Aluminati’s Marketing and Communications Manager, Alistair McMillan met with Jon Lambert, the CEO of The Cannon, to discuss the recent launch of Cannon Connect, their new online innovation hub powered by the Aluminate Community Builder.
The Cannon’s mission is to “create, grow and evolve the world’s most effective and valued entrepreneurial community. One that provides every resource required to support individuals and corporations in innovation, creation and delivery of their entrepreneurial vision. It will introduce the community to places where the entrepreneurial potential is strong but where investment in that potential has not yet been prioritised”.
In 2017, The Cannon created their main campus in an old pipe fitting warehouse in Houston’s industrial area and this has evolved into their main campus you see today.
Now, with two additional campuses in the Houston area, The Cannon community comprises approximately 280 companies with around 900 individual members. Entrepreneurs, corporate advisors, investors, academic, community partners and service providers, all share the same communal space. Even large companies, such as Shell and Chevron, rent space on the campus just to be near these startups.
The city of Houston is also benefiting from The Cannon’s activities, attracting new business and jobs to the area.
CEO Jon Lambert joined The Cannon in November 2019 with ideas of expanding further afield, but, since Covid-19, all plans of physical expansion have been curtailed. With their primary revenue stream in jeopardy, Jon and his team drew up plans to keep the ecosystem alive by moving the community online. Plans were made, and they scanned the market for solutions.
They knew they needed a member directory as well as a directory of companies. They would also need online groups, collaboration spaces and knowledge centres.
Initially, their platform of choice was not performing in the required way. It was simply not as customizable as they needed it to be. Jon said, “the technology needs to serve a purpose but also attract people to it. It needs some pizazz. It needs customizability without distraction from limitations”. The Cannon needed the flexibility to grow with their community and offer new collaboration tools to empower their members. Jon and his team resumed their search for a better solution, which led them to Aluminati and the Aluminate Community Builder.
“The Aluminate Community Builder’s flexibility and speed with which it could be configured to meet our needs was a major factor in the decision to partner with Aluminati” – Jon Lambert, CEO – The Cannon.
Jon was impressed with the breadth and robustness of capability the Aluminate Community Builder had to offer and form him. “It ticked all the boxes”, he said.
Aluminati has a strong background with creating online community platforms for the education sector and Jon saw a “very easy translation into the corporate world. There are lots of parallels and flexibility”. Jon also noted that for The Cannon, community management is key. “Providing opportunities for an interface wherever possible and community is the same across these sectors”.
Since the launch of Cannon Connect, approximately 250 companies have signed up to the online community and it is fast attracting the attention of other businesses across the US who are interested in joining the Cannon community nationwide.
One of the challenges that Jon is quickly seeking to overcome is that of creating ‘coincidental connections’ in a virtual environment.
Jon says, “In a physical location, it is easier for people to just bump into each other and chat about ideas. This is something that we are looking to recreate in our online ecosystem, and we have some exciting plans in the pipeline. Eventually, the community will start to run itself, and we’re looking forward to seeing how the online experience will evolve over time”.
We will check back in with Jon and The Cannon soon to see how their community is growing.