How do you engage startups? Is it a part of your IT strategy?

23.7k views3 Upvotes17 Comments

CEO in Services (non-Government), 2 - 10 employees
It's definitely part of strategy. The key question to ask is "What are the problems we need to solve and who are the best companies out there solving them?" The age and stage of the company is less of a deterrent as long as they can solve for my problem. An example is around mobile charging stations. It was an important project and we quickly realized that the best ones were early stage companies. So we wasted no time to engage them. What you need to pay attention to though with the startups is who ends up owning the IP should they be acquired or cease to exists.
VP of Software Engineering in Software, 201 - 500 employees
It is part of the IT strategy especially for nascent markets where the technology or solution is not yet available. There are both pros and cons while engaging with startups. Some of the advantages are the ability to influence their road map to a large extent and faster turnaround for any custom features and requests. Some disadvantages are the lack of process and the risk that the company may not exist later. These are some high level safety measures to put in place. 1. Ensure you have discussion about their viability and road map every quarter. 2. Request the source code be part of escrow as part of the initial contract.3. Ensure proper documentation exists for the code base.4. Require architectural, design and code walk through should the startup run into trouble. 5. Add a buyout clause in the contract should this solution become a critical area of your overall solution. This may not be feasible with all startups.
vCIO in Media, 51 - 200 employees
I dont generally engage with startups unless it is something very exciting.
CIO, Managing Director IT - Retired in Finance (non-banking), 1,001 - 5,000 employees
If you are working with a startup you need a team who is highly flexible and have very strong horizontal skills. Typically startups do not have enough technologists to specialize in all of the technologies. Starting with the cloud or at the very least a managed data center is imperative. In today’s world startups should not be building on-premises. Getting started with a good consulting company is very valuable. Some consulting companies will cut their rates for startups in the hope that they will grow in the future.
CIO in Software, 2 - 10 employees
Certainly I'm an advocate for engaging with start-ups and have a special category within my overall strategic plan with respect to the delivery of our goals. That said it is important to recognize at what stage of growth the start-up is at, how mature their product offering is and how capable they are of delivering especially if it is an important project with tight deadlines. I'm also an advocate of NOT doing countless proofs of concept (POCs) as this is a killer for any start-up. There are certainly very clear advantages with start-ups in that they generally have huge amounts of energy and highly innovative product(s). They do require more hand holding and close supervision especially if their product is in the early development cycle or stage. We have an IT Strategic Innovation head who works closely with developing strategies around future technologies and one of their KPI's is identifying those start-ups who have high potential to deliver innovative solutions. So in each area of interest say Big Data or AI we monitor roughly four start-ups in each technology area who have really set themselves apart with their offerings. A challenge is obviously how compatible they would be with our current "mainstream" technologies such as SAP as we are hellbent on ensuring integration is seamless with all vendors.As technology in general is developing at such a rate one cannot ignore start-ups and their associated innovative technological solutions and in fact my belief is that it will become increasingly important to stay on top of the latest trends that are being developed by companies in essence "under the radar". Funny enough I love attending "geek" sessions here in Victoria, BC and the annual Traction conference in Vancouver where I'm a good 10-20 years older than most attendees. Recently due to the importance and need to utilize Instagram more effectively I went on a course and found myself surrounded by people my children's age. They were talking a language I couldn't understand with infectious enthusiasm and representing companies I'd never heard of - we've now hired some of this awesome talent.
CIO in Healthcare and Biotech, 51 - 200 employees
No, as a mid sized NGO, engaging startups is not part of our strategy. That said, as an important part of our innovation ecosystem, we are members of and support local incubator facilities and host some community start-up events.
in Government, 501 - 1,000 employees
Startups are not part of my IT strategy by now
CIO GOVERNMENT OF JAMAICA in Software, Self-employed
Generally, engaging startups is more of a concern of governments than the private sector.  Most progressive governments have entrepreneurship units that work hand in hand with startups.  In my career, I have engaged startups in a number of ways, including asking them to serve on technology advisory, asking them to participate in Tech Show events sponsored by the government, consulting with them on new innovations and sometimes even inviting them to submit un-solicited proposal that may be of value to employer.  
General Manager America at HCL Technologies (Infrastructure Services Division) in Software, 5,001 - 10,000 employees
Niche startup's in the space of Consulting, Analytics, Big Data & Security are a part of our strategy & vision, however we look at them from a aqusition point of view and not collaboration...
Group CIO in Energy and Utilities, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
I don't think we have to put in place a Strategy to engage with Startups but more an Opportunity to work with them if they match with your Roadmap! The IT Strategy uses all required methods / Best Practices and Tools to achieve Organisation's Goals including Startups who are part of the Partner's

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