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It’s the ultimate dream for many startups to bag a big company, whether as a client, a partner, or even in an acquisition. There have been a few impressive examples of businesses that have been able to do this. One of those is robotics startup Sphero, which partnered with Disney to create the BB-8 droid. If you’ve seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens, you’ll remember this delightful creation of theirs. While not every startup will have the unique opportunity of getting into Disney’s accelerator programme, there are steps you can take to better position yourself as material for the big shots.
Do only one thing and do it well
Before Fanbyte bagged names like YouGov, Warner and Universal, they hadn’t done so well in a pitch, but it was that failure that gave them the ingredient needed to achieve their later success. The lesson: understand your core competency. No big company is going to be impressed by a smaller company offering them heaven and earth because they get that all the time. Instead, figure out only one single thing you do extremely well that can benefit them. It’s not easy to do, but this makes it easier for the big company to see where you fit in their ecosystem and how you can add value to them.
Don’t try to appear bigger than you are
Big companies are already big, so there’s not a chance they’ll be impressed by ‘big’. As much as you want to be taken seriously, there’s absolutely no need to try to change who you are. If you want to be taken seriously, pay attention to important considerations such as working with a good lawyer and having reliable business insurance in place. Contrary to what you might think, a big brand might want the breath of fresh air that accompanies working with a startup that delivers on budget and on time.
Remember it’s about them, not you
It can be tempting to want to share your backstory and all the aspects of your business which you love and how you’re trying to solve a problem that’s close to your heart, but that won’t help you. They aren’t interested in how you left your job to start a business, they want to know how what you have to offer will be of use to them. Start with their own business challenges and empathise with them. Be specific about how much time you can help them save or how much money you can help them make.
Don’t try to paint a pretty picture when you know that it’s ugly as doing so will only come back to hurt you. Let them know you’re aware of the pitfalls and be clear about what you can do or cannot do to help in such situations. As much as getting that deal is important, damaging your reputation in the process won’t do you any good.