A report written by Imaginatik and MassChallenge reveals startups-corporations collaborations is now a mission critical. From the organization’s perspective, they seek to interact with startups to explore new technologies and/or new business models. In return, a large organization offers more than money. Corporations should be seen as partners who offer access, advice, and strategic opportunities for mutual gain.
Natali Ardianto, the co-founder of an online travel agency tiket.com said that his startup live is all about relationship with partners, especially corporations. Corporations as customers are able to maintain startups’ stability despite the uncertainty of current economic situation. As a partner, corporations obviously help the startup to grow faster and grow together.
“In fact, we have to put partners above customers,” says Natali, “for instance, in Indonesia we might have hundreds customer. Once we lose a customer, we can fix it with other customers. But when we only have less than 10 partners, we can’t do the same. Once we lose a partner, our business will go down surely.”
However, Natali admits it is not easy for startups and corporations in Indonesia to collaborate. There are challenging perceptions, cultural differences, not to mention different goals on both sides. To deal with the challenges, Natali shares to ContentCollisions his 5 tips to partnership with corporates.
Tips #1: Meet The C-Level
The Indonesian’s startups problem to collaborate with corporations is not to get their foot in the door, but finding the right person in the business. On that account, meeting the C-Level is the first thing a startup needs to do. The best thing about reaching out the top decision makers is the ease and flexibility to create exclusive program which might not exist before. Natali gives an example when tiket.com started their collaboration with Garuda airlines.
“I met Emirsyah and Erik (CEO and CMO Garuda) to deal with the airline to built the first API of Garuda for Tiket. So our partnership was system-to-system instead of capturing the on-screen information,” says Natali.
Natali believes it is not difficult for startups nowadays to meet these C-Level. They are mostly available online on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook. “Just drop them a message and set the time,” he added.
Tips #2: Find A Mentor With Strong Networks
According to Natali who is also the co-founder of Indonesia startups community, StartUp Lokal, mentor should not be treated as a marketing tool to gain investors only. It is important for a startup to find a mentor who can connect them with a powerful network to build a long-lasting partnership.
“Network is more important than investors,” Natali says, “Even though we have major investors, if we don’t have a strong network, our business can’t grow rapidly. And that’s not what an investor wants.”
Tips #3: Be Professional and Be Prepared
It is not surprising if a corporate underestimate an early stage startup because of their lack of professionalism. Such startup usually less independent and leave everything to the corporation. Some of them do not even come up with legality issues and financial plan. As a result, they might not be able to counter critical questions from the respective corporation in their pitch.
For this reason, meticulous preparation is a requisite. Natali had to revise Tiket’s proposal and financial plan for approximately eight times to make everything make sense and to take the corporate’s fancy. It is necessary to clearly define in this stage the market potential, business models, the person in charge, and the revenue forecast, not to mention what the startups are going to do with the corporations.
A well-prepared sales script play an important role to make it perfect. “As an example, I usually convinced a corporate by comparing marketing fee they’ve spend. Why they should ‘waste’ their marketing budget for unknown return; while in Tiket, they only pay the marketing fee if a transaction proceed. In other world, they know exactly how much money they should spend for a definite transaction that we call commission.”
Aside from all the information provided, corporates have gut feelings about the skills the founders have. Without the sales script, the pitch usually confusing, unstructured, and non-sense. The common mistake of Indonesian startups in this case is showing non-sense numbers, such as telling the corporates that their potential market is a hundred million people based on the number internet users nationally. Meanwhile, children or old people might not potential customers for online travel agents like Tiket, for instace. Therefore, creating a logic sales script is also essential.
Tips #4: Hold The Head Up High
Natali believes a founder without a self-confident is like self-sabotaging his own business. Speaking of tech industry ten years ago, lack of confidence among startup founders were quite common. Nowadays, Indonesian corporations are more aware the hidden gems of a startup although the founders are very young.
“The age of one of Tiket’s founder when we started the pitch was 22 years old, and he was so ‘unyu’ (cute, baby-face). It was quite hard to convince large corporates with such appearance without self- confident,” says Natali.
Self-confident is the best suit after preparing flawless pitching, of course. Therefore, losing in a pitch cannot let Natali down. “I always think, he (the corporate) just missed an opportunity to collaborate with me; instead of thinking that I am nothing and I deserve this loss.”
Tips #5: Maintain The Relationship
Once a corporate agree to collaborate with startups, maintaining the relationship is a must. “Come to them when you need something or when you’re in a trouble is not a good idea,” Natali says. Startups need to consider a corporate as a partner, not just a client, which means they have to be there when the corporate needs a hand.
According to Natali, ethical is the key to maintain a long-term relationship. In other world, startups must listen to the corporation’s input. In addition to that, a simple appreciation is also necessary. “At least, greet them with a simple text over WhatsApp.”
Written by Tika Widyaningtyas for Content Collision