During a dinner hosted by Techonomy last month in New York, we asked a few of our guests to talk about the challenges of innovation at large companies.
Even the big company people there recognize that smallness has its advantages. Startups are often able to move at a quicker pace, unburdened by the operational complexity that large companies often experience. They are able to “fail fast and be much more agile,” said Jud Linville, who runs Citi’s credit card business.
“The larger companies are always viewed as the sitting ducks,” said Nielsen’s Steve Hasker. “And the smaller companies are viewed as the beneficiaries of that.” But he doesn’t think that is the whole story. Startups fail at a much higher rate, he said, so large companies do have real advantages.
“Bigger companies often have built-in customer bases,” pointed out Peyton Sherwood of Bond Street, a startup that is growing fast by offering loans to small businesses.
Vanessa Colella of Citi Ventures, which co-hosted the dinner, suggested that the best successes sometimes come when you can combine the energies of the large and the small. The real win, in her view is when “large enterprises embrace innovation that happens not just internally, but externally.”