Revolutionising the Unicorns of TomorrowScaleup stories
The business world relies on innovation and entrepreneurial spirit – and nowhere is this fusion better demonstrated than in the partnerships that are being harnessed and developed at Tomorrow Street in Vodafone’s headquarters in Luxembourg.
One of the companies benefiting from the unique global innovation accelerator is Vizibl, the tech startup brainchild of Mark Perera and co-founder Alex Short.
Vizibl’s cloud-based software solutions offer organisations the opportunity to build deeper and more valuable relationships with their partners and suppliers – helping businesses to drive innovation from the extended enterprise and execute effectively. The platform provided by Tomorrow Street is helping to open up a whole new world of opportunity.
“Corporates are starting to realise that small startups can innovate quickly and that if you bring them into your environment, they can not only help your business but can also, potentially, drive greater growth,” says Short. “Vodafone doesn’t build technology – we do, that’s our expertise. We don’t try and build networks. We’re opening up opportunities for them and they’re doing the same for us. At its core, it’s true supplier innovation and collaboration in action.”
Working out of an office in Luxembourg on the Vodafone site means that Vizibl have a presence on the ground in every sense. Their proximity to key figures within the Vodafone procurement organisation and other suppliers working under the Tomorrow Street umbrella provides a priceless backdrop for everything Vizibl is attempting to achieve.
“Having an office in Luxembourg means we have a shared environment and can sit down with the Vodafone and the Tomorrow Street team, to really connect together, and work within the Vodafone environment,” says Short. “It provides us with a platform to get heads together and make sure that our plans really work.”
While the project has had some initial teething problems – inevitable when you consider the scale of Vodafone’s ambitions – Short believes that Tomorrow Street is already delivering when it comes to ensuring that Vizibl’s presence within Vodafone is expanding at a rapid rate. “Vodafone has been fantastic in terms of how we’re getting Vizibl adopted and moved through the company,” says Short. “Navigating through a corporate like Vodafone or any corporate for that matter is still a challenging thing to do.” “Large companies are complicated. However, what we’re seeing is a programme whereby Tomorrow Street is really helping us to navigate our way through the organisation. We’re now getting to the right stakeholders and mapping out that programme for growth.” “We believe in the next year they’re going to take our current contract from where it is to a whole new stratosphere.”
Vizibl operates according to a single mantra – namely a mission ‘to power how organisations work together to drive innovation’. It’s a simple premise but one that can be overlooked as companies grapple with the everyday reality of dealing with suppliers. Focusing on ‘Enterprise Level Innovation’, it is Vizibl’s aim to provide industry-leading software that cuts through the often complex nature of supplier management and graphically illustrates the difference that having a coherent and robust supplier innovation strategy can have.
“It’s about creating value,” says Short. “When a company has visibility of all the projects that are going on across all of their suppliers for the first time – they suddenly realise that they’ve often got 30% or 40% duplication. So straight away, there is a hard saving in terms of resources and time. When you show a company that kind of information, it is not a hard sell at all. It just shows the kind of impact that software such as ours can have.” Based around the three key pillars of alignment, engagement and growth, Vizibl is helping companies eliminate that duplication and deliver value through a platform that is revolutionising supplier collaboration and innovation “The reason Vodafone is pioneering this project is that they see Vizibl as a great innovation for their procurement and for their Supplier Relationship Management (SRM) strategy,” says Short. “It means they have one view of their strategic suppliers on the dashboard, so it covers everything you would want to know about those suppliers and help you to work with them to drive innovation.”
A fundamental element of the Tomorrow Street project is Vodafone’s Arch summit, which tool place last month in Luxembourg. Bringing together some of the leading figures in the world of supplier innovation, the event aims to bridge the gap between startups and corporates – providing another priceless platform for companies like Vizibl to bring their offering to the largest and most influential audience possible. “Arch is a two-day event – it’s about bringing startups, Vodafone and its suppliers together with investors,” says Short.
“You have a melting pot. You have suppliers who could be our potential customers. You also have the opportunity to sit down with the heads of procurement from key companies and have a conversation about them buying our technology in the future, all under the umbrella of this Vodafone event. That has been amazing, the Arch event has had a hugely positive impact.”
This is another illustration of Tomorrow Street being very much a two-way process – and also demonstrates Luxembourg’s commitment to creating a technology hub that can benefit all companies, big and small. The Luxembourg government is a key stakeholder in the whole process and has a direct interest in this kind of project being a success.
“Tomorrow Street is a joint collaboration and the government see it as a way of bringing tech startups from countries like the UK to Luxembourg and also helping companies like ourselves grow and reach maturity,” says Short. “We have committed to putting a number of resources down in Luxembourg and we’re all targeting revenue together – revenues that we can bring to the country. “
A win-win. And thanks to Tomorrow Street, the prospects for startups in Luxembourg have rarely been higher.