Capital One’s Innovation Summit Unites Corporations and Startups to Spark Real Change

"For innovation, you’re kissing a lot of frogs to get to the good stuff," Scott Emmons said during a panel on scaling without stagnating. Hear from Emmons, Sean Minter, Sterling Ingui, Tarek Hoteit, and Charlie Lass on how corporations can remain on the bleeding edge of recognizing and integrating entrepreneurial talent.

On Friday, Capital One’s inaugural Corporate Startup Innovation Summit wrapped up a week of leaders, founders, innovators, and investors connecting, brainstorming, and sparking change in North Texas.

The day-long Summit closed Dallas Startup Week, uniting the region’s corporate presence and burgeoning startup ecosystem with the aim to generate new ideas and opportunities in business growth and acceleration. By creating a dialogue between corporations and entrepreneurs, the Summit accelerated Dallas-Forth Worth as a hub for innovation.

Dallas Innovates was on-site at Capital One’s Plano campus, so we rounded up a few highlights and quotable moments from sessions throughout the day.

Scaling without Stagnating

This session—moderated by Dalia Powers, SVP and CIO of digital and technology enterprise services at CBRE—focused on how corporations can remain on the bleeding edge of recognizing and integrating entrepreneurial talent.

What does success look like once the relationship has been established? The panelists had varying responses, all dependent on their specific industry.

“It’s about making sure innovation comes from all corners of the organization,” Powers said during the session.

Charlie Lass, MIT

When asked about what he thought were the most important parts of business, Lass kept it simple. “Culture, values, and goals.”

He emphasized that culture is “incredibly hard to change once it’s established.” And with goals, oftentimes, “what’s a fire in year one is a Tuesday in year three.”

Overall though, companies change every single month. He points to Nintendo, which started off by selling playing cards—just a tad different than what they’re selling now.

“People shift, and people move on,” Lass said. “The assumption that everyone will stay with the company through it’s lifestyle is a common one.”

Tarek Hoteit, Thomson Reuters

Hoteit made an important point when talking about scaling: it’s important to spend time on things other than just technology.

He said a company has to fuel positivity in order to make it work.

Sterling Ingui, Fidelity Labs

When asked what large corporations can do to reignite the spirit of entrepreneurship, Ingui said it’s most important to focus on culture—no matter the size of the company.

“We have parts of the company where everyone can be part of the innovation story,” she said. She pointed out that at Fidelity, there’s clubs, where people can learn about things that’s not necessarily their company role (like block chain, AI, and design thinking), and events, for employees to learn while doing.

Sean Minter, AmplifAI

What are the determinants of driving success? To Minter, it’s leadership and culture. “It starts at the top, and it flows through the organization,” he said.

Minter’s started numerous companies, where he’s had to be a jack-of-all-trades as the first and only employee. It is through this experience that he learned the importance of flexibility, structure, and diversity.

Think through the personalities of the leadership team as you’re hiring,” he said. “The personalities have to be different. … You have to have different thought processes.”

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As for scaling, that happens as you move into the “walk and run phase” of a company. He said AmplifAI is currently just past the born stage into the “crawling to walking” stage.

“If you’re not used to giving up things, and that culture of change isn’t in your environment,” he said, “it’s going to create friction.”

Scott Emmons, Current Global

“I’m a huge believer in open innovation and collaboration,” Emmons said.

A big part of his discussion was his experience at Neiman’s working with people who sometimes had never even walked in a store. Part of his goal was to create what customers were seeing and experiencing, which he did through projects like the innovation lab.

“Technology is not a silver bullet that goes up and solves all problems,” he said. “For innovation, you’re kissing a lot of frogs to get to the good stuff.”

The Intersection of Corporate, Arts, and Entrepreneurship

How can corporations accelerate innovation by connecting the dots between organizations? During this session, moderated by Kelly Hoey, Capital One shared its vision of driving success and momentum thru innovation, economic, and community impact though multiple partnerships.

The panelists were Sanjiv Yajnik, President of Capital One’s Financial Services; Johnathan Brownlee, Executive Director of the Dallas International Film Festival and CEO and President of the Dallas Film Society; Kim Noltemy, President and CEO at the Dallas Symphony Orchestra; and Alyce Alston, CEO of The DEC Network.

What innovation are you seeing in your industry? Are we seeing this type of innovation in Dallas—and if not, how can we bring it here?

