Converge Part I: Connecting First Responders & Corporate Partners with Wearable Tech Ventures

Last week, TechNexus hosted Converge – an event that connected the 2016 EMERGE accelerator class with the first responders who can put their leading edge wearable technology to the test and the corporate partners who can support and invest in further product development.

The goal of day one was feedback from those who’d use it – first responders such as police officers, firefighters and EMS workers – in real-time, for faster iteration, and increased mindshare. By connecting these entrepreneurs with one of their most opaque target markets early on, the EMERGE founders were able to hear firsthand the pros and cons of their products, not to mention some real-world applications they hadn’t even considered. It’s insight stemming from these early, candid conversations that helps our startups run through the commercial validation process more quickly. 

On the second day of Converge, we connected the entrepreneurs with corporate partners who provided feedback from a potential investment, pilot program and customer perspective. Equally valuable to both parties, the round table discussion brought to light the challenges and opportunities of working together. For the corporates, one challenge is rigid guidelines for assessing technology investments and suppliers, which make it difficult to select earlier stage tech over more established solutions. For the ventures, a key challenge is the average 18-month buying cycle. In this timeframe, revenue is stymied, the product may evolve three-fold and the startup is forced to bet on one industry application rather than testing and learning in multiple. The opportunities of working together, however, are nearly endless. 

Ultimately, a pilot deal helps both sides of the table get to their goal most quickly. It gets the ventures’ tech into the hands of corporates with at least some revenue, more flexibility, and the opportunity to prove the concept. For the corporates, it’s a moderate investment from their innovation teams while providing validation that the early tech might be the solution they’re looking for. It was great to hear so much upside.