While consultants are often called in to support the development of ideas and overcome barriers, they themselves may have their own ideas that – due to the nature of the job – cannot be developed to fruition. To solve this conundrum, and to further sustain entrepreneurialism inside their own walls, Elixirr has launched ‘The Pitch’, an internal programme that will invest up to £1 million in support of the winning ideas or businesses that come from their own entrepreneurial staff.
Entrepreneurship is foundational in a business environment, most successful businesses grew from humble beginnings to take their place as market leaders in the wider ecosystem. In recent years, and with the rapid development of new markets and digital channels, business ideas can, with care and attention, be rapidly developed and scaled up into multi-billion dollar businesses. Tech giant Uber serves as a well-known recent example; founded in 2009, it was last year valued at $41 billion.
Having a good idea in today’s transient world is only one part of the story. Uber in its rapid development had support from a number of venture capital and other capital investors. These investors saw the demand, saw that the business case had room for significant expansion, found that the numbers add up, and that with their support, the future looked eminently profitable.
To support the development of businesses with the ambition to take the world by storm, Elixirr Capital – the venture fund of London-based consultancy firm Elixirr – earlier this week launched a new, innovative scheme. The venture, established in 2013, supports the development of small to medium sized businesses to scale up, not merely by providing start-ups with capital but also with expert advice from its award winning consulting team. The firm’s offerings for start-ups was further bolstered a few months ago when it established a presence on the ground in the start-up ecosystems of Silicon Valley and London to further enhance entrepreneurial development offerings to budding technology start-ups. “We are plugging our clients into the portfolios of the leading venture capital firms to find the most innovative startups relevant to them, as well as helping them engage with the research labs of the tech giants – all with the longer-term aim of solving the corporate innovation dilemma, geared towards creating environments in which innovation can flourish and stick”, comments Stephen Newton, Founder and Managing Partner and Elixirr.
Elixirr has a deep relationship with entrepreneurship from its beginnings. The firm was founded in 2009 by a group of former consultants with an entrepreneurial spirit, and has since booked stellar growth, with revenue jumping 900% in five years. The business advisory currently operates with a team of 80 professionals active in the UK, Africa, Russia and Switzerland. Its ambition and growth trajectory has not remain unnoticed in the industry – last year Elixirr has named the ‘Best New Consultancy’ by the MCA, and it has been capable of bolstering its team with several high profile advisors from well established firms like Accenture, A.T. Kearney, Deloitte and McKinsey & Company, and plus high-profile industry leaders from RBS, Credit Suisse and M&S.
With the launch of ‘The Pitch’, the consultancy aims at leading by example when it comes to innovation and entrepreneurialism, says Newton. “We are challenging our team to 'walk the talk' on entrepreneurial activity. We say we are a firm of entrepreneurs, now it’s time for us to step up and prove it. We believe that by being innovative and entrepreneurial, we will deliver that to our clients every day. It’s not about creating 'innovation centres' like consulting's usual suspects… it’s about innovation in everything we do.”
Intrapreneurship in consulting
Elixirr’s ‘The Pitch’ will support its own consultants in their ambitions to start businesses in an intrapreneurship programme. The companies’ brightest minds – more importantly, most innovative minds – will be given the freedom to pitch their business ideas or recent start-ups to Newton and team for up to £1 million in support, made up of £500,000 in capital investment and £500,000 in professional services. The team, also including Graham Busby and Karen Newman, will provide support for the development of ideas. Newton adds: “We’re not just asking our team to come up with ideas that we invest in and then walk away. We’re offering them the opportunity to grow a business with the expert advice of our consulting team - and to lead their company."
The move by Elixirr can be deemed relatively pioneering in the consultancy industry, however not entirely novel. Last year Deloitte for instance launched a £25 million fund in the UK to stimulate intrapreneurship, while KPMG globally has also opened up its KPMG Capital fund to cherry-pick the smartest ideas from its talent pool, albeit on a selective basis. Newton however highlights two key differences between the concepts. “With The Pitch, anyone can participate - clients, Elixirr employees or friends of the firm”, adding that Elixirr’s competition has a different vision in mind: “We are looking beyond the barriers of our firm. We are developing entrepreneurs, those with winning ideas will become CEOs of their own companies, no longer Elixirr consultants.”