Many large companies are already partnering up with startups and seeing great results. With the list of success stories constantly growing there’s no better time than now to look at some of these amazing partnerships.
We kick off our series showcasing these success stories with Pavegen, a technology startup that specializes in developing paving slabs that convert footsteps into electrical power. Having formed partnerships with huge companies such as Nike, Siemens and Uniqlo they have a great insight into the world of startup-corporate partnerships.
One of their most interesting partnerships was to power the Paris Marathon together with Schneider Electric. Being the pioneering Energy Management Specialists in France, they were keen to work with Pavegen on integrating 176 tiles at the climax of the marathon. 4.7 kilowatt hours of energy was generated by the runners – enough power to keep an iPhone running for over two years! Their collaborative attempt to generate renewable energy through the power of footsteps received extensive recognition, resulting with features in Bloomberg, The Telegraph, San Francisco Chronicle, and National Geographic.
We asked Pavegen about their experiences working with larger organisations and if they had any advice for startups looking to do the same.
Q: What are the biggest difficulties you faced working with larger companies?
A: For Pavegen, the primary challenge is finding corporations that can mirror and adapt to our flexibility. Due to the hierarchical structure of the larger companies, decisions and payments can often be hindered by protocols. Pavegen, as a smaller, dynamic and entrepreneurial business, do not experience similar difficulties in the accomplishment of a task. Additionally, innovation and entrepreneurial creativity is usually discouraged in larger companies, as it defies older traditions or on-going brand identity.
Q: How could these difficulties have been mitigated?
A: These issues are difficult to mitigate, as it forms the basis of structure and working order within the culture of a conglomerate. However, it requires a level of patience and understanding, because equally, a partnership with such a company can bring a multitude of advantages to a start-up business.
Q: What are the benefits of working with large companies?
A: Partnerships with larger companies often prove advantageous to smaller businesses, particularly with regards to coverage and exposure. As corporations have a significantly larger PR department, it is likely that their work and coverage on such a partnership would reach a wider audience, thus enhancing awareness of both parties and their work. Furthermore, a larger company usually provides invaluable support, experience and expertise, which is vital for the progression of a smaller business.
Q: What advice would you give to startups just beginning to work with large companies?
A: Perception is very important in this regard – to not view the company as a huge conglomerate, but simply as another business partner. The aim is for both parties to reach an agreement – for the partnership to benefit both companies as they achieve their goals. For startup businesses, it is important to convey the ideas and ambitions of the company, remain resolute on the intentions, and ensure no overshadowing is involved in the process.
Q: Did you specifically plan to work with larger organisations?
A: We always intended to target the larger organisations, as Pavegen tiles work best in areas of high footfall. In addition, we knew of the promotional benefits of working with such corporations; initially, the cost of each tile was such that only large, successful businesses could support us through an installation.
Q: How did you get started working with larger organisations?
A: Pavegen gained significant coverage soon after conception due to the innovative technology behind the product, winning accolades and gaining features within the mainstream media. The first award, for Ecobuild Tech Strategy Board, placed Pavegen on the map, and helped us progress through the sustainability market. Because of this, we managed to develop a network of contacts that further amplified the process through both promotion and partnerships.
Learn more about Pavegen