What can start-ups learn from big corporates?

What can start-ups learn from big corporates?

I’ve been lucky enough to interview two brilliant women over the last couple of weeks on my Leaders in Cleantech podcast. Emily Reichert, CEO at Greentown Labs and Cat Newman, CEO at Limejump joined me to discuss their motivations and experiences as leaders in our growing industry.

At the same time, our team at Hyperion are launching Women in Cleantech, a new initiative to encourage greater diversity at the top of the cleantech sector. And as I discussed with both these highly impressive leaders, diversity goes so much further than gender, it’s not about browbeating or quotas its about giving everyone an equal opportunity whoever they are. The bottom line is, diversity isn’t just about equality and justice, as important as that is, it’s just good for business.

We also discussed a huge range of other topics, from the challenges and opportunities in the career transition from corporate to start-up; to how clean technology seems to come in waves of innovation; and even to why Houston, Texas is becoming a cleantech hub.

Here is our summary of the key insights from both leaders:

  1. Start-ups can learn something from big corporates – most entrepreneurs have a certain set of skills which can only take them so far on their growth journey; recruiting people with large corporate experience can sometimes bring a fresh perspective on areas as diverse as vision, process and the somewhat important issue of trading at a profit!
  2. The green recovery promised by governments around the world has to be backed up by government policy – we hear a lot about how the recovery from the pandemic will be a green one but it’s hard to see too much action from governments yet.
  3. We all need a good reason to get up in the morning and be challenged and motivated by what we do, both these inspiring interviewees mentioned how being part of an industry that is so crucial to all our futures is all the motivation they need to get stuck into their day.
  4. And finally, everyone needs the equivalent of Cat’s green folder, listen to her podcast to find out why it’s so important.

The importance and value of collaboration with corporates has really come to the fore with me in the last few years. Some of the reasons are made clear in both of these podcasts, and in many others where the founder has found the right corporate partners, and investors. Javier Camino particularly springs to mind from Highview Power.

Cat also shares valuable insight into the personal transition and challenges of navigating the previously separate worlds of start-up and corporate life. Those individuals that have experience in both camps can be hugely valuable. It’s something that we work hard on at Hyperion on our shortlists, to make sure there is always a strong cultural fit, a real appreciation in the individual of what life in a start-up is REALLY like, but also showing our clients the value of diversity of experience, as well as gender and ethnicity.

Hear more from Emily and Cat on our latest podcasts here

If you are looking to scale your cleantech business, and would like to discuss how my team and I can support you in that, please send a DM, or comment below.

David