The global business landscape is transforming at a speed of light. Why? – Rapid digitization. Not only did it boost the creation of many new products and services, but a new way of thinking. Big companies, aka corporates, are now stepping up and speeding up the game by finding external technologies and innovations rather than developing those in-house.
In fact, based on the results of a recent survey (study by the Unilever Foundation) of 204 corporate brand managers and 114 startups about how their companies planned to collaborate together: 80% of corporates believe that startups can have a positive impact on a large company’s approach to innovation; 89% of startups believe they’re able to deliver business solutions which can scale. Great numbers, right?
Before acting on them and starting collaboration with startups, let’s review some crucial questions that each corporate and its CTO (or Head of Digital) has to answer.
What questions you should ask your organization and yourself before going to bed with startups?
Question #1: Do you know what you want to achieve?
Question #2: Did you decide what type of collaboration is suitable for your organization?
Question #3: Do you have a dedicated person or a team for venture collaboration?
Question #4: How do you feel about the future of your industry, and your company’s place in it?
Question #5: Are you ready to adapt startup culture?
Good startups are like good programmers. You don’t choose them, they choose you. Ask yourself: what can we offer to a startup? Are we sexy enough? Can we move along with the same speed? Here are just a few major differences and pitfalls in innovation and organizational structure that you might face: (1) Startups cannot be approached top-down way, but rather at eye level. (2) Failure is a natural milestone for a young company, wherein in many corporates even the slightest sign of failure has a heavy cost for those involved, hence are often avoided and not openly acknowledged. (3) Things move at a speed of light in a startup company – few months can mean growth or death valley, new corporate deals, radical pivoting etc., wherein corporates might take months just to make a decision on venture collaboration. At the end of the day, it’s all about expectation management, ambition level, speed and adaptability. Senior management has to be ready to adapt, make fast decisions, and throw overboard conventional and tested ways of thinking, i.e. be curious and open-minded.