Lesson 1: Know the corporate’s vision and understand their needs – before you pitch to them
Think about the vision of the company that you want to work with and ask yourself if you are aligned. Telenor’s vision is to “empower societies” for example, so in our case you may want to consider if your idea has an element of societal value beyond the business case. Also, remember that most corporates can’t build everything alone. They need start-ups to help them. Do your research to understand the needs of a company and why they are seeking start-ups to help them fulfill those needs.
Lesson 2: No BS!
Tell your story as clearly as possible, and if your story is weak – work on it. Be honest with yourself and with others and don’t try to sell corporates or VC partners something half baked. If you’re asked a question and you don’t know the answer, the worst thing you can do is just make something up. Tell the truth, say you don’t know but you’ll get back to them.
Lesson 3: This is what you need to do if you want to go big
The Telenor Health CEO imparted some wise words on the start-ups at Digital Winners Asia. He said that if you want your company to be a big success, you need to fundamentally change human behaviour on a massive scale. He used the example of TONIC, Telenor’s mobile health company in Bangladesh. They are aiming to change human behaviour in how they access health services in their country.
Lesson 4: Get personal
Mutual trust and respect between the start-up team and the corporate team are extremely important. After all, you may be working together for the next 5 to 10 years. There should be a connection from the start, upon which you build a relationship of trust. So invest the time in making connections and building networks because it will benefit you in the long-run.
Lesson 5: Be clear about who you are and what you intend to do
One venture capitalist at Digital Winners said that he loves it when start-ups have a clear idea of where their business will be in five years. Start-ups should also be able to clearly say how they are different, know the research on their addressable market size and talk about how they plan to scale into a large business. Also, the start-up should have their exit strategy planned from day one. Do you aim for an IPO or will you sell? You’d better have an answer. The clearer the story, the clearer the vision and the clearer the end game, the more likely you are to sell yourself.