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Enterprise 18 Oct 2017

Startups and large corporations: The key factors behind successful collaboration

Alliances between startups and established companies are increasingly used to foment corporate innovation. Entrepreneurs and executives offer us the keys to building a successful relationship.


Given the rise of the startup ecosystem in Spain, established companies are increasingly opting for collaborating with the newly-founded companies in order to stay competitive and innovative. But how can a successful collaborative relationship be developed?

The business community and entrepreneurs shared their experiences in a working session on technology and entrepreneurship, IN3Spain. These are their recommendations.

1.Have a clear idea of the needs

What are startups looking for in consolidated companies and what do these consolidated companies look for in startups? To begin with, it’s very important that both sides have a clear idea of what their needs are before they start to collaborate with each other. If they know what they are looking for and what they expect to receive, they will be able to manage their expectations accordingly. Looking for investment, wanting someone to buy your company and developing a pilot project are not the same.

2.Talk to the right person at the right time

Once the needs have been defined, the companies will have to find the right person to talk to, in order to achieve their goals.

Vicente García, co-founder and Marketing Director of Fluzo, a startup that monitors content consumption and has large corporations (radio stations, TV channels and advertisers) as its main customers, believes that entrepreneurs should try to contact people in senior positions – those that make the final decision – from the beginning. “If not, you could waste the next four or six months trying to reach that person. And time is money,” he says. Something that startups usually don’t have in excess.

They do not all share the same opinion, however.  Gustavo Vinacua, the CEO of Trust·u  —a company that emerged from BBVA’s New Digital Business area, which finances businesses in their initial months – feels that the most important thing is to “find the right person, whether or not they hold a top position” in the organization, someone that will be interested in what you are offering. In this case, Vinacua explains that they will listen differently and it’s likely that they will offer solutions that the startup needs.

According to Natasha Braginsky, Vice President of Capital Group, this is also essential: “As a startup, you have to ask yourself what problem you solve, then find out who benefits from it and who you should talk to.”


Caption: Vicente García, Paloma Castellano, Natasha Braginsky and Gustavo Vinacua

3.Build trust

“Fundraising or obtaining financing is based on relationships,” says Vinacua. “Trust” is one of his favorite words, as well as the origin of his startup’s name, Trust·u. Before “cold calling” companies, he recommends getting to know the people you want to speak to and approaching them in the appropriate manner.

4.Learn, learn and learn

This is the most important piece of advice Gustavo Vinacua and Paloma Castellano, Director of Wayra Madrid (Telefónica), gave to the large corporations trying to improve their relationships with startups. According to Castellano, “You learn from failure, although it takes failing many times to reach this conclusion.” Vinacua added that you have to “give before you can expect to receive. Learn from every project to find out what path to follow. And work on trust, transparency and expectations.”

5.Offer a personalized 'business case'

García, of Fluzo, feels that “presenting a personalized business case to the companies you want to work with is the best way to make things easier for them, for them to understand what you are offering and what you are looking for.” Not having one could cause you to waste two or three months.

Lastly, Emilio Martínez, Coordinator of Corporate Entrepreneurship and Open Innovation at Enagás, believes that apart from constantly monitoring what is taking place outside of companies, you also have to look for talent within them. “Some of the best experts in our sectors are our very own employees.”