Speed-Dating Is The Tinder Of Innovation

We live in a time of instant gratification -- from tweets to WiFi at 30,000 feet, from Amazon Prime to Snapchat. It’s all about real time and immediacy, where faster is better and better is faster.

Nothing is sacred in this agile age, even love.

Enter Tinder, the Uber of matchmaking. Now anyone can literally swipe left or right while sitting on the toilet in order to find their soul mate. It’s a Hallmark moment, all right.

In order to read up on Tinder, I just Googled it. Instead of doing real research, I just watched a great video of Dave Franco and Conan O’Brien masquerading on Tinder as Jenghis Roundstone and Chip Whitley respectively.

So I think I’m pretty much up to speed now.

Just to be clear, I don’t really have an opinion on Tinder. It’s probably awesome. There’s an app for everything nowadays and I’m pretty sure this one has addressed the “inefficiency” of having to go out IRL to a bar or club and make real conversation with fake pick-up lines in order to get to the same outcome. As deep and profound as we’d like to consider ourselves to be, we all know that at the end of the day, it’s just about a primitive and superficial physical attraction.

Tinder works great for meeting potential “mates,” so why do we attempt to replicate it in the innovation space as brands look to meet startups?

For some reason, the industry has embraced an ephemeral speed-dating approach that is more akin to #DTF than eHarmony. Brands are putting out APBs for startups, corralling a cacophony of Dog the Bounty Hunters to scrape the bottom of the barrel in order to compete for a low-cost ransom.

Pitch nights become meat markets, and speed dating becomes one-night stands, when in reality, each and every startup on show is -- and should be looked at as -- a potential soul mate.

To rectify our errant ways, it’s probably a good idea to consider five changes to the current modus operandi: 

1.     Stop looking at startups as a commodity (abundant, interchangeable).

2.     Do away with free-for-all bounties for merciless and mercenary hunters

3.     Abolish speed-dating if there is no intent on the part of the brands to follow up with a second date, or even…

4.     a hard commitment (preferably in writing) to conduct a pilot program, invest time and/or money.

5.     Make sure that every startup that participates (even -- or especially -- the ones that don’t get selected) gets some kind of tangible benefit from the event. Perhaps it’s pitch coaching, presentation feedback or “office hours” advice, etc.

There might be a quick fix for everything today, but when it comes to carefully, respectfully and earnestly looking to make connections between big brands and small startups, the answer lies in curation, not automation; strategy, not tactics; follow-up and follow-through, not one-off checking the box of innovation.

Tags: start-ups
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2 comments about "Speed-Dating Is The Tinder Of Innovation".
  1. Mark Silva from KITE , July 22, 2014 at 1:51 p.m.
    .@jaffejuice, joking aside, speed dating is an essential tool in innovation partnerships. Per comment on LinkedIn, want to support your MediaPost article as well. You make great points I agree in principle with your thinking including the 5-points of resolution. Most importantly, there's a truth/insight in speed dating and metaphor about an app that filters, connects, etc: in fact, there IS abundance and variation and fit in startups for brand partnerships that challenges very busy enterprises in pursuing engagements. Brands are looking for solutions to meet enterprise-level scale, which means speed, efficiency and productive allocation of precious resources of time, money and attention. Companies are looking for solutions from Innovation Service Solutions Providers (we're calling the space IPSPs for lack of a better name) like: Evol8tion, BrandGarage, Pilot44 Labs, Brand Accelerators, Techstars; venture Concierges such as Andreessen Horowitz and First Round Capital; and software solutions like KITE to provide context, services, speed, confidence, meaning and ultimately outcomes to their innovation partner process. I applaud your call for the high ground on rules of engagement. It's early days; this is a long-game; best practices need to be aligned with what's best for the broader ecosystem. Your suggestions are a good start in this direction. Thanks for the post, Joseph. We rise together. Cheers! silva
  2. Joseph Jaffe from Evol8tion, LLC , July 22, 2014 at 2:58 p.m.
    Thanks Mark Silva. You and I are aligned on a) rising tide floats all boats and b) high road over low road. In many respects, my piece rails against things even we are doing at the moment. Like it or not, brands want hunters....and hunters gotta eat too :) Talk to you soon, my friend. Joe