5 Corporations Doing Surprising Things with Startups

April 8, 2015

4:00 pm

Probably it’s because of their sheer size or the way in which they’re structured, but corporations often aren’t considered the birthplaces of innovative ideas. But, I mean, that doesn’t really make sense when you consider that companies like Google and Facebook are themselves considered large corporations, yet they are in constant engagement both with people within their ranks and with outside startups to create some of the most innovative products for consumers. This leads us to wonder: are there corporations or other large organizations that are doing some amazing things with startups that most people don’t necessarily know about?

In a few days, SPROCKIT will present the 30 startups selected to showcase their ideas to this year’s NAB Show attendees. Considered the world’s largest media and entertainment event, the NAB Show is expected to have 98,000 attendees from 159 countries, as well as include more than 1,700 exhibitors. Corporate members of the event include the likes of Comcast, Cox Media, Disney/ABC Television Group, Gannett Company, Google, Hearst Television and Univision. We take a look at five of these corporations and look at the surprising ways through which they push the barriers.


Not a corporation, but a large organization nonetheless. Despite its focus on Baby Boomers and the retired population, AARP is one of the world’s leading organizations advocating for and incorporating technology into the everyday lives of older Americans (a group notorious for its aversion to new technology). Since 2011, the nonprofit entity has run the AARP Health Innovation@50+ LivePitch event, which showcases some of the best, new health tech startups aimed at those 50 years and older.  And, as we covered, this Baby Boomer market could be the next major market in the tech sector. Earlier this week, AARP announced a new research initiative with partners like the Georgia Tech Research Institute, Pfizer, and UnitedHealth that aims at determining whether current mobile health apps and devices meet the needs of those 50 ears and older.

Disney ABC Television Group

The arm of The Walt Disney Company that manages its Disney- and ABC-branded television properties, the Disney ABC Television Group announced last week that it’s adding an unscripted, one-hour series called Startup U to its ABC Family line-up. The show will be the first of its kind, providing Americans with a first-hand look into the world of startups. The series will follow a group of entrepreneur Millennials as they go through a semester of VC Tim Draper’s Draper University. Last year, The Walt Disney Company also launched its Disney Accelerator aimed at media and entertainment startups.


The top publisher of websites and magazines for women (whose portfolio includes Better Homes and Gardens, Fitness, Family Circle, and Parents), Meredith has managed to successfully navigate the divide between traditional and digital publishing. Under Chairman and CEO Steve Lacy’s leadership, the company managed to drive subscriptions by shifting to a model incorporating digital issues of their magazines. The company consistently tries to stay competitive in the magazine publishing industry by working alongside various startups; last year, Meredith signed a deal with mobile advertising startup Kiip to help drive mobile revenues.

Samsung Global Innovation Center

Launched in 2013, Samsung’s Global Innovation Center (GIC) works with entrepreneurs and startups around the world to create innovative products to solve society’s most prevalent problems. It’s invested in companies like Kngine, a semantic search engine that utilizes natural language, and has partnered with the likes of UpWest Labs, an accelerator aimed at helping Israeli entrepreneurs excel in Silicon Valley. The GIC also runs the Samsung Accelerator.

Univision Communications Inc.

Aside from talks on its highly-anticipated (and predicted to be highly-valued) IPO, the New York-based Spanish broadcasting company has worked extensively with startups. They’ve worked previously with business pitch competitions like La Idea to broadcast the significance of entrepreneurship among Latino entrepreneurs. In Miami’s nascent startup scene, in particular, Univision has co-organized hackathons in the community, including last summer’s “Money Trail” Hackathon.

Tech.Co is proud to announce our media partnership with the SPROCKIT startup hub at the NAB Show April 11-16 in Las Vegas this year, produced by The National Association of Broadcasters. Tech.Co readers can enjoy a FREE exhibits-only pass by using the code ND16 at registration on www.NABshow.com.

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Ronald Barba was the previous managing editor of Tech.Co. His primary story interests include industry trends, consumer-facing apps/products, the startup lifestyle, business ethics, diversity in tech, and what-is-this-bullsh*t things. Aside from writing about startups and entrepreneurship, Ronald is interested in 'Doctor Who', Murakami, 'The Mindy Project', and fried chicken. He is currently based in New York because he mistakenly studied philosophy in college and is now a "writer". Tweet @RonaldPBarba.

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