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By Chris Heivly, Entrepreneur in Residence at Techstars

Great startup communities have meaningful connections from every actor in the ecosystem. Corporations are one of those critical actors. Why? It’s actually simpler than you think. There is something in it for everyone. The perfect win-win.

For an effective win-win, you must have two motivated parties each of whom get obvious value from the connection.

The problem with the corporation–startup community connection, or lack thereof, is that the value for each actor is many times not obvious.

I liken this relationship to the idea of two old college roommates who haven’t spoken for 10 years. We like each other but we have no idea what is going on in each other’s lives. In the void of information, I just don’t care as much.

But once we reconnect, our motivation to support each other seems to accelerate and all of those little nuggets of each other’s lives feel important again.

For mid to large size corporations, the two most common challenges to maintaining or growing their business are:

  1. Staying innovative, and
  2. Talent recruitment.

For startups, the challenges are simple:

  1. Stay alive,
  2. Introduce and validate their product idea, and
  3. Find real customers.

Unless you are Apple, Amazon, or Google (and a few others), corporations struggle to say current. Every corporation I am engaged with has doubts as to how innovative they are and have some level of fear that a new company will come along and take their customers. In addition, finding and recruiting new talent to address their innovation needs is next to impossible.

But they have customers, deep industry and product knowledge, and money.

Unless you are one of the very few startups that have raised more than enough capital to meet your long-term needs, you wake up every single day worried about whether you can find a customer to use your product.

Can you see the basis for a healthy relationship? There are so many win-win connect points and opportunities if each actor just tries a little harder.

I will go out on a limb and say to my corporate friends that the onus falls a little more on you than the startup. You are the pretty girl/boy at the high school dance. Can you make it a little easier for us dorky startups over on the wall?

How do you do this? It’s really quite simple. Show up. Every reasonably-sized startup community has formal and informal networking events. Show up. Share who you are and what you care about. The rest will quickly take care of itself.

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Looking for another way to connect? Both corporations and startups benefit from Techstars corporate partner accelerators:

  • Corporations, learn how Techstars can connect you with the most promising startups to future-proof your business;
  • Startups, apply now to Techstars mentorship-driven accelerator programs.

 


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