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Symbiotic relationships are one of the major foundations of biological relationships. For example, on the continent of Africa, the Oxpecker bird frequently eats ticks of a Hippopotamus’s back. The Oxpecker benefits from this because it is a relatively easy source of food; at the same time, the hippopotamus also benefits from this relationship because it is able to have harmful ticks removed from its back. Mutualism in biological terms is defined as a symbiotic relationship that is beneficial to both organisms. These types of relationships are extremely beneficial to both parties as each party will gain something from each other. Interestingly, this concept can also be applied to partnerships between startups and international giants. Partnerships between startups and international giants are almost always, mutually beneficial. Startups can leverage international giants to grow while an international giant will also benefit from a partnership with a startup.
Benefits for the Startup: When startups partner with international giants, a whole host of benefits will manifest from this partnership for the startup. Benefits that can be leveraged by the startup may include but not limited to, increased credibility, better distribution networks, increased recognition, and more funding. Of course, the value and potency of these benefits will always depend on the collaboration and execution of the startup.
Credibility: A corporate partnership greatly raises the credibility of a startup. With so many startups in a crowded marketplace, it is important to stand out. Startups with a corporate partnership, especially a corporation that is an international giant with an established reputation in the market, will immediately gain a great deal of credibility. With an increase in credibility, the startup will be taken more seriously which could potentially lead to more customer interest and other potential partnerships.
Better Distribution Networks: International giants typically have established leadership in several markets. In order to maintain this leadership, international giants need extensive distribution networks for their products in the marketplace. Startups typically have not established distribution channels that can perform on par to an international giant’s. If a startup is able to leverage an international giant’s distribution channel; the startup would be able to get its product out into the market more quickly. By getting its product into the market more quickly, the startup’s product can then be tested on a large scale to prove its worthiness.
Increased Recognition: Startups can leverage an international giant’s better-established marketing avenues and advertisement networks to reach a larger customer base. These channels may include direct customer contact, social media platforms, covert advertising, or press advertising. Startups can also take advantage of the many conferences and gatherings that international giants tend to host. At these conferences and gatherings, startups would be able to showcase and demonstrate their products to potential customers. If startups leverage all these resources available to them from an international giant, the startup will be better recognized throughout the medium it is operating in.
Increased Funding: By partnering with an international giant, startups typically gain new investments from the corporate partner. Further, the startup may be able to gain access to the international giant’s investors. When potential investors see that the startup has a partnership with a well-established international giant, investors would be more willing to invest as it is seen as less risky.
What is in it for the International Giant: As one can expect, an international giant would not simply partner with a startup with nothing in it for the corporation; there are benefits for the corporation too. Benefits for the corporation may include but are not limited to: fresh perspectives, new ideas, and expedited processes. If a startup understands the benefits that it can offer to an international giant, the startup can better position themselves for a partnership with an international giant.
Fresh Perspectives: A startup can offer valuable new insights and perspectives for an international giant. Typically, when an international giant brings in people from a startup, their perspectives will follow. New perspectives can help spur additional growth or open new paths for an international giant. For example, startups are more willing to take risks or break the status quo; if a corporation were to partner with a startup that is willing to take risks, the corporation would be able to see things in a different light.
New Ideas: A startup is typically founded on a product with new or innovative ideas. If an international giant partners with an innovative startup, it is a bond to help spur innovation at the corporation or bridge gaps in technology. New ideas at an international giant will often develop new paths and business opportunities at the corporation. By partnering with a startup, an international giant will not have to acquire new resources, implement a new department, or hire more people to brainstorm new ideas.
Expedited Processes: International giants tend to operate at a slower pace due to the largeness of the corporation, the reporting structure, and the bureaucracy involved. A startup can typically operate at a faster pace than an international giant as startups do not have to adhere to the extensive protocol as typical of a corporation. An international giant can take advantage of a startup’s quick and nimble operating processes to further their agenda.
Conclusion: Many benefits abound from a partnership between a startup and an international giant. A startup has a great deal of incentive to partner with an international giant, while at the same time, an international giant can also benefit from a partnership with a startup. However, there is a caveat for these partnerships; neither parties should rush to form a partnership as there is no “one size fits all” approach to forming these types of partnerships. In order for a partnership between an international giant and a startup to last, the two entities should at the very least share a common goal and have similar values. Most importantly, startups that are looking to partner with an international giant and leverage the benefits of that partnership, need to realize the incentives they can offer to an international giant. Armed with this knowledge, startups can better pursue a partnership with an international giant.
Brian McGlynn, Davra, COO
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