Why do companies integrate their internal innovation efforts with startup engagements?
Our job is to convert startup and corporations meetings, into meaningful engagements. In each culture, there is a saying which could explain the dynamics between a startup and a corporation; gunpowder and fire, Venus and Mars, oil & water, etc.
What we don’t do is slow down either side by trying to negotiate the middle ground. In stead, our approach involves understanding the different strengths of each side and finding out how they can complement each other.
In this article, we will analyze one of the repeating scenarios that we encounter in startup corporate engagement.
A B2B entrepreneur with some industry experience probably has already identified a meaningful problem. Knowing what’s broken, sets off to find a fix. Finding the problem-solution fit, while it may be tricky, is sooner or later achieved.
Finding product-market fit, which means that more and more companies are willing to pay for the solution, is a totally different game.
There are underlying decision-making criteria, hidden decision-makers, switching costs of existing tools in practice, integration requirements, etc.
If only the entrepreneur had a spy inside…
Almost all companies these days have some sort of idea-collection, selection and implementation process. With some, this is as simple as a ballot box. While others run comprehensive internal incubators. Employees submit ideas & projects which could improve their work processes, cut costs or even create new revenues. Equipped with a great insight into their company and industry, they pretty much fit the bill of the spy perfectly.
However, they also have daily responsibilities.
They are defined and confined by the processes and governance of the company. No matter where you look, these people are employees first, intrapreneurs second. They would make perfect advisors, managers, or executives of the idea, but they don’t have the resources to become operators.
We see 2 strengths here. The company has the know-how and the entrepreneur has the agility to operate.
At the beginning of any engagement program, we define a scope with our corporate partners. Scope definition is basically synthesizing multiple insights into clusters of focus areas.
The insights we typically utilize are company strategy, relevant global industry trends, global case studies that might be relevant, and what the company is currently working on. This latter insight can be organized in the form of major strategic projects, idea funnel, the voice of customer reports, etc.
We love the idea funnel. It’s great insight but it’s also full of innovation drive and has names next to the projects. We know exactly who we need to engage with.
If you have a list of projects that you are trying to execute, ask yourself if you can outsource the whole /partial implementation of some.
If you are unsure about what the outside world has to offer, give us a call.
Atilla Erel & Baran Korkut, April 2022, Istanbul & Dubai