Every corporation knows that it should be investing in innovation and working with startups, but many have difficulty seeing just how and why startup collaboration works.
But for every business goal — opening up markets, driving product innovation, expanding markets, building loyalty, and enhancing customer satisfaction — there's a great example of a corporate/startup partnership that's made it happen.
Using new innovations to open markets
Spanish broadband and telecoms provider Telefónica has been around since 1924 and now operates in Europe, Asia, and across the Americas. As a major multinational, the firm runs accelerators, investment programs, and other startup initiatives under the umbrella Open Future, a subsidiary responsible for all its innovation.
Just one example of how these programs have helped Telefónica is the firm's partnership with Social&Beyond. This startup has technology that allows retailers to provide free WiFi to customers in exchange for feedback. By including this social media tool in its new broadband deals, Telefonica was able to encourage its existing retail customers to upgrade their contracts and attract new customers.
New product development
At Mobile World Congress last year, global alcoholic beverage firm Diageo unveiled its connected Smart Bottle, which uses thin, electronic sensors to tell whether and where the bottle has been opened.
Developed through its Diageo Technology Ventures initiative with startup Thinfilm, the technology can also send information to customers who scan the bottle with their smartphone. So in store, the bottle can be beaming out promotional offers, but once the bottle senses it's been opened at home, it can start sending cocktail recipes. The innovation was possible using Thinfilm's OpenSense NFC technology, which Diageo saw as a way to make their bottles smart.
“Our collaboration with Thinfilm allows us to explore all the amazing new possibilities enabled by smart-bottles for consumers, retailers and our own business," Helen Michels, Futures Team at Diageo said.
Expanding into new territories
Multinational consumer goods firm Unilever also has its own innovation division, the Unilever Foundry, which is a global platform for collaborating with startups. The Foundry has many success stories and one is Chef Wendy, the humanlike algorithm developed with AI startup Digital Genius that helps sell Knorr food products in Africa.
When Unilever's largest food brand was expanding across the continent, it wanted a way to engage with new customers, and in Africa text messaging dominates communications. Chef Wendy, an algorithm-based technology, sends out recipe recommendations to customers that text in their available ingredients. This not only develops great customer experiences in new markets, but also helps Knorr to build a database of millions of customer preferences.
Building brand loyalty
Dutch airline KLM works with startups through initiatives like the Dutch Open Hackathon and Corporate Launchpad Meetup, but it's also an investor in new innovations. KLM has injected capital in cabin crew startup MI Airline twice, which has developed AirFi. The startup's portable, low-cost WiFi box can be used on planes, but is not connected to the aircraft. AirFi allows airlines to get up and running with an onboard system in a couple of days instead of needing to retrofit a WiFi system into a fleet, triggering all the paperwork and safety inspections inherent in altering aircraft. KLM is using the solution on Transavia, and has also trialled AirFi on the ground at Dubai airport as a way of letting customers check in through a dedicated local network. Onboard WiFi and online check-in are fast becoming customer expectations for travelers, and being able to provide them quickly and efficiently helps KLM stand out in its market.
Enhancing customer satisfaction
Advisory firm KPMG is a frequent mentor and collaborator with startups and has offices in co-working spaces to stay close to the startup environment. This involvement in the ecosystem has helped KPMG build collaborations like its exclusive partnership with Matchi.
Matchi evaluates fintech innovations and collects them on a platform to match financial services institutions with potential products. KPMG now offers Matchi to its financial services clients globally and then advise them on how to execute and deploy these new solutions in their marketplace.
"The Matchi Alliance will help enable greater speed and value in deploying new fintech solutions to address critical needs and opportunities," said Warren Mead, Global Fintech Co-lead with KPMG International, when announcing the partnership.
These are just a few examples of how corporates have leveraged collaboration with startups to speed up innovation and gain first-mover advantage in their markets. Our RocketSpace team can help provide you with more examples and use cases, and can get you started on your own collaborative path.
If you enjoyed this post you may also like our post on Are You Read to Engage with a Startup.
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