Startups and Big Businesses: buzzwords, hype and the naked truth with @_thefamily – #irev10x

Big businesses and startups on the agenda … again

Large groups and startups; now there’s a topic that has been on the agenda for so long and even more so for the  5 to 6 years, that is to say since digital transformation has been buzzword de rigueur.
At a startup gathering that took place recently in the historical centre of Paris, Rodolphe Roux — a long time acquaintance and former CDO of Wiko and SEB, now a partner at The Family, a European Startup accelerator and VC — was having a go against digital transformation, buzzwords, hype and the naked truth.

The “Digital transformation” moniker in itself deserves a proper definition, we’ll get back to that later.

Down with the hype, long live the naked truth

And here is the perfect transition to present our new site that we hold dear, on which we have been working hard since the beginning of the year, on behalf of our customer iRevolution [disclosure]: The digital transformation horror museum.
Obviously, history isn’t really what’s at the heart of this new Website. Our aim is to educate as well as entertain while tapping into the knowledge of seasoned digital transformation field experts. We call them the “digital eagles” of iRevolution (more about this soon).

Large groups and startups a love-hate relationship

Rodolphe’s words were well supported and the brands he mentioned got their fair share. Not to offend anyone we will refrain from quoting all of Rodolphe’s words here. But many real innovators (so-called “cousins” to use the incubator’s vocab) have found truth in Rodolphe’s funny and cruel anecdotes.

Grands groupes et startups Musée des horreurs transformation digitale
Welcome to the digital transformation horror museum, a blog where we are dealing with the naked truth about digital

Debunking the transformation myth and setting the digital records straight

Startups and big businesses
Cyril Bladier wrote one of the first posts on the digital transformation horror museum

Just like Rodolphe, we thought it was high time to set the (digital) records straight, and that’s exactly what we did with iRevolution, a small innovative business which took the lead in digital transformation for large FMCG businesses.
Here is the first article in a long series that will deal with various topics of transformation, in a straightforward manner. For that, we appealed to our friend Cyril Bladier (right) who doesn’t beat about the bush when it comes to digital.
The post includes a long interview with Kevin Palop, an expert at iRevolution who shared his client and field expertise. Nothing but field experience, no blah-blah, straight from the horse’s mouth.

Digital Transformation: Don’t bend it like Beckham!

grands groupes et start ups
The picture is really awful but Rodolphe’s words are worthy of note: “In digital miracle-men do NOT exist!” I almost fell off my chair when I heard his talk. On the picture, Rodolphe seems to be escaping, but in real life, he delivered one of the best pitches on innovation I have ever heard.

As I was determined not to miss anything from Rodolphe’s speech, I grabbed my smartphone and started typing like mad, trying to catch up with his rapid-fire French. I nearly fell off my chair when I heard him say that Big Businesses try to recruit digital stars and then all fails lamentably. “In digital, miracle men simply do NOT exist!”, he added. “They think they can bend it like Beckham he said, but when they get down to business, nothing happens, there is no will.”
Why so?
According to The Family‘s partner, “there is a real issue regarding agility due to the weight of big businesses’ organisational structures.” Like it or lump it, circumventing this organisational issue is mostly mission impossible.
The result is that — when a digital whiz kid is hired — however good he or she may be, it all fails lamentably and there aren’t any results. Yet, “No one will dare say that out loud!” Rodolphe added, Mum’s the word in the world of business, admitting failure is not so common, apart maybe on certain motivational posts on LinkedIn.
And Rodolphe added that “it’s high time to put an end to that.”

Large groups and startups: but what’s it got to do with your business?

It so happened that I was invited, not so long ago, to visit the newfangled office building of some large and honourable European financial institution, one of the World’s largest banks in fact. In there I could find huge creative workrooms, sofas, seats and movable tables, giant screens and startups on all floors… In short, the typical decor of an accelerator with big business flavour.
During the discussions and presentations, we came to discuss the concrete results of that incubator. Startup X was in the spotlight because it had done a lot of work on location, and had managed to raise funds and scale to a certain extent.
Here is the account — from memory —  of the exchange between the representative of the large bank and myself.

_ “[…] So you do have some concrete results to show, don’t you?”
_ “Yes, Startup X has successfully raised funds”
_ “Great! And I suppose you have backed them up financially. How did it go? What are your plans for the future?”
_ “Well, no, it’s bank Y [a competitor] who financed them and then they joined the other bank’s startup accelerator.”

That sums it all I believe.
Read more on the digital transformation horror museum and don’t miss Cyril’s piece about the love-hate relationship between big businesses and startups.

Yann Gourvennec
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