Team Up with Startups: Entrepreneurs’ best tips for big corporations

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A year ago, STING and the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce launched a project to reduce the gap between big corporations and startups. “Team Up with Startups” has since created over 160 individual meetings between the two groups. Many are positive, but it is difficult for the little ones to initiate collaborations with the big ones. Here are the entrepreneurs’ top tips for established companies.

The goal of Team Up with Startups has been to raise the question about the gap between big corporations and startups, and to offer a platform where they can meet to take advantage of the innovative power that exists. A year later, over 160 individual meetings has taken place between a total of 30 established companies and 50 startups.

A survey shows that it has often been a challenge to find common areas of interest, and the fact that the two groups sometimes have significantly different work approaches has also produced obstacles and has stopped them from moving forward.

– There are several examples of discussions about collaborations between startups and established companies going on right now, but for many entrepreneurs it has also been a challenge to get big companies to dare to invest and not just see startups as a source of ideas and inspiration, says Jill Lindström, director of marketing and communications at STING.

So how should big corporations think and act to improve the opportunities for successful collaborations with startups? Here are the entrepreneurs’ seven best tips:

1. Have an open attitude

Be open to what the cooperation might be about. It is rarely that the startup’s product or service match a 100 percent from the start. See the possibilities!

2. Be specific

Please come with a problem you are facing right now in your organization. Ask the entrepreneurs if that is anything they can help solve.

3. Allocate money and time

Give a startup a budget of 75,000 to 100,000 Swedish crowns to produce a prototype or test their technology in your environment, and be blown away by what they can accomplish in a month or two!

4. Start small

Why not start with only one department of the company, or a workgroup? Get started right away instead of working through an internal beating to get several 1000 employees on board.

5. Dedicate an intrapreneur to own the project

Make genuine intrapreneurs responsible for innovation partnerships. Both interest and willingness to carry out cooperation must be there, also the understanding, and – above all – the mandate to make it happen.

6. Go “all in”

Be willing to jump and go “all in” and make mistakes – have a culture that allows projects to fail.

7. Be professional

Avoid having the attitude that you will do the project yourself and that the startups are only sources of inspiration for your own internal innovation team. A partnership would provide real experiences and values for both partners – and you would have a lot of fun and learn a lot from startups way of working in the meantime.

Next Team Up with Startups event will be held in fall in 2016.