Building B2B Markets: One Entrepreneur at a Time

Last December I wrote about Building B2B Technology Markets, looking at how to penetrate a market with almost none of the traditional characteristics of a mature technology market? As technology vendors increasingly look to emerging markets as a significant opportunity and source of growth, this question becomes more pressing.  The report explored some of the elements of Cisco’s Country Transformation initiatives in order to identify steps in the process of building market infrastructure:

For example, the report looked at partnering with governments to encourage market-friendly policies and investment in the necessary technology infrastructure to support market development and overall economic growth.  And, from a sales perspective, trade associations provided an alternative channel to reach small and medium businesses in markets where distributors and resellers weren't available.  

But, another element critical to successful market development is the ecosystem of partners developing solutions specific to the particular market, or even just contributing local innovation for new approaches to broader global issues.   Building B2B Technology Markets discussed finding local organizations to act as partners in the market, and even investing in educational initiatives, but missed the next step of how to help create these new local ecosystem partners. 

IBM recently announced their Global Entrepreneurship Program which goes a long way toward facilitating the development of local networks of innovation, and potential technology and business partners.  The program is only 2-weeks old but shows great promise in reaching out to local talent, and channeling it – in this case, toward a “smarter planet.”   According to Mike Riegel, VP of Marketing for IBM’s ISV and Developer Relations team, over 200 companies have applied in the past two weeks – and thousands more have gone to the website to check out the program.  The program offers private companies, less than three-years old:

  • Access to free software on-premise for development and testing, or in the “cloud” through Amazon Web Services (cloud access comes with production licenses as well)
  • Access to technical support from Project Resource Managers
  • Mentoring, networking and educational opportunities through SmartCamp events, IBM Innovation Centers, and access to other industry expertise.

The program “comes to life” through the SmartCamp events, which are exclusive networking and mentoring events aimed at identifying early stage entrepreneurs. The first phase of the program includes SmartCamps held mostly in mature markets, except for India.  But, the second phase expands the SmartCamps to more emerging markets with China, Brazil and Malaysia on the short list.    

As part of the program, IBM works with local venture capital and entrepreneur organizations such as The Indus Entrepreneur (TiE) and Indian Angel Network in India, Endeavor and  ABV Cap – venture capital organizations— in Brazil, and Zero-to-IPO – a network of VCs and entrepreneurs—and Asian Venture Capital Journal in China.  IBM holds annual symposiums with these partners to facilitate ecosystem building.   

While it does specifically channel these entrepreneurs toward IBM and “smarter planet” solutions, it also provides a channel to them to help kick-start their entry into the market, whether that market be local, regional or eventually global.  The program helps develop local ecosystems of partners for IBM but also brings that local innovation to the broader global market. 

I'd love to hear from anyone participating in the program, or planning on it.


More on IBM in China and Brazil

Jennifer, IBM has more to offer such as this in China and Brazil:

Examples of startups we have worked with in China

Gobi-backed CSDN. CSDN is collaborating with IBM across the board to develop the software development community in China, and as it expands horizontally, China's overall IT community. This is a classic ecosystem example and demonstrates that IBM is much more than just "a participating IT vendor." While CSDN brings its core competence of developing communities in China, IBM contributes key credible content, multi-disciplinary expertise, and worldwide linkages, such as an IBM technical expert group or a network of developers, and we have opened our top-ranked developerWorks environment to China through CSDN, and all qualified CSDN users can access this network.
DMG. This was a small company, funded by Gobi. They are now the largest digital media network operator for subway systems in China. They saw the opportunity early on, initially focusing on the subway segment because it offers superior demographics and huge growth opportunities. As the subway system continues to grow in China, DMG will continue to attract blue-chip advertisers. This is an impressive example, and one that shows how IBM's Venture Capital Group works with our VC partner (in this case, Gobi) and brought them into the IBM ecosystem. It's thrilling to watch how they've grown their footprint and impact in China.


Hoplon Infotainment: IBM Partner Hoplon Infotainment develops middleware platforms that support thousands of online users simultaneously in commericial applications such as online entertainment like MMOG (Massively Multi-Player Online Games) as well as corporate applications such as complex simulations.

Hoplon Infotainment's main business lines stand for the development of middleware and the implementation of cutting-edge information systems that support thousands of users simultaneously – in commercial and corporate applications, online entertainment and complex simulation.

Hoplon Infotainment, a Brazilian-based start-up and IBM partner, benefited from working with the IBM Venture Capital Group over the past year. The company develops large-scale online games, complex simulations, and other advanced information systems for both entertainment and corporate use based on IBM System z and Linux technologies.

“Partnering with IBM gave us credibility and a range of skills and business expertise that can't be matched," said Tarquinio "Tarq" Teles, the founder and CEO of Hoplon. "Access to the global reach, research, and sales and marketing expertise that comes from working with IBM, and the ability to get in front of the right venture capital firm are key to our company plans of raising new investments once we successfully take our product global."

Thanks for the details, Jon.

Thanks for the details, John. I look forward to updates about IBM's ecosystems of partners in Brazil and China are growing through the Global Entrepreneur program.