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CIOs create formal processes to get innovative tech from startups

CIO Executive Council | Sept. 1, 2015
IT leaders can get an innovation injection by tapping into the startup ecosystem via tech incubators, advisory boards and word of mouth

Adam Stanley, DTZ: Apply the 'Shark Tank' approach
One of the most effective ways I source innovation is through technology incubators. I am on the board of a Chicago incubator called 1871 and a mentor at both MetaProp NYC, a New York real estate incubator, and REach, an organization affiliated with the National Association of Realtors. Both provide good opportunities to meet people in the startup community, which in turn creates new connections for other kinds of engagement.

I also attend smaller conferences that attract a wealth of talent with interesting ideas. DisruptCRE, for example, gives innovative companies the opportunity to showcase their technology in Shark Tank-like panels where they have two minutes to make their pitches and answer questions from real estate decision-makers. DTZ is in discussions for a formal service agreement with a few of these startups as a result of one of these conferences.

We also replicate the Shark Tank format internally through virtual vendor fairs, where eight startups have five minutes to present to us. Members of my advisory council attend, as does our CEO. After our most recent event, we chose two of those vendors for further investigation. I also try to invite to our monthly leadership team meeting one startup that I've prequalified or that has been recommended. Like the Shark Tank TV show, these interactive sessions are a lot of fun.


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