With the Indian government acknowledging the huge potential of the flourishing Indian startup sector and corporates waking up to their unique capabilities, the startup ecosystem is moving towards the adequate support required to foster growth of startups, as we have witnessed in other successful early stage venture markets.
Even with the slow-down in investments from the conventional quarters, many new avenues are opening up for startups to fasttrack into the next level. Various industry, government, and international platforms are now available for Indian startups to support their growth, scale up rapidly, attract VC funding in the shortest possible time, and achieve higher valuations through collaborations and partnerships.
Greg Petroff, GE’s Digital’s top honcho, stresses that collaboration is vital to success and developing capabilities in the modern business environment through partnerships in specific skills, services, or technology without going into mergers or acquisitions. Startups can leverage these collaborations and partnerships to achieve their targets in the shortest possible time and foray into newer markets.
Here are some simple ways in which a startup can leverage collaborations with others to fasttrack towards success.
1. Engage with industry bodies to gain access to VCs, angels, infrastructure, etc.
Engaging with organised government initiatives and industry associations opens a lot of doors for future collaborations and partnerships. These industry forums are good platforms for networking, and increasing visibility in front of investors/accelerators, find customers, and know about new technologies and trends. Institutions like NASSCOM, FICCI, etc., also help startups to connect with the bureaucracy like the Secretary of IT and other government agencies which can help them gain first hand information on the various policies, exemptions, and specific tax benefits made available by the government.
They also provide a platform to network with established entities like Google and Microsoft, domain experts, mentors, validated products and functions, series A investors, etc., for future support or collaborations. With the limited resources start ups have at their disposal it is very difficult for them to get noticed so it is imperative for them to move in the right circles.
2. Forge alliances with corporates to open up a whole new customer base and market at minimal cost
Startups can leverage their innovative edge to lure corporates into collaborating with them to gain a wider audience for their services and products. What corporates lack, startups have in plenty — new and creative approaches — but they lack technical and business expertise, data, and direct market access, which are critical factors to scale up operations.
Forging partnerships as a barter system with stronger partners can optimise a startup’s skills with minimum resources. Large corporates are now directly engaging with startups to form alliances. Biggies like Tech Mahindra often invite the best of the startups to present their innovations and new ways of business uses, and in return, support them with technology development and marketing.
Amazon, in turn, has set up a global interactive platform for startups in India. Called the Amazon Launchpad, startups can gain access to Amazon’s customer base and network for an affordable fee. In the fintech sector, even banks are also open to collaborations with startups to boost their technology and service potential. Standard Chartered Bank and quite a few others have been engaging with startups for data analytics.
3. Collaborate with other startups to cross-promote products
Indian startups should lean on each other to cross promote complimentary products in the same marketplace and pool their resources. For example, a travel portal can collaborate with other startups offering online forex, etc., since it will also offer its customers the convenience of availing other travel-related products from a single window. Such collaborations generate a lot of excitement and interest on the social media platform and are great marketing tools, benefitting all concerned.
4. Leverage popular bloggers/influencers on social media for more effective and cost effective marketing online
Startups should collaborate with prominent bloggers and influencers online for better marketing effectivenes at a fraction of the cost that print and visual ads may cost. Blogging is an effective tool to share information about the company, videos, audios and slides to entertain, teach and associate people with the startup’s area of expertise etc. Involving users with interactive content which is not direct marketing will have better results than huge ad spends.
Startups should focus the most on innovation as this will be the key to opening up new doors in the industry. Their expertise is what will serve as the magnet to attract partnerships, collaborations and invitations from industry leaders and others and fastrack their way to success.
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