The 4 Stages of the Corporate Innovation Relationship:

Corporate Innovation Relationships

Imagine online dating without an app. 

You turn to your trusted search engine and enter some terms to describe your soulmate. The results are…questionable. 

You’ve got an ad for Five Guys (who knows why), some amazon results for romance novels, and one Cosmo listicle that looks like it should be rated X. Even after you’ve applied filters, the results are mostly articles about the topic at hand (“top 10 cities to be single!”) rather than solutions to the problem you’re trying to solve (i.e. your singleness). 

If you have a particular person in mind, maybe you post to Craigslist’s – only to have your inbox flooded with love letters from total strangers who don’t fit the bill and clearly didn’t bother to read past “in search of”…

Disheartened, you ignore the messages and go back to hoping that by some miracle, you’ll find the magic words to separate the wheat from the chaff and meet your soulmate.

Stage 1: Welcome to the Dating Game

This is the world of corporate innovation as it stands today. It’s a blind dating game riddled with miscommunications and missed connections.

Startups publish sleek websites or dissertation length case studies in the hopes that an innovation strategist might stumble across them one day. Meanwhile, innovation teams scour the internet using vague search terms to find startups whose high tech solutions may or may not be the answer to their prayers. Only after months of repetitive education meetings can enterprises really determine whether the startup is a good fit. 

You see the problem here right? 

It’s hard enough to sift through gigabytes of data to find the digital transformation trends worth pursuing. In fact, innovation teams wind up spending 70% of their time on scouting. But reliable information on startups is even harder to come by. That’s why only ⅓ of these startup conversations lead to actual POC projects. 

That’s not a great ROI. 

Well, what if startups didn’t have to spend so much precious time and money on SEO to get discovered?

And what if innovation teams didn’t have to sift through gigabytes of data to find verifiable facts on a promising startup partner? 

Enter entrapeer: the Tinder for startups 

Dating apps work so well because, in order to create a profile, you need to answer the questions most people expect answers to. On top of all that, you get to apply filters and set preferences so that, once your profile is complete, you start getting qualified matches in minutes. 

Entrapeer does all this and more for enterprises seeking to find their startup soulmate. 

We interviewed C-suite executives and innovation experts around the world to design an evidence template that gives you all the information you need in order to determine whether a startup is the right fit for your needs. 

If you’re not sure what sort of startup you’re looking for, you can browse our trend reports or read up on what other industry leading corporations are doing to get inspired. Then it’s as simple as scheduling an intro call with one click.

But what happens after you find “the one”? What happens after that first sales call lights a spark worth pursuing?

Stage 2: The Honeymoon Period

Well, the early stages of a corporate innovation courtship are delicate.

Enterprises and startups alike need to suss each other out. They need to gauge whether they’ve really found the right match. But if the first date (aka sales call) goes well, it’s all too easy to get swept up in the excitement.

Both parties see each other through rose-tinted glasses in this phase that we call the “honeymoon period.”

Your imagination races to envision how the project will play out, what business possibilities this partnership could unlock for your enterprise, when you’ll move in together…but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. 

Beware the honeymoon honey trap.

If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
The danger of the honeymoon period is that you might overlook your partner’s (in retrospect) obvious flaws in favor of all those feel good hormones buzzing around in your brain. Overcome with excitement at having found “the one,” you might forget to ask the deal breaker questions.

Questions like: 

  • Can this startup really deliver on their promise? 
  • Will their tech even be compatible with our enterprise systems? 
  • How long should this project take to execute? 
  • And how soon can I see some ROI?

That’s why it’s so important to take a step back and assess the facts.

Entrapeer lets you lay the ground rules.

Rather than wasting time on ill-suited partners that lead nowhere, entrapeer lets you set the parameters for your ideal startup partnership.

