“Coming together is a beginning,
staying together is progress,
and working together is success.” Henry Ford
Experts on collaboration between startups and corporates in a dialogue
End of October 2019, the Vienna Business Agency invited its international and growth-lab startups, as well as INiTS incubator participants for a fireside chat to share thoughts and discuss experience and challenges on collaborations between startups and corporates with true experts in the field. All dialogue partners have an impressive track record when it comes to establishing or guiding successful cooperations and closing sales with large corporates.
Who steered the dialogue: Petra Wolkenstein, partner at Konsultori
Experience and tipps on collaboration between startups and corporates
The extremely interesting and inspiring fireside chat started off with experience and real-life examples on first B2B sales, landing a first pilot project, developing and fine-tuning the product together with corporates and finally going into large contracts with international B2B customers. As we know from many projects, the line between a sales-relationship and a partnership with a corporate is quite blurred. What starts off with a sale can develop into a true partnership. However, the main discussion also with the startups in the audience was focused on concerns of both sides and tips on the process and relationship of dealing with corporates from the startup’s point of view:
“We do not sell directly, we start a conversation on the views, targets and needs in our area with potential clients. Then they get curious. And when you yourself are totally convinced and “burn” for the product, they will listen better.”
On addressing the right people in a corporate
“It takes time. There are innovation leads, there are purchasing departments, there are the final users, there is the IT department and the legal department. All of them have interests. Do not forget the IT and legal departments and to address their needs and concerns rights from the beginning of discussions.”
On protection of your knowledge
“If you have deep experience and knowledge, as well as a product that is improving from the experience across many customers, it can not be copied that fast. It is attractive to work with you.”
On requests to tailor-make a solution just for the specific needs of one potential corporate customer
“Decide for yourself, whether you can use this solution also for other customers or just for this one case. This will drive your willingness and price.”
On building trust on both sides
“Look for corporates who are used to working with startups so that you are not the one losing time and resource showing them how to work with startups. Ask them how they work with startups. Ask them, how they decide whether to work with a startup or not and especially who decides. Show them that you have some references. If there are no other pilot projects, then at least testimonials.”
A high potential for discussing and experience exchange
In these short 45 minutes, there were many questions and even more excellent sales and partnership tips. As the main topic of the discussion was: How to lead the collaboration between startups and corporates beyond the first handshake, there could have been so many more insights to be addressed:
- How to measure success of a partnership?
- How to deal with exclusivity requests?
- How to deal with intercultural situations?
- What if the other side goes silent?
Many thanks to Michael and Christoph for the openness to share their experience and the active audience for their participation, as well as Dudu Gencel of Wirtschaftsagentur for the invitation and making this happen.
At Konsultori and Startup-negotiation.online we are continuously offering workshops and consulting on “partnering” and “startup-corporate collaboration”, as well as “negotiations for startups”. Participate or get your own session on this truly important topic.