Photo by Kevin Chow on Unsplash

What Startups Should Consider When Exploring Pilot Opportunities

Harry Alford
Aug 28, 2017 · 2 min read

Ryan Broshar, Managing Director Techstars Retail, recently wrote a great piece about the motivations for a corporation to pilot with a startup. Within the post, Broshar states:

“Working with a corporation can offer all kinds of opportunities to a startup. It lets you test new functions of your app, figure out implementation techniques, and, most importantly, learn from and build a lasting relationship with a potential partner.”

Broshar continues with one of the main reasons pilots fail is because startups don’t clearly understand the motivations of their pilot partners. At humble ventures we believe that the best way to realize opportunity is through collaboration and partnerships. This includes opportunities to spend time with decision makers and engage 1-on-1 with key personnel who would be buying your product/service.

Based on past experiences with our startups, I recommend the following considerations before running a pilot with an established corporation:

  • Who is the person you’re talking to and what are you selling
  • Stop asking for money before you have an understanding of what’s important to the company and clear way of providing value
  • Don’t send a license agreement before even having a second call
  • Have to actually understand the company culture and mission statement
  • Map the pain
  • It’s early so be aware that it’s the hardest time to sell yourself
  • Make the connection based on mutual value and interests before value propositions
  • Tell them more about the experience(s) you have
  • Listen
  • How much are you willing to risk with this partnership
  • Pros and cons of a free/paid pilot
  • Mold the program/product/services to the need of your customer’s customers
  • Get away from cliche words, be authentic
  • humble yourself when pitching your service/product
  • Be cognizant of situational leadership
  • Each situation dictates something else you have to focus on
  • Don’t sell yourself short; but don’t make promises you can’t deliver on

Stories and lessons about venture capital, innovation, entrepreneurship, diverse founders and those building solutions for diverse audiences.

Harry Alford

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humble words by humble ventures
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