Working with younger companies can be good for business, says innovator and engineer Krisztina “Z” Holly in this World Economic Forum video. Holly, entrepreneur-in-residence to the City of Los Angeles mayor’s office, explains how helping start-ups to scale can breathe new life into big companies. Holly, who was also the creator of the first TEDx event, says established companies like Ernst and Young and Apple are increasingly willing to open up their infrastructure to entrepreneurs.

Watch the full interview above or read key quotes below.

On the case for supporting start-ups

“Companies are always looking at ways of getting ahead and having a competitive advantage. One of the ways that companies haven’t quite figured out is how to tap into young companies. So it’s a real opportunity to get a leg up and, at the same time, giving back to the community in a way that will be beneficial to your company.”

“There’s many ways of tapping into entrepreneurial companies, expanding your base of loyal companies, making your supply chain more robust by creating clusters of emerging companies that can feed into your supply chain, or looking at developing a whole different group of customers by supporting start-up companies that may become partners.”

“Many people think of Ernst and Young in terms of their support of entrepreneurship for the Entrepreneur of the Year Award. They also have a less known programme that enables some of their top talent within the company to become fellows, who will then work with entrepreneurial companies on a pro bono basis. It’s a great way of developing the pipeline of customers, developing the talent and rewarding them, and infusing an entrepreneurial culture back into what’s otherwise a very large company.”

Advice for companies and entrepreneurs

“My first recommendation is to recognise that entrepreneurial companies can be a real strategic advantage for your company. The second recommendation is to create very deliberate mechanisms for engaging with start-up companies to make it easier.

“Third would be to really understand the differences between your company and a younger company, because their needs are very different and the challenges are very different.  And to meet them at least halfway and make it possible for them to be successful, and then you’ll be successful in return.”

“Helping smaller companies can be good strategically, and enable entrepreneurs without a track record to accelerate their business. But start-ups should beware predatory larger companies: only work with those you trust and learn to say no and walk away from those you don’t.”

Author: Krisztina “Z” Holly, Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Mayor’s Office, City of Los Angeles, USA

Image: A man sits in a cafe near the Old Street roundabout dubbed “Silicon Roundabout” in London May 28, 2013. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor