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Building and managing a winning pipeline of startups

Sander van der Blonk (Netherlands)
Client Relations
May 8, 2021

The new game

Companies aim for a healthy mix of building internal capability and sourcing external expertise through, among others, early and later-stage startups.

Startups have a bottom-line impact. They can help solve today's problems in domains like IT, logistics, marketing, and HR. Startups are then seen as vendors in a traditional buyer/supplier paradigm. And startup search strategies are narrow, solution-oriented, and moment-based.

However, many -if not most enterprises face changes underway in their business models. And companies have to place multiple bets on different possible scenarios.

Startups then provide:

1: Access to ideas, tech, solutions, and business models you have not thought of or that would be too slow to grow organically.

2: The option to respond adequately out of doubt or fear whether the business will still be relevant in a while. Or jump on opportunities that present themselves unexpectedly.

And so, smart Transformation, R&D, and Innovation leaders also see startups as partners on an innovation journey - and not as merely vendors.

Using Startup Relationship Management software, they scan broadly and ongoingly and forge (non-equity-based) relationships with potentially fitting startups even if they are not needed immediately.

Significant advantages on both sides

In general, having a Startup Relationship Management (SRM) solution makes it much easier for companies to find, recruit and engage potentially fitting startups.

These advanced software tools provide an automated workflow for screening and internally channeling hundreds of startups without disturbing daily routines.

The crux is relationship intelligence. These tools come with logic to help you understand the potential strategic and bottom-line impact of startups in your network. And so companies can grow optionality and pre-empt competition.

Also, these tools mitigate the effects of company politics and turf wars and enable making up to 50% faster decisions.

Startups benefit from it as well.

Startups and businesses often suffer from a mismatch in goals, timings, and expectations resulting in much back-and-forth communication and hit-and-miss.

It's lost time and cost most startups cannot afford. But being part of a company's inner circle solves all this to a great extent. And it formalizes contact to the point of mutual trust and protected interests.

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Managing a pipeline of opportunities

SRM software integrates the various inbound and outbound search channels and approaches. And it structures and simplifies the qualification process.

Instead of maximizing the number of engagements as would be the goal in marketing funnels, companies generally only contract startups they can resource.

However, using SRM software, they can widen the funnel. And broaden the number of opportunities reviewed to maximize market intelligence and keep and nurture startups that would otherwise be overlooked.

Startup opportunity funnel stages

Be aware; there is no shortage of collaboration possibilities for the best startups. And let's not forget; relationships are an essential human activity. You don't build them through algorithms but by investing your most valuable resource: Your time.

To do this quickly at scale is one of the greatest benefits of SRM tools.

Any questions or comments? We would love to hear from you.

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