Venture Client Approach 14.02.2020

Happy Birthday, Foundry! What Have We Learned Over 2 Years about Successful Partnerships?

Arttu Närhi

Arttu Närhi

Foundry turned two years last month. In that time, we’ve launched successful partnerships through dozens of Venture Client Opportunities, screened hundreds of proposed solutions, and of the 40 commercial pilots launched so far, 28 are being scaled across the global organizations of Epiroc, Fazer, Husqvarna Group, KONE, Scania, and Stora Enso.

While reflecting back on the last two years, we gathered our experiences and summarized the features of the most successful partnerships. So in the name of transparency, here’s our 5-point list on what approaches and features score high in a Venture Client Cycle.

Communicating why your startup’s solution is a good fit

During the first steps of the commercial partnerships, the teams have been able to demonstrate early on how their product or service solves the business needs the corporation has presented – first in theory, and then in practice. Our approach is based on identified business needs so if your solution fits this need spot-on, it is more likely to grab and keep our attention.

Willingness to go the extra mile for mutual benefit

Regarding the people on board, it’s not just about their credentials. Of course, we look at academic backgrounds, industry experience, and ability to build new and follow-through, of each team member behind the solutions. What has always come out on top is the enthusiasm to explore the opportunity at hand and the drive to see the pilot through. More often than not, the right attitude and drive is the difference between a good and great team.

Capacity to Co-Create

In Foundry partnerships, the founding principle is a commitment to open innovation. This means that parties share their relevant knowledge and expertise with one another openly, and reap the benefits of mutual development. Of course, this begs the question of how much expertise we are looking for teams who submit their solutions. Well, mature teams have a product further in development, which can lead to a faster commercial deployment in the venture client’s organization and markets. For teams in earlier stages, we find the benefit in breaking new ground, where building a novel solution is much more straightforward and can sometimes lead to surprising outcomes. 

A Vision for Customer Development

Let us be clear: we do not believe in or advocate startups having to forcibly customize their solutions for larger clients. However, we have been privileged to witness several partnerships, where customization with a purpose has led to a more valuable offering. Examples of these include white-labelled solutions, customized UX features, or other bespoke features to address the intricacies of a given market. Also, these features have benefitted startups’ broader offering and boosted development with the knowledge gained working with their venture client.

Optional: Venture-backing

Nothing is born ready, which is why this criterion is the absolute last one on our list. But like reference clients, this validates the work done so far through a third party. It is also great insurance that the company has the liquidity to keep operations afloat. Further, we’ve come across situations where venture-backed startups scale faster. This has been a key factor in the aligned needs between them and their global venture clients.

Check out our active opportunities here.