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To learn more about L Marks we sat down with Daniel Saunders, Early Stage Investor and Chief Executive at L Marks:
Q: Daniel, could you provide our readers with a brief introduction to L Marks?
A: In a nutshell, we build bridges between corporates seeking to innovate and young companies with disruptive tech. We find exciting startups to work alongside some of the world’s best-known brands to tackle their business challenges. We structure and incubate this collaboration to help the two parties work together effectively and produce rapid results. We call this applied innovation, and we’ve delivered programmes for market leaders across sectors including BMW, Arsenal FC, EDF and Bupa.
Q: You’ve recently announced five new innovation programmes; could you tell us something more?
A: It’s pretty well established that incubators and accelerators have made their mark in the tech and wider business community. Having listened to the market and worked with senior executives, we knew that the traditional incubator/accelerator model needed to evolve. So, to stay ahead, our teams have come up with five new programmes that help corporates and startups work together effectively in new ways.
The five new innovation programmes are: Young Sparks; Launchpad; Innovation Network; Innovation 52 and Challenge Sprints. We’ve designed these programmes to complement our core innovation lab offering – which continues to add great value – and provide a diverse offering to our partners. We’ve never opted for a ‘one size fits all’ approach and these new programmes will allow us to help our partners in a specific and increasingly customised way.
Q: What can you do for startups?
A: We open doors.
We help startups get ahead by introducing them to experienced subject matter experts in their target industry. They get executive mentorship and the opportunity to understand how big business works in practice – it’s a great opportunity for startups to see what impact their solutions can have and secure big-ticket customers. This is a unique position. Young businesses can often feel daunted by the prospect of working with a corporate – our programmes solve this by building relationships and identifying the right opportunities with the right people within large corporates to help take our startups to the next level.
What does this mean in practice? It means proper mentorship, constructive product feedback, and access to customer pilots that can make an impact on the business and a deeper understanding of a commercial fit.
Q: What are your plans for next six months?
A: The tech boom doesn’t show signs of slowing down and many corporates are still playing catch up. As a result, we are experiencing a phenomenal period of growth creating authentic innovation services for leading businesses around the world. Our plan for the next six months is to drive home our new programmes and work continually with the brightest minds to ensure that we keep growing globally.
Alongside our corporate partners and co-investors, we’ve invested £4 million in our startups – so we will also be on the lookout for new exciting ventures to fund.
Q: What’s the best thing about L Marks that people might not know about?
A: L Marks doesn’t deliver standard startup accelerator programmes. We customise the whole programme to the need of our corporate partners and the participating startup. No two programme are alike, and each startup that takes part has an entirely different experience to the rest of the cohort. We’ve taken this approach because it’s the only way that both corporates and startups can get the most out of a programme. For startups, it means they can really focus on the opportunity to prove the impact of their product to a potential big client. It also means that the programme is accessible to later-stage, growth startups as well as early-stage teams because we don’t take a minimum equity stake or lay on compulsory educational resources for those teams who don’t really need them. For corporates, it means they engage with startups that can have a meaningful impact on their business right now, rather than just providing a broad snapshot of what’s out there in their sector.