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From the Digital Innovators' Tour: Innovation at RocketSpace

There is a growing trend in San Francisco/Silicon Valley where corporations are considering startups to be outsourced innovation labs – a kind of ‘try before you buy environment’. This means that corporations work with organisations like RocketSpace, a technology campus for entrepreneurs, startups and corporate innovation professionals, to identify startups working in areas of interest – and then acquire them so that they can take their products and services to scale. RocketSpace was the first company participants on the 2016 Digital Innovator’s Tour visited on day one.

RocketSpace, which has been home to startup up ‘unicorns’ (companies now worth US$1bn) including Uber and Spotify is increasingly developing services to bridge the gap between the startup world and the corporate world.

RocketSpace working area ()

RocketSpace’s SVP of sales, Boris Pluskowski says, the company teaches corporates:

  • Which startups they should be looking at – corporate clients identify an area of interest and RocketSpace finds the set of startups operating in this space and makes the introductions
  • How to work with startups – RocketSpace guides corporate clients on the realities of collaborating with startups
  • How to work like startups – corporate clients learn how to innovate at scale and pace

An increasing number of corporates are setting up innovation labs at RocketSpace and international startups from countries including Australia and Brazil looking to expand their presence in the US are using the firm as a local launch pad. RocketSpace then introduces these foreign startups to critical Silicon Valley resources.

On the flipside, RocketSpace is seeing their startups looking to be acquired by a corporation as their key strategy. Fewer and fewer are expecting to become unicorns, Ron Yerkes, RocketSpace’s director of corporate innovation services said.

At the same time RocketSpace is seeing a growing trend where founders are realising that they have to be part of an ecosystem to succeed. “It’s very rare that two guys can create a successful venture in a garage these days,” said Pluskowski. Instead founders understand that ‘it takes a village” to succeed.

Entrepreneurs today are also embracing a different startup process. Instead of writing a detailed business plan as the starting point, founders today understand that they need to ‘talk it before they ‘build it.’  This means testing the idea with four or five potential customers before writing a formal business plan.

Today, the firm is seeing a lot of startup activity in AR/VR, data analytics and data visualisation areas.

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