The top tech talent in Africa prefers to work for startups, not corporates, which is a key reason why large organisations must seek out partnerships with startup companies, according to Brent Curry, chief information officer (CIO) at South African retailer TFG.
TFG’s e-commerce branch has partnered with a number of tech startups, particularly in the logistics space; including Wumdrop – for TFG’s delivery service – and Pargo – for an efficient pick-up solution.
Curry says big organisations should look to partner with startups, seeing as the best tech talent prefers to work in the startup sector, and as such the most innovative solutions can be found by looking to these small companies.
“We know that exceptional tech talent usually prefers working in the edgier startup space, rather than at a big corporate where their freedom and creativity is more likely to be stifled. So working with startups enables us to access that very scarce talent,” he says.
“We also explore opportunities with startups in the tech space, because they have innovative ideas and are fired-up by their product or service.”
In addition, startups are attractive partners for corporates due to the fact their agile processes allow for new features to be added to their products quickly, or altered in line with client needs.
“The rate at which a startup can change or add new functionality is much quicker when compared to larger organisations where changes take a lot longer to be implemented,” Curry says.
Curry also has advice for corporates on how to best create relationships with the startup sector.
First, he recommends offering to coach entrepreneurs and startups, as well as taking general networking meetings with them to hear out their ideas and solutions at an early stage.
Events are also crucial to engaging with startups, Curry says. At local and international events, corporates can browse showcasing startups and identify those of interest; while they should also consider hosting their own events.
“TFG hosts DevFest, a development festival in the IT space. This includes posing a problem and offering a significant monetary prize for the team that comes up with the best solution. This festival is open to both internal TFG brands as well as outside participants.”
Curry says his overall advice is to cultivate a reputation as a startup-friendly organisation.
“Becoming known as a company open to these types of ideas and solutions, means startups now make contact with us.”