Innovation Product Management

Different Approaches for Corporate-Startup Collaboration

On this National Startup Day across India, let me share my views on how corporates can collaborate and work together with startups in mutually beneficial ways.

It’s no secret that many corporates are trying to emulate startup culture to accelerate innovation and agility in their organizations. Here are a few ways that will help corporates experience and embrace the startup culture and at the same time, get benefited from such collaborative work.

  1. Include funding startups in the R&D portfolio. Corporates can allocate some of their R&D investments to fund new ideas via startups. The selection of ideas and the exact scope will depend on business context, internal capabilities, gaps in products and processes, and strategic priorities.
  2. Corporate Accelerators – self-managed or 3rd party managed – is another platform to engage with startups. Many companies have taken this path. Like with any other option, there are pros and cons to this approach.
  3. Open Corporate Accelerator is another way where multiple sponsor organizations work with the startup ecosystem to build innovative solutions that are critical for them.
  4. Extended ecosystem of partners where startups and corporates work together to integrate solutions for improving value across customer journeys. Such partnerships offer value-added services and frictionless experiences.
  5. There are multiple ways to encourage students and early-stage startups to work on problems and opportunities that are relevant for corporates. Corporate hackathons, crowdsourcing of ideas/solutions, collaboration with academia and startup incubators, ‘reverse Kickstarter’, etc. are some of the approaches that help corporates explore innovative solutions.

All these collaborative engagements will be successful only when the ultimate objective is to improve customer value and experience. The success of these engagements will depend on leadership commitment, strategic alignment, internal communications, and product engagement of internal resources with external collaborations. It’s a long game, and all the parties should ensure trust and transparency for mutual success.