Initiating your innovation game plan: to make or buy?

August 18, 2021
To keep ahead of the curve, companies should have a clear plan of action on when to build an internal solution or buy external offerings. There are many factors to consider when mapping out your innovation strategy, so this begs the question: when do you lean on external expertise?

Innovation and growth are top business priorities in a competitive, changing world. As new technologies and products flood the market each year, companies in every industry look for new ways to drive sustainable development and ultimately face the question: "Do we make or buy?" This strategic decision is shaping the dynamics for new partnerships between companies and startups.

"To make or buy? - it's a relevant question for us to find out the most effective and efficient ways to solve our organization's challenges."

When your business unit identifies a problem, and the answer lies beyond your core expertise, one of the most efficient methods of finding a solution is leveraging the startup ecosystem where products are being built faster and possibly better. These solutions offer knowledge from new fields and technologies outside the organization's competencies, and startups are the experts. Thus, the buy route - or startup partnering - is the best way to scale growth effectively.

How startup partnering can address challenges

European startups received over €37.9bn in funding during 2020. With the financial resources and expertise to build a specialized product, startups provide an invaluable source of innovative solutions that could cover almost any use case in your business unit (BU). For example, take the following use-case categories:

Business enablers: Companies looking to improve key business processes can work with startups like Airmeet, Fairown, and Miro to increase efficiency and productivity in their internal procedures.

Product innovation: The advancement of cutting-edge technologies allows businesses to revamp and accelerate their product offerings through partnerships with startups like Rentle, Zelish, and Bitfinder.

Manufacturing + Industry 4.0: Corporations are partnering with startups like Inspekto, Micropsi Industries, and to explore new technologies that can shape the future of manufacturing factories through automated processes, digitization, and data exchange.

Does it make sense to spend millions in building an internal dream team to develop a solution to a unique problem, only to find out that there is a startup with a fitting solution that could be explored at a fraction of the cost?

Saving one of your most precious commodities: Time

Though developing in-house may seem like a targeted method to address specific pain points, it is an extremely slow process. When companies need to adapt to changing technologies and consumer demands quickly, startup partnering presents the fastest route to finding a viable solution. You can set up a pilot in a matter of weeks, conserving resources and saving time.

Consider the following factors when it comes to the make or buy decision: 

Internal R&D projects might take years to develop. Startup solutions can be easily implemented and tested because the product and team are already in place. 

You can find compatible startup solutions in a matter of days. GlassDollar's sourcing team leverages our data engine to identify the most suitable solutions. Results can be found as quickly as in 5 business days

You can quickly validate an existing startup solution. Average PoC (Proof of Concept: realization of a particular solution or idea to verify its potential or feasibility) length we see with our corporate clients is 12 weeks. 

“Validating your hypothesis with startup solutions is 10x faster and more cost-efficient when compared to an internal alternative.”

GlassDollar's end-to-end PoC management software and PoC managers set up efficient and effective procedures to make it easy for corporations to partner with startups. After identifying the problem within the BU, we guide you through sourcing, assessment, and purchasing before launching the pilot. We address any hesitations or objections on the BU side and act as the mediator between the startup and BU to ensure clear communication channels. If the desired results are attained, we then move you through adoption and scaling to implement the systems company-wide.

Startup partnering allows you to develop and keep up with the changing market landscape. The more we can innovate, the more we learn and grow our business.

GlassDollar offers an end-to-end PoC management software solution that helps global companies like BSH, Daimler, Telefonica, and Miele scale the adoption of impact-driven technologies.

Are you looking to make your startup collaborations more impactful and scalable? Then book a free consultation with our innovation success managers to identify the next steps towards optimizing your startup partnering activities.

Further Reads

Expert advice

Best practices for innovation managers and business units to effectively communicate innovation requests

How to describe your problem and pain points objectively in order to find the best-matched sourcing results

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How startup partnering gives your corporation a competitive edge

What is startup partnering and how can it elevate your company's innovation activities? Read on to discover how external sources of innovation are shaping corporate strategies.

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