Startups add “requirements for proof of concept” to their profiles, so that enterprises know right out the gate which conditions they have to meet in order to collaborate. Meanwhile, enterprises search by use case and set filters to ensure that the startups they’re researching fall within requisite parameters. For example, maybe that startup has to use specific tech, optimize for the cloud, or offer on-site installment in order for your collaboration to really work.

Entrapeer does the due diligence of ensuring that you’re a compatible match before the sales calls even begin. On the other hand, if you don’t have entrapeer on your side, the feel good hormones wear off and reality inevitably hits. Hard.

That’s when the corporate innovation relationship enters…

Stage 3: Doubt & Denial

Once the rose-tinted glasses are off, you start to realize that your “perfect partner” isn’t so perfect after all. 

At this stage, their quirks might start to drive you crazy. Their endearing qualities can grate on you. Maybe their idealism seems irresponsible, or their adventurous spirit feels like an unnecessary risk.

These irksome flaws become all the more apparent when it’s time to meet “the family.” Or in this case, the rest of your enterprise’s innovation stakeholders.

Sunk costs aren’t a solid relationship foundation.

Even if a startup seems like the innovation partner of your dreams, seeds of doubt begin to germinate as more and more people are looped in.

With each education meeting, you introduce a new team. First it was innovation, then procurement, then IT…and with each round you reveal new chips in the startup’s armor. Both parties find themselves stuck in a time loop – discussing the same features, benefits, and challenges again and again. Despite all this, you may press on because the remnants of your infatuation compel you to try and make things work. 

Startups and enterprises alike spend too long in this Doubt & Denial phase because humans can’t resist the sunk cost fallacy. We’re reluctant to abandon a relationship (or business strategy) that we’ve invested heavily in, even when it becomes glaringly obvious that it’s time to cut our losses and run. 

But when a startup’s lofty promises of their high tech solutions come crashing down to reality, the evidence is irrefutable. You realize that what you thought was a unicorn is actually a horse with a horn duct-taped to its forehead.

Just like that, those precious months of education meetings and sales conversations go down the drain. And you find yourself back at square one, looking for a new partner.

Lucky for you, you can bypass all this heartbreak with our evidence-based innovation platform.

No more smoke & mirrors. Only verified facts.

Entrapeer helps enterprises bypass the smoke and mirrors of traditional sales calls and start the conversation on a foundation of trust with third party verification.

You see, in our 5+ years working on digital disruption, over 80% of enterprises requested customer references so they could verify the claims that startups were making. To save precious time and make things easier, we built this process into our platform. 

We act as an objective third party and confirm startup results with past customers. We also get the VC’s vote of confidence with a testimonial that we can include on the startup’s profile. Once confirmed, a startup can pin a shiny verification badge on their profile to let you know all the evidence is accurate.

From there, all stakeholders within your enterprise can review the facts for themselves before they even book their first sales call. So no one’s time is wasted (and no one’s heart is broken).

Stage 4: The Final Decision

No matter where your corporate innovation relationship begins or how long it lasts, you’ll ultimately face the Final Decision.

Do you stay or do you go? 

Is this startup a partner worth pursuing? Does their tech really open new avenues for your business? 

Or is it time to cut your losses and run?

Well, you could spend months trying to sort out your feelings in Zoom calls and “make it work” with mundane education meetings. You could base your digital transformation decisions on gut instincts and superficial attraction. 

Or you could determine your next innovation initiatives based on facts. You could invest in tech with proven success and work with startups whose past performance aligns with your current vision and goals.

So, if you’re ready to…

  • Shave 8+ months off your startup scouting process and cut right to the chase with use cases tailored to your industry and interests.
  • Explore past project results and verified testimonials before you swipe right. 
  • Validate your innovation initiative with thousands of data points from the world’s leading tech and innovation sources. 
  • Let the evidence speak for itself and match you with the startup partner of your dreams.

Why not create an entrapeer account and give our evidence-based innovation platform a whirl for free?

We think it’s time you found your happily ever after.