Last week, Startup Atlanta held their “How Corporations & Startups Can Partner for Innovation” panel discussion at GA Atlanta. It was a great avenue for established business and startup figures to come together and discuss important strategies for partnering, while also addressing the disconnect between the larger companies and the smaller startup organizations.
Moderator Hans Utz, Co-founder for The Combine ATL, began the opening remarks by giving a background on himself and why he feels its crucial for corporations and startups to come together and solve problems for the sake of innovation. He then transitioned into the panel discussion where he asked the panel questions pertaining to the topic of what both sides can do in order to develop a successful partnership.
Tim Minahan, CMO for SAP Cloud, began the discussion talking about how startups can stay one step ahead by understanding the objective and audience at hand. He urged the audience to “try to use [SAP Cloud’s] established channels”, which he felt was the best way for corporations and startups to share and develop innovative ideas in an online format.
Next, Scott Voigt (CEO/Founder of FullStory) talked about the concept of testing software and how the purchasing process for it can alter the development of a partnership. He wanted the crowd to ensure that they “understand the buying process as soon as possible, or walk away”, because the legal and security side of the process can often present numerous obstacles for the startup itself.
Carie Davis, Global Director of Innovation & Entrepreneurship at the Coca-Cola Company, shared the same sentiments and stated that her goal is to help reduce the security process as much as possible. Her advice to the audience was to “make sure you reach out to the corporation when they are looking for a solution that you have” and that creating a personal relationship is the first step to a successful partnership.
M. Cole Jones, Co-founder of covello, talked mostly on the importance of the communication process when establishing partnerships. His most important tip was to “understand a corporations risk ceiling” when investing in innovative ideas. Once a startup can understand a corporations mindset, it makes the partnership process go much smoother.
Dipan Patel, Executive Director of New Growth at Cox Enterprises Inc, shared similar beliefs with Jones. He also added to those beliefs by stating that the most important thing is for a startup to “utilize its solution in the best way possible in order to merge together” as partners with a big corporation. He believed that this simplistic mentality is the best way to get the proper funding from a reliable corporation.
Lastly, Kyle Porter (CEO/Founder of SalesLoft) had the most direct approach to the topic of partnering up with large corporations. He believes that getting to a deal and obtaining some form of leverage over a big company is the best way for a startup to get on the most successful track. “Eventually you’ll unlock the keys to the kingdom, but you have to ask the tough questions first”. Porter was able to relate with the audience and show them that taking risks in a partnership deal is the best way to show corporations the confidence you possess in your own idea/solution.
All in all, each panelist had their own viewpoint but all shared very similar mentalities. What they all deemed important was reducing the security and legal difficulties involved in the business process, understanding your audience and objective, the need for a proper communication process, and meeting in the middle for the good of solving problems and developing innovative ideas.
[Photo Credit: Hypepotamus/Bone]