When, why, and how corporations can collaborate with startups
How can corporations use startup collaborations to drive real value?
The short answer is “it’s hard, and it depends”. But there are some key learnings that can help you get started.
Today we’re releasing a report, based on survey responses, interviews with both startup and corporate stakeholders, and our own experiences working with both corporations and startups, is our attempt to answer:
How can working together drive value for both startups and corporations?
Some of what we learned:
- 86% of startups said the corporations they partnered with moved too slowly
- Resources that helped startups grow revenue (like access to customers or product procurement) were the most valued by founders
- Corporate Co-Working space? Not so much. Less than ½ of startups surveyed saw any value. Mentorship from executives also ranked low on this list.
Key takeaways for corporations:
- Think beyond investments and acquisitions. There is a whole spectrum of approaches to collaboration with startups. Consider options like procuring early versions of products, distribution partnerships, facilitating customer access, sharing innovation assets, or co-creating products or business models.
- Find an engagement strategy that fits. Ad-hoc partnership models can be relatively lightweight, but will be more limited in what they can accomplish. More formalized process and structures like commercial deal accelerators and new ventures groups can help corporations execute on partnerships at scale, and fully realize the benefits.
- Reputation is critical for partnerships and deal flow. Startups reported that most collaborations were sourced through founders’ pre-existing networks. Corporations can benefit from highlighting stories of successful collaborations, streamlining startups’ experiences wherever possible, and converting past partners to advocates who can help drive future deal flow.
- Focus on driving mutual value. Offerings that are often easiest for corporations to deploy – like mentorship or co-working space – drove the least value for startups. Surveyed startups shared that access to customers, venture capital investment, procurement, and product feedback were the most valuable resources that corporations provide.