Saturday, 3 November 2018

A startup is founded when an entrepreneur sees an opportunity or gets an idea. Deep passion and risk taking ability work as catalysts for the entrepreneur to leave her secure job, invest personal money and sacrifice social life to take the plunge.

Startups bring in focus, speed and innovation in their offering that often misses an established business. This is often very difficult if not impossible to create in an established business. But if an established business creates partnership with startups, it's a WIN WIN WIN situation. First WIN is for the customers of established business as they get access to state of the art products and services that a startup offers. Second WIN is for the established business as they extend their offering, leverage innovation to fuel growth and even fight competition. And, the third WIN is for the startup itself. No better way to create customers, create a Go To Market than partnering with an established business. However, It is imperative that startups maintain their distinctiveness and novelty and have other avenues to generate business than just align with an established business. For example, if you sell your products on FlipKart or Amazon, there must be other avenues else you will be squeezed. Large businesses have the might and power to road-roll a startup.

This partnership between a startup and an established Corporation is easier said than done. First, the DNA of a startup is way different than that of an established Corporation. Established businesses are more structured with defined command and control. And they are excruciatingly slow for a startup. Startups on the other hand are unstructured, at times come across as chaotic but act swiftly. And, with due apologies to a large Corporation, top quality startups have exceptional quality founders and the core team that's hard to match for a large corporation. Ownership frame of mind is not natural to people in large corporations, whatever their senior management may claim. Often, many corporates think they need to control the startup. It will end up stifling the startup. You lost the game before it began. And finally, And finally, many startup founders don't even think of building such partnerships.

Overcoming all of above is NTT Data, a global systems services and technology giant and TiE Pune (, Pune chapter of The Indus Entrepreneur (TiE), world’s largest organization by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs. Together, they embark upon an initiative whereby TiE Pune will find startups that will be earmarked for potential partnerships by NTT Data. NTT Data seeks startups from around the world including India. NTT Data program is called Open Innovation Contest 9.0. Information is available on NTT Data web page It also has detailed information on screening process and the selection criteria.

Headquartered in Tokyo, Japan and it is part of NTT, one of the largest conglomerate from Japan spanning telecommunication, software, services and other areas. Besides, popular areas such as FinTech, HealthTech and IoT, NTT Data has its eyes on startups that are working on disruptive social innovations, data distribution, digital marketing and back office functions. Further, I reckon, any startup that's promising to augment NTT Data offering has a chance to get selected.

TiE Pune is sourcing startups not only from its ecosystem in Pune but also from Bangalore and Mumbai with help from TiE chapters in Bangalore and Mumbai respectively. Towns like Hubli and Belgavi (formerly known as Belgaum) are home to many good startups and will be a source.  Shortlisting of startups will be finalized by January 2019. Selected startups wll travel to Tokyo for the final round.

Inspite of hick-ups and many speed bumps, India has emerged as one of top three startup hubs globally, prompting a global giants like NTT Data to create a partnership with TiE. It is my belief that this will be a trend setter encouraging other multinationals and more important, Indian Corporations, conglomerates and even Government to create such programs.


  1. Well said Kiran. This is a unique opportunity for start ups to partner with a global giant & leverage strengths.