The Bridge is a unique, seven-month-long commercialization program that helps Walmart find and commercialize Israeli startup innovations to increase revenue or reduce costs and provide a first-mover advantage through software technology solutions.
A closer look at The Builders.
Open Innovation at The Bridge in Partnership with Walmart
The Walmart Bridge program (in collaboration with Coca-Cola, WarnerMedia, and Mercedes-Benz) is a very unique program in the world of corporate and startup collaboration. The main focus is to help corporate partners grow their businesses or increase efficiencies by using technology solutions. The Bridge does so in ways to not only provide the partner with groundbreaking technology solutions and first-mover advantage, but also to transform corporate processes and changing ways of thought.
The Bridge starts by helping partners uncover the business needs that can be solved with technology in a unique methodology that involves key executives across the company. Using those business needs, The Bridge connects to a network of 100 trusted partners (venture capitalists, accelerators, incubators, etc.) in Israel who refer startups to the program (a startup cannot apply but instead needs to be referred by one of these experts as the first layer of screening).
On the internal side of the screening, this year The Bridge had over 500 executives from Coca-Cola, Walmart, Mercedes-Benz, and WarnerMedia help screen the startups and select the final list of participants. Having all the relevant people involved at such an early stage helps get the best companies selected, but also high engagement on both sides increases the chance of collaboration and is just one example of a tool The Bridge uses to enable exemplary engagement.
A sneak peek into the 7-month program designed around commercial guidance
Selected startups participate in meetings, workshops, and other activities throughout the program. For example, the startups took a 2-week storytelling workshop by Marcie Anthone, a marketing expert who was a strategist for the famous “Got milk?” campaign and later served as the Director of Marketing Communications Capabilities Development for the Coca-Cola Company for twelve years. Marcie works with the startups on branding, storytelling, and positioning, and she helps them shape their value propositions and craft their stories from an investor-oriented pitch to one that’s focused on serving the client’s needs. Another example is Harvard’s Negotiations Workshop, in which the startups learn the basics of negotiations in the corporate world. Through this experience, the selected startups get gain real-world knowledge, guidance, and information targeted toward helping these companies commercialize successfully.
Marcie Anthone teaches the art of storytelling.
Pilots and/or licensing agreements resulting from the program
In fewer than 7 months, Walmart has already worked with 7 companies and created 8 pilots (one of the startups is being tested in two divisions).
In its 6 years of activity, The Bridge is proud of its 52 alumni startups who succeeded in signing more than 250 pilots and 53 service agreements with the other partners, Coca-Cola, WarnerMedia, and Mercedes-Benz.
Core innovation themes in this first program
The program’s startups were chosen according to Walmart’s specific business needs, collected by The Bridge at the beginning of the program and organized into 9 core focus areas:
- Supply Chain
- Last-Mile Delivery
- Retail Operations – Service & Selling
- Customer Experience
- Customer Experience – Vertical Growth
- Realty Excellence
- Health & Wellness
- Human Resources
- Smart Home
The startups chosen this year have solutions that are versatile and can be implemented across Walmart. They come from various fields, including:
- IT Infrastructure
- Human Resources
- Customer Engagement
- Customer Experience
- Marketing Innovation
”"The opportunity to meet so many different companies at the same time really gets you very sharp on the types of questions to be asking. One of the great aspects of The Bridge is the fact that there are other very large multinational companies at the table asking great questions from their perspective."Cameron Geiger, SVP Supply Chain Services, Walmart US
Winnowing down the 200+ referred startups to the 7 finalists
The Bridge follows a unique selection process, developed not only to find the best technology solutions out there, but also to match it with partners’ specific business needs.
The specific methodology requires that startups be referred by a trusted network of 100 referrers, from venture capitalists to angels investors. The partner’s team then gains access to an online platform custom-developed with corporate screening needs in mind to screen and to rank the referred startups collaboratively.
The final stage of the process is the face-to-face interviews when a team of the partners’ executives flies to Tel Aviv for a week of interviews with the highest-ranking startups, including a shared process that allows corporate partners to exchange knowledge and methodologies.
The chosen startups go through a thorough vetting process by The Bridge team, making sure they have a working product, can deliver on their promises, and have the capacity to work with a corporate client.
Walmart teaming up with other Bridge Builders
The Bridge facilitates cross-partner activities that create a trusted environment where the partners can share their experiences working with startups, including best practices, challenges, and success stories. As part of this process, four (4) multinational companies sit around a table, collaboratively choosing startups during the selection process. It’s a great opportunity for enterprises to learn how other large companies think about and view the impact startups can have on their respective businesses.
Attend The Bridge Startup Showcase
- If you are passionate about innovation…
- If you are curious to learn how technology can accelerate innovation…
- If you are looking for ways to make your professional life and the lives of your co-workers easier…
- If you care about your workplace and would like to take it to the next level…
…reserve your spot today. Walmart is offering the community front-row seats as it takes these bold strides in innovation, playing a role in strengthening the regional entrepreneurial ecosystem.