Startups are often told what they need to do to be able to secure big deals and corporate partners, but with the increasing involvement of big business in the startup community, eyes are being firmly drawn to how successful corporations are in these partnerships.
The often neglected perspective of what corporations need to do in order to be interesting to startups is one that is becoming increasingly important. With many corporations only just entering the world of startups there is still much to learn and no better place to learn than from the startups themselves.
We spoke to David Lai, CEO of mobile queue solution YES.TAP to find out about startup corporate partnerships from the startup perspective. He gave us a great insight into what startups perceive and experience working with large corporations.
David and the YES.TAP team have experienced some hurdles working with larger companies, especially when it comes to the speed of getting things done. He said: “There are many companies out there, many bigger corporate entities that say they would like to be involved with startups, but I find that some of them may not be prepared to move at the pace that the startup would prefer to. I think that’s one thing that would attract a better collaboration from a startup to wanting to work with a corporation. With one company we found it to be a little be slower because I think we had to be funnelled to many different people and the process of approval was a little bit lengthy. Sometimes the buy-in from one person, which was your main contact, wasn’t enough to get the decision through. I don’t think they were prepared to commit what it takes to really be engaged with the startups. Even on their side internally they had to figure out what the approval process was, so I don’t think they were prepared to give, initiate and commit to their initiatives. I think larger corporations do want to engage with startups but some of them may be doing it just recently so they may not have all of the process figured out”.
But how far was their experience from how they had perceived working with corporations to be? David said: “I don’t think it was too far from what we expected. I think from some of the stories that we’ve heard, generally speaking, we perceive them as large elephants that move super slow and I think when you have that kind of impression set in the actual experience is not worse off than that. I would say that from expectation level it’s not too bad”.
With perceptions like this being prevalent when thinking about potential corporate partners, it is clear that something needs to be done to address this view. But how can corporations go about improving this situation? From his experiences with YES.TAP, David offered some interesting insight: “Every company has different operations, different approval processes. What startups don’t have are a lot of resources, a lot of money, a lot of manpower but we do tend to like to make decisions quickly. If a corporation is wanting to work on an initiative with a startup I think one of the things that they have to be ready for is the approval process for a budget. They have to know how much they’re willing to spend in whatever initiative that it is they think is interesting for them and really have that process nailed down. Going through the PO the invoicing and making sure the funds get dispersed to where they need to be so that you can have proper kick-off and not deal with certain delays. I think that would help”.
Onekey taking from our interview with David is that although there is room for improvement by corporations there are things that they are doing right for startups: “Apart from the nuances there are good take-aways as well. I think they are often times ready to make a referral for you especially if what you’ve delivered has indeed brought value. Generally speaking, then they really go out of their way to try and make it happen for you. I think it’s more so internally there may be certain hurdles that they need to figure out on how to improve internally but let’s say it comes to a referral recommendation usually that happens pretty quick and that we’re quite happy with. They do tend to open up certain conversations that would otherwise be a bit more difficult for you to open up yourself”.
Read part 2 for more insight.