Startup – Corporate matchmaking: make sure to speak each other’s language

Startup – Corporate matchmaking: make sure to speak each other’s language

Big corporates are realizing more and more that innovating fast and efficient is key to survive in a competitive landscape, that’s changing faster than it ever did before.

Right corporate–startup collaborations are hugely beneficial for both sides but can be difficult to pull off. Corporates need to think hard about how to approach these innovation partnerships systematically, rather than relying on individuals to take the initiative. We see multiple ways to kick off initial interaction:

  1. Matchmaking events like The Big Score
  2. A problem driven scouting exercise
  3. Industry specific events

In the build-up to these occasions we often get questions on whether Startups.be | Scale-Ups.eu can help with structuring the collaboration afterwards. Yes, we can! But we found out that defining the desired outcome upfront and communicating it clearly will make a big part of that work obsolete. To help you do that we’ve lined up some tips:

  • Know what you want, what you are looking for
  • Speak the other one’s language, explain the desired solution in a way people outside your company understand
  • Advertise you are ready to collaborate with startups

Know what you want!

Sounds easy, right? Well, it isn’t. All too often startup collaborations are seen as “the area of dreamers” with a possible unicorn behind the corner. Unfortunately, they are not. Like all contracts or outsourced capabilities, they need to be clearly defined.

  • Focus on the company’s priorities. Management buy-in is important (for sure when you collaborate with suppliers that might go bankrupt). Pick an area that mirror’s priorities and chances are high(er) management will approve startup collabs.
  • Define whether you are looking for a specific solution or a technological enabler across different functional areas. In other words: are you looking for a sharing solution within your supply chain organisation, or a big data solution to roll-out across the whole company?

Speak the other one’s language

Another open door! We’re looking for the sweet spot between being specific and broad, and describing the problem versus the desired solution.

  • There’s more out there in terms of solutions than you think. Try to objectively describe the problem with some hints towards a solution rather than describing the (only solution) you can think off.
  • Engage both business and technical experts when defining the challenge. It will make sure targets are aligned and that the challenge is understandable for outsiders.

Advertise you’re ready to collaborate with startups

Startups prioritize corporates who are serious about making deals happen and are set up to make decisions quickly. All too often corporates are not ready to cooperate with startups and might be a ‘life threatening’ waste of time. Two specific watch-outs for corporates are:

  • Procurement: Long payment terms are difficult for startups. They are not cash machines (yet). Adapt the process to the type of company you’re looking to work with.
  • Legal and compliance: We understand some cautiousness is needed but 100 page legal docs with fines of over a million dollars might be a bit too much, no?

Bottom line: working together with startups is the same as working together with other types of companies (beside the fact it is a lot more rewarding). Preparation is half the work and if you are still in need of help or practical tips and tricks: Startups.be | Scale-Ups.eu is around the corner.

Interested to get started? Discover our Open Innovation service, we’ll find you the perfect match!