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The “entrefunereal” spirit takes hold at Rainmaking Summit

First published on Written by Oisin Merrins, Editor, FinTech Futures Series.


To fully leverage the disruptive potential of game-changing innovations, financial institutions need to embrace the FinTech paradigm shift, empower their employees to cross-collaborate and synergise, and action their strategies for change.

Because the road on the journey to tomorrow is lined with windows of opportunity, and only those who can think outside, inside and around the box, can truly take innovation to the next level and beyond.

It is exactly this kind of talk that would not have gone down too well at last week’s Rainmaking Summit, a day dedicated to burying those aspects of corporate culture that hamper lasting innovation and culminating in a funeral procession that saw “bureaucracy”, “buzzwords”, and “BS” laid to rest.

Irreverent theatrics aside, the summit tapped a frustration with the kind of language that obfuscates more than it clarifies, initiatives that pay lip service to innovation while skirting around the edges, and the cultural, organisational, and technological blockers to change that define many large corporates.

With the focus solely on the “how” of innovation, and in the context of widespread enthusiasm for “partnership” as a means of accelerating change, it was particularly interesting to hear insights and practical recommendations around how incumbents should engage with start-ups.

Several important lessons emerged during the “How Engagement?” debate:

  • Define your innovation thesis – then search for partners

Corporates must have a clear picture of what the future of their industry looks like and the characteristics that will define the companies that succeed. Only with this in mind can they begin to explore the kinds of investments or partnerships that could help them on their way.

  • Design a start-up track within the organisation

Before engaging with a start-up a clear process has to be put in place: identify the owners of the partnership and devise a clear framework for governance, performance and reporting.

  • Align your culture with your partnership objectives

Is your culture supportive of external partnerships? Is it easy to connect start-ups with relevant teams after the initial phase? Are the relevant team incentivized to take the risk and strive for change, or will they be worrying about the effects on their bonuses instead? Engaging with start-ups when a supportive culture is lacking can be an exercise in futility.

  • Deliver on the value proposition for start-ups

Related to the last point, corporates must deliver on their value proposition as a partner. The should nominate someone with influence who can shepherd start-ups through their organisation and push for them to reap the benefits of their relationship. Start-ups talk, so getting it right matters if corporates want to be seen as a reliable partner.

How many of these lessons will be taken on board by corporates on the lookout for start-up partners in order to meet their long-term business objectives remains to be seen, but the “entrefunereal” spirit that took hold at Rainmaking Summit at least signals that many are eagerly anticipating the demise of buzzword-laden “innovation roadmaps” that do little to deliver tangible results.

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