There is a growing trend among larger, more established companies to provide what I'll call "over the top" benefits and services to 3rd parties – such as when Macy's conducts professional workshops for fashion start-ups* or Shopify sponsors booth space at a conference. The takeaway is that larger companies are recognizing that they need to offer a hand up to small shops and start-ups or else they are not going to have the talent or product they need to competitively operate their own business in the years to come.
From their website: The Workshop at Macy’s is an exclusive retail vendor development program designed to give select high potential minority and/or women business owners the tools to better succeed and sustain growth in the retail industry. [italics mine]
The nature of business has changed so rapidly that - without the efforts from these larger companies - it would be all but impossible for new brands to acquire the skillsets, the connections, the experience, or the scale they would need to become a viable supplier for a national account.
And now the next example of this education pipeline concept arrives as YCombinator, one of the more successful, well known incubators, launches Startup School. From an article in Tech Crunch:
Online education isn’t exactly in the wheelhouse of Y Combinator, which keeps its lights on by assisting companies in which it has a financial interest. But the course should help bolster the broader tech ecosystem in places that don’t have as much direct access to mentorship, ultimately improving YC’s reach and deal flow.
According to Sam Altman, the President of YC, "We believe the barrier to entry for people to start a startup is still too high. We want to make it easier for people to start a company, regardless of who or where you are, so we're starting by sharing what we've learned, through Startup School."
Startup School is a free 10-week massively open online course (MOOC). The course will begin on April 5th, 2017. Lectures will be posted weekly.