For Corporates taking Startup interest in partnering for granted is a major mistake, since entrepreneurs are knowledgeable enough to understand which Corporates show genuine interest and are capable of making decisions swiftly enough to keep up with the pace of building a mutually beneficial relationship. Reputations in the startup ecosystem spread quickly and can last a long time and take a lot of effort and commitment to change.
Startups may keep calling but will they be the ones worth talking to? Tools for filtering, like startup scouts, acceleration and/or incubation programmes, technology lab spaces, CVC’s and marketing / outreach programs, are key in identifying the right Partners and building a long-term and mutually beneficial relationship.
First, you need to appoint a structured startup liaison role inside the organization who can “own” the relationship, guide the startup through the corporate labyrinth, and most importantly influence key stakeholders internally and shape solutions. Creating a point of reference with the necessary clout to move things forward is a mandatory step.
Second, as the conversation develops the liaison must be able to quickly understand, usually on a case-by-case basis, who the real relationship owner inside the organization is and which stakeholders are in play. Unless internal structures are in place to define and drive inbound opportunities, like for example as an Executive Innovation Board, the liaison will struggle to deliver value and end results.
Third, Corporates need to refine their strategy and nominate internal stakeholders to push their objectives forward. That’s the only way to communicate intentions to the startup ecosystem and provide their liaison with the ability to cultivate startup relationships.
Finally, in following through on Partnership opportunities, Corporates need mechanisms to work quickly on these relationships. It is important to create parallel “fast-track” processes for startup relationships, since successful Partnerships depend on being loose, fast, and allowing both sides to uncover potential and/or fail fast. Therefore, Corporates need to work beforehand internally to make sure everyone is on the same page.
Christos Lytras – Managing Partner