Companies have an insatiable appetite for 'the New': they have to. Understanding how an industry is evolving and how to keep up is a necessary part of business. But when engrossed in the day to day of running a company it's a challenge to maintain a broad enough perspective in order to understand how an industry is shifting. The larger the company the more acute the problem of staying up to date with the latest can be. Startup founders can make comparatively fast changes to their companies whereas a CEO needs to build a strategy gain internal consensus and then retrain a workforce.

In the past, one of the ways that companies would gain insight into what upstarts in their industry were doing would be at traditional trade shows and industry conferences. Featured companies would have been far enough along in their development to buy a booth, have a sales force and a viable product before even showing up on the industry radar. Today, the pace of change is so fast that companies need to know about industry shifts even earlier. They want visibility into the new generation of companies that are still raising money, figuring out their business plan and chasing those hockey stick growth trajectories.

Enter FounderMade, an attempt to bridge this information divide by offering four industry-specific forums (Wellness, Food, Invention, Beauty) that appeal to startup founders as much as to large established companies. FounderMade attracts founders by offering support services, mentorship from veterans, a pitch competition and access to capital. This founder-focused model then attracts the big companies who have a keen interest in gaining visibility into a world that corporates would never normally have access to.

Other companies are also making innovation from startups more transparent in alternative ways. The morning breakfast series Creative Mornings organizes studio tours to offer a behind-the-scene look at startups, while the Future of Storytelling conference offers off-site studio sessions at cutting-edge digital agencies that would typically be out of the view of the normal conference attendees. Both of these offerings are an ancillary to their normal programming yet offer a chance for people to gain insight into the cutting edge of innovation.

As the speed at which industries change quickens, the ways in which companies keep on top of industry shifts is also evolving. These new strategies work in a mutually beneficial way by both supporting earlier stage companies and helping established companies understand how the landscape is shifting. The effect of these new events and services takes one more benefit away from the 2nd tier corporate trade show and places it in the hands of a new generation of entrepreneur.

Published on: Jan 4, 2016