Corporation-Startup Collaboration: Barriers and Solutions (Part 9.)

Maintaining the relationship

Key Take-Aways for Corporates:

  • Make sure the communication works and is transparent. Both parties should be able to effortlessly voice their doubts or issues, as well as good news.
  • Problems most often occur when there are internal changes on the corporate side that cause confusion about who is responsible for maintaining the relationship with the startup.
  • KPI's should be developed for the collaboration to measure the progress of the collaboration and to ensure that things are moving forward.
  • Share your resources, expertise and changes with the startup and remember that startups are often negatively affected by long or late payment processes. Startups should be able to focus on development instead of liquidity issues.
Phases of collaboration.png

Some of the key elements in maintaining a long lasting relationship between collaborating partners, is of course, transparent and effective communication between the two. When the communication works, trust is also maintained and both parties feel that the collaboration is mutually beneficial. Maintaining the relationship might seem like a self-driving car, but it actually requires work just like any other relationship. To ensure that this relationship is working as hoped, some monitoring and measuring of mutual goals, KPIs and the progress of the collaboration, should take place.

What issues can be causing the hick-ups at this stage then?

Problems most often occur when the corporation side undergoes some internal changes/reorganizations that cause confusion about who is responsible for managing the relationship with the startup. If the person in charge changes, problems arise from the lack of a personal relationship with the startup and the lack of understanding the purpose and goals of the collaboration. The other side could also lose interest in maintaining the relationship due to, for example, changes in the strategic priorities in the company or the lazy monitoring of the relationship, which leads to no action and no results.

In cases where the other party wants to withdraw from the collaboration, it helps to have a clear strategy in place for this type of exit. Discussing these type of exit strategies upfront might feel to have counter-productive effects, but in fact, being more open and transparent about the relationship from the start, will most likely help both parties have an honest conversation about problems in the future.

To wrap this all up, it's good to remember that payment terms can affect startups negatively. The corporation should understand that long or late payment terms can really hurt cash hungry startups. If the startup has to chase after invoices through the corporate bureaucracy, everyone's wasting valuable working time.

Here's an example how DPD and LMarks' Last Mile Labs innovation accelerator and a startup called Pie Mapping maintained a long-term relationship successfully:





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