On April 11, 2019, AmCham China, Yale Club of Beijing, and Yale Center Beijing were thrilled to co-host a panel discussion regarding current collaboration trends between large corporations and tech startups. As a part of AmCham China’s Technology and Innovation Initiative (T&I), this panel discussion established a platform for executives from both parties to share their insights on the best practices, opportunities and challenges, and lessons learned during the collaboration process. Martin Ma, Founder and CEO of Happy Universe and Yale alumnus, joined the conversation as moderator.
Large Corps are Investing for Future Impact
Julien Zhang, Managing Director of JLL, first noted the great importance the company places on technology and innovation. In partnership with AngelHack, a global hackathon organization, JLL initiated multiple hackathons across Mainland China. JLL believes that training in coding and programing are two essential skills for future startups and leaders. Zhang also indicated that tech talents and startups are extraordinarily impressive and innovative in China and collaborating with tech startups will help large corporations grasp the current technology and innovation market trends.
“Technology and innovation open more doors for large companies to initiate effective dialogue with clients: absorbing the market trends, business models, and inspiring ideas,” said Rong Lin, Director of PwC China Center of Excellence. While learning trendy ideas, large corporations may also help startups incorporate various resources to advance their competence and competitiveness in the market. She emphasized that large corporations should provide training services to startups, including sales and organizational management, as well as legal training to build up an effective industry ecosystem.
As the number one incubator in the world for six years in a row, Microsoft is acting as a major driving force for startups – providing necessary resources such as marketing, network, and business models and technology to promote startup development to a new level. Lin Tan, CEO of Residence of Microsoft Accelerator, pointed out that the purpose of collaboration between large corporations and startups is to establish a new industry ecosystem for Microsoft. “Utilizing all sorts of investment to connect businesses, VCs and startups, improving Microsoft has impacts across the business sector,” she explained.
Finally, large corporation representatives wrapped up the panel with a call for action. While seeking for investment and collaboration opportunities with big companies, startups need to keep in mind that large corporations are burdened by both their KPIs and the neverending demand for ROI, meaning that startups must seek out the common interest between both parties to further incentivize the conversation.
Startups: Calling for More Efficient Conversations and Mutual Understanding from Large Corps
Jackie Luan, Founder & CEO of LaVector Technologies, also a Yale alumnus, categorized the collaboration process into three steps.
- Handshaking: contact large companies through activities, road shows and other networking activities; and introduce your own project/products.
- Dating: in-depth conversations with large corporations.
- Integration: activate resources from both sides to achieve better outcomes; two companies collaborate on a strategic level.
In addition to posing these steps, Luan also mentioned that effective communication is crucial during the “Dating” process, particularly for tech-oriented companies. Program officers and directors from both sides should be informed of all information and requirements to avoid unnecessary conflicts. Yet, in the reality, large corporations and startups might find it hard to communicate in the same business language.
Ye Wang, Founder & CEO AppAdhoc (Yaohe Technology) and a Yale alumnus, explained that startups have different corporate cultures, thoughts, and business environments from large corporations, and thus both sides should consider each other’s distinct viewpoints to reduce friction and improve communication efficiency. He also stated that during the dating and integration process, large corporations should be more empathetic to the limited resources of startups, and startups should stay open and active to new business and management models so as to strengthen their connections with large corporations.
AmCham China would like to thank the speakers for sharing their successes, failures, and best takeaways from a diverse range of collaboration practices, finding that technology and innovation are indispensable for any companies to be sustainable and continuously competitive in the market.
Launched in 2018, AmCham China Technology and Innovation Initiative is an insight and collaboration platform designed to help our members and their organizations navigate and take advantage of the impact of disruptive technologies, such as AI, Blockchain, Internet of Things, AR/VR, etc. The Initiative aims to bring together a diverse, cross-sector community of companies applying technologies to innovate in order to share best practices, showcase American technology and innovation at work in China, and deepen relationships between technology providers and adopters. The Digital Circle partners play a leadership role in the AmCham China community to help define activity and policy priorities for the T&I Initiative.