The answer has been hiding in plain sight for 100 years.
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The year was 1921, and Branch Rickey had a problem, and he was irritated. He was consistently outbid by wealthier teams for talent, and when he was able to acquire a player, he had to pay a higher price.
You see, Branch Rickey was general manager of the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team for the better part of the early 20th century. Branch had an eye for talent, but by the time he started trying to hire the player, wealthier rivals would outbid him and purchase them before he could. He needed something new, a way to compete, a competitive advantage.
And so, out of Branch’s frustration, he invented the farm league as we know it today. St. Louis purchased several minor league teams for pennies on the dollar and began to develop their own player pipeline.
What Rickey did was build an ecosystem of potential players he would invest in and develop without spending a fortune for them.
The results were nine league championships and six world series that established the St. Louis Cardinals as a dominant force in baseball for the three decades. Now every sports franchise that competes at the highest level employs some fashion of this farm league system.
So, what’s this got to do with corporations today. Using a conventional approach, corporations are paying more than they should to develop new products, markets, or revenue streams. Capital can be employed much more effectively using something like Branch Rickey’s farm system. At TechNexus, we call it a venture ecosystem, and we’ve spent the last ten years perfecting it and using it to help corporations and entrepreneurs develop a special relationship to produce economic growth for each other.
By the way, what happened to those “wealthier” clubs with whom Rickey was bidding against? For most of them, it would be over 50 years before they won a world series.
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TechNexus Venture Collaborative, helping leading corporations and ambitious entrepreneurs work together to create new business models, new revenue streams, new products, and markets. Learn more at technexus.com.
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