How To Navigate The Corporate and Startup Dance

Venture Scanner

By Carl Doty at Forrester Research and Nader Ghaffari at Venture Scanner

Successfully engaging with the startup community will not only give corporations a competitive advantage but can also mean the difference between future relevance or demise. As a result, corporations of all sizes are launching innovation programs. The corporations’ objectives are chiefly to understand the innovation trends, identify potential disruptions in their markets, and find startups to partner with, invest in, or acquire. These efforts are typically run by a head of innovation, a chief strategy or digital officer, or a corporate development function.

So how should corporations engage with startups and what pitfalls should they avoid? Based on our interactions with corporations of all sizes and from all industries, we see engagement models that work well and others that leave room for improvement. We summarize our key findings in three themes here. 

1. EDUCATE: Gain a broad understanding of an...