In early November, I had the opportunity to attend this year’s Web Summit, which takes place in Lisbon and is attended by 70,000 people from all over the world. Along with speaking on a panel titled, “Why Startups Need Corporate Venture Capital to Thrive,” I also attended Venture Day, a summit put on right before Web Summit for VCs, and participated in two roundtables discussing how to drive growth through innovation and acquisition and how sustainability is a growing part of the venture puzzle.
What did I take away from the roundtables that may be of use?
Strategic acquisitions can be key to a startup’s long-term growth and viability, as long as they occur once the startup has achieved a stable operating environment.
Be respectful of cultural norms, especially when dealing with other countries.
Quickly address organizational structure as well as eliminate redundant positions.
Successful companies find they need to have a purpose as well as be profitable. As such,
Be familiar of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals and don't address them in silos. They are meant to be addressed as ecosystems.
Be conscious of the possibilities that new technologies bring to society and foster those through creating ecosystems to enable them - even if you don't invest in them. Everything is interconnected.
What did we cover during our panel that entrepreneurs could use to work with CVCs?
Our panel, “Why Startups Need Corporate Venture Capital to Thrive,” focused on what entrepreneurs should know before accepting capital from CVCs and what else these firms can offer besides money. I joined Deborah Magid of IBM Venture Capital and Gen Tsuhikawa from Sony Innovation Fund, in an informational session led by Alex Irwin-Hunt from the Financial Times.
We discussed the levers that makes a successful CVC including an integrated strategy, incentive capital alignment, branding and reputation, as well as long term portfolio company management. Beyond capital, CVCs provide entrepreneurs a quick connection to strategic assets and industry connections, which can catapult an entrepreneur to the next phase of growth for their company and idea.
Part of what makes Verizon Ventures a unique CVC is our diversity of thought, with women making up half of our team of Managing Directors, our global reach with offices on both coasts of the US and Israel as well as our focus on supporting entrepreneurs building platforms and technologies that provide strategic solutions for Verizon’s consumer, business and media business units.
Once Managing Directors at Verizon Ventures make the investment, we put entrepreneurs first and work closely with them to accelerate their innovation, from idea to commercialization. We see CVC investments and innovation as a picture that is constantly evolving – like a kaleidoscope – with tiles of color colliding into each other, rendering a new and refined understanding of how to make investments that ensure a diverse, impactful and innovative future.