Op-Ed: Startups v. Big (bad?) Corp.
Sometimes we can’t help but antagonize those big corporations. Those long-standing enterprises with their rigid business models and traditional corporate culture.
And when I say “we,” I mean us “cool” people in the startup world, innovating, thinking outside the box, having all these amazing ideas, and as our parents see it, wearing jeans and sandals to work.
The truth is, as of late, these big (not so bad) corporations (that we love to hate) have been turning to startups to bring innovation to their companies. Great companies like Intel, Microsoft, and even Facebook and Salesforce have dabbled in the startup world and have greatly benefitted from it, while at the same time exceedingly helping startups. Not so bad now, huh?
Innovation is the key to the future, we all know it and these corporations are never far behind. And even though traditionally companies are not so open to let other perspectives influence their long-standing businesses, recent studies show that big corporations are now welcoming and actively seeking startups to scale and grow. Specifically, Imaginatik and MassChallenge found that “67 percent [of Corporations studied] now prefer working with startups at earlier stages, mainly to ‘explore new technologies and business models’.”
The key perspective for startups is realizing that partnering up with corporations no longer means that they will hinder the creative juices by micro-managing or controlling the process; corporations are starting to realize that letting startup founders explore and create is the best way to exponentially increase the value of their innovative product.
Alternatively, partnering with big corporations is now a two-way street, where even though acquisitions and investments are important, this is definitely not the only option. No longer are startups at the mercy of big corp acquisitions, in order to collaborate with them.
There are multiple ways to have a startup-corporation engagement. In fact, Imaginatik and MassChallenge’s recent study about startup and corporate collaborations states “working with corporations is shaping up to be a startup’s most powerful growth hack.” That’s HUGE and again, really not so bad.
This is something I’ve personally experienced through the P18 Connect program, designed to promote these connections. Our goal, in Parallel18, is to create business relationships between big companies and high-impact startups in order to insert a generation of innovators in all local sectors.
More importantly, we hope that innovation becomes more than a thing of startups and that big corporations start to think differently about ways to scale. From a personal standpoint, and after seeing the results of our P18 Connect program, it only takes a single business meeting to create amazing synergies.
In addition to these collaborations, big companies are also willing to support startup programs, as a way to be close to the innovation happening in their backyard. Facebook is building an accelerator in Paris, Fidelity Investments and Oracle are some of the main sponsors for global program Mass Challenge, and the list goes on.
Locally, T-Mobile Puerto Rico sponsored Parallel18’s Gen2 Demo Day, on Jan. 20. The telecommunications company and the accelerator found common ground as both are focused on disrupting traditional industries and business models.
In sum, startups and big corporations need each other in ways that nobody really contemplated before. In places where innovation is lacking, big corporations can greatly benefit from startups collaborations to think differently about ways to scale and grow. Alternatively, startups of course can benefit from an established corporation’s experience and resources to jumpstart or even accelerate their growth.
So startups and corporations alike, get cooking!