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When enterprises collaborate effectively with startups, great things can happen

Source | | Thomas Otter

  • When enterprises collaborate effectively with startups, great things can happen.
  • All the great enterprise software companies built their products through learning from great customers.
  • While a nine-month sales cycle may make sense when you are spending tens of million dollars a year, it is simply wasteful when you are spending 150,000 a year with an HR tech startup.

Enterprise buyers. Some Advice. Since starting my advisory business, I’ve spent a lot of time advising and coaching HR tech startups.

It is a lot of fun, and often I get to learn from them as much as they get to learn from me. I bring my experience of scaling products, and of how corporates buy and use HR technology.

I get to see how fresh minds address old and new challenges. For startups and scaleups, working with large corporates can be very challenging, and helping them navigate the pitfalls and challenges of the large corporates is an important part of my work.  

I’ve seen how some large corporates work well with startups, and I have seen others that don’t. 

I’d like to use this column to give some examples of how corporates stifle startup success. Some of these behaviors are easily avoidable, some require a good look in the mirror. 

Here are 10 things you need to stop doing right now.

  1. Treating HR tech startups like you treat large vendors

Large vendors can cope with long sales cycles and multiple buying centers. Experienced account managers structure account plans and they have armies of lawyers to argue with your lawyers. They typically understand how to navigate your procurement processes and your politics.  

The political dance between you and the large vendors is complex, and sales cycles often last nine months or more.  While nine-month sales cycle may make sense when you are spending tens of million euros a year, that level of introspection and bureaucracy is simply wasteful when you are spending say 150,000 a year with a startup.

2. Bringing your data protection officer into the project late

I recently spoke with a startup who had been working with a corporate for over nine months on a deal for 200,000 per annum.

At the last minute, the corporate data protection officer heard about the project and put it on hold. As the solution processes personal data, it was right that he was involved.

The solution actually met the Datenschutz requirements, but it took the corporate another four months to sign the deal. If the corporate had involved the Datenschutz officer earlier in the process, there would have been no delay.  

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