The Citrix Corporate Accelerator is a good case study of how any innovation structure must learn to adapt to its environment – and from its mistakes as well.
In a session based on his own experience as Managing Director of the Citrix Corporate Accelerator, John Mc Intyre shared how he went from a corporate accelerator 1.0 to a 2.0.
Citrix Corporate Accelerator: from the incubator to the MVP
In its first iteration in 2011, the Citrix accelerator was more designed as an incubator, a format traditionally longer, and in a more confined environment than accelerators and their frenzy of “minimum viable product” and frequent reality check with customers?
“We were more focused on strategic alignments”, says John, “startups had to fit into our grid of analysis” and answer their “here and now problems”. If this approach can give a quick win for existing problems, it’s not really able to see bigger trends and work on the future. “In a way, this is good for the corporation, but not so much for the startups”.
In the 2.0 version of the accelerator, “we are more in a do no harm [to startups] approach”. The idea is to be financially aligned, looking over the horizon and not focusing on current strategy. The idea is to be able to go beyond the next 2-3 years of the company. The accelerator is community-driven, with corporate customers, entrepreneurs, venture capital, mentors, corporate investors, angels… The broader you can get to connect your accelerator to, the better it is.
Building a rainforest ecosystem
In a way, what Citrix is trying to do is to build a “rainforest ecosystem”, meaning an environment where innovation is more likely to happen (rather than developing specific products). As a corporate accelerator, John adds a few tips to make it a success:
Push participants outside their comfort zone and mix employees with developers or entrepreneurs in teams to think differently and purge ideas.
Focus on human centred innovation with Design Thinking, putting oneself into the customer’s shoes.
Whatever is built in the corporate accelerator has to be desirable. “We kicked people out of the building after an hour of overview, so they would meet customers, and then come back to design products people actually want”, adds John. In the course of three months, participants have to run 100 customer interviews, as the lack of addressable market is the #1 reason for failure in the startup world.
The ROI of the Citrix Corporate Accelerator after 4 years is 26 seed-funding provided to projects made within the accelerator, with 70% follow-on funding and 4 acquisitions. More importantly, the ecosystem is now set and open, which makes it more likely that success will happen again in the longer run.
Find out more about other accelerators here: