Boston Startups: Get Aggressive in Working with Big Companies


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standardize as best as possible on a finite set of innovative solutions rather than having each of their many departments choose their own solutions that may overlap in capabilities.

One Boston startup that has excelled at targeting and connecting with big companies is EyeNetra, an MIT Media Lab spinout. The company develops mobile phone eye diagnostics that measures the correction for a person’s vision and enables patients at the point-of-care to connect remotely to eye care providers and vendors. Their flagship product allows anyone to administer a simple and quick eye test for nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism.

EyeNetra has reached out to big healthcare and eye care companies who are in a position to disrupt the current worldwide market for how eye care exams are administered. These companies not only have the executive teams in place to fund the pilots, but also represent a potential global distribution channel.

On the other hand, there is another startup in the Boston area that provides an analytics solution for “big data.” I asked the co-founder what his strategy was to establish strategic partnerships with big companies and his response was that they have a “pricing and plans” website strategy. He also went on to say that their investors have all the contacts they need within their target audience and he expects them to make the necessary introductions… really? With game plans like this, no wonder why so many startups are not scaling.

In conclusion, there are additional benefits in establishing strategic partnerships with big companies. They can be an excellent long-term revenue generator; be an early beta user; become part of your advisory board; become an excellent reference; and so on. Finally, big companies may also have their own VC group or affiliation and could become an investor as well.

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Robert DiLoreto is Managing Partner for Chasm Innovations, a business development and strategic consulting firm. Follow @

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7 responses to “Boston Startups: Get Aggressive in Working with Big Companies”

  1. Bill Scher says:

    Robert, as sales trainer who works with many early stage companies, I couldnt agree more! Many founders of early stage companies just dont understand that even though thye may have a better solution in terms of features/benefits etc, they dont stand a chance when trying to sell against seasoned enterprise sales organzations who may not have the product, but sure know how to prospect, reach decisionmakers, find out the real reasons they buy, and execute a sales process.
    My CRM is littered with dead or struggling companies that didnt have the whole structure, strategy, staffing or skills thing fully baked.
    A good product and funding only takes it so far..

  2. Robert,
    There are some local companies doing this, such as mine. OfficeDrop has partnered with Nuance, a multi-billion dollar company to launch “PaperPort Anywhere powered by OfficeDrop”. This strategy is resonating with other large companies. I’m sure there are other Boston startups doing the same thing with other large companies, but you may not hear a lot about it because the large companies usually try to tightly control how they let the world know about things like this.

  3. David says:

    Right on, Robert. Tech companies should take page out of the biotech book and look for strategic partners early. I understand you might be the best person in Boston to ask about appropriate introductions to major corporate C-suites.

  4. Thank you for this article!

    Very interesting read, and spot on from where we sit. We have had great successes with this type of approach.

  5. Mike Gagas says:

    Hi Bob,
    Great article. Does Chasm plan to provide enablement, consulting so that start ups can do this on their own. Provide the process, the reporting, the enagement of executives into the sales process, etc. Are you teaching start ups to fish, or offering to make these initial, critical strategic sales, only? Just curious.
    Mike Gagas