On the one hand, a large corporation looking to renew itself, bringing innovative solutions close to you. On the other, startups with an eye on partnerships and, who knows, a contract or investment with a large company. In recent years, corporate acceleration programs have become popular in Brazil, based on immersion, events and many exchanges in the same physical space. In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, these initiatives had to be transformed in order to continue making sense, but they were still on the companies’ agenda, according to the Estadão with innovation companies that manage these programs.
Responsible for most of the country’s corporate acceleration programs, groups such as Liga Ventures, Ace, Kyvo and Endeavor claim to have had no projects canceled in the midst of the new coronavirus crisis – the initial forecast is that at least 20 projects will be executed by four companies.
“Of course, there was an impact, because all companies were affected by the pandemic, but everything was adequate. We had 40% of the programs paused, but half of them have already been resumed and the other half will return until July,” says Daniel Grossi, co-founder of Liga Ventures, which currently runs projects with names like Banco do Brasil, O Boticário, Suvinil and Danone. “We heard a lot from some companies that it was not possible to start on the scheduled date, the focus of the action had shifted, but they said that innovation followed second fundamental.”
Kyvo, which serves groups like Visa, said it had similarly postponed percentages. For Clara Bidorini, head of corporate venture at Kyvo, it was necessary to find out how to make people work differently. “We had to find tools so that the projects could be played asynchronously. In the quarantine, each person has a different timing,” she says.
In addition to digital adaptations, Kyvo also had to redo the schedule of some programs – in one, which featured an immersion trip from participating startups to Silicon Valley, the tour was replaced by a series of lives and conversations with mentors from different countries. “The trip had a great impact, but now we can have a series of very different points of view”, says the executive. The company also claims that some of its six-month programs have been shortened to three or four months. “What matters now is to understand the challenge that corporations have to innovate and adapt to that.”
Ace and Endeavor claimed to have had no programs postponed, but had to make adjustments to the digital universe. “There are people who think that being 100% digital means sending a Zoom link and everything is fine. It’s not like that: nobody can stand all day in front of the screen doing video conferences”, says Igor Piquet, business growth director at Endeavor , which has just launched a program supported by clients such as Grupo Pão de Açúcar and Nestlé. According to him, it was necessary to redesign the events and meetings so that the activities were profitable, focusing on the objectives. “What we need to recreate is the experience of doing business, not just communication.”
For Ace partner Arthur Garutti, social isolation has even facilitated some practices of acceleration programs. “The agenda of corporate executives, who serve as mentors for startups, has become less sparse,” he says. A similar experience is also reported by Grossi, from Liga Ventures. “In addition to more free time, the perception of the need for digital transformation has also increased among executives,” he says.
According to Garutti, Ace’s next programs are already being rethought. “In the future, acceleration will have an increase in remote interactions, with only a few key moments having face-to-face ceremonies,” he says.
Another change that happened with the Liga Ventures programs was the interest of startups. Before the pandemic, contrary to popular belief, not all start-up companies seek to associate with a large corporation. In a more complicated scenario, however, that has changed. “In programs with open enrollment, we saw a 50% increase in demand for startups”, says Grossi. “They are looking forward to getting closer: in markets where sales have slowed, a project could be an alternative to develop business.”
For Piquet, from Endeavor, however, entrepreneurs continue to be very careful to associate with a large corporation. “It is necessary to separate the chaff from the wheat. If the program’s proposal is only events and wow, startups are out – after all, the crisis is forcing many people to make hard changes.”
In the view of Grossi, of the Liga, even with a good moment it is difficult to predict how the future will be. For him, 2021 can be a difficult year for corporate acceleration programs, due to the economic scenario and smaller companies’ budgets. “But I believe that the recovery will also be quick. The companies’ drive to transform will not be lost.”
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