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How to fuel an open-innovation ecosystem ?

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On November 3rd, Isabelle Mashola, CEO of Isahit, a company that provides a socially responsible platform for data labelling and data processing in which Sodexo Ventures invested in February 2020, joined Jean-Sébastien Beaucamps of Sodexo Ventures in the webinar hosted by FITT France on ‘Start-ups and large companies, how to give meaning to your collaboration?’

During this session, which featured large companies such as Pfizer, CNP Assurances and start-ups such as MobiliWork and Onini, the start-up/company pairs shared their experiences, the lessons learnt, as well as their recommendations to the French innovation ecosystem.

Building win-win partnerships to co-create solutions

As pointed out by Jean-Sebastien in during the webinar, the decision to invest in a start-up goes beyond the view of being an investor for Sodexo Ventures. The key of a successful investment is building a win-win partnership.  This is primarily achieved by setting the same level of ambition with regards to the implementation of synergies (i.e. speed of deployment, value sharing mechanism etc.).   Providing this clarity from the start ensures to build a partnership based on trust.  

Furthermore, our process ensures that these synergies remain a focus after the investment by signing both the partnership and investment agreement documents on the closing day.  

 “We aim to differentiate our role as a partner and as an investor, nominating very different profiles as Board Members and as responsible for the partnership implementation”, said Jean-Sebastien.

Driving forward the synergies is not only a focus at the start of the investment.  It continues with  a strong sponsorship from the start by appointing with an ExCom member as guarantor of the project. It is important to align company interests to ensure to have a positive impact on the growth of the startup, such as never requiring exclusivity investing in a company with only Sodexo or direct peer clients.  As pointed out by Jean-Sebastien in the discussion, investing in start-ups can open the doors to learn more on non-core businesses by understanding new technologies, new trends, new players as well as new business models

Key learnings in collaborating with Isahit

The discussion also highlighted the key learnings from the Sodexo-Isahit collaboration, such as the strong and real values that are shared by both companies and the agility of our purchasing department in adapting and paying our partners faster. Beyond the commercial synergies, functional synergies were also identified with our legal department as well as the strengthening of the software, thanks to expertise coming from Sodexo’s datalab. To date, we have one successful use case in place around food recognition but many more are to come.

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