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How to Improve Corporate-Startup Collaboration

Large companies often move at glacial speeds when venturing toward disruptive opportunities. Startups move at rapid speeds driven by the innovative core of their business to seize opportunities and shake up the market. Completely opposite dispositions. But opposites attract, right?

These organizations fit together like puzzle pieces, sparking the revolutionary corporate-startup collaboration. Okay, it's not a brand-new concept, but it has become increasingly popular in today's ever-changing market. By leveraging internal and external resources to develop new technologies, products, or services, collaboration has proven to be a rewarding strategy for both sides.

The synergies between a corporation and a startup can have the power to grow their business, improve their competitive positioning, and generate revenue if the alliance is balanced. Sometimes collaborations can be lacking on either side, but there are ways to improve it before all is lost. Of course, we will share these steps with you, but first you are going to have to STOP, collaborate and listen Ice is back with a...  Sorry, we love a good 90s jam.


Why Is Corporate-Startup Collaboration Important?

Collaboration—in this case, using internal and external resources—is all about teamwork (we always encourage teamwork). It facilitates the exchange of ideas and collective expertise between your company and your startup of choice with a shared goal of maximizing business success.

The goal of a corporate-startup collaboration is to keep pace with the accelerating pace of innovation. What once was a unique strategy has now become a necessity for a corporation's ongoing success. Today, almost 90% of corporations believe that collaboration is essential in promoting innovation.

It's a give-and-take relationship. Collaboration has proven to keep corporations and startups alive and thriving no matter what stage they're in. If you are already in a working relationship but are struggling or misaligned, it's critical to do everything you can to mend the issues. If the connection fails, it could be costly for both parties, so let's set you up for success instead. Check out the following steps you can take to improve your collaboration and get back to teamwork.


Improve Your Corporate-Startup Collaboration in 4 Easy Steps

Only 27% of startups are satisfied with how their partnership with corporations is working, according to McKinsey, but it doesn’t have to be that way if you consider implementing the following:

1.   Mend the Clash:

Corporations have a slower approach to business processes. This is because there are so many layers of bureaucracy to peel back. On the other hand, startups are agile and fast-paced in their innovative culture. Needless to say, this disconnect can cause a lot of tension.

If your company is in the midst of this tension, the solution is to make a collective culture. This way, your company won't feel rushed, and the startup won't feel as though they're being held back. Consider this a big step toward learning from each other.

Disclaimer: It is important to not impose the culture of the corporation on the startup, otherwise it could fail.

2.   Synchronize Goals:

For absolutely any type of collaboration to work, everyone needs to be clear on what exactly it is they’re working towards. Of course, everyone begins with goals in mind. Otherwise, there wouldn’t have been any inclination to seek out collaboration. The issue is, while corporations and startups agree on how critical it is, the goals are not aligned, concrete, or measurable.

To improve collaboration and be successful, your company can measure several things in your goals, such as:

  • Product development speed
  • Innovation
  • Customer growth and retention
  • Revenue
  • Cost impact

3.   Pay Attention to Your Partner:

This comparison may sound odd, but a corporate-startup collaboration is like any other relationship, business or not. Picture this scenario. What happens when you don't pay attention to your significant other for days or weeks? Well, you wouldn't be in a relationship anymore, would you? The same goes for business collaboration.

If your company isn't giving the startup the attention it needs, the relationship fizzles out. Corporations often start off being excited and very involved but find themselves (or are informed that they're) losing focus. It's not a unique problem in the business world or even large organizations, but it can be much more detrimental in this case. 

Try maintaining regular contact with your partner. Consistent communication will help create a bond between you two where information is shared comfortably. If your company has numerous execs keeping tabs on the partnership, delegate clear points of contact for different needs the startup may have. That being said, it is also important not to micromanage the startup.

4.   Be Transparent:

In another study by McKinsley, 40% of startups claimed one of the biggest challenges faced was corporations' lack of transparency. Yet, transparency is the keystone of a successful collaboration.  Without it, it’s impossible to build trust, and without trust, there is no partnership.

The best advice would be to maintain an open environment that encourages directness from both sides. There will be a continuous evaluation about how you (and your partner) feel about each other's philosophies, goals, honesty, and engagement in this collaboration. So make it a point to ensure consistent communication about the good and the bad and sharing innovations, ideas, and how you both can turn them into a reality.

Take it back to one of the first things taught in elementary school—honesty is the best policy!

Corporations can benefit greatly from partnering with startups, and the reverse is true. We're in the age of Information, with innovation at the core. As a result, the lifespan of large organizations "set in their ways" has been increasingly shorter, and corporate-startup collaborations are the key to survival.


rready to Collaborate?

rready helps corporate-startup collaborations by giving corporations the tools they need to create startups and intrapreneurs from inside their organization. Our team has the experience and expertise to set the framework for your new ventures. Looking beyond company walls for the answer? We have the solution for you. If you're rready to impact your business for the better, contact us today.

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