Tamara Giltsoff talks to PSFK about how connecting businesses with entrepreneurs and startups can lead to impact investment and opportunity.
We are excited to have Tamara Giltsoff, a consultant advising new business models on how to scale for the 21st Century, to speak at PSFK CONFERENCE LONDON 2012. Working alongside entrepreneurs, startups and corporate businesses, Tamara has built a pipeline connecting forward thinkers with opportunities in emerging markets and new ventures. On September 13th, Tamara will discuss her work unlocking new business models with a focus on impact opportunity and investment.
When you last spoke to PSFK, you were working to identify green business and consumer problems, and developing accessible solutions for the market. How has your outlook changed over recent years?
There has been quite a shift in terms of where I put my energy and focus. For a long time, I was focusing on trying to change the root nature of corporations in a consulting capacity. My focus has shifted much more to a belief in startups and entrepreneurs, which are coming up with radical new business models, technologies, and solutions, and finding ways for connecting them all together. These are the change agents.
My belief is that the type of innovation we need is very unlikely to come through the inside of the corporate business. The barriers to success are simply too large. These are nascent businesses and social innovations, which require start-up mentality and fluidity to survive and to thrive. It’s much more likely to come through some kind of collaboration or joint venture with startups outside.
What caused you to shift your approach?
Trying to create change and drive impact through marketing strategy and communications has struggled to move the dial. The focus must be on new business development and commercial opportunity that has environmental and social impact embedded at the core, integrated with the marketing effort.
I have also been influenced by my own work with a number of startups in recent years, where we had ideas and the capability to create some breakthroughs, and often did, but only to a certain degree. Obviously, we were victims of the financial crash, but what we struggled with most was in our manufacturing capability and the ability to scale up at the speed we needed.
I remember thinking, “There must be a smarter way of doing this.” We talk about success and being able to scale up much faster, but that was before the days of open business, collaboration, and things like that.
I think that experience has informed my work now. A big part of the work I did with Nokia in 2010 in parts of East Africa was conveying the ways the company could generate value and solve problems in these markets by connecting with the entrepreneurs, change agents and organisations who are at the front line of social innovation. My challenge was to connect Nokia with the social entrepreneurs on the ground actually doing the work, and make it clear the work was both possible and profitable.
Tamara Giltsoff acts as advisor to The Trillion Fund, a crowdfunding platform for renewable energy investment.
Is this hybrid corporate/startup model how you envision future corporations operating?
I think a global corporate business will one day be made up of many, many small ventures either in partnership or joint venture. We won’t have a global corporation head office staff in just one place. Instead we’ll have a global corporation invested in solving significant challenges locally and globally with the help of third parties.
Can you give us some context around the scope of your work today?
Since 2009, over the past three years, I’ve been doing two things lately, and they both feed into each other.
The first is what I refer to as impact opportunity. I try not to use the word “sustainability” anymore, because it’s not helpful, certainly not in Europe.
Typically, I get engaged to advise companies on where the future of impact business is going, and where there may be future opportunities to either invest, do joint ventures, or create partnerships with emerging new startups. I’m hired to build a pipeline of sorts, or a portfolio of opportunities for clients, and then to help them to embed that within their business. The next step is to commercialize those relationships.
I work with companies like Telefónica, P&G and Nokia. I also advise and embed myself in the startup community. I have been advising a startup called Trillion Fund, which is building a crowd-funded model for renewable energy investment, of which there are two similar ventures in the UK. I’m also working with a data enabled food platform called Sustaination.
Additionally I’ve actually just started some work with a community organization called Sports Inspired. They’ve built a very large network and community through something they called the Community Games. It’s a sports initiative that brings people from the community into sports, and it connects corporate business with sporting initiatives, and it develops leadership capacity between the too. The enterprise is beginning to shape its business model, so I’m working with them at the moment.
So really, I do two things. Consulting and working with startups, and they both help inform each other. Hopefully I will be involved in developing an impact venture myself in the next few years. Watch this space.
Come see Tamara talk more about collaborative relationships between entrepreneurs and businesses at PSFK CONFERENCE LONDON on 13th September 2012.