From 2011 to 2016, the number of global active corporate investors has tripled to 965. Today, 75 of the Fortune 100 are active in corporate venturing, and 41 have a dedicated CVC team. But from a startup founder perspective, these are just two ways to leverage large corporate industry heavyweights.
So, here are the 7 ways you can work with Fortune 500 companies without any Venture Capital funding:
It is where resources such as co-working space and access to materials and knowledge are facilitated by the corporation partner, but no financial investment is made. An example is IBM’s Innovation Space in Toronto, Canada.
It is incubation plus investment. The corporate partner often takes an equity stance, directly or indirectly, as in Barclays’ Techstars program.
These are short design sprints, often held over a weekend, where unaffiliated entrepreneurs, designers, and programmers focus on innovating around a certain goal or within a specific domain. PennApps at the University of Pennsylvania is a hackathon that focuses on college students.
These are an opportunity for startups to leverage the existing customer base of large corporate giants. Apple set the standard when it launched its App Store for the iPhone. Now independent developers have a channel to millions of iOS users. This strategy builds adjacent value for Apple, while also driving down the cost of customer acquisition for the developers.
Channels can turn corporate partners into value-added resellers. This has been key to health care entrepreneur Les Hansen’s success at Benetech. In the last 12 months, he has added more than 45 percent to his top line by onboarding some of his biggest customers to date.
Not all the R&D developed inside Fortune 500 corporate labs can be monetized directly by the corporation. Sometimes the innovation is too far from the core competency of the Goliath, or the corporation doesn’t see a large enough market. When this happens, an opportunity is born. Sometimes internal employees take the opportunity to market independently; other times corporations auction off their intellectual property.
7. Halo customers
If you can’t get corporations to fund you or to accelerate you, you can always sell to them. Nothinginstilss confidence in your product more than having sales with notorious powerful customers like the U.S. Army, IBM, and Google; this gives confidence to other yearly adopters, potential investors, and stakeholders. All that is in addition to the positive impact on future acquisition price.