Between start-up and large group, the ingredients of a successful collaboration, The community

Convincing a large group is the Holy Grail for any young company, with the promise of a big contract in sight. But then they often do it very badly. “The classic mistake of start-ups is to sell a product they are proud of,” emphasize Anne-Sophie Gervais and Noé Gersanois, co-directors of RaiseSherpas. These two startup support experts recommend identifying a major account issue and finding a solution.

Choosing the wrong interlocutor is the second misstep. “Start-ups want to move very quickly, but poor segmentation can waste precious time,” explains Fabrice Marsella, director of Village by CA. Before contacting a large group, he therefore recommends “deciphering its way of working, its internal decision-making process and its temporality in order to meet the right people”.

Social media tracking, particularly LinkedIn, is a prerequisite for quickly scanning a group’s internal organization.

Establish a relationship of equals

Once the right person(s) is identified, whether in innovation, purchasing or even an operational department, it will be easier to convince them and make them allies. Because interpersonal relationships are essential for a successful partnership. “The start-up is playing for life while for the large group it is a commitment like any other on their agenda”, warns Fabrice Marsella. According to him, the watchwords are trust and transparency. And it starts with humility. “The start-up must clearly express what it is capable of and must not exaggerate its capabilities. »

Like Tom Thumb facing off against a giant, we’ll have to reassure. Daniel Monjaraz is co-founder of Green Phoenix, a start-up that recovers bio-waste. He collaborates with two large companies on the Lower Rhine: Lingenheld Environnement and Electricité de Strasbourg. “Faced with companies of this size, you have to be prepared and respect your commitments. And above all, show a lot of seriousness. Because, as we are start-ups, we have no room for error. »

But strong in their position, the large group may tend to set the bar a little high, demand a very high level of commitment, present contracts in their favor and, often, not pay prototypes. In this case, a start-up should not hesitate to negotiate, or even say no, to terms that do not suit it, namely “if it turns out that the big account only wants to do exploratory work, which will waste time and will not lead to no value creation,” says Gwen Salley, Head of Partnerships and Large Group Relations at Station F.

So forget about free proofs of concept! Or the exclusivity contracts that prevent the start-up from attracting other potential customers. Despite the difference in size, Noé Gersanois from RaiseSherpas advises concluding “a pre-contract so that the start-up finds itself in a more comfortable situation, almost in a relationship of equals”.

Measure financial performance

Starting from concrete and solid foundations is a guarantee of success. The initial agreement must mention the contributions of each one, obliging the major accounts to define the financial and human resources made available for the project. For the start-up, it is a guarantee of visibility, as highlighted by Julie Davico-Pahin, co-founder of Ombrea. This start-up develops crop protection panels, controlled according to shade needs and equipped with photovoltaic cells. Ombrea entered into a partnership with Total Energies. “It was very ambitious, we were ten years old at the beginning of the partnership and soon we will be fifty. Next to it, Total provided us with a team of thirty people. »

For the start-up, the trade-off is performance measurement and defining the keys to success. “You also need to frame financial performance management from the start so that both parties are on the same wavelength,” specifies Anne-Sophie Gervais of RaiseSherpas. If collaboration with a large group accelerates development, it is also accompanied by the implementation of new processes.

Carole Autechaud is the founder of Akanema, a start-up specializing in human resources. She has collaborated for over a year with the insurance group Apicil. “We redefined the offerings and planned a five-year commercial strategy as well as an R&D financing plan,” she explains. This dynamic has already made it possible to hire four people.

Leave a Comment