Gorillas Can Dance: Lessons from Microsoft and Other Corporations on Partnering with Startups

Shameen Prashantham, Sheelpa Patel & Tzahi Weisfeld

Author of Gorillas can Dance and Professor & Associate Dean at CEIBS | CEO at Mavens & Mavericks | Vice President at Intel Ignite

as recorded on 16 February 2022 as part of Innov8rs Connect on Startup Collaboration & Ecosystem Engagement

Drawing upon extensive research and the experiences of panelists, we explored the “why,” “how,” and “where” of corporate-startup partnering including insights into why the very thing that attracts large corporations to startups—their significant differences—also makes it difficult to work together. Also, how to focus on the three pillars of synergy, interface, and exemplar to achieve outstanding results in partnerships. And where in the world corporations can find ideal startup partnerships and how they can use them as a force for good.

About the speaker

Dr. Shameen Prashantham, author of Gorillas can Dance, is Professor of International Business & Strategy, and Associate Dean (MBA), at China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) in Shanghai, China. His research focuses on what he calls “dancing with gorillas”— how startups and large multinational corporations partner with each other as a means to improve their prospects of innovation and growth. Spanning a decade-and-a-half, his work has involved conducting fieldwork, teaching executives or giving talks around the world, including in China, Germany, India, Israel, Kenya, South Africa, the UK and USA. His current focus is on partnerships that contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Sheelpa’s purpose is to help entrepreneurs succeed. She draws on her network and truly global experience to do this, having launched innovative, high-impact campaigns for the world’s leading brands across multiple industries. An advocate for female empowerment and diversity in the startup community, she has spoken at global innovation conferences and mentors early stage ups.

Tzahi is a seasoned executive, serial entrepreneur, Intel Vice President and General manager of Ignite. His career span of 25 years in tech consumer and enterprise markets.
President of ASN (Accelerating Startup Nations), Tzahi was one of the founders of Microsoft Israel R&D site as well as a member of its management team for 8 years. Tzahi was also Head of Microsoft for Startups and Founder of the Microsoft Accelerators, his responsibilities span across 110 countries and included Microsoft BizSpark, Global startup accelerator partnership with 200+ accelerators in 47 countries, Microsoft Later Stage Accelerators in Seattle, Bangalore, Beijing, Shanghai, Berlin, London and Tel Aviv, as well as post acceleration programs and VC engagement.

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