Corporate partnerships have been a proven route to scaling companies globally. With the limited resources a startup has, it needs leverage in several areas including technology development, product integration, sales and marketing support, as well as in enabling new markets. At the same time, such partnerships are extremely valuable for large corporate houses because of the following reasons:
§ It lets companies tap into the innovation that is happening around them. A good idea and a compelling solution can come from anywhere, and partnering with startups provides a way for larger companies to validate and integrate such innovations.
§ It also provides an alternative method for growing a company. Be it cross-selling opportunities to their existing customer base or sourcing key capabilities to enter a new segment, partnerships are an integral part of the growth strategy of even the largest companies.
§ Over time, if the solution is successful in the marketplace, there is a possibility of acquiring the business and integrating it more closely.
Startups and Venture capitalists are also increasingly looking at partnering with large companies. They recognize that a corporate partner comes with complementary resources, especially when it comes to providing turnkey solutions, and access to customers. The same corporate partner, at a later stage, can become a suitable buyer of the start-up. Partnerships with established organizations also bring in credibility to the startup, which can help them with their independent business as well.
There are countless examples of startups partnering with larger companies as an integral part of their growth strategy. It is time startups in India start looking at these more intently. We are seeing increasing interest from companies in engaging in this conversation.
However, when looking to leverage partnerships with corporate VCs, it is important that start-ups make the right choice. Alignment of goals and initiatives, measure of progress, resource commitment and protecting the strategic value are some of the key things to keep in mind when forging these partnerships.
Alok Mittal, General Partner
BharatMatrimony.com, a leading matrimony portal, organized the Thirumana Vaibhava Vizha, at the Ethiraj Kalyana Mandapam in Alwarpet, on June 27, 2009 to make matrimony alliance search easier for the bride/ bridegroom. The aim was to bring together both members and non-members of BharatMatrimony on one platform and help find the right match on the spot. Inaugurated by actor S Ve Shekher, the event helped members and non-members to register with easy steps. BharatMatrimony also roped in Tirupati Vasagan, who offered free astro consultation and premarital/marital counseling and suggested remedies for dosham-related issues. The company also organized a ‘Vivaha Parvathy Homan’ on the same day, which helps remove barriers that cause delay in a marriage to fulfill the ritualistic aspect.
Virsto Software, an innovator in Storage Solutions for Virtualized Servers, recently raised $7 million in its Series A round of funding co-led by Canaan Partners. Canaan Partners was also a seed investor in Virsto in 2008. With this latest investment, the company would focus on building its customer base and engaging new partners. The investment would help Virsto Software to fund the launch of new storage solutions, designed for the unique needs of virtual servers. The company boasts of separating storage from the physical world once and for all to save organizations time and money.
Zoosk, Online social dating network, recently raised $6 million in a third round led by existing investors, including Canaan Partners. The fresh investment will be used to grow its worldwide market share, as well as the size of its work force and for continued product development. The company raised $4 million in a second round last June from Canaan Partners amongst others. Zoosk generates revenue from premium memberships, advertising, and the sale of virtual coins that can be used to purchase virtual gifts. San Francisco-based Zoosk, which boasts of being the top-ranked lifestyle application on Facebook, now claims more than 30 million users.
Siliconindia Start-up City 2009, for technology start-ups across India, focused on providing a platform to entrepreneurs and VCs to meet, review ideas and learn about the process of venture funding, was held on June 6, 2009, from 8:45 am - 4 pm at NIMHANS Convention Centre, Bangalore. Siliconindia, turned out to be a multifaceted platform allowing start-ups to flex their muscles and warn the corporate biggies that they ought to be counted upon.
The event also saw some start-ups clinch special awards during the CEO conclave held as part of Startup City event. Apart from these special awards, best start-ups from six IT segments such as Internet, Mobile, Software, IT Services, Education and Embedded were identified. The event brought together over 5000 people from different walks of the IT industry with participation from over 500 CEOs, 50 VCs and many entrepreneurs. Mukul Singhal, Associate, Canaan Partners also participated at the event in the expert panel of judges evaluating the performances of start-ups.
Canaan Partners came together with Microsoft and TiE to organize TiE Bridges 2009, to connect early stage innovators with potential corporate partners, on June 17, 2009, from 7 pm – 9 pm at India Habitat Centre, Delhi. The forum provided a platform for corporate partners to familiarize themselves with product & technology development and establish contact with some of the leading early growth companies in India.
Canaan Partners invests in entrepreneurs and works alongside them to turn visionary ideas into valuable companies. Since 1987, the firm has catalyzed the growth of disruptive technology startups and healthcare companies revolutionizing the practice of medicine. With $3.4 billion under management and more than 94 acquisitions and 54 IPOs to date, Canaan has funded companies such as Acme Packet, Associated Content (acquired by Yahoo), CommerceOne, DoubleClick (acquired by Google), ID Analytics (acquired by LifeLock), Match.com (acquired by IAC), SandForce (acquired by LSI), SuccessFactors (acquired by SAP) and Virsto Software (acquired by VMware), as well as notable healthcare companies such as Advanced BioHealing (acquired by Shire), BiPar Sciences (acquired by Sanofi), Chimerix (NASDAQ: CMRX) and Elevation Pharmaceuticals (acquired by Sunovion). Current technology investments include Blurb, Kabam, Lending Club, Performance Marketing Brands, SOASTA, Tremor Video and Zoosk in the U.S.; BharatMatrimony and UnitedLex in India; and PrimeSense and LiveU in Israel. The Canaan healthcare portfolio includes emerging leaders such as Liquidia Technologies, Civitas Therapeutics and DICOM Grid. Canaan maintains a presence in the global innovation hubs of Silicon Valley, New York City, India and Israel. For more information visit www.canaan.com or www.facebook.com/canaanpartners.
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