Love it or hate it, HBO's hit TV series "Silicon Valley" takes its absurd and frantic storylines straight from the belly of California's hi-tech beast.
But are there any pearls of wisdom that corporates can actually take away from this comedy that parodies the high stakes drama, eccentric personalities, and big money of the tech world?
Indeed there are. In fact, the show offers many lessons on what NOT to do as a corporate partner that wants to connect with startups. But beware, spoiler alerts ahead!
1) Focus on collaboration
Richard, founder of startup Pied Piper, wants to work on creating the Pied Piper platform, but the new CEO wants to make money ASAP and forces the team to instead create a “box" that offers a security solution.
A startup may have the technology to provide you with what you want, but they'll also have valuable opinions on the direction for their service or product. Focus on collaboration and shared insights to drive the project forward, rather than entering into the partnership with an unshakeable idea.
2) Don't promise what you can't provide
The CEO of the “Homicide" energy drink company agrees to offer Pied Piper advertising in exchange for the use of their video streaming platform for a company sponsored event. But Richard catches a glimpse of the final version of Homicide's viewing window, which features only Homicide's logo, and the Pied Piper name or logo is nowhere to be seen. Homicide's CEO says he'll see how the streaming platform works this time around, and maybe next time, they can talk about featuring the logo.
When you're ready to pair up with a startup, make sure both sides are in total agreement, and the contract allows everyone to get what they want. Last minute changes can jeopardize the deal—and risk your reputation. An unsuccessful collaboration with one startup may lead to difficulties in cooperating with other startups in the future.
3) Get to know your potential partner
The UFC partners up with Hooli (a search engine company) to use their new platform (Nucleus) for the live streaming of a big fight. But the platform isn't completely ready, and the streaming slows and actually crashes at the height of the fight, causing Hooli huge embarrassment.
When you are searching for the right startup to work with, consider what you want—and what they can and cannot offer. Like in any relationship, this will make the matchmaking process a lot more effective. Because there's never any time to waste, be upfront about your values and objectives as a company. Any transparency will be highly appreciated—and the gesture will go a long way.
4) Don't interrupt the workflow
After accepting funding from an egocentric billionaire, the Pied Piper team finds their usual workday routine and strategizing session interrupted by his irrelevant commentary, loud phone conversations and a random beer-drinking, video game-playing friend who arrives and also hangs out in the team's meeting space.
Each startup has a unique way of working. After partnering up, consider the best way to meld approaches and working styles. Consider using Slack, Jira or whatever tools the startup already has in place for communication and workflow. You might also offer to join in any of the startup's regularly scheduled meetings that are relevant to your collaboration.
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