Interview with Reggie Bradford: You don’t have to be in Silicon Valley to build a great start-up

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Published: February 19, 2018 5:31:52 AM

In January 2017, Oracle announced the global expansion of the programme, a multimillion-dollar investment for start-ups, worldwide. Reggie Bradford, senior vice-president, Start-up ecosystem & Accelerator, Oracle talks about Oracle’s initiative towards nurturing the start-up community in an interaction with Sudhir Chowdhary.

start up, reggie bradford, silicon valley, Oracle Startup Cloud Accelerator Programme , indian start upThe Oracle Startup Cloud Accelerator Programme is a global initiative by Oracle to develop an ecosystem that fosters innovation and supports entrepreneurship journeys of new businesses.

The Oracle Startup Cloud Accelerator Programme is a global initiative by Oracle to develop an ecosystem that fosters innovation and supports entrepreneurship journeys of new businesses. It’s a next generation acceleration initiative, with a focus on reimagining enterprise innovation through true partnerships with start-ups that foster co-development and co-innovation. In January 2017, Oracle announced the global expansion of the programme, a multimillion-dollar investment for start-ups, worldwide. Reggie Bradford, senior vice-president, Start-up ecosystem & Accelerator, Oracle talks about Oracle’s initiative towards nurturing the start-up community in an interaction with Sudhir Chowdhary. Excerpts:

How has the Oracle Startup Cloud Accelerator Programme been received the world over, especially in India?

Well, people in India should take great pride that the programme was conceived and started in India, and it emanated from a conversation our CEO, Safra Catz, had with the Prime Minister of India. We have our largest R&D (product development) setup in India, it is the second biggest for us outside the US and at Oracle, it is the R&D organisation that manages this Startup Accelerator Programme. Our global product development team works to ensure that the programme provides start-ups with what they need to be competitive within the changing business landscape. Our goal is to provide them with an environment where technology innovation thrives.
We expanded the programme to eight markets (Bristol, Delhi/NCR, Mumbai, Paris, Sao Paulo, Singapore, Tel-Aviv, and Bengaluru) and we picked these markets based on these factors: (1) it had to have a high presence of Oracle development capabilities because this is a product development-led programme—we would want to be able to provide mentoring for the start-ups, (2) the market had to have high propensity of start-up penetration. You don’t have to be in Silicon Valley to build a great start-up – start-ups are emerging in many geographies across the globe.
I did three start-ups myself that were all acquired. I wanted to develop a programme that I would want to use if I was a founder. What I was focused on as a founder, was finding revenue and reference customers, and so the big questions we discussed about, for the Oracle Startup Cloud Accelerator Programme, were: How do we get the start-ups, how do we get them into our programme and then how do we qualify them, how can we connect them to our 4,30,000 enterprise customers around the globe? And that’s been the differentiator versus most of the other programmes available in the market. And in the eight markets we have launched, we have had almost 3000 start-ups apply for 40 slots, which is a lot.

What are your views on the Indian start-up scene and how does it fit into the overall global start-up movement?

In an economy like India, start-ups are going to be a huge leapfrog, because of mobility and some of the advancements in technology. India is such a massive germane market by itself. It is also going to be able to export start-ups and technology all over the globe. And our strategic position in India is going to give us a tremendous opportunity. We have already got three new accelerators that we are launching in Delhi/NCR, Mumbai and Bengaluru and two batches of finalists have already completed the programme with us in Bengaluru. So, we see tremendous value in taking those start-ups and partnering with them on a global basis.

How is Oracle supporting the Indian start-up ecosystem through this programme?

In a couple of ways. First, one of the big value-propositions we see is that we want to co-create and co-develop with our start-ups. So, we have gone to our product development leadership organisation (that works on technology of the future, be it in software as a service platform or infrastructure as a service platform or the extensions) and discussed where start-ups can play a role in our product development. We also leverage our sales organisation to find out where they or our customers see gaps in our portfolio. The data that we get from here, we integrate that into the local market to help us figure out where start-ups can give us most value, because we sell to almost every enterprise in the world.
Some of the other benefits of this programme include the mentoring process—through this, start-ups connect with global Oracle leaders, external experts including CTOs and CIOs of start-ups, and other start-up pioneers who are members of the Oracle Startup Cloud Accelerator Advisory Board, and mentor network. Additionally, they get to meet with other start-ups and work together in a collaborative environment. This comes in the form of a vibrant co-working space where the chosen Oracle Startup Cloud Accelerator start-ups work and network in a productive environment.

For start-up finalists that are using Oracle Cloud Platform to build their solutions, will you typically handhold such a company to explore the global market?

Yes. I would say we are focused on doing that at the early stage. The idea is to be able to demonstrate in the market that companies as small as two employees in a garage, can use the same computing power that the largest enterprises use, and be successful and be able to talk about how Oracle cloud has helped them build their business. We want to be able to nurture these young companies and showcase how they can graduate, grow and scale globally.

Which means size does not matter?

Ultimately, it will, but not so in the early days. We have this concept called cloud credits. The idea is to provide value back to the start-ups and give them mentoring in cloud technology, offer them co-working space, but not forcing them to use our platform and not generating revenue from them. We do see benefits in our core business but right now we are very focused on getting them up-to-speed and then launch in the market.

What’s your advice to young professionals looking to build their you know own ideas?

I have a few pieces of advice. First, you really have to find a big disruptive market opportunity and find and develop a solution that’s unique. Two, you have to build creditability. This means you have to surround yourself with people who can help you to get to your vision. If you’d don’t have the experience, find great people who can help you. Three, you must have the tenacity and passion because you are going to get knocked down, and you have to get up and continue to move forward.

What’s unique about Oracle’s Startup Accelerator Programme and what is the advantage for start-ups who join in?

The most unique aspect of the Oracle Startup Cloud Accelerator is that we have 420,000 customers in 185 countries and a rural receptivity from our customers and from our own employees to work on this initiative together. Second, because we are coming in with a next-generation platform and infrastructure as a service, it’s an opportunity for start-ups to get on the ground floor and build a product that can become a key integral part of helping us to find the future. And I think that’s a tremendous opportunity for a very few selective start-ups that want to help us build the future.

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