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12 insider tips for Startups working with Corporates
Nadav Raviv is founder and CEO of Link Big and shares with us his personal experiences regarding cooperations with Corporates. His startup Link Big is all about buying behavior. A "smart link" recognizes the buying behaviour of the customer and forwards him to the corresponding insurance offer. By using GDPR compatible smart links (e.g. on the call-to-action button of a newsletter), the customer experience becomes more personal and seamless – noticeably increasing the conversion rate of mobile website visitors.
In summer 2016, Link Big became one of five final startups to be accepted onto the giant retailer John Lewis accelerator (Jlab) - after a 2 month pilot in JL HQ in London, we secured £50K investment from JL & L Marks. These tips are my personal insights gained from me and my partner working 5 days a week with the wonderful teams (Retail, Insurance, Digital, Social). It is my hope that you enjoy reading them and that they help you on your way to startup success.
1. “Make it worth my time”
When I asked John Lewis CIO, Paul Coby, what the best advice was for the dialogue between us, the start-ups and the leaders in the organisation, his answer was: "Your job is to prove that the time and effort we put into you is worth it". In Enterprise, every second counts. So make sure that each actor experiences added value through your collaboration.
2. “Learn is the new earn”
“The best doctors are good listeners. Listen to your patient, s/he tells you their diagnosis”. This is a famous medical saying and in the end it also applies to our work. Because you will later earn from what you have learned by listening. Learn to read between the lines and dare to act accordingly. Ask many questions and write everything down to reflect on it in due course. There is a high probability that you will be able to use the information at some point and make the difference.
3. Get personal.
From pitching to the IT team & sales team – prepare an individual deck for each appointment! This applies to 1:1 meetings as well as e-mails. No "one deck for all" solution will get you where you want to go, because in the end you won't live up to any expectations. Always take the time to study the needs/values/standards/goals/challenges of your (potential) project partner and show all actors individually why YOUR product is the solution to their problems. Don't let them find out and research it themselves.
4. Don't be a superhero
Don't be the superman/wonder woman who came to the rescue… Be more of the kid in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory that joined in the joy of the factory workers :-) You’re not here to “rescue” anyone. Your success is much more likely if you are "one of them" and manage to motivate and carry them along. So just join and fit in.
5. Bring an agenda.
To be a “gold digger” (and show others that you are) set an agenda with clear objectives before any meeting and share it before over an email. People in the organisation are super busy and this shows you took the time & the effort to thoroughly prepare so you will get the best answers (and sometimes questions that bring you the best answers) from the meeting. It saves time for them (and you) - so do it always.
6. Call to action. To yourself.
The flow between Startups and Corporates should only be in 1 direction: From them to you. Never ever tell them what you need them to do! They have enough tasks of their own. You just need to craft the tasks you’ll do for them and update them on progress as you commit to what, when & where you’ll deliver.
7. Measure everything.
“What is not measurable, cannot be managed”. KPI everything. Your success depends on it (as you’ll need to show those stats to potential investors/clients). Measure everything – from the duration of the work to the cloud costs – and incorporate the statistics into your communication. People can process your input faster and you give the impression that you have everything (more than) under control.
8. Share. Everything.
To earn trust from the corporate employee and to maintain interest, Startups should keep their goals, actions, statistics, progress and results very transparent. So get in touch often! But don't forget: every contact must bring added value. I.e. no graffiti in the company canteen, but why not a weekly progress report to relevant people in the organisation? This will remain in your memory without being intrusive.
9. Empathy wins.
Startups will understand enterprises better…when they feel as one. If you recognize the pressure under which your project partner stands and as soon as you can understand his goals and intentions, cooperation will be easier, safer and more successful. Help him to look good and your startup will look good.
10. Accept the challenge.
In the corporate bureaucracy, you will find plenty of “challenges”. My tip when it comes to breaking through walls (or glass ceilings) is to include the word "yet" in the problem description such as "I couldn't get a meeting with the CTO...YET" and try to modify your approach by doing what you haven't done so far. Think “what haven’t I tried yet?” and do it! Make static situations move forward even if it is just a tiny little thing you can move at the moment.
11. Fall in love with the problem, not the solution.
The 1st step of being a GOLD DIGGER… is to be a PROBLEM DIGGER. Always concentrate on the concrete challenges of your customers. What are the company's problems and priorities? How exactly and with what method did they identify them? How does the problem feel for the employees/partners/customers and what effects does it have on the future of the company? Only if you manage to become one with the problem can you offer the best solution.
The most important tip at the end: You have to deliver! Don't promise the blue of the sky, but only what you can really bring on the table. That means: ALWAYS meet the expectations of your customers and but if you can, exceed them. First and last impressions count. Rock it!