The 9 step guide for startups to successfully cooperate with established companies

Cooperating with large companies - that's what most start-ups dream of. But what do founders have to consider in order to initiate a cooperation and how do they ensure that the project will be a success?


Established companies have what startups so desperately need in order to grow successfully: Reach, money and experience. So the goal of many startups is to successfully collaborate with them.But what do startups have to consider before a collaboration and how do they ensure that it is successful? We asked one who should know: Christoph Hüning, Managing Partner of NMA. The expert provides you with helpful tips for your all-around successful cooperation with large, established companies.

Get ready – Before cooperation:


1. Check if you are already at the stage where cooperation is possible and useful:

Orientate yourself where you stand in the startup phase. Only after you have identified a problem in the industry, developed a solution and a product and founded your company is the time to think about collaborations.

2. Choose the right company

In smaller companies a cooperation is more likely to originate faster, especially if the contact persons are willing to support your idea and have the right mindset and openness for new ideas.

3. Prepare emotionally

Always orientate yourself on the company and the manners prevailing there and be informed about cultural differences before an international cooperation.Think about startups and their flat hierarchies for example. Decisions can be made quickly and signatures are not a high bureaucratic effort. In large companies, things are quite different and most employees have to follow strict guidelines.

4. Establish contact with the company

Go networking or get a recommendation. Programs like the NMA and its easy testing approach provide access to companies and help to overcome this obstacle.

Get started and don’t stop running – During cooperation


5. Prove your skills and expertise

Industry knowledge and solutions for existing problems show that you can make a real contribution to improvement.

6. Stick to the rules

With the collaboration your startup arrived in the regular business world and its rules. You have to play by the rules of the service sector and must deliver to your customers what you have offered.

7. Be open and able to take criticism

A willingness to learn and improve with each other is an important part of a successful collaboration. Steve Jobs, for example, is said to have been a master at using criticism constructively to further develop Apple products and make them successful: When he first introduced the iPod, critics said it was too big, Apple soon came out with the iPod Nano. Later when more critics said that the Nano was still too long, Jobs introduced the Shuffle.

After cooperation – Don’t break up


8. Invest in a sales person

The step from a one-time cooperation to a long-term collaboration is difficult – for such tasks a sales person is the right expert.

9. Keep close to the company and your contacts there

Be persistent to ensure that the companies won’t lose interest or turn to a competing startup. You can also keep them up to date with a newsletter and get back in contact when you can deliver a new product.

More collaboration knowhow:

Knowing how important collaboration with businesses is for startups, at NMA we pave the way for our teams to collaborate with established business players: With our easy testing approach, startups learn to navigate the business world and communicate and successfully implement mutual expectations. The goal after this approach is the ability of the startups to stand on their own and make the collaboration happen.You can learn more about our easy testing approach in our Easy Testing Whitepaper that we created in cooperation with FACEBOOK Germany.