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September 10, 2014
Confessions of an Entrepreneur
By: Masoud Loghmani

“Traitor!”

That’s how my friend reacted upon hearing that I had joined Accenture. He asked, “You’ve gone corporate. How could you? You were an entrepreneur!”

That was clearly an overreaction. It is true that after having started multiple start-ups and a couple of decent exits I am, for the first time, working for a company with more than 100 employees (300K+ give or take a few). But the truth is I am still an entrepreneur, and an entrepreneur within Accenture.

Within Accenture, I’m starting a new business of sorts. Just over a year ago, a few of us started Accenture Open Innovation with nothing but an idea that we could help streamline how Accenture engages the innovation ecosystem, and how the best enterprise-focused start-ups can work with Accenture and Global 2000 clients.

It’s not enough to start

But, as all good entrepreneurs can tell you, being an entrepreneur is not about just starting something. It’s about building a foundation that can deliver on the vision, and then keeping it alive through the daily grind, day in and day out. That is what we strive to do in Accenture Open Innovation.

As an example, when laying the foundation of the team we decided that we will define success the same way as the start-ups we partner with would define it: our success is not measured by the number of show-and-tell presentations that we arrange, but by how many start-ups we actually connect to our clients that end up solving the client’s business problem. By that definition we have been successful. We have already helped a few really exciting start-ups go all the way to the goal line and solve some of our clients' problems, scoring wins in the process for the start-ups, our clients, and Accenture. In addition we have also developed expertise within Accenture for the start-ups and their products. A few more will get there soon as well.

Grow fast and prosper, but not alone!

We are just starting, but the early wins are the proof that we can make a difference for the best start-ups out there. After all getting an enterprise-focused start-up off the ground is very hard work, especially one targeting the Global 2000. You need all the help you can get. In the early stages after the initial euphoria of the early wins, the tough reality sets in. The name of the game is scale-fast-or-go-home, but your large clients are slow, burdened with many priorities, almost hidden behind opaque or confusing org charts, and risk-averse. How can you scale fast with these clients without a partner? But you must not give up. You persevere, and finally you succeed and buyers start to line up. But that’s when you realize you have another set of problems. The Global 2000 have complex infrastructure. Who is going to take your nifty widget and plug it into all of their systems without breaking everything? Your engineers soon will be taken off the next product release to help the current customers. How can you stay ahead of competition if your best engineers are out in the field holding clients' hands?

To help, you need a partner who not only has the trust of the Global 2000, but also who can also help you plug-in your innovative solution in the megaplex. Accenture has the trusted relationships with the Global 2000 as well as the skills and people to help deliver your innovation at scale. Accenture Open Innovation is the group that can help you navigate your way to the right people in Accenture.

We enjoy working with the best and brightest of enterprise entrepreneurs, and want to be the bridge that helps everyone connect and succeed. If you have a disruptive innovation, or if you are a Global 2000 company in search of innovative ideas, come talk to us. You can reach me at masoud.loghmani@accenture.com or @masoudl.

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