For startups who are thinking about engaging with Indian enterprises for partnerships through accelerators / innovation programs.
- Accelerators are “bridges” to where you need to get to in a large enterprise.
- You get the first hand feel of how large enterprises do business, how they innovate, build new products, scale up new businesses and create shareholder value. There is invaluable learning when you’re at an early stage.
- You get access to the right people — who are decision makers and key influencers. The corporate accelerators and innovation programs can provide you with the jumpstart to a relationship with large enterprises.
- You get to scan all possible opportunities across the enterprise in a short span of time. Think of this as compressing 18–24 months of discovery into a short span of few weeks.
- A prediction for 2021: >50% of all B2B / B2B2C startups will one way or another engage large enterprises through accelerators and innovation programs.
2. The best time to apply to a program is when you have sufficient cash in the bank.
- Don’t apply when you have just 3 months of runway left. Apply when you don’t need funding urgently. This way you won’t be tactical in your approach and can get large wins at great prices. Remember, value realisation from large enterprises is a 12–18 months journey.
3. Don’t do an investor pitch, do a customer pitch
- Startups make the mistake of sharing their investor decks with customer-audience in large enterprises. Who has invested, at what valuation, how much are you looking at raising and what your cap table looks like doesn’t matter to customers.
- All customers want to know is how you will solve their problem and whether you’re best suited for the job to be done.
- Having said that, you should have a dialled down version of your investor details with just enough information for the customer to get confidence about your sustainability.
4. The five 100x mantras to get customers excited about your pitch:
I. Improving their top-line by 100x
II. Reducing their cost by 100x
III. Increasing their market share by 100x
IV. Accelerating launch of new products by 100x
V. Delighting existing customers by 100x
- Once you have a 100x mindset, you have to convert it into action and value realisation for the customer. Don’t be the startup that pitches heavy and delivers light.
5. The Art of the Follow Up in the post-COVID world
- Once you’re in a program, you have the next challenge, which is to get results. In India, if you don’t follow up, you won’t achieve your goals.
- That’s where follow up becomes important. The “Art of Follow up” has 5 basic principles:
I. Emails are for follow ups on meetings / calls. They aren’t meant for requesting decisions or resolving disputes. As people stare more at their screens, their attention spans will get shorter and so should your emails.
II. WhatsApp to be used only for confirming meetings and product / company updates (images and videos get instant engagement).
III. Phone / Video calls are for getting decisions and resolving disputes in a post-transaction situation. They can be as long as needed.
IV. Share updates regularly on things other than the transaction or discussion at hand. For e.g. “This week we closed a pilot with a major customer…..”
V. Use your accelerator contacts judiciously to follow through on conversations and transactions.
Thanks to George Paul, Subhashree Panda, Anirudh Khusape, Divya Khater, and Siddharth Dani for reviewing the draft.