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Should every brand have a non-tech incubator?

July 12, 2012

It takes a big leap to get out of your own comfort zone and realize that ideas can come from outside your organization, it’s especially hard if you happen to have been one of the most innovative companies on the planet.

Microsoft is a company with a lot of challenges right now and it has to look beyond its campus to find the next generation of revolutionary thinking and is doing this by creating a new incubator, the Bing Fund, which is looking for disruptive players in the online space.

It’s going after early stage start up and offering them seed money, advice and space if they need it, which is importantly off campus.

The power at the heart of this idea is access to the brains at Microsoft who can help with anything from marketing and technical design.

It certainly seems like the right thing to do, but it might be challenging to attract the best and brightest to the Bingcubator, given the other options that are out there.

While it seems obvious for technology brands to play in the start-up space, we’ve already seen the likes of Pepsi and Kraft making bold experiments looking at how start-up technology can be incorporated to enhance their offerings, which I am certain other brands will also adopt in the near future.

I wonder if there’s a space for a non-tech start up?

Imagine if a packaged goods company applies the same principles as Microsoft, but encourages submissions for new businesses that are directly related to the core mission of the company.

The sponsoring company would provide expertise and guidance, but allow the emerging new venture to create and develop its own brands and products.

Basically, instead of just looking at “the start-up” as a way to create new technologies, companies should be developing incubators of “start-ups” to help develop new products that are central to the organization’s future success.

The typical approach in packaged goods is to develop new products in-house, or to acquire a four-year old business with a developed brand. The first is fraught with complex challenges and the later is usually very expensive.

Perhaps, the start-up incubator could be a good way to supplement these approaches.






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