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.