Big companies turning to startups for innovation Author: / On: / Categories: KC / no Comments

It doesn’t always take a big company to come up with a big idea.

Some of Kansas City’s biggest companies certainly know this and they are reaching out to smaller firms and startups for help as they seek growth-driving innovations.

Sprint joined H&R Block, DST Systems, the Kansas City Chiefs and the University of Missouri-Kansas City last week in presenting business challenges that they hoped local businesses and entrepreneurs would help them tackle.

“How cool is it that the companies are pitching to the entrepreneurial community?” said Kevin McGinnis, a Sprint vice president. “How cool would it be if we did this more often?”

Usually, it’s the smaller companies approaching the larger corporations and pitching them for business. Leaders for each of the participating organizations flipped those roles last week at the event called KC Reverse Pitch

The event, which was part of a packed lineup of activities in Kansas City for Global Entrepreneurship Week , drew a standing-room-only crowd at the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce Board Room in Union Station.

You can check out to see the specific challenges presented to the entrepreneurs and, if you have an idea, respond.

Building a bridge between “the innovators and corporate partners in Kansas City” is another key motivation, said Ryan Weber, president of KCnext, which produced Reverse Pitch.

“Nothing but great things can come from a more connected and informed technology community,” Ryan stated in “Reverse Pitch is a rare and valuable opportunity” 

Make no mistake, Sprint, H&R Block and the other participants want to solve the business challenges presented at #KCReversePitch.

But they also are mentoring entrepreneurs to add to the growing momentum of the area’s high-tech community. And, working more closely with creative and nimble startups also could help the corporations find their own innovation swagger.

“The time is right for entrepreneurs to engage with our organization,” said George Guastello, vice president, Strategy and New Business Development at H&R Block. “We are trying to drive growth. To do that, we need innovation. We need change. You don’t typically do that from within a corporate environment.”