Corporates in search for new ideas and innovations are increasingly looking towards collaborating with start-ups. With their nimble set-up, start-ups are able to quickly produce products and solutions compared to big organizations. Meanwhile, the latter has the experience and muscle to help ensure success of the start-ups.
As an article in Harvard Business Review puts it, both parties bring “two distinct and equally integral skills to the table. Startups excel at giving birth to successful proof of concepts; larger companies are much better at successfully scaling proof of concepts.”
It’s an experience that Indian online interior design and property tech start-up, Foyr, can relate to when it caught the attention of JLL in 2016 and received an investment from the real estate firm. Since then, Foyr’s technology has been successfully used in several JLL’s markets in Japan, India, Australia and Singapore. Foyr’s Head of Product and Strategy, Vikas Kaushal, shares more about the journey.
1. Can you tell us more about Foyr’s history and how it caught the eye of JLL?
Foyr was founded in 2014 and we went live the year after. Foyr allows home owners to see and customize their home interiors with virtual reality based on their floor plans. We essentially collapsed the sales cycle to save consumers’ time and effort in liaising with interior designers and/or contractors. What used to take 8 to 10 weeks can now be done in just two to three weeks. We got acquainted with JLL’s head of Venture Technologies India, Anuj Nangpal in 2015 and he was very interested in how Foyr’s technology can be applied in commercial spaces. We had a series of talks—several other senior members of JLL’s innovations team came down to understand our business, technology and how we work. JLL liked what they saw and they decided to invest in us.
2. How did Foyr approach working with such a big firm?
We perceived it as an opportunity for co-creating a new product with JLL. We were learning about the commercial real estate and JLL’s deep market expertise and thought leadership really helped accelerate the process. What also helped was that most folks we interacted with at JLL were very entrepreneurial and wanted the same outcomes as we did. They didn’t hold back on their feedback and how Foyr’s technology could be improved.
3. Was it easy to incorporate Foyr’s technology to meet JLL’s business needs when it came down to the product level?
Adapting our technology to meet JLL’s business needs to create the first version of the product was fairly smooth. I believe that it will continue to be a work in progress as we learn and interact with more JLL teams. But with like any new technology, the acceptance and adoption varied from region to region. For instance back in Nov 2016, when JLL Japan saw the product, they got the idea right away and signed up. However, with other regions the adoption was lower. JLL’s senior management opened doors for us and put us in touch with the right people. We also came to an Enterprise Agreement whereby the different markets could tap on a central fund to give us a trial, which led to more traction.
Foyr’s technology is now used to create bespoke 3d experiences for JLL’s clients and also as part of JLL’s online marketing tools in sites such as:
4. What’s the attraction of working with a big corporate?
It’s a win-win situation. JLL allows us to go to market faster because of its large eco-system and helps us in continually improving the technology and exploring new possibilities such as AR/VR, Geographic Information System (GIS) integration etc. In return, JLL benefits from all these products and tech innovations. We’re thankful JLL did not just invest and leave us alone. We’ve received great support from the senior management to ensure we get to demonstrate our value-add.
5. What do you think are some common challenges that start-ups face when being integrated with a large corporate?
I don’t want to generalize but I think a key challenge is the synergy of the teams and vision. Fortunately for us, JLL and Foyr have shared a great rapport and understanding from the get-go. Another challenge, depending on the stage of the startup, is revenue. While an investment can take care some of it, a corporate can also ensure that a startup is given an initial fillip and the right mentoring.
6. What do you think is the main benefit for corporates to work with start-ups?
Corporates get instant access to new innovations which can catapult them to newer and better ways of doing business. Moreover, the speed at which start-ups operate means problems get solved faster and innovations reach customers quicker.
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