Working with established corporations is a tremendous opportunity for startups and entrepreneurs. However, it’s far too easy to blow your chances of getting the dream contract if you don’t know how corporations think.

So you want to work with a large company? Great! What should you do next? For you as a startup entrepreneur, before jumping head over heels into the dragon pit, you need to ask yourself three questions. These questions help you prepare for finding the best partner, and if you don’t have answers to them you’re going to have hard time.

First, answer these questions
  • What is your objective in working with this particular corporate? Do you want to validate the demand for your product, or maybe access their distribution channels?
  • How do you identify your internal champion? How do you find out who in the organization with thousands or even hundreds of thousands of employees is the one who can establish a cooperation with you?
  • Why does the corporate want to work with you? What do you offer that the company could not get from someone else?

 

When you have identified the right corporate partner to approach, and have been introduced to the right individual in that organization, can you just jump into a meeting with them?

In most cases no. Working with corporates you need to see the partnership from their viewpoint, you need to prepare to enable them to work with you. Large established corporations are used to dealing with other large corporations who have a track record. As a startup, in most cases, you do not. You need to give the corporate representative the confidence that you are a reliable partner. Dare to be bold while you under promise and over deliver.

In order to help you prepare for that important meeting we have collected a set of five points for you to consider.

Before the big meeting consider these points
  • Have a ready solution that you can show. Too often we hear about startups going into meetings offering everything and anything, pivoting on the fly according to how the discussions go. Don’t say that “this feature will be implemented next week” only to gain the interest. You will have to go back next week and show it. Instead, stick to your plan that you have validated and you believe in. You want to do proper research if you are going to pivot.
  • Have a clear offer including your business model and price. Don’t tell the corporate you are happy to work any way they would like to. Again, this is a mistake we hear about all too often, only showing that you are unsure about your own product.
  • Have strong project management in place. Remember, you are not dealing with another startup. Communication and documentation requirements will be more extensive.
  • Be ready to meet, a lot! Corporates have many stakeholders and it’s seldom enough to only convince one person your solution is worth investing in.
  • Spend on legal. Better to get it right from a start since you have to do it anyway. In the end, you don’t want to hear from your prospective investor that you don’t pass the due diligence since your client or distribution contracts have a flaw risking your entire business. Renegotiating contracts is expensive and time consuming – and totally unnecessary.

 

We hope these quick tips help you prepare better for those first meetings with your new prospective corporate partners. Corporates can elevate and accelerate your operations significantly if you identify the right people to talk with.

And remember, running out of cash is not a reason for startup failure, there is a reason to why startups run out of cash. 42% of startups fail due to lack of product and market fit. Working with the right corporates partners can help you validate and grow your business faster. At Vertical, we help our startups to get the most out of corporate partnerships, accessing the market faster and getting the muscle to succeed.

Want to work with consumer tech producer Samsung, food company Fazer, the second largest hospital in the Western world – Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa, the private provider of social welfare and healthcare service for the Swedish speakers of Finland – Folkhälsan and IBM? Apply to Vertical.