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Better collaboration with corporates: Tips for startups

Don't fail, scale!

Working with large firms brings numerous advantages for startups: market knowledge and experience, economies of scale, established networks and brand power along with other considerable resources.

Working with big businesses can also be an important route for startups to test their products for market fit. As CB Insights data suggests, the majority of startups fail as there is no market need for their products. Procurement from a corporate partner can also help startups scale up their operations and convey essential validation for future customer acquisition.

Understanding is the key to a long-term relationship

As for the startups themselves – in their role as disruptors – it is heartening that so many see the benefit of collaborating with larger partners. Whilst most have little absorptive capacity and may be unable to make significant changes in order to accommodate corporate partners, the message from large firms is that it is nevertheless possible to improve one’s partnering prospects through a better understanding of corporate concerns.

Partnering with a big corporate entity might be a daunting prospect for a small tech startup, but, as we have discussed in our reports Winning Together and Scaling Together, the pay offs can be immense. 

The biggest barriers that arise in such a relationship have to do with each party not fully understanding or appreciating how the other one works. 

Whether this is to do with internal corporate issues, relational barriers or environmental impediments, a nuanced understanding of the way big companies function is absolutely vital for startups looking to collaborate with corporates.  

Here is a list of 10 distilled recommendation for startups (and scale-ups) who are looking to collaborate with corporate partners. 



Siddharth Bannerjee

Siddharth Bannerjee

Siddharth Bannerjee

Researcher, Digital Startups

Sidd was the policy researcher on two projects dedicated to fostering digital entrepreneurship and building entrepreneurial ecosystems across Europe – Startup Europe Partnership (SEP...

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