Corporate Startup Relationships: Don’t propose on the first date

Many would agree it’s a little foolish to propose a partnership on the first date. Same goes with Corporate Startup relationships. It’s important to get to know the Corporate before you propose your Startup. One of the key things we tell Startups is that it’s not about you it’s about THEM. And to understand “them” you’ll need to invest some time getting to know what makes them tick.

I recently talked with Tomer, CEO and Founder of Gronade who told me his secret to closing meaningful partnerships with Corporates.

Tomer, tell us about Gronade?

Gronade optimises enterprise business through creative data and machine intelligence solutions, building experiments and prototypes to capitalise on abstract data sources and human behaviour. Gronade partners with enterprises including Fortune 500 companies and makes their outdated ‘business as usual’ approach irrelevant, enabling the enterprise to improve process, product and people efficiency.

Why is it important to talk with the right people in the Corporate?

As a Startup so much time can be wasted talking to the wrong people within a Corporate. The person might say they love your idea, but it won’t turn into a reality unless you talk with someone who has the budget and authority to deal with Startups. Talking to the wrong people in the Corporate will also give you a false understanding of what drives the organisation and this will make it difficult for your Startup to understand how to connect in a strategic way.

Why should Startups get to know a Corporate first?

To create a meaningful relationship with a Corporate it’s important to get to know them first. If you pitch to them like you would an investor, the chances are that the Corporate will treat you as entertainment. That person you talk with may be having a busy day fighting fires, or maybe thinking about the next meeting, or even what they’re going to eat for lunch! It’s likely the Corporate will treat you as a “show pony” if you let them. So the trick is to not be the entertainment and ask the Corporate about them! Ask them questions and try and get an understanding of the key drivers and challenges they face.

It’s also important to understand that every person, manager and executive has their own motive. Every person’s role in a Corporate is driven by their own KPI’s. As a Startup what you bring to the table should make that person and their department look good.

Once you’ve got an understanding of the Corporate and the key drivers, you’ll be able to present your Startup in a compelling way.

What is a Corporate champion and why do Startups need one?

Usually your champion will be that person from the Corporate who you’re going to help excel at their role. Spend time getting to know them. Understand their role and how your Startup will help their work within the organisation.

Once you win them over and prove you’ll be able to help them hit their KPIs they will be your champion and advocate for you within the Corporate. A Corporate is a beast — so it’s really important to know you’ll have someone on your side helping you navigate the ins and outs of the organisation.

What does a partnership look like to you?

When we work with Corporates we never sell to them. We partner with them. Partnerships are mutually beneficial. At Gronade we work with Corporates to tackle new problems all the time. By chartering new waters with the Corporate as a partner, we solve a problem for the Corporate while at the same time refining our business and product.

Thanks to Tomer we now know the key to forming a meaningful relationship with a Corporate is to spend time getting to know them. Ask them questions, understand the key drivers and challenges, and find a Corporate champion. By doing this you’ll be able to create a mutually beneficial partnership.

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