by Mila Marinkovic
The number of start-ups entering the automotive sector is huge, with over 2,276 in the market in February 2023, according to Crunchbase. Crunchbase measures growth through their “CB ranks” which combine calculations of an organisations number of connections, volume of community engagement, funding events, news articles, acquisitions, and more. The CB rank for all start-ups within the automotive sector has seen significant growth between 2021 and 2023 of over 100k. Previously considered to be quite an ‘old’ sector it is in fact extremely cutting-edge and shaping the future for everyone. Start-ups seem to be a good fit for this sector as they often operate in an agile way with technology and innovation being at the forefront of everything they do. We spoke with Chris Barman, a global innovation leader and strategic growth executive in the engineering sector, who has worked for both corporate and start-up organisations. Barman gained extensive knowledge and experience of conducting business with processes and procedures when she worked for large corporations. “But those processes and procedures can be cumbersome and stifle agility, creativity, and innovation. I wanted to step into a start-up to lead something that was completely new from the ground up.”
Why are senior level execs in the automotive sector considering a move to a start-up?
According to McKinsey one practice adopted by high-performance organisations is transitioning “to an agile organization to rapidly assemble small, cross-functional teams that bring the right mix of capabilities…Over time, such agile teams become the critical organizational construct for an organization…” Start-ups are exactly this definition as they are generally more nimble than larger businesses. They have smaller teams and work collaboratively across disciplines resulting in quick decision making and rapid implementation. According to Barman, “executives have years of experience they want to apply in new and novel ways. Their current employer may not be of a size or have a culture to enable this within their current environment.” Barman goes on to talk her current experience of working for a start-up business: “We all share an open office space and actively talk to each other on key topics of the day…We strive to be fast, accurate and fun in all that we do.” These characteristics could be extremely attractive to senior level execs looking to make a significant impact on the industry.
What are the projections for the automotive sector and why is this attractive to potential candidates?
There are several key focuses for the automotive sector such as electric vehicles, autonomous vehicles, vehicle connectivity, and shared mobility just to name a few. The speed of development start-ups addressing these areas of concern are impressive. Through research and insight gained at industry events such as the CES in Vegas this year we are noticing the significance of collaborations with large corporates and smaller start up businesses. A topic which is high on the agenda for the automotive sector is electric vehicles, particularly the issues facing the insufficient charging infrastructure. At the CES we saw huge industrials like ABB working to improve infrastructure alongside smaller firms like FreeWire who show talent in a very specific technology. Not only is working for a start-up appealing to those early in their careers but also to those of senior level as they can utilise their diverse experience within this cross-functional environment and make a huge impact. This type of environment is an exciting prospect for potential candidates who are looking to be hands-on in a dynamic organisation which is in its infancy and working on cutting-edge innovation which is ultimately shaping the future of the automotive sector.