MONTECARLOTIMES’ TIPS TO A REWARDING CORPORATE-STARTUP COLLABORATION
by Montecarlotimes’ Senior Director llio Masprone – Knight of the Principality of Monaco for cultural merits
What is the secret-sauce of a highly beneficial collaboration? First, a startup eager to connect and grow should find people passionate about working with startups. Therefore, to never let an opportunity pass you by, you must know that there are networks ready to help to share their knowledge, help you develop and move from idea to execution. Clicking the start up events’ website you will not miss your preferred one. Their goal is to connect startups and tech/digital talent with corporates, investors, accelerators, universities and media from all over Europe. Startups give the opportunity to meet important investors and experts with which they can share and exchange ideas and interests. To keep a competitive edge, larger corporates rely on a skilled tech savvy workforce able to take advantage of any technological innovation. The last mission identifies the relevant profiles to recruit and supports the digital transformation. Knowledge sharing, constant training and a collaborative approach are instrumental in achieving this aim. But while this all sounds good and well, it’s definitely easier said than done. Successful collaboration is difficult and success stories of bringing the two together in a systematic way are few and far between.
-Therefore, first and foremost, startups and corporations need to assess their internal readiness. Both organizations should network to find people in the ‘other camp’ who have an infectious enthusiasm for the collaboration. While these champions aren’t the ultimate decision makers, they have four key traits that make them invaluable: credibility, connections, company intelligence, and motivation.
– Startups shouldn’t even think about collaborating until they’ve developed a commercially viable solution. Once that’s done, it should define its target segment, analyze the market, and identify larger companies operating in that space. On the flip side, corporations should foster an entrepreneurial culture in its organization. This lowers the cultural barriers to collaboration and innovation.
– Collaboration only works if both sides add value to each other. Therefore, it is important to create a win-win relationship. To be truly mutually beneficial, focus on what you can do for each other, not what you can get out of it. Demonstrate your value by understanding each other’s pain-points and motivations. You should also share resources. Startups should freely allow access to technology and corporations should candidly introduce their existing clients and prospects.
– Collaboration is a partnership, not a domination, therefore the two partners should respect the need for independence. There was a reason the two partners decided to work together. Each business needs to be in control of its own destiny. Don’t treat each other like just another consulting company or development shop. And definitely don’t use and abuse one another. Remaining independent ensures that you don’t become complacent and always respect the vision for the company you created.
– Of course, clear communication is key. Strive to make communication between teams as easy as possible. If any party holds back information, work becomes inefficient and morale ultimately plummets. So always seek trust, honesty and transparency. This is includes being clear with your objectives: what you’re looking to achieve and what you’re hoping the collaboration will do for your business. Both sides should agree on what success looks like. And if one of the partners is unclear on the business value of this partnership, be extremely cautious.
– As a startup, you should Identify how to effectively work within the organizational structure of larger companies, rather than asking them to bend their rules. In fact, it’s important to be flexible and patient and know that it will take time to reach goals you have set for the partnership.
The sweetest victories are the ones that are the most difficult – those that require you to reach down deep inside and fight with everything you’ve got.
A Special Source to this post has been OpenUp, a BNP Parisbas Program