Startups and big organizations: a (cautious) love story

Start it @kbc

Wednesday 2 August 2017

Startups and big organizations: a (cautious) love story

A couple of months ago, we traveled to the great state of Texas to attend the riveting SXSW. Back then, we shared some great insights with you, and this is a great time to elaborate on some of the things that struck us. Take this, for example: Two out of three corporate executives in the US are involved in startups.


Surprising? Not so much. Startups are a welcome asset for larger organizations, as it allows these juggernauts to create a flexible and innovative R&D department from scratch, conveniently blocking the competition from reaping the benefits these fresh and eager minds have to offer. Of course, that is only the beginning. Curious to learn how startups as well as big organizations benefit from collaborating? Read on…


How big organizations benefit: Cultural change

The good: Collaborating with startups gradually introduces employees of big organizations to an agile mindset. It helps companies to initiate a mind shift and to unite everyone for a common cause.

The bad: There are a few pitfalls to avoid. For starters, make sure you are setting up a partnership for the right reason. Don’t just do it for good PR or to tick off a box in a board meeting.

Another common hurdle: trying to scale a new technology all across the company. Think lean and mean. Consider a startup to be a great use case, and don’t expect immediate buy-in from everyone in the company.

The solution: There are plenty of steps you can take to ignite change and to accelerate technology adoption. Think of in-company hackathons, co-creation initiatives or even crowdsourcing,  where you urge employees to consider how a new technology could be implemented within a department.


How startups benefit: Funds and mentorship

The good: Big organizations give startups access to funds and knowledge that would otherwise remain unattainable to them.

The bad: Tread lightly, because the most crucial step in the collaboration process is finding the right people to talk to. Don’t swipe left unless you are absolutely sure you are talking to the right person within a certain company. The right person will have the authority to decide on budgets as well as strategic direction.

The solution: Talk to an accelerator like Start it @kbc. It will give you access to a large network of entrepreneurs, companies, universities and venture capitalists. You’ll be able to innovate faster, co-create, hone your skills and product, and even think of a possible exit strategy, should you so desire. Try to find an incubator/accelerator that doesn’t take any equity to get the most out of your partnership - like Start it @kbc.



Like in any relationship, it’s important to communicate about your expectations and set some guidelines and boundaries that feel comfortable for both parties. Don’t be afraid to be practical about it either: elect your decision makers and main point of contact, set a budget, decide what tech (or lack thereof) you will use to communicate and when and where you will meet. Those are the basic building blocks to any successful partnership. Mazel tov!