Collaborating with Corporates
Founders share advice on how to progress from accelerator to partnership.
The Main Problem
Partnering with a corporate can be a fast-track to success for FinTechs but is not without its challenges.
Speaking at the recent Techstars Startup Week London were Julianne Flesher, Co-Founder and CEO, Nossa Data; Rafa Plantier, Head of UK and Ireland, Tink; and Peter Janes, Founder and CEO, The Secure Payments Group (SPG).
Here are some key takeaways from that conversation in which the three founders share advice on how to get the most from accelerator programmes, tips on getting a foot in the door of big banks, and insight on how to ensure any corporate collaboration becomes a win-win.
Making the most of accelerator programmes
- Corporate accelerator programmes are a great way to get access to organisations but is founders must keep pushing to find the right people and build a productive network
- Be clear about your business’s objectives when you join a corporate programme to ensure you stay focused.
- Being a founder can be lonely and challenging – an accelerator cohort can provide valuable support and advice on how to engage effectively with the corporate.
- Ensure you deeply understand the corporate and its objectives. Organisations that look the same from the outside may have very different goals and innovation budgets.
- The challenge for founders is to connect the capital expenditure decision maker with the product owner within the corporate: both sides are needed to move to the next stage.
Engaging with corporates
- Identify the right people within a corporate’s innovation team and work to build relationships. Always be mindful that individuals move jobs so connect with multiple stakeholders.
- Consider whether product usage may be more important than contract value for your early stage FinTech. You may get most value from more rapid feedback and iteration.
- Look for ways to be fast-tracked through procurement. Are there smaller pre-agreed budgets you can access to avoid having to go through the full procurement process?
- Identify who your product will most benefit within a corporate and connect with them. Check your understanding and show how you can solve their problems.
- Keep communicating within your team to share what types of approach are working and which may seem promising but are not delivering results.
Successful startup-corporate partnerships
- Be clear about what success means for both you and the corporate. Look out for signs that roadmaps and timelines match and walk away if necessary.
- Startups have limited time and resource. Don’t bet everything on one partnership that may fail to deliver
- Be aware that some corporates may be at such an early stage of their understanding of a problem that they are not ready to implement a solution. Establish this early on in your sales process and move on if necessary.
- Consider having a team that provides education and information to possible corporate partners who don’t yet understand their need or your technology. This allows you to manage resources and means your sales team can focus on corporates that are ready to buy.
- Ensure you understand the compliance and governance requirements of corporates. Does your startup have the time and resource to meet them, or should you be looking for smaller scale partners at this stage of your growth?
- See if you can reach a final agreement with exit clauses rather than a pilot or proof of concept contract. This may take longer to set up but means you are less likely to be held up converting a proof of concept into a longer-term agreement.
- Be honest about the functionality of your product and what features can be added in the short term. It is better to under promise and over deliver than fail to meet overoptimistic deadlines and expectations.
- Julianne, Rafa and Peter were in conversation with Daisy Hopkins, Barclays Innovation Programme Manager. For more insights and advice listen to the Rise Coffee Club Podcast which features an edited recording of their discussion or catch-up with all previous podcasts.
- Check out forthcoming Rise events or subscribe to our weekly newsletter for more founder advice and industry news.
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