Enterprises must work with smaller and more innovative companies. This might be the only way for them to innovate, and stay competitive.
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Generally, it is quite easy for a startup and an enterprise to start a collaboration. This is mostly because small tech companies are usually flexible, and try to accommodate all kinds of requests to wheel in a new important brand in their customers’ list.
What is much more complicated, is to scale the first project, the so-called, Pilot. How can you maximize the chances of building a successful first pilot project that could eventually evolve into a long term collaboration, consequently benefitting the entire organization?
Here are three suggestions:
Number one: make it simple. The most common mistake that corporates and scaleups make is to add too much stuff to their first project. The pilot phase should be seen as the gym, where both parties train together for a long marathon. It is crucial to validate the unique value that the scaleup can bring to the corporate. Both parties should focus on the essential value of the collaboration while leaving all customizations aside. Keeping the scope limited to one business unit or vertical, it’s also helpful. It is very difficult to run a pilot with more business groups and make it successful, due to the different requirements of the stakeholders. It’s much better to start with just one business group because there would be more chances to make it successful, and this would naturally attract other stakeholders that would also use your service after the pilot is finished.
Number two: make it long. Even if the product or service that is used during the pilot is simple, the enterprise needs to learn how to make it fit in their business processes, which requires longer than what you would expect. Usually, the new capabilities brought by the software produced by a scaleup, need to be understood and mastered by the corporates. Once this is done, someone in the company has to imagine how to distribute the knowledge internally. This requires a lot of time and guidance. If the pilot phase is too short, you won’t be able to scale the pilot when it ends. So, take enough time.
Number three: make it important. It’s always good to start a pilot involving the real users of the solution. This implies that in most cases, you would have a bottom-up approach. At the same time, since the early days, it’s also important to find a sponsor that is higher up in the organization. This person may not be needed during the pilot phase, where the goal is mostly to build consensus amongst the users, but becomes relevant as soon as the pilot is successful and needs to be converted into a contract, with a bigger scope and budget.
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