Joining forces

Accenture invests in and partners with Houston-based company

Houston-based P97 has a mobile payment technology in over 20,000 retail fuel locations. Getty Images

Accenture — through its investment arm, Accenture Ventures — has entered into an alliance with a Houston-based company following an investment.

P97 Networks Inc., a leading cloud-based, mobile commerce company that provides in-vehicle payments and digital marketing solutions for fuel retail and vehicle-manufacturing industries, received an undisclosed amount from Accenture Ventures.

"Accenture's end-to-end digital services make the company an ideal partner for P97," says Donald Frieden, founder and CEO of P97, in a release. "We have a long history of firsts in our markets and look forward to many more working with Accenture — including connected car services, voice-enabled payments, fuel retail innovations and blockchain technology — as we pursue our goal of serving more than half of the U.S. fuel market by 2020."

The alliance establishes Accenture as "a preferred implementation partner," according to the release. Accenture will be able to use P97's PetroZone® platform — that allows users to make digital payments at the pumps, for instance —for solutions for its clients.

"We are tremendously excited about advancing our relationship with P97," says Andrew Smart, a senior managing director at Accenture who leads its energy industry group, in the release. "Working together, we will help our clients take advantage of more connected customer experiences."

P97 was founded in 2012 in Houston. Its patented technology uses Microsoft Azure Cloud Services and has been utilized at over 20,000 retail fuels locations in the United States.

Good things don't just come to those who wait. If you're wanting to get your startup in front of major corporations, you need to take matters into your own hands. Pexels

If you've ever wanted to know the best way to get your startup in front of a major corporation, according to experts from both sides of the table — here's your chance.

At the Houston Innovation Open Conference, five major players in Houston's innovation ecosystem sat on a panel and discussed startups, accelerators, and more. One question asked each panelist for their advice for corporate partnerships. Here's what they had to say.

“Go to one of our programs — even if you used to work at an oil and gas company, as a startup, you need new pathways and you need help and support and lots of love along the way.”

Gabriella Rowe, CEO of Station Houston. Even with a Houston business background, there's strength in numbers, she says.

“Keep your identity along the way.”

Haibin Xu, regional manager of Shell Research Connect & GameChanger US and Canada. From the corporate side of things. Xu said sometimes the Shells of the world can't help you — find the right company that best aligns with your startup.

“Do your research. … And have a clear value proposition, and put it on the table.”

Wade Bitaraf, head of energy and sustainability practice at Plug and Play. Preparation and research is extremely important before you meet with any potential corporate partners.

“Find a community to join … and don’t limit yourself to what you think is your industry.”

Brad True, managing director of The Cannon and Cannon Ventures. True gave an example of a Cannon company that found success outside the industry they thought they were confined to.

“You have to find the pathways that are going to make it as easy as possible.”

Brian Richards, innovation lead and managing director at Accenture. Richards emphasized that startups can go bankrupt waiting for something formal from a big corporation.