Tips for Startups: Making Sure Large Companies Remember You

Part 3 in a three-part series

One of the biggest tips we have for startups after pitching a large company is to make sure they remember you. Here’s why.

Have you ever finished what you thought was a successful pitch only to have it result in complete silence? No follow-up, no next steps, very little response to your emails? And you’re left wondering why it’s taking the company so long to get back to you?

Here are some recommendations about what to do after your pitch (hopefully you followed our tips on how to maximize your first meeting). We also give you some insight into what’s happening behind the scenes when the large company seems to be slow and unresponsive.

Follow-up with the company
It is very likely that during an introductory meeting, there were some outstanding questions that you couldn’t answer on the spot, or you promised to provide additional information. These often fall into two buckets – information such as a publication or a brochure that you basically already have in hand; and development progress.

For the at-hand information, you should follow-up quickly with this information. Not only does this give you an excuse to continue the conversation, but you are also helping the large company with the critical next steps, due diligence, and consensus building.

For development progress, the company’s key interest could be in generating comparative data, understanding the next steps in your manufacturing capacity, regulatory status, product development, etc. For any of these where there will be ongoing development, giving quarterly updates can be extremely valuable. This communication demonstrates that you will be a partner they will like working with and it keeps your name in front of them.

How quickly you follow up has been used as a metric

Even if there were no outstanding items left to share, a short email that expresses your willingness to keep communicating makes a big difference to both the company and any consultant involved. It indicates the type of communication that can be expected of you in the future. It is particularly important to follow-up in a timely manner. If you take too long to follow-up (or never do), then the large company might think you aren’t interested. Or worse, they might forget about you.

For one of our projects we created a chart to record the startup’s response time to all our emails. Our client decided they were going to use this as a metric to determine the quality of future partnerships. Although this is very rare, large companies do consider how easy it is to communicate with you when deciding which partners to choose. Most importantly, you have no way of knowing what metrics they are evaluating you against.

Consider the meeting a starting point

Use this post-meeting follow-up to start building a relationship with the consultant who contacted you or the company you pitched. Ask to meet at future conferences, leverage your travel schedule, or check in on the progress of the opportunity once a quarter.

But be careful about this – there is a fine line between being annoying and being tenacious. How often you do this outreach depends on the responses you receive. It can also be helpful to ask for their permission to contact them once a month or once a quarter to follow-up or to present advancements or other technologies that may be of future interest to the large company.

Be patient!
Large companies usually take a long time to make decisions, especially when deciding on partners or collaborations. Depending on the type of partnership they are seeking this could take from a month to more than a year.

Here are some examples of what could be happening on the background:

  • If the company is looking to launch your product under their brand, they need to assess if it aligns with their strategy. For example, they might evaluate how your product fits in their current product portfolio and determine target market, distribution channels, marketing strategy, and regulatory hurdles that need to be overcome. This process involves people from different divisions, such as marketing, supply chain, legal, and more, and requires significant coordination that can be time consuming.
  • If they are looking to use your software for internal processes, such as for HR purposes, then the right budget holders, IT representatives, cyber security experts, and more need to review your software. Again, this transfer of knowledge requires significant coordination which is very time consuming.
  • Other times the large company is interested in partnership opportunities but must find and/or justify budget for the opportunity. For example, yet2 is working on a project right now where we found a great odor-related technology for a CPG client. In its current product format, the technology doesn’t fit with our client’s go-to-market models. So, this is where the really hard work begins – which business unit should carry the opportunity forward, and what resources will be pulled from other promising projects to build a business case. Only then might the client come back to the technology owner with a substantive path forward. And even then, the client would need to set pricing, promotion, go-to-market partners, etc. All in a format new to them. It’s a very promising opportunity, but there is a lot of work to be done.

We hope these tips will help with that last step of starting a successful relationship. If done right, this could be a big win for you. Our job at yet2 is to help you, as much as we help the large companies, have a mutually beneficial relationship.

Combine these tips along with our tips on how to interact with large corporations more effectively and how you can maximize a first meeting with a large company, to make the most of your pitch opportunities with large companies. And don’t forget – don’t just pitch them like you would pitch a VC firm!

This is the third post in a three-part series on how startups can interact with large companies more effectively. Read part 1, Tips for Startups: Interacting with Large Companies More Effectively and part 2, Tips for Startups: Maximizing your Meeting with Large Corporations.