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A Chat With Drive the Startup Accelerator
by Startacus Admin
Drive the Startup Accelerator
The World’s leading vehicle glass repair / replacement service provider Belron (which operates as Autoglass in the UK) has teamed up with our friends over at L Marks, Innovation Partner to create a global Accelerator that is open to a wide range of startups.
The programme, aptly named ‘Drive’, marks the most recent in a fast growing list of collaborations between L Marks and well-known brands opening their doors to high-potential and innovative tech startups.
In light of the upcoming programme we wanted to learn more about what kind of startups should apply, how the selection process will work and what the long term benefits for startups might be. We are also very intrigued to hear first hand why but also to explore why it is that major brands are so keen to work with the next generation of startups?
We put some of these issues to Jess McGahan, Head of Programmes at L Marks and Nick Burton, CIO at Belron, and they shared some thought-provoking and valuable insights into a rapidly changing digital landscape.
For us, there were two key motivations. Firstly, I believe that we have a lot to learn from how startups think and how they go about solving problems and building their solutions - if we can think a bit more like they do, and they can learn how to scale their solutions with a multinational company like Belron, that would be a real win-win. Secondly, I'm hoping we will find startups that have really innovative solutions to some of the opportunities we see to improve our business - I'm sure that they can really surprise us with the solutions they can offer.
Specifically, how will a startup benefit from working with Belron on this accelerator?
In addition, to the funding we are offering to the startups who join the accelerator, and the ultimate winner, they will get access to mentorship from key leaders from across our organisation, they will get to spend time in one of our countries (US, Canada, Germany, France, Spain) to really learn about our business and how we approach things, they will get to use our amazing workspace in the UK for the duration of the programme, and by working closely together we aim to help them scale their solution and help them get clear on how they can best work with companies like Belron.
Fast-forward 6 months past the end of the programme, what would be your ideal situation in terms of the startups and the relationship that has been fostered?
I'd be delighted if we develop a really close partnership with the startups, even if we decide not to implement further some of the solutions they create. For me, the relationships we will create will be based on joint learning and understanding, so I'd hope we stay in close contact and continue to find ways of helping each other. Clearly we'd also like to be able to implement some of the solutions in our businesses and develop an enduring commercial relationship!
Next up, is L Marks Head of Programmes Jess: Give us a rundown of the type of startups you would like to see applying and the stage that you would like those startups to be at?
We’d love to see applications from early-stage and growth startups looking to work with Belron and expand their businesses into international markets. We’re a stage-agnostic programme (we’re open to startups at any stage of development), looking for teams keen to supply a multinational company like Belron with their services. We’re looking for solutions to some of the challenges faced by Belron in; employee productivity and efficiency, enhancing customer service and experience, improving knowledge and customer insight, delivering additional services and engagement with field employees. If you’re developing an exciting innovation in one of these areas, then we want to hear from you!
So - speaking to those startups directly - why should they choose to go on the Drive / Belron Accelerator over other accelerators currently open for application?
Drive is offering the unique opportunity for startups to run trials with Belron’s brands as part of the programme. Each team that takes part will be partnered with one of Belron’s five participating countries - USA, Canada, Spain, France and Germany - and will get to test their product or service in that market. Startups will also get unprecedented access to, and mentorship from, Belron as well as seasoned entrepreneurs and business people. We’ll provide a tailored education programme for each startup depending on their needs, and every team will enjoy the support from L Marks (an investment fund that also runs startup partnership programmes for major corporations including John Lewis, DPD and William Hill). In your experience of running accelerators connecting corporates to startups - what have been the stand-out success stories to date that have benefited both parties?
Last year we ran an accelerator for DPD (a parcel delivery giant) and the winner of that programme, PIE Mapping, went on to enjoy huge success. PIE Mapping arrived at Last Mile Labs with an optimised route-planner for London but quickly pivoted their technology to meet DPD’s more complex needs. Only six months after they demoed their prototype at the end of the programme, PIE had secured a multi-million-pound contract to supply DPD with their long distance freight solution and follow-on funding of £1.4 million from DPD and L Marks. This goes to show how, by giving startups access to the right companies and guidance, corporate accelerators can really supercharge the growth of a young business.
What advice would you give to a startup that might help them stand out when making their application to join the programme.
Submitting an application for Drive is really straightforward. It's really important to consider how your product or service might apply to Belron’s business. There’s loads of content on the Drive website (drivewithbelron.com) such as the Belron Customer Journey Map that will help you to refine this. I’d also strongly encourage anyone applying to submit a video along with their application, it really helps the person screening your application to have a visual explanation of what you’re doing. The team at L Marks is always on hand to answer your questions, you can contact us directly on [email protected]
Thanks for the thoughts Nick and Jess and best of luck with the new Drive programme.