Wash, rinse, and repeat: Startups are founded, the first product is shipped, customers engage, then a larger corporate development team sends an email asking for connections and to compare notes.
Venture-backed startups should generate a return if they are to be acquired or made public.
Chances are you'll spend a lot time with corporate development teams if youre looking to be acquired. The environment for acquisitions is very favorable with a booming stock market, high levels of cash, and low-interest debt.
As I've been on both ends of these equations, a growing number of my FriendDA Partners have asked for advice about corporate development mating rituals.
These are the highlights.
Prior to my first company being acquired, I believed every acquisition was strategic and well-thought out. Blindingly, I was wrong.
You must attend the meeting
Set up a 45-minute meeting for your initial meeting. You should allow yourself to spend an hour, but you can only use 60 minutes if everything is going well. Do not get too excited. Be patient and enjoy the process. Do you pontificate? Yes, but with precision.
Demonstrate a command of your chosen domain. Demonstrate that you are thoughtful and humble, but don't bring a list of possible ways to work together.
The worst case scenario is that you will get a few LinkedIn connections, and you'll be a well-known quantity. A second meeting is the best scenario.
They're going to steal my brilliant idea!
They aren't. This is a common occurrence that I hear. It tells me that the entrepreneur has never worked in a large company. It's okay, because not everyone can have an employee ID number that has five or six digits.
Large companies have tight control over operational expenses. This includes salaries and other expenses. There are often not enough specialists to help with the moneyball startups for new areas, much less older enterprises.
There is no secret lab that has dozens upon dozens of subject matter experts and developers waiting for a newly minted MBA to return with meeting notes and steal your amazingness. Go-to-market is a crucial component of many successful startups. However, most larger companies don't have the sales and marketing domain knowledge necessary to sell stolen products.
They still require you and your team.