Corporate-Startup Challenge Connects Entrepreneurs with Corporations

 entrepreneurs, Naperville small business law attorneys, Gierach Law Firm, Illinois Corporate-Startup Challenge, Illinois corporations, demo days, corporate-startup challengeThe Illinois Corporate-Startup Challenge is an innovative pilot program that has just concluded a successful inaugural year. Part of Governor Pat Quinn’s broader job creation and innovation goals, the Illinois Corporate-Startup Challenge connects big business with entrepreneurs and startups in various commerce fields. The pilot program, created by the Illinois Innovation Council and overseen by the Illinois Science & Technology Coalition, has been active in fostering partnerships between Illinois entrepreneurs, startups, and big corporations. These partnerships vary, but have allowed entrepreneurs and startups to connect with leading Illinois corporations through mentorship, investment opportunities and contracts.

This program is significant because they are providing entrepreneurs and startups with the resources they need to achieve long-term success. Such partnerships also benefit big corporations by putting them in contact with the state’s unrepresented, but brilliant, innovators. Some of the top corporations in Illinois, including Motorola Mobility, Allstate, Molex Inc, Walgreens, and John Deere are participants in the initiative. These corporations reviewed their businesses for potential areas of collaboration with startups. From there, connections were created via access to a professional network of not-for-profits, incubators, universities, associations and accelerators. Over 200 startup companies were referred through the initiative, and over 60 were matched with one or more corporations.

Demo Days for Startup Entrepreneurs

Demo days are an important part of the Illinois Corporate-Startup Challenge. These demos days allow local startups to demo their products in front of corporate entities looking to create partnerships with up-and-coming innovators. At the most recent demo day, 50 percent of startups that attended the event received requests for engagement. Demo days occur at different corporate locations in the state. While the first round of demo days were held at Molex Inc, in Lisle, Illinois, upcoming demo days will also be held with corporate partners such as Deere & Co., Allstate and Walgreens.

Demo days are a common occurrence in the startup community. This is because demo days provide a direct opportunity for startups to present their product in order to access funding and other resources through partnerships with investors. However, the demo days for the Illinois Corporate-Startup Challenge go beyond the traditional demo day structure. This is because instead of presenting to large amounts of faceless corporations and investors, those presenting at the Illinois Corporate-Startup Challenge demo days are hand picked by the corporations who are looking to enter into long-term partnerships with startups and entrepreneurs.

For example, with the recent Motorola demo day in January, 50 executives and engineers were present whose expertise was inline with the operations of Motorola. At the demo days, the audience was focused around specific types of products, and the companies were actually rated on a 1-to-5 scale with the specific purpose of matching the usefulness of a startups product with Motorola’s business goals and endeavors.

The advantage of such a focused demo day approach is apparent for both the corporations and startups. Instead of demoing their products to large crowds, the Illinois Corporate-Startup Challenge offers a more intimate, smaller gathering in order to foster real, more personal partnerships. It allows corporations to have a one-stop shop where they can meet with the startups and entrepreneurs who have already been on their radar because of aligned business interests.

If you need the advice of an Illinois business law attorney, contact the Naperville small business law attorneys at the Gierach Law Firm today. We are prepared to assist you with all of your small business-related needs.