Startups are the research and development department of the tech industry. The ability to innovate is by far the most valuable trait that startup companies bring to the table.
No corporate entity knows this better than Google. The now-ubiquitous goliath of search and advertising touts its humble before quickly growing to one of the most valuable companies in America, pulling in nearly $56 billion in 2013.
Google's success is due, in part, to its focus on taking risks and innovating. In an effort to forgo stagnation, Google CEO Larry Page recently put Chrome and Android product head Sundar Pichai in charge of all of the company's core products so that Page could focus on the future of the business.
In one way or another, that future includes startups. Some of Google's most successful products are companies that were purchased by Google, and it continues to invest in the future of startups.
Here are five ways Google is bolstering startups and supporting entrepreneurs.
1. Google Ventures
The primary venture capital arm for Google, Google Ventures, provides seed-level, mid-stage, and growth funding. The firm launched in early 2009, founded by Bill Maris, and operates independently of Google. According to the website, Google Ventures invests in all stages and all sectors. The goal here is to make money, not necessarily invest in companies that could be a good fit for an acquisition.
The fund operates in both the US and Europe, with roughly $1.6 billion in assets under management. Google Ventures has invested in over 250 companies, including the likes of Nest, Uber, Cloudera, Slack, Blue Bottle Coffee, and HubSpot.
Google Ventures also provides specialized support to its profile companies. Entrepreneurs get special access to Google employees for expertise. The fund holds workshops for entrepreneurs covering topics such as legal, market intelligence, SEO, and privacy. Google Ventures also has teams that help portfolio companies with design, marketing, recruiting, and engineering as well.
2. Google Campuses
As part of its Google for Entrepreneurs program, Google operates physical community centers called Campuses. Currently, Google has Campuses in Tel Aviv and London, but they are launching campuses in Warsaw, Sao Paulo, Seoul, and Madrid.
Google Campuses are primarily coworking spaces with access to fast Wi-Fi, a café, and hosted events. Startups apply to become "residents" of the Campus and get connected to programs such as EDU, which gets them access to workshops, talks, and mentors. So far, entrepreneurs have been educated on legal, design, UX, marketing, and other topics.
Campuses also run program such as Campus for Moms (Mums in London) and Delegates. Campus for Moms is billed as a pre-incubator program for new parents entrepreneurs that offers additional support and mentoring. Delegates are the representatives that lead tours of the individual campuses.
3. Community partnerships
Google is involved with entrepreneurs at the grassroots level as well. It maintains partnerships with startup communities such as Startup Grind, AstroLabs, and UP Global, the parent organization behind Startup Weekend and Startup Next.
Coworking spaces are a breeding ground for new startups, and Google has partnered with eight spaces to form what it calls The North America Tech Hub Network. The network includes: American Underground in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina; The Capital Factory in Austin, Texas; The Entrepreneur Center in Nashville, Tennessee; CoCo in Minneapolis, Minnesota; Communitech in Waterloo, Ontario; Galvanize in Denver, Colorado; Grand Circus in Detroit, Michigan; and 1871 in Chicago, Illinois.
The community partnerships Google has developed are all over the world. Google has also partnered with specific accelerators to drive innovation.
4. Google Capital
For growth equity investments in late-stage startups, Google has Google Capital. The fund was launched in 2013 and has made nine investments to date across 2013 and 2014. The investment team is composed of 16 partners, and the advisory team is full of top Google talent, including Sundar Pichai.
Google Capital offers many of the same resources that are offered to portfolio companies of Google Ventures, but it is focused on longer-term trends and growth. Its portfolio companies include CreditKarma.com, SurveyMonkey, Lending Club, and MapR, among others.
5. Product programs
It's a smart business move for Google to have startups start using its products early on because — hopefully — one day they will grow into large corporations that are using Google products. Google recently announced Cloud Platform for Startups that gives eligible companies $100,000 worth of Google Cloud Platform credit and 24/7 support.
Additionally, Google has specific programs for startups through Google Developers and a YouTube channel of Tools for Entrepreneurs.
Conner Forrest has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.