Big Arse Companies: Why They Buy from Startups - The Real Stories

Big Arse Companies: Why They Buy from Startups - The Real Stories

In this panel, Jonathan Lehr, Managing Director at Work-Bench; Tom Carroll, EVP at RR Donnelley; Joyce Shen, Director of Emerging Technology at Thomson Reuters; and Scarlett Sieber, SVP, Open Innovation at BBVA talk about how big corporations decide to work with startups, and why.

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In a nutshell:

  • Know your value proposition in and out - where you fit into your customer’s stack, how you’re differentiated and so on.
  • Tailor that pitch to your customer. The best way to get noticed by a big company is to do your homework.
  • Be transparent and offer the same information that you give your investors.
Getting in touch with big companies

Take the time to get to know your audience - is LinkedIn or Twitter the best way to reach out? And be sure to identify key decision-makers. It’s okay (and sometimes encouraged) to ask for the right people to be in a meeting. If you know in advance that you need the head of IT security, ask for him by name - it’s proof you’ve done your research and don’t want to waste anyone’s time.

Shen suggests disclosing your partnerships and sharing your milestones upfront to gain trust and credibility. Sieber adds that you may want to send corporate partners the same monthly emails that you send your VCs. As New Relic CEO Lew Cirne mentioned yesterday, landing big clients isn’t just about having a good product. It’s demonstrating that you’ll be a good partner for years to come.

Making your pitch

Carroll says the key to talking to big companies is doing your homework. Be specific about what you’re offering, Shen adds - how does your product fit into their stack, and what differentiates you from your competitors? Be as tailored as possible.

“Don’t just say ‘big data.’ Tell me where you fit in the value chain.” - Shen
Always think about the value you’re bringing to the company. If someone’s going to stick her neck out for you and be an advocate for your product, she should know exactly why. Finally, be geniune, says Sieber. The psychology of honesty can have a huge impact.

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