November 16, 2018 – How much innovative energy is in your community? If you talk to Mark Sawyier, CEO and co-founder for Bonfyre, an employee experience platform built to help place company culture in the hands of those most capable of shaping it, the St. Louis community is crackling. Thanks to ITEN and their Corporate Innovation Program (CIP).
Mark’s introduction to ITEN originated with their Mock Angel Program in 2009. As a self-described inexperienced startup exploring opportunities to develop his entrepreneurial pursuits, he immediately found ITEN’s dedication to creating meaningful business outcomes and the St. Louis startup communities to be top value. As a result, the Mock Angel program contributed to his entrepreneurial growth and is the catalyst for his return to ITEN nine years later.
Returning to the Epicenter
While Mark states there wasn’t a big “ah-ha” moment that led to returning to ITEN, he admits the established, mature companies involved in CIP combined with the energetic, innovative startups makes a powerful, highly attractive relationship. In the middle of this innovative collaboration is ITEN, working to create meaningful exposure, dialogue, and feedback, of which he knew would be beneficial to Bonfyre.
From a corporate point of view, a company’s size makes innovation a challenge; the bigger you are, the tougher it is to “move the ship”. A desire to introduce new ideas may exist, but the established hierarchy and business structure often create immovable obstacles that limit forward momentum.
From a startup point of view, the issue is often trust. While everyone means well, toxic relationships sometimes occur and the resulting damage can destroy early stage startups.
In ten intense years focused on uniting tech talent with corporate influences, ITEN has built a wealth of connections and relationships that eliminate the pain points of these key players. ITEN’s Startup Showcase is specifically designed to introduce local startup talent with corporate needs, therefore creating ideal collaborations, creativity, and connections. A secondary benefit of the Startup Showcase is bringing together two parties which may never otherwise have the opportunity to work together. Mark describes it as a great investment of time where everyone wins.
As Mark Sawyier and many startups will agree, time is a startup’s greatest asset. Implementing ITEN’s powerful connections and knowledge best utilizes that time.
To learn more about ITEN and their Corporate Innovation Program (CIP) visit: https://www.itenstl.org/corporate-innovation-program/