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How Startups Can Form Partnerships with Larger Companies

Posted by Kanika Sinha

November 20, 2017

According to a study, corporations are quite eager to work with startups, with nearly 67% saying they are happy to work with early stage startups and another 23% seeing partnerships as critical.

This study is quite significant as the trend towards startup/corporation partnerships is looking good.

This is where you might be asking how startups can form partnerships with larger companies and how this makes good business sense.

Partnering with an established company helps you gain stability, but it might seem daunting as you wonder how to get the attention of the company and get them to jump on board. Here’s how:

Know What You Want

Before approaching a larger company, decide what you want out of the partnership.

It won’t benefit either of you if you’re just doing it because it’s trendy.

Consider the end result and draft a plan for achieving it. Decide what kind of help you’re looking for.

For example, do you need help with distribution, marketing, product design, or something else?

Know What You Have to Offer

Now that you know what you want, ask yourself what you have to offer the larger company.

Think about why they would want to build a partnership with you.

Go back to why you began your startup. What solution are you offering potential customers? Can you offer to solve this same problem for the larger company?

For example, your startup sells a digital time clock software. You know that one of your potential partner companies is still using a punch clock.

Your software could help this company, so this is what you bring to the table.

Knowing what you have to offer is going to be key to getting this new partnership.

Know Who to Contact

Look at your personal and professional networks and see if you know anyone who works for the larger company you want to approach.

If so, that’s great, as it sometimes takes a contact to get you in the door.

Know If Your Goals Match

Once you meet with the larger company, you want to decide if your goals align.

For your partnership to work, you should share similar goals as well as values. If this is missing, the partnership isn’t likely to thrive.

Along with sharing goals and values, you want to share the same expectations. Be upfront and honest for the best relationship.

Know How Long You Can Wait

Generally speaking, startups and big companies don’t form partnerships overnight.

It pays to be patient as each of you works through the many levels of management and boards of directors.

It may take a while, so stay in touch so you can provide any information that’s needed.

After your initial meeting, it’s wise to set up a mode of communication that’s acceptable to both parties. You also want to set some deadlines, so everyone is on the same page.

Final Thoughts

Still wondering why you’d want your startup to form partnerships with larger companies? Check out our list of reasons, and perhaps they’ll even prompt you to come up with a few more benefits to build these kinds of relationships.

With startups popping up all over, you’ll find that your partnership with a large company gives you credibility. As an established company joins forces with you, others start to take your startup's work more seriously.

Partnerships can also help you with distribution because larger companies have access to bigger distribution channels. They can help you get to market faster.

Finally, a startup/corporation partnership can help you with your PR and branding. The larger company can help guide you as you begin to brand your startup, and they can help you negotiate the complex world of PR and marketing.

Do remember as you start to form partnerships that you want to share common values with the larger company, and you should have a solid reason for wanting to build and solidify the relationship.

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Image: Bram Naus on Unsplash


Kanika Sinha
Kanika Sinha

Kanika is an enthusiastic content writer who craves to push the boundaries and explore uncharted territories. With her exceptional writing skills and in-depth knowledge of business-to-business dynamics, she creates compelling narratives that help businesses achieve tangible ROI. When not hunched over the keyboard, you can find her sweating it out in the gym, or indulging in a marathon of adorable movies with her young son.

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