There are a lot of gurus out there who have tons of opinions and experiences on what makes a startup fly.
Here is how we leveraged the Power Of Partnership to successfully drive the Insurance-in-a-Box [iiB] and WealthMapper [WeMap] internal startup agenda with our ecosystem partners.
What we did right:
We got strong and committed sponsorship. There was provision of seed funding, network, political support and help for trouble shooting. Moreover, failed execution attempts were acceptable, but failure to execute was not! They understood the difference between internal startup vs external startup and did not pretend to be VCs (Venture Capitalists) :-).
It is always a pleasure working with people who are passionate individual contributors. The doers with skin in the game. "Will do whatever it takes" attitude. The team is not guided by a linear hierarchy. They are like-minded believers across the organization.
The Individuals (not companies) who commit and contribute to developing the idea with solutions from companies they represent are the key. Their willingness and ability to invest their share make the ecosystem a live and thriving organism!
Instead of investing in creating a lot of marketing material (read-PowerPoint slides) and other peripherals, all effort invested was on creating the real solution. A living and breathing idea - demonstrable and experienceable. Nothing is more convincing than a functional solution.
The person (not company) who puts the 1st money on the table is the 1st customer. Size, value, quantity immaterial. They buy into the idea, not the solution itself. A brutal and uncompromising "try fast & fail fast" approach accelerates the process to find the elusive 1st customer.
The most important asset that we could absolutely not afford to lose was (and is) TIME. The biggest drain on time is caused by free-loaders & non-contributing beneficiaries. Mediocrity by far makes you pay the dearest price and hence was meticulously avoided.
Process evangelism starts where common sense ends. Failure is real and acceptable - no process could possibly mitigate it. The drudgery of process is the perfect recipe for killing passion for execution. Hence a balance was sought.
Where partnerships are concerned, the ability to tango in sync is mission critical. A relationship that is a liability is best cut short. A quick and clean cut allows the rest of the ecosystem to function smoothly and overcome short term setbacks.
Nonfunctional ideas are like heavy stones tied to your legs while swimming. A love affair with own ideas is a surefire recipe for disaster. Fail fast is more important than win fast. We managed to keep our egos out of the door and let go of ideas that were not able to find commercial traction very early.
For the hyper-caliber team to function optimally, defunct roles inherited traditionally were avoided. For example, there is no place for project managers with no technical skills or business understanding. Another example is of testers without technical skills &/or domain expertise add no tangible value. This goes for the whole ecosystem.
These are just our learnings from the journey. Our partners too have their own story to tell and their own ideas to share.
Read the next articles in the #PowerOfPartnership series:
#InsuranceInABox #WealthMapper #Insurtec #Insurtech #WealthManagement
Sameer is responsible for ecosystem-driven business development in the Insurance sector. He is also responsible for the Insurance R&D team in Tieto. In the IT sector, he has a long experience of working for the Healthcare and Insurance sectors. Prior to which he worked as a product manager and a brand manager in the food, processing and packaging industry. He is passionate about translating technology innovations to business reality leading to better quality of human life.