will go to support Virgin Unite and the Impact Fellows program at Singularity University, which is nice of them.