As you may have noticed if you are a regular reader of INNOWEO, I am working in a big Corporate (~50 000 employees) and I am often discussing about open innovation or collaborating with start-ups.
During the last 3 years I have been given the opportunity to both define (with others) and implement the innovation strategy of the group. It has been a long and interesting journey, especially in the Open Innovation area.
In big Corporate there is a necessary cultural change to be done if working with start-ups or SME is core to your innovation strategy. Identifying new promising technologies or diversifying the suppliers pool both needs are justified. Both of them however require a change in mind.
A necessary entrepreneur state of mind
As Big Corporate employees, lots don’t have any idea about what is important or even vital to an entrepreneur, especially when its activity is just starting and every move has to be drastically productive. Changing their mind to adapt in that case the way they are used to deal with suppliers to go to a partnership instead and nurturing this new friend to be sure both of you succeed.
Contract management and purchasing agreements…
…should be adapted in order not to impact negatively your new partner. Payment due date is so important for new companies, this impact directly their cash flow and… Cash is king.
Intellectual Properties and Sales share…
has to be discussed and agreed before starting to work together. If you are lucky enough to have a dedicated market I would suggest to keep the exclusivity of your common work and cooperation on your market as you give to the start-up the exact equivalent outside of your sales area. Win-win approach should be your way and you should make it clear to your potential partner asap during the early talks.
The Need for Speed
If all above are important, the most important thing to have in mind is SPEED. You need to be fast. You need to decide fast, work fast, exchange fast and a Corporate is not done to be fast. A corporate is done to reduce risks. But believe it or not, a start-up is not waiting for a corporate. Taking risks and going much faster than usually is the only way to work with a start-up.
« Three months is tomorrow for a Corporate, it is an eternity for a start-up »
As a project leader you must ensure that your organisation will be reactive enough to understand that a start-up has not the time to wait and need a momentum just to stay alive. You must ensure that your organisation has the proper processes or you have to hack the organisation to accelerate it.
What are you main concern when working with start-ups / Corporate?