SAN FRANCISCO; French telecom powerhouse Orange has announced that Visa, LG Electronics and four more industry veterans have become allies in its programme to nurture promising US tech start-ups. The companies have created a “Fab Force” accelerator to boost prospects of chosen start-ups by providing connections, distribution, expertise, resources and more.
“Orange has developed a unique and respected ecosystem in Silicon Valley consisting of leading entrepreneurs, thought leaders, venture capitalists, and technology experts,” said Orange Silicon Valley chief Georges Nahon. “Through Fab Force, we’ve now opened up this ecosystem to some of the world’s largest and most respected brands who now have early access to some of Silicon Valley’s most innovative start-ups.”
Having innovative entrepreneurs pitch ideas and form early bonds can freshen thinking at big, established businesses and provide chances to get ahead of “disruptive” trends that could upset long-standing business models.
“In a time when brands are looking to find ways to be innovative and find the next WhatsApp, Uber, or Twitch, having a steady access to these up-and-coming start-ups is important so that you’re always keeping track of what’s happening in the industry,” said Bullpen Capital managing director Paul Martino. “Otherwise, it just passes you by.”
Fab Force partners could even opt to buy a start-up if they are keen on what it has created. Internet-driven innovation by start-ups has shaken up industries from news, music and games to taxi services, investing, and hotels.
Orange Fab start-up accelerator here is heading into its fourth season in December, making it an attractive way for established companies looking to connect with start-ups to “get up and running almost overnight,” according to Martino.
Approximately 300 start-ups are expected to apply to take part in the upcoming Fab season. The field will be culled to no more than 40, with Fab Force members meeting those innovators in person.
Orange Fab will orchestrate the process, and continue to offer investments of as much as $20,000 in some of the start-ups that make it into the programme. Fab Force partners get to alerted about the start-ups fitting their interests; be part of the selection committee, and attend demonstration days in held in San Francisco and in Paris.
“Visa and Orange have partnered to introduce innovative ways for consumers to pay using mobile devices in both advanced and emerging payments markets,” said Visa senior vice-president of innovation and strategic partnerships Bill Gajda.
Orange operates in 30 countries with a total of 179 mobile customers and 16 million fixed broadband customers worldwide. It reported sales of 41 billion euros (Dh190 billion) last year.