5 Things Corporates Can Offer to Startups (Besides Cash)

More and more corporates are investing in corporate venturing: collaborating with startups in order to build competitive advantages and to become more future-proof as a company. However, there are still some urban legends around corporate venturing. One of them being that investing in startups is only a financial transaction. Nothing is more incomplete. Whether you decide to innovate through external ventures or invest in startups yourself, know that you can offer much more than “investing cash into startups”.

In this article, we will share 5 things corporate organizations can bring to the table to startups:

1. Infrastructure:

Many early-stage startups don’t have a real office and work from their own homes. If you have unused desk space in your company, why not offering it to startups? An inspiring environment where you can create a kind of co-working space is something that can inspire startups to collaborate with you. It will help them professionalize their company and you will have ‘smart entrepreneurs’ around, bringing fresh energy and disruptive ideas to your own team.

And you can take it further: for instance, a chemical company could open up their R&D infrastructure to grant startups access to labs and testing facilities

Just make sure you are not creating a massive contrast with the rest of the office, or your employees will begin to ask themselves whether they’re working in the right place. Before upgrading your ‘startup space’, think about your own employees first.

2. Mentorship:

Every entrepreneur is looking for mentors that challenge them and provide them with knowledge, and new perspectives.

Startups might be great at executing their (tech) idea, but often lack expertise in domains such as industry insights, marketing strategy, financial planning, HR planning, legal structures etc.

Use the SME’s (subject matter experts) in your company to provide mentorship and help the startups you are working with to find answers to their questions and problems.

3. Insights:

Your knowledge of the market and industry is invaluable. Providing these experiences and insights to your partners has a huge impact on their strategy and future success.

Besides strategic knowledge, large companies usually have a lot of (historical) data to share as well. Just think about the extensive data assets that insurance companies can offer to InsurTech startups.

Finally, validating a product or service in the real market provides startups with the necessary insights to iterate, improve and realign their propositions. So offering a startup (access to) the opportunity to test their products in the ‘real market’ generates a lot of value. It’s a fair deal: you get to see how they build their products/services in much quicker way, while they get to test it on real clients.

4. Network:

The network is everything and if your company has been in the industry for years, you’ve probably built a strong ecosystem around your organization.

For a startup it’s often difficult to open the right doors. Providing them with relevant contacts and introducing them to the right, potential clients might allow them to scale much faster than trying to create the market all by themselves. 

Giving startups access to your company’s network is one of the most underestimated assets in corporate venturing. Doing this on a continuous basis will give both parties interesting learnings and opportunities. Don’t forget: your connections will also see a lot of value in meeting the newest innovators in their space.

5. Credibility:

Last but not least: corporates backing startups inevitably leads to increased credibility.

If your company is recognized by the market and the startups you partner with can say that they are working for or with you, they will be able to leverage that relationship. Small organizations can easily increase their credibility regarding other companies and investors with a giant partner next to thim.

To summarize:

As an established company, you have much more to offer to startups than only money. Use these assets to grow and transform the startups you are working with, to accelerate your journey in becoming a more future-proof company.

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About Duval Union Consulting

We are new-style management consultants focusing on transforming and growing organizations in a digital-first world with offices in Europe and the Middle East. New-style? Co-created business strategy, custom-made transformation trajectories and actual experienced business advisors are only some of our differentiators and why clients love to work with us. We design the future of your business together.

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