By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA
“There’s a need for an organization that helps large enterprises test new models with start-ups,” Brad Holliday says.
With that belief underscored by experiences in several roles, the Nashvillian has partnered with Mara Lewis of San Francisco to found ID8 Innovation. They announced their new boutique advisory firm back in the summer.
“We are working on sourcing deals for Fortune 500 companies,” Holliday explains. “The way in which we engage with them is unique to their specific needs but can include sourcing early stage technology partners, performing due diligence, executing market discovery sprints around news business concepts, or acting as a complete outsourced innovation arm.”
The two Co-Founders bring complementary backgrounds to their new firm with rich histories in the start-up world.
Holliday was most recently a Partner with GrowthX where he Co-Founded and served as Managing Partner of GrowthX Corporate. Work there led to the launch of ID8 Innovation, but Holliday also a strong entrepreneurial background. Lewis is also well-connected in the entrepreneurial community, most recently serving as Managing Director of Start Co. in Memphis but also having several start-ups on her resume.
Both recognized the challenges large corporations face in driving innovation internally or finding opportunities externally.
“This was an opportunity and space of interest to me,” Holliday said in describing the impetus to launch ID8 Innovation. In our initial meeting more than a year ago over coffee at the Frothy Monkey in Downtown Nashville, he had told us about his particular interest in helping enhance corporate innovation.
Holliday also said that he saw the challenges facing those large corporations trying to drive innovation internally when he was launching a start-up of his own several years ago. It was a data services business in the heavy equipment space.
“My partner and I had built the equivalent of a Carfax for heavy equipment and needed access to Caterpillar’s dealer data,” he explained. Trying to get it was a “real eye opener.” The corporate information technology organization could not provide it.
During his years working in venture capital, Holliday says he was asked to help start-ups with needs that were not typically requested of venture fund managers.
ID8 Innovation brings those two experiential bases together. The firm identifies business opportunities that appear mutually beneficial for an enterprise partner and a start-up, then assists in bringing the opportunity to fruition.
“We’re an outsourced innovation arm of corporations,” Holliday explains. “We’re finding the nexus of opportunities between unrelated businesses.”
He adds that ID8 Innovation is looking for markets that have the potential for near-term disruption.
“We only work with one client in a specific sector,” Holliday says. “We’re deeply imbedded with our clients, looking for long-term relationships, not one-off deals.”