Startup and corporate co-labs: How to team up right

BLOG: How to create a strong partnership between your startup and an established business company.

Fresh from our recent live session on the topic: A round of advice on what it takes to create the good partnership between entrepreneurs and corporates.

With advice from:

Louise Ferslev, CEO and Founder at MyMonii, currently working with Nets on their payment solution for kids and young adults.

Tony Bach Christensen, Strategic Partnerships at Nets, and instrumental in bringing in MyMonii.

Nicholas Meilstrup, CEO and Co-founder at Crediwire that collaborates with the Italian bank UniCredit.

Jakob Kistorp, Partner at Rainmaking Innovation and facilitator of startup-corporate co-labs across industries.

Setting up the collaboration


“Whatever you want to build with a corporate, identify their incentive to team up with you. And be realistic: Don’t think that you just walk in and become their most important project.”


“When Nets partners with a fintech startup, we have a few guiding principles from the beginning. We need a consistent go-to person on the startup’s management level, who can delegate us to the team members relevant to the challenge at hand. Also, we don’t do proof of concepts together just for the sake of it.”


“We started Crediwire’s partnership with UniCredit three years ago, initially getting to know them through an accelerator program. Within the first six months we ended up reporting directly to their executive level, which made everything easier.”


“The accelerator program has value as a platform for new partnerships. I see it as a space, where corporates and startups can begin the dialogue and find out whether it makes sense to do a pilot project afterwards. However, the shorter the program, the more mature the startup has to be for the matchmaking to succeed.”

On executing together


“In Mymonii it takes four people to make a strategic decision. Our partnership with Nets demands that we go through multiple points of contact. As an incoming entrepreneur you benefit from getting a full overview of the organisation you are working with.”


“Commercial validation is key for any real startup-corporate collaboration. Every big company works with startups, but it must be linked to the business units and the shared goal: How do we actually make money together? There needs to be a win-win. Speed is important too. A commercial pilot should be off the ground within less than three months.”


“As an entrepreneur I don’t want to become the corporate’s innovation project. I say it based on my previous contact with innovation departments. The problem is that they cannot grant you a buy-in from company operations. For Crediwire it has worked better to pursue customer-supplier relationships with corporates, where we provide them with a product they need. With Unicredit we help them give data-driven advice to their banking clients.”

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