IBM Initiates Broad Plan To Help Budding Entrepreneurs

Vendor provides start ups with access to cloud-based industry-specific technology, opportunities to leverage technology experts and project managers, networking workshops, social media.

IBM Corp. has initiated an expansive plan to help technology start-ups identify and secure business opportunities in go-go industries such as energy and utilities, health care, telecommunications and government.

The vendor debuted its IBM Global Entrepreneur Initiative to attendees at a venture capital forum it recently held in Bangalore, India that included venture firms, and participants from business, government and academia.

IBM said that it is opening its internal resources to help start-ups advance their development as businesses and to prompt use of its technology to further innovation, as detailed in the vendor’s Smarter Planet design.

“Businesses around the world are increasingly applying new technologies to address industry-specific needs, and technology start-ups are looking for new ways to capitalize on this trend,” said Claudia Fan Munce, vice president, corporate strategy, managing director, IBM Venture Capital Group.

Accordingly, the Global Entrepreneur program is open to privately held start-up technology companies operating for fewer than three years and actively involved in developing software that maps to the vendor’s Smarter Planet outline.

It affords participants free access to cloud-based, industry-specific technologies, contact with the vendor’s research community, and the opportunity to build stronger sales, marketing and technical skills.

“IBM’s goal is to help entrepreneurs gain the skills they need to bring new ideas to market faster using IBM technology to accelerate industry transformation and innovation,” Fan Munce said.

“The Global Entrepreneur program is designed to really reach out to the best entrepreneurs that have the vision to bring innovation to serve the smarter planet vision that we have,” she said.

To identify candidates for the program, IBM said it is working with some 22 global industry and technology associations, including groups in the U.S., the United Kingdom, Israel, India and France.

One such organization is SDForum, a long-standing association of professionals in emerging technologies in California’s so-called Silicon Valley.

“Many of the start-ups we see here in Silicon Valley are built by technologists and have difficulty remembering that they are building a business,” said Susan Lucas-Conwell, chief executive SDForum, in a video post on the IBM program.

“Business is all about solving problems, working with customers and understanding a market,” she said.

Technology, business, sales and marketing help available

Tripat Mangat, founder and chief executive of Water Resources Management Corp., a six-month old San Jose, CA-based company that helps water utilities realize the full benefits of their technology investments, said that the “hardest challenge is being able to focus, finding the product line and finding the initiatives that you want to develop, that are meaningful not only for your bottom line today but those that are going to help you in creating a revenue stream as a basis for your business.”

Start-ups accepted into the entrepreneur’s program will be granted access to IBM’s software portfolio via a cloud computing environment, including the vendor’s roster of industry frameworks--a set of solutions in segments such as banking, chemical and petroleum, insurance, government, health care, retail, energy and utilities, and others.

In addition, members will be able to work with IBM Research’s scientists and technology experts, huddle with project managers to assist with product development, attend new SmartCamp mentoring and networking workshops to build go-to-market plans, and tap into a new social networking community on IBM developerWorks to connect with other entrepreneurs.

IBM said that the program makes available resources previously unavailable to start-up businesses.

Promod Haque, managing partner at Norwest Venture Partners, in praising IBM’s effort said that “a large number of venture capital investments in the technology industry will be targeted at entrepreneurs in the U.S., China, Israel, UK, Germany, France and India this year."

Haque said that to "make these investments count, start-ups must have the right skills in place to bring new technologies to market more quickly. Venture capitalists, businesses, government and academia must all collaborate to ensure today’s entrepreneurs are prepared to succeed.”

TAGS: IBM,venture capital,entrepreneur,smarter planet,start-up

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