I’ll never forget a conversation I had with the CEO of a listed corporation about how his company could engage with the world of start-ups. His reply, from the far end of his long, glossy boardroom table, was that he didn’t want some “dagga-smoking Capetonian in slip-slops” in his company. It was a joke of course, but he was sort-of serious too. Corporates, who are watching the start-up story unfold before their eyes, know that these agile, innovative little companies may be their future collaborators or competitors. Corporates also know start-ups can be very useful to them. Because of their legacy and risk-averse structures, large companies sometimes find it difficult to innovate. It’s just a fact of life: it takes a long time to turn an oil tanker, but a plucky dinghy will easily manoeuvre. I am not saying corporates don’t innovate, they just find it hard to — and start-ups have the benefit of being able to risk more with little to lose. A corporate engagement with a start-up does...

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