Do you intend to scout for startups?
I have a few tips.
Most enterprises have to make bold moves in the aftermath of Corvid-19. And to keep their choices fluid and their bets loose, they also want to collaborate and partner with startups.
It makes much sense.
But, how do you find and select the best partners among thousands of small players?
If you were to seek external help with searching startups, there is a lot to choose from. Think of: Tech crawlers, tech transfer marketplaces, innovation consultants, challenge listing sites, industry-specific search engines, curated directories, incubators and accelerators, professional networking tools, and (online) conferences.
Most notably, when thinking through scouting approaches, the difference between problem-oriented or vision-driven scouting aka active and passive scouting is often overlooked.
Let me clarify.
Even though all corporate-startup engagement formats and scouting mechanisms have their merits, it starts with the problem you are trying to fix.
There are several ways of approaching problems. Most often, we like to think in from A to B paths. We frame problems through things we see and know, and these are usually product-related. And then we search for a product or solution that does the job.
This might lead to tunnel vision - a sole focus on the own industry, product, customers, and capabilities.
Innovation today generally means running into unchartered territory, not exactly knowing what to look for. This especially is true now that businesses need to prepare for a post-pandemic future.
Refer to the below table for the main differences.
Why is this distinction vital?
Most enterprises at the moment are happy to survive between quarters. If they were to scout for startups, they would scout for tactical goals, off-the-shelf solutions, and calendar-driven projects.
However, the real need for enterprises is to re-imagine their business. It comes with a longer cycle of sensing opportunities and acting on it. The scouting task is not to drum up a list of startups but to configure strategic partnerships of companies that share the same vision, goals, and needs.
Strategic partnerships enable teams to lean into each other’s strengths.
To summarize, enterprises that realize that collaboration with startups has become a multimillion Euro business opportunity should build an organization strategy around it. Scouting then becomes an ongoing process. Active and passive scouting go hand-in-hand. And planned projects and unexpected opportunities get managed holistically.
Bear in mind that the startup landscape is in a period of both hyper-growth and hyper consolidation. The dust won’t settle for years. A skilled scouting service provider, therefore, is instrumental in helping you navigate the startup ecosystems.
Any thoughts? We'd love to hear from you.
Don't bet on doing just one pilot but build a pipeline of opportunities. Insights and a few tips.