Brownlee: “The innovation space in Dallas is second to none,” he said. One of the goals here, from a film-making point of view, is called the launch strategy. “As Canadians, we love to stand in line, but in the festival space, I’d rather have my audience not stand in line for an hour to get into the theater,” he said. Instead, he wants attendees to do things like meet new people and talk to filmmakers. He and his team at the Dallas International Film Festival are doing this, and they think it’s innovative for this specific space.

Yajnik: “I find inspiration in all of the arts,” Yajnik said. “There’s a call-to-action for all industries to embrace the arts even more.” Yajnik encourages more connection across art, business, technology, and film. He and fellow panelist Kim Noltemy both pointed to Soluna, an annual Dallas festival that brings together international artists with the region’s finest arts organizations. Yajnik said that the single best thing he’s done to attract “unbelievable talent to our wonderful city” is bring on Noltemy has CEO.

Alston: “This is what was so awesome—we had the symphony at the State of Entrepreneurship, we had amazing panels, we’re bringing innovators together so we can learn from each other and be inspired,” she said, pointing to different Dallas Startup Week events that had already passed. As the point-person on DSW19, Alston said it’s important to come together like this to solve problems and become more all-around innovative.

Why is the art world so important in technology?

Yajnik: “This is a new industrial revolution that’s going to change the lives of everyone,” he said. In Yajnik’s opinion, every corporation needs to make a big move into this new revolution. The winners in the future are going to be the most creative people, because it’s the main feature that allows the region to win. It’s about the shift from STEM to STEAM—anytime he sees schools cutting out arts programs, it’s ruining creativity. “We need to be invested in art so we can create new things—it’s the most human of everything we do. In the years to come, we’re going to get more connected in a human way. The source of creativity is art.”

Brownlee: Building off what Yajnik said, Brownlee said: “A lot of this starts young in the education space, so we need to give students the opportunity to be creative and invested in the arts early on.”

Outside of your industry (and somebody else on this panel), what is something creative you see in Dallas that sets the region apart?

Yajnik: The main question to be asked, Yajnik said, is whether or not the seeds are being sown in the Dallas community to attract new talent. “Dallas-Fort Worth is an amazing, vibrant place,” he said. “The attraction of talent is now global. It is: trying to attract talent that would rather go to somewhere else in the world.” That talent wants to be in a place that has entrepreneurs, vibrance, and the arts. Yajnik said he sees the start of this journey, as it starts with that specific group of panelists being onstage together. “But,” he said, “I want to invite my corporate partners in the community to band together—this is a team sport.”

Brownlee: “One thing I’ve learned about Texas is that they hate to be second to anything,” the Canadian panelist said. He called Dallas quite incredible, as it’s a cultural melting pot that he said adds to Yajnik’s point about vibrancy.

Alston: “What’s so awesome about DFW is the diversity—the arts, entrepreneurship, culture, social—we have innovation going on in all these areas, and that really attracts talent and companies,” Alston said. “This makes DFW even more vibrant and exciting.” When you think about everything going on in the city, she said it’s an organization’s responsibility to drive innovation. One example she gave is United Way’s GroundFloor, a social innovation accelerator that tackles the challenges facing North Texas. She also pointed to Capital One, which she said made Dallas Startup Week happen. “As organizations, we need more Capital Ones to step up and be partners in driving DFW innovation,” she said. “It is our responsibility.”

What can the audience do to take the next step?

Yajnik: “Get involved,” he said. “The world is changing rapidly. Everyone will change, given where we are going.” Yajnik told audience members that if they want to succeed as in business, they need to be connected to the arts. And vice versa—if you want to be a great artist, you need to be connected to business. Because knowledge creates better artists; better people in the future.

Noltemy: April is Arts Month—”show up for something,” she said. “You should be ashamed of yourself if you don’t show up for something. There’s a lot of free stuff.”

Alston: If anyone in the audience hadn’t yet found a group they’ve connected with at DSW19, Alston said they needed to immediately go home and find one. “It’s all about understanding each other’s business models and staying connected,” she said. “You’re going to learn more, solve more, and drive innovation.”

Brownlee: “The Dallas International Film Festival starts Thursday,” he said, echoing the other panelists’ sentiments. It’s about showing up.

This article was updated on April 15 at 10 a.m. to include the moderator of Scaling without Stagnating.

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