Just as whales need the help of smaller fish to clean their teeth, so large corporates need the help of startups to improve their services. Aware of the strengths startups bring to the table, Orange, the telecommunications expert has launched its own accelerator. Silicon Luxembourg recorded a conversation between Juliette Malherbe, Orange Fab manager for Belgium and Luxembourg and Casius Morea, founder and CEO of EmailTree and graduate of Orange Fab’s accelerator.
When people think of large corporates such as Orange, they often assume that they can solve any problem that is thrown at them. As one of the biggest telecommunications corporates in the world, Orange has deep pockets, and, as we all know, deep pockets can solve almost any problem.
As it turns out, money is not everything and large corporates are often suffer from inefficient and rigid working structures that are not very conducive to innovation. Fully aware of these drawbacks, Orange launched Orange Fab, a platform that connects startups to corporations for strategic investment and partnership opportunities.
“This programme is a bridge between Orange and startups. The main goal is to develop co-innovation projects (…) and to create win-win partnerships with the parties,” says Juliette Malherbe, Orange Fab manager in Belgium and Luxembourg.
No matter how many bestseller business books one has read, managing a large corporate and trying to keep it innovative and agile is not easy task. By bringing startups into the corporate structure, Orange benefits from a breath of fresh air and new energy that these small businesses often bring.
“We benefit of startups through their agility and expertise to diversify our offer and improve our internal practices, as we do with EmailTree,” Juliette Malherbe points out.
The other side of the coin
As with all good symbiotic relationships, startups participating in Orange Fab are not just giving help but also receiving a lot support from Orange. Indeed, any startup would be lucky to benefit from Orange’s vast network of business partners, resources and expertise. Additionally, they also provide market research, access to C-level mentors and sponsored events such as Vivatech.
“This is a real chance. I wish this chance to everybody because the results of the common work is something that helps you get more mature,” says Casius Morera, founder and CEO of EmailTree.
While there is no doubt that Orange can support startups in taking their next step, it goes without saying that they mainly select startups that fit their profile and needs. Orange selected EmailTree because they were looking to find an AI solution that could improve their human services.
However, EmailTree has had no illusions about this and has only had positive experiences working with Orange. As he puts it, “both teams are working and serving the agents and the end-user.”
At the end of the day, both parties clearly benefit from each other. Startups bring a certain agility and ambition that is sometimes lacking in big corporate structures while corporates bring the network, customer base and experience.
It will be exciting to see how Luxembourg-based corporates and startups will continue helping each other out in the future.