Hot or Not for Startup Potential Customer Matchmaking With Big Companies

One of the biggest opportunities I see for the Atlanta startup community, and many other startup communities around the country, is helping connect local startups with local mid-to-large companies looking for certain technologies. Big companies are difficult to navigate, have many competing interests, and are not oriented to purchase from startups. With that said, big companies do want to be more innovative and want to try new things but don’t know where to begin or how to engage local startups.

Here’s an idea for a hot or not service to connect startups with potential big companies:

  • Similar to the site James Hong launched in 2000 (history), the idea is to have startups and big companies list their information in a database with some data being public and some being private
  • Startups filter and browse the big companies giving a thumbs up or down depending on if they are a good fit (hot) or not
  • Big companies filter and browse the startups giving a thumbs up or down depending on if they are a good fit or not
  • When a match is made (both parties give a thumbs up), the software does an email introduction and let’s the startup and big company take it from there

Some of the key aspects of this include startups agreeing not to hassle big companies that get introduced, big companies agreeing to spend a modest amount of time using the system (will need some C-level buy-in from people that want to help the local community), and a constant curation of information by someone that manages the system (e.g. the local chamber of commerce). Connecting startups with mid-to-large companies is a big opportunity to help grow the local entrepreneurial community

What else? What are some thoughts on this hot or not system to connect startups with large companies?

4 thoughts on “Hot or Not for Startup Potential Customer Matchmaking With Big Companies

  1. How about replicating the (very successful) March internship fair at the Village – 300+ students meet nearly 100 Village startups? Swap out the interns with big Atlanta companies. Seems like this event tactic would be easier and faster to launch since the Village, as you wrote about 27 March 2014, has power of scale (density of tech entrepreneurs) and event space. Large companies can visit 150+ startups and emerging organizations in one day in one place. Plus, it’s another huge benefit to be a Village member.

  2. I really like this idea and have had a similar one for awhile. Getting in front of key decision makers at major potential customers/partners is always a challenge. In travel it took me 2 years of conference-going and industry networking to get to a point where this was easier- would have been a huge help and speeded our progress if that could have been compressed.

    Around the idea, agreed that curation and vetting is key- if you waste the Big Co Execs’ time with irrelevant or unvetted companies you won’t get their time again. I also think this would work best by first identifying a specific vertical (travel, specific type of ecommerce, etc.). You would need a strong network and ideally you’d have a group of advisors with strong connections in industries you’re targeting. Get C-Level execs to commit 2 hours every 3 months for presentations and line up companies for it. Take a revenue share from deals closed.

    The Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce (and specifically Michael Zeto, Hillery Brown, Gregg Simon & David Hartnett) have been setting up similar types of events in Atlanta, and I know of two major company-trajectory-impacting deals that have come from it. They’re doing it pro-bono and its a great service. But agreed that there’s a business model here.

  3. I’ve pitched a similar idea casually (maybe everyone has this one ;). In the variation I’ve used, this is a smart match system that creates a public profile of the tools you use (optionally by automatically collecting this). Profile includes your LinkedIn position, and lets you identify tools you “love”, and problems you have that could use a good solution. Reviews would help you browse and surface popular product ideas in a space. Businesses can pay for introductions to people in certain roles and/or with certain problems and/or that are unhappy with a competitor of yours. Haven’t quite figured out what makes the end user come back though (or to spend a lot of time filling out a profile) – do people really constantly look for better business tools? I’m not sure it’s a problem anyone thinks they have.

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