SAP Startup Focus Series: meet Gary Parnell

This article was originally published on E3 Magazine

The SAP Startup Focus Series is a showcase of the companies and people behind SAP’s Startup Focus Program. The program enables young companies to make their big data, predictive and analytics solutions come to life with SAP Hana.

Gary Parnell has been with SAP Startup Focus over three years now. As Engagement Lead for the EMEA region, he is the go-to guy when it comes to scouting and recruiting startups as well as promoting the program. We recently had a chance to talk to him about his job at SAP.

E-3: Gary, what exactly is it you do at SAP Startup Focus?

Gary: As Startup Engagement lead for EMEA, I am responsible for outreach and engagement with startups across the EMEA region for the program. In this role, I am responsible for:

  • Evangelizing the program in EMEA start up community,
  • Identify, evaluate and recruit startups to the Startup Forum,
  • Facilitate training and support to startups on SAP’s in-memory technology Hana.

In less than a year we have added 500+ startups across the EMEA region in the program and have conducted 20 forums for startups in multiple countries. I ensure the Hana platform adds real value to the EMEA startup’s business performance by holding workshops. Startups are encouraged and supported in adopting a lean approach to developing an MVP. As a mentor, I support startups in applying agile principles, I coach startups on pitching their solution and the MVP’s produced during the on boarding enablement phase of the program. I regularly evangelize the Hana platform at startup events and hubs throughout EMEA.

E-3: What are the challenges you face on the job?

Gary: The startups in the program are found in a variety of ways. Some apply on their own, while some are actively recruited by me or through partnerships or contacts with startup accelerators and incubators. Some of the recruits have technology that falls into niche areas where SAP cannot or doesn’t want to go. On boarding startups is sometimes a challenge as they are consistently getting pulled and pampered by multiple players and end up joining multiple of programs resulting in a lack of focus. Sometimes the perception of SAP Startup Program is misunderstood and my role is to message the benefits of both sides of the partnership.

E-3: Can you share the best moment you had so far?

Gary: I have enjoyed many great moments in the past 3 years and overcoming many challenges while working with our startups. I would like to highlight one startup that has achieved its own goals while working with SAP Startup Focus: Choice Technologies – delivers a Hana based solution that delivers real-time analytical capacity with high performance data storage. The solution allows users to manage and reduce fraud and threat by detecting those activities, and then evaluating financial repercussions and selecting the best action to mitigate losses. I met with Choice 12 months ago while conducting a forum and from that day we both understood the synergies between Choice and SAP.