The SIIA is delighted to introduce one of the newest members to join SIIA’s Software & Services Division, LiftOff. I had a chance to sit down with Managing Partner of LiftOff, Jon Kraft, to learn a little more about business and innovation accelerators. Please find my interview below.
Rhianna: Tell us about LiftOff and what makes you unique:
Jon: LiftOff is a business and innovation accelerator, based in Los Angeles, CA. We partner with both entrepreneurs and established companies to bring new products to market faster and to stimulate breakthrough innovation. In today’s hyper-competitive markets, the speed and pace of innovation is the key factor in determining which companies achieve and sustain success. We work with founders, management and investors to extend their capabilities and facilitate both idea generation and execution, and we do this both.
Rhianna: How does LiftOff help startups minimize the hiring and staffing challenges that many of them face?
Jon: More than anything else, we are experts at early stage strategy and execution, including product design, early customer acquisition, business development and fundraising. It's often very difficult to attract world-class talent before significant funding is raised or before the business has been validated in the market. This is true even in larger organizations trying to spin off a new business. LiftOff's team consists of successful serial entrepreneurs, having founded and built such companies as Pandora, Stanford Technology Group, Stamps.com, Thrively, Idealab's Ubermedia, and others. In addition to providing core product resources, we can provide hands on execution that very few start-ups or institutional spin-offs are capable of in the early stages.
Rhianna: In what ways does LiftOff help a new company establish validation and credibility in the market?
Jon: First, we possess a significant, senior-level network of corporate partners and executives across the U.S. to help companies find their first champions in the market. Those champions are instrumental in providing early testing, feedback, and references to demonstrate real-world value creation even when the product is in its earliest stages. We also provide the core resources to design and build the MVP fast and with minimal resources, keeping organizations extremely lean when cash conservation is paramount. And it is not only new companies we work with - we also assist larger companies looking to establish new businesses and new ways to innovate.
Rhianna: If the peripheral elements of building a company have gotten easier over the years, where do you think majority of startups struggle and how does LiftOff minimize that struggle?
Jon: Startups and early-stage business of all kinds struggle to find initial traction. They need a product that is ready for real-world value creation, and they need partners willing to go the extra mile to solve the problems they are focused on solving. At the root of those early partnerships are long-standing relationships and trust, and we help to provide and nurture those early relationships.
Rhianna: You mentioned corporate spin-offs and larger enterprises. What kind of offerings do you have for those organizations?
Jon: In addition to everything we bring to nascent businesses, we maintain a vast network in Asia and Europe to help timely cross-border expansion, as well as relationships with later stage venture capital firms to assist in securing growth financing. In addition, we bring fresh perspectives to companies looking for new ways to innovate and build on their existing businesses.