07 Aug At this tech event, big companies get a taste of life as a start-up
The roomful of entrepreneurs watched in anticipation as the first participant took the stage. They’d all been in that position before: teeing up the PowerPoint slide show, fumbling around with the presentation remote and clearing their throats before launching into a business pitch.
Only this time, the ones doing the pitching were executives from large companies such as Comcast, Samsung and Time Inc.
At SwitchPitch, a tech event that connects start-up owners and big companies across the country, the roles are reversed. Executives outline specific problems they’re trying to solve, and look to entrepreneurs for ideas. Now in its third year, the event returned to Washington this week to coincide with a White House event promoting diversity in entrepreneurship.
This time, the organization teamed up with the federal government, said Michael Goldstein, founder of SwitchPitch and a serial entrepreneur.
The venue for Monday’s event was the Commerce Department library in Washington’s Herbert C. Hoover Federal Building. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker delivered a keynote speech highlighting the department’s initiatives to promote business and called on the private sector to encourage America’s entrepreneurs, echoing the theme behind the White House’s recent measures to promote women and minority business owners.
“Collaborating with start-ups is not a replacement for companies performing their own research and development; but it is another path for a big business to develop a new product and uncover creative solutions to complex challenges,” Pritzker said. “For start-ups, collaboration is an opportunity as well – to demonstrate innovative concepts and to attract capital.”