Trading Places

Spire Digital
Apr 4, 2016

Startup and Enterprise – like Bernie and Hillary, SpaceX and NASA, Netflix and HBO, Torchy’s and Taco Bell – one’s scrappy and frenetic, the other’s established and steady. They couldn’t be more different, right? Well…that’s changing. As of late, startups and enterprises are realizing great advantages by thinking like each other.

Startups, the rebellious iconoclasts that claim to know better than their forebearers, have long disregarded the need for structure, business fundamentals, and, in many cases, profits. Lately, however, some are bringing on MBAs and management consultants and learning to straighten up and fly right.

And, with the tightening capital markets, investors and boards are no longer accepting the “if you build it, the earnings will come” mentality. They’re demanding strong profits sooner. So, startups are shifting their strategies to grow the bottom line, rather than just grow.

Meanwhile, enterprises, the established old behemoths of the marketplace, are risk-averse and comfortable resting on their laurels. They’re blocked from the ability to innovate or think differently. To counter this, some enterprises are taking several pages from the startup handbook.

They’re embracing methodologies like Agile and Lean, failing fast and often and reacting accordingly. They’re hiring big thinkers and risk takers who come from diverse backgrounds and bring new points of view to the organization. Enterprises are becoming hungrier for change and are more willing try something “crazy”. And they have to…

This epic battle between the new guard and the old guard isn’t slowing down anytime soon. The leading strategy for startups is the disruption of existing institutions. And as we’ve seen, if these startups are run well, they have more than a shot at prevailing, at the expense of enterprises.

At Spire, we work with both startups and enterprises. On one side, we have these giddy entrepreneurs anxious to launch their minimum viable product. On the other side, we have huge mega-corporations looking to build the next big thing for their customers. As consultants, we take what we learn working with one side and utilize that for the other side, and vice versa.

We direct startups to validate and quantify business models, rather than building based on a hunch. We also help them strip down feature sets in order to bring to market a product that is as usable and useful as it could possibly be, in contrast to the bloated, all-you-can-eat products that green entrepreneurs love to promote like P.T. Barnum.

For enterprises, we take stakeholders out of the pits of politics and protocol and place them in a world where freedom and experimentation breed strokes of genius. Then, we work with them to actualize these strokes of genius in a fraction of the time they could do it internally.

Overall, startups and enterprises reach a higher ground by thinking like each other. They both end up with a startup/enterprise hybrid that places equal value on innovation and sustainability, audacity and efficiency, and enthusiasm and pragmatism. This is business today – David and Goliath, each looking a helluva lot like the other guy.