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Wednesday, November 8, 2017

MBA eLab Dances with Gorillas

November 1, 2017. Shanghai - Interested in starting a business but unclear about what opportunities are out there? Unsure how to pitch your idea to a large corporation? Unaware of how to engage with multinationals and leverage their resources?

In a 90-minute session with the eLab Boot Camp members titled “Dancing with Gorillas”, Associate Professor of International Business and Strategy Shameen Prashantham provided some insights on how new ventures can engage with large multinationals (a.k.a. the gorillas), and why working with a large corporation can provide a significant push for a start-up’s road to success.

Prof. Prashantham began his lecture by encouraging the boot campers to imagine the endless possibilities that can arise when start-ups and large corporations come together, and he debunked the common perception that birds of the same feather flock together, i.e. that global companies only work with each other. While it is true that start-ups will need the resources of the large multinationals more than the MNCs need the start-ups, the onus is on the small ventures to proactively form relationships with the “gorillas”. 

In order to do so these small enterprises must recognize their value and what they can bring to the table for the large corporations. He said that usually start-ups provide access to novel ideas and innovation, and can offer greater value creation to the gorillas by leveraging on their inter-firm ecosystem. For example, a start-up’s software that can only be used on a platform created by a multinational compels purchasers of the software to also buy the platform. Large corporations are also attracted to start-ups’ creativity and innovation, which can result in solutions that can significantly reduce their costs.

Prof. Prashantham also spoke about some of the multinationals that have already initiated collaborations through programmes such as the BMW Start-up Garage, Unilever Foundry, Infinity Lab, Bayer’s Grants for Apps, SAP Startup Focus, and Microsoft BizSpark.

While it is an uphill task for entrepreneurs to partner with large multinationals, the opportunities are definitely out there for our budding entrepreneurs to tap into. It is time to debunk the myth that large multinationals do not work with young start-ups. Let’s start dancing with the gorillas!

Valerie Neo
Janine M. Coughlin
Photo Editor: 
Barnett Lai