What to consider when pitching to a corporate partner

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A look at the benefits for startups looking to partner with a strategic or a corporate investor, and what to consider when creating your pitch.

Before you start working on your proposition to a corporate partner, first ask yourself why you want to partner with them. There are a few general benefits. Ideally, the corporate partner will collaborate closely and bring all of their capabilities to the table. They might, for instance, have a huge customer base, a significant sales channel or a technological offering that will help underpin your proposition.

Another benefit is patient capital. This means the corporate partner can be more flexible about the size of investment and maturity of the startups it partners with. Corporate partners often don't have defined investment limits, and therefore can partner with early stage or later stage startups. Patient capital means that, as a startup evolves, its capital needs can be met as they evolve too.

Incentivising a corporate to become a preferred partner of a startup can be a transformational move, and one that ultimately adds significant value as it grows.

Find the use case

When approaching a corporate partner for investment, the key is to identify exactly how it could use your product to help its customers. You've always got to ask yourself, what is the use case going to be? Just as importantly, who is the right stakeholder to target within the organisation? That is often half the battle - targeting where to land your product.

Ensure the corporate partner has the budget and resource

If you are trying to get your product or service sold into a corporate partner, you've got to take into account how long the sales cycle can be. For enterprise solutions, that's a notoriously lengthy process. Don’t underestimate the gap between establishing relationships, ensuring a corporate partner has the budget and the resource to get behind the proposition, and the time and requirements to actually raise the money.

4 quick tips on pitching

  1. Have a clear proposition
    Don’t try and conquer the world. Have a focused proposition that people can understand and digest, that looks achievable in the first instance.
  2. Have a realistic go-to-market strategy
    This is fundamental. You need a viable plan for delivering your value proposition to customers, a clear idea of how to get to customers and how expensive that's going to be.
  3. Know your market size
    What proportion of the whole market are you targeting? Is it a large piece of the pie or a small one? How realistic is it to actually go after that segment? Being clear about your answers to these questions is central to a good pitch.
  4. Be prepared to defend the numbers
    Having a good grasp of how your pricing will be achieved is important. Often pitches don’t stack up when corporates work through the numbers and begin to pull out the various costs of partnering with that startup. That can impair viability.

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