Startup entrepreneurs can be considered to be risk-takers, innovators and change-agents. Corporations that have additional resources should consider implementing some of these attributes into the corporate culture. By doing this you are able to boost innovation within the corporation and streamline collaboration with startup partners.
Here's what you could try to pick from an entrepreneur's brain, in order to establish a win-win situation with a partner:
1) "Don't fear failure, fear being left behind" - Kati Holland
Try to welcome intelligent failures into the corporate culture and alleviate risks for the collaboration. Accepting intelligent failure into the corporation's innovation process is crucial. This means, that you have to really try to recognize which failures are the most useful and risk worthy. Countless things can go wrong when it comes to doing things in a new way or creating something completely novel. There are mistakes that you can prevent, mistakes that are unpreventable and have to do with uncertainties, and finally intelligent mistakes.
“One of the things that's really powerful—and what innovation effectively is—is a license to fail. When you're willing to tolerate failure, people are willing to do things differently. And if you're not willing to do things differently, you have to do it in a tried-and-true way, which is not innovative," - Tim Campos, CIO, Facebook
Here's how to embrace intelligent failure
- Consider your objectives for collaborating: why are you engaging with startups? What does success/failrure look like in this case? Investigate real internal needs.
- Write down any assumptions and share them with your team. Try to turn these assumptions into knowledge by seeking information that indicates whether your assumption are flawed or not. Consider any possible internal, relational and environmental barriers and how they could be avoided.
- Enable Fast Failure! Create KPI's that measure the progress of the partnership and collect data and feedback constantly. Pick the best partnership type that complements your objectives and if the first option doesn't work, don't be afraid to iterate.
- Fail Cheaply. Have an innovation budget and try to stick to it. You can also consider partnering with other CVCs! Get familiar with the lean startup concept and think of ways to implement that concept in to the corporate culture. This method saved GE millions!
- Get rid of uncertainties. If you don't know what it's like to work with a startup, the most important thing is to make the process as simple and streamlined as possible. Be clear on the process and it's timings and have a tech person on your team. Be aware that startups often have different dress codes and less formal conventions.
- Embrace the bearer of bad news. For the innovation team to feel comfortable and safe to welcome the culture of failure, those who are brave enough to come forth, should be rewarder. Value the bad news, because the lessons you learn are worth a lot.
- Communicate your learnings. No mistake should be made twice, so communicate about your findings and learnings with the entire organization.
2. Set a Clear Mission
By setting a clear mission for the collaboration, you minimize any fears that either party could have about the collaboration. This helps both parties understand the goals you have, and the means for getting there.
3. Evaluate the best way to create value.
Contemplate on the best way you can provide value to the other party and vice versa. Does investing, aquiring or partnering up get you the most benefits? How do you collaborate in a way that doesn't stop the startup from evolving?
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Rocket Space: Corporate Innovators: Explore the mind of a startup founder - Kati Holland