Oracle goes back to its startup roots to give something back

Maggie Holland

26 Oct, 2018

Oracle may be more than 40 years old, but it’s still young at heart and eager to help support and learn from those starting out who have the potential to create successful cloud-based businesses.

That was one of the key messages at a startup-focused panel at Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco this week, where the firm detailed the history of and its future plans for the Oracle Startup Cloud Accelerator programme.

“Startup accelerators are not new. We realise we are a little bit late to the game. We wanted to do something unique and better. [So we asked] what can we do that brings value to the Oracle community?” Said Jason Williamson, Vice President of startup ecosystem at Oracle.

“[Innovation] isn’t just happening in Silicon Valley. Creation is happening all around the world so we set out [to tap into that]… We’re learning, we’re a start up ourselves. How do we be a part of Oracle’s change story too? If you want to reach people you haven’t reached before you need to do things you haven’t done before.”

Last year, Oracle hand selected seven startups to work with, but the demand for support was so great, it now plans on having a rolling admissions process.

The programme is backed by nine physical locations – a number likely to grow in time – but it’s optional if startups want to be based in the same space as the necessary support can be provided in other ways too.

The criteria for entry is pretty simple – it’s all about finding and engaging with ‘cool’ startups that would benefit from a relationship with Oracle. “B2B things. Things that are data heavy,” Williamson said.

“We are super interested in stories to enable startups around the world. What we’ve seen coming out of the UK has been awesome. Our goal is to really come alongside during this process and help along the way. But not just with technology – to help them get revenue. That’s what you want as a startup – revenue – and one of the unique things we can help with,” Williamson added.

But that doesn’t mean start-ups have to sell their souls to Oracle in return.

“We don’t take equity…We get to create a virtuous cycle. We’re not putting in a cash investment. We’re doing an in kind investment. You’re getting credits, space if you need it, access to our marketing team. There’s value there,” Williamson added.

“If we can put these customers in front of our startup base and they start getting revenue, they have to service these customers. If they start servicing these customers they will need more OCI etc It’s long tail and we’re fine with that.”

He added: “With the fullness of time and when they graduate from the programme, it’s not when they are going to be their best selves. They will be peaking in three years. I want to be sure we’ve treated them well. That we have that connective tissue. So, when they grow and expand they will grow and expand with us.”

The panel wasn’t just a case of Oracle talking up its efforts helping startups. A number were also in place to share their, very positive, stories, too.

One such company is iGeolise which was part of the first accelerator programme cohort and has essentially created a “travel time platform,” according to Charlie Davies, its co-founder and technology and product director.

“You can search the world around you by time rather than distance. Distance is a completely useless way to search as all of us are at the mercy of the public transport systems around us. We license this as an API to lots of companies in the UK, including Right Move,” he said.

“Oracle is so big and we are so small. Navigating this would have been impossible if it wasn’t for the startup accelerator.”

He added: “One of the challenges we’ve had being a mapping company is the amount of data became a huge bottleneck for us in terms of getting customers. We have done very well in the UK, but we wanted to attract bigger brands across Europe and the rest of the world. What Oracle gave us was a nice tick. OCI is like a secret leviathan behind you where people sit up and listen a bit more.”