In response to requests from corporations that want to better understand startups, Tech Wildcatters has created the Corporate Innovation Network, which connects the early adopters among Fortune 500 companies with leading-edge B2B tech startups.
On January 20, the Dallas-based seed accelerator announced the first five of 10 inaugural members: Comerica, Softlayer, GameStop, Dallas Stars and Dell’s Digital Business Services. The first of its kind, the network will help bridge the gap between these corporations and startups whose products are solving modern-day problems. Member companies can express issues they need to address and, in turn, the startups will work on accelerating the development of a product that might help.
“These corporations were chosen based on their commitment to innovation through collaboration with the startup community,” Tech Wildcatters co-founder and CEO Gabriella Draney said in a statement. “Companies like 7-Eleven have proven their commitment in the past by partnering with Tech Wildcatters graduates Koupon Media and YooLotto. We want to encourage more of that type of value creation.”
To that end, the corporate members are committed to beta testing at least one startup’s product annually. Brad Alberts, chief revenue officer of the Dallas Stars, believes that the partnership will allow companies like his to find worthwhile startups, and the startups get to work with established businesses that have more reach.
“We get approached often by startups and companies looking to work with us,” Alberts said. “It’s nearly impossible to understand all the products they’re offering, much less if they’re a quality company to work with. This program is a perfect way for us to sift through the clutter and work with early-stage companies with little to no risk.”
Since beginning in 2010, Tech Wildcatters, the world’s only B2B seed accelerator on the Forbes top 10, has funded 68 companies with more than 250 jobs created and four exits. It is accepting applications for its 16-member 2015 class through January 23.