By @SimonCocking. Interesting interview with Jeremy Basset, founder of CO:CUBED. We help suits collaborate with to unlock new growth opportunities. Follow us for the latest thinking and news on corporate-startup partnerships.

Tell us a little about your background?

I was raised on a dairy farm where my uncle turned the milk from our cows into Australia’s most awarded ice cream – and that was the birth of my journey into the world of consumer goods and entrepreneurship. I then joined Unilever (the world’s largest Ice Cream company) and had the chance to live and work in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and now London, which has been our home for the last 6 years.

At Unilever, I also had the chance to bring my collision of corporate and entrepreneurial experiences together when I launched Unilever Foundry in 2014.

What is Unilever Foundry?

The reality is that startups are pioneering the future. Last year, 90 of the top 100 FMCG brands declined, while startups continue to enjoy explosive growth. With over $127 billion invested into startups in 2016, there is a huge amount of innovation and disruption that is impossible for corporates to replicate. So instead of viewing startups as competitors, we said let’s flip this and create partnerships: partnerships where startups bring innovation and disruption, and Unilever brings scale. Foundry is Unilever’s platform to build those partnerships. Brands can post their challenges, startups pitch against those challenges, and partnerships arise. Over the last 3 years, Unilever has now worked with over 150 startups, of which 48% go on to be scaled across the business. This is transforming Unilever and helping startups to scaleup, a solid win-win.

Achieving innovation in large companies, the Unilever Foundry approach to collaboration

So, why did you leave Unilever?

When you have access to free Ben & Jerry’s every day, leaving Unilever is never easy. I had a dream job and a great team, I loved bridging the gap between the strategies of Unilever’s billion-euro brands and working with startups who were pioneering the future. While Unilever Foundry was transformational to Unilever, it’s really just the beginning. We are on the cusp of a new partnership-based growth era – and I’m passionate about helping corporates cross the chasm.

At Unilever, we always said we wanted to take the industry on this journey and despite being very open about the blueprint for Unilever Foundry, there were very few corporates who replicated the model. It’s complicated, demands headcount and requires a large network of startups. Working with smaller, more innovative partners requires a large back-office that doesn’t come from or need to belong within the corporate. If we want to help all corporates embark on this journey of collaborative growth, then we need to make it simple and impactful. That’s where CO:CUBED comes in.

What’s the 1 min pitch for CO:CUBED?

Some of our clients call CO:CUBED ‘Foundry as a Service’. We help corporates harness the power of the startup ecosystem to unlock new growth opportunities.

There are three core elements to what we do:

  1. Cultural transformation: we help corporates embrace a more entrepreneurial and collaborative culture through delivering an ongoing engagement programme for their entire organisation.
  2. Startup access: we have a global network of scouts that bring curated access to over 500,000 startups from around the world.
  3. Processes and systems: we white-label our platform for collaboration, as well as bringing legal and procurement support to help simplify your internal processes.

We see ourselves as an extension of your team – turbocharged. Through providing this as a service to multiple corporates, we make collaborative innovation easy, impactful and more efficient than traditional routes of launching this type of programme. …is that a minute!?

Who are you currently working with?

It’s early days for us, but already we have our first three corporate partners locked in and a good pipeline from across a variety of industries. Our initial clients are all FTSE 100 / Fortune 200 companies that realise they need to explore new growth opportunities. While some clients want the whole ‘Foundry-esk’ offering, others have started with some up-front consulting work to define what their collaboration platform might look like, another is jumping straight in with an internal engagement programme to get their employees embracing the startup mindset. While we do offer a ‘plug-and-play’ solution, it’s also ‘pick-and-mix’, and our corporate partners seem to want both.

What’s your 10 year vision for this?

We want to make corporate-start-up collaboration programmes as easy and ubiquitous as a broadband connection; after-all, this is how corporations connect to the future. We believe the corporate of the future will look much different to what it does today, with corporates being more of a network of partners than an organisation of people, and we’re here to help corporates embrace this future in a way that is low-risk and high impact.

For more details:

Follow us at @cocubed

Get in touch at [email protected]

If you would like to have your company featured in the Irish Tech News Business Showcase, get in contact with us at [email protected] or on Twitter: @SimonCocking

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