During the Organic Food against Climate Change programme 11 young food companies joined forces together with Wessanen to grow their business and impact. At first glance, it may look like this programme is all about new social enterprises learning from Wessanen’s extensive track record. Well, that’s not the case! The programme offers these new entrepreneurs and Wessanen the chance to exchange expertise and learn from each other. So what exactly how can innovative startups and a 252-year old organic food corporate collaborate in a mutually beneficial way? And what is important to know when creating a startup – corporate partnership?
1. Know your common ground: Sharing the same values is a great starting point for every collaboration
Both the programme’s participating startups and Wessanen share the ambition to reshape the future of our food system and contribute a more sustainable future. So this common ground was an excellent starting point for their collaborative journey.
Whenever you want to start a partnership, make sure you to find out out what you and your potential partner share. As a social business, your impact-rooted values should be key in assessing the suitability of a partner. These values may in fact be the reason why a sustainable corporate would want to work with you. And having the same ultimate goal – simultaneously growing financial, environmental and social impact – also makes a collaboration much more likely to succeed.
2. Know what to ask for: Making your expectations clear from the get go will ensure a healthy collaboration
During a stakeholder management workshop hosted by Bas Gadiot of Crosswise Works, the 11 food entrepreneurs highlighted 3 main reasons to work together with a corporate:
- Access to a new and valuable network
- A wealth of business expertise
- A boost in their brand’s credibility
Being part of the Organic Food against Climate Challenge helps these startups define their growth needs, such as building a stronger brand, grow or outsourcing production, and increasing the shelf life of their products.
So, before you join forces with a corporate, do some research on your possible partner’s network and see which contacts may be helpful in supporting your growth.
You should also make sure you learn a corporate’s motivation for joining a startup accelerations programme. In this case, Wessanen wants to grow the organic food market. Thus, before starting any new partnership, take the time to find out how your startup can contribute to a corporate’s sustainability goals.
3. Know what you bring: Evaluate your startup’s strengths and be open about what your bring to table
Young companies bring innovation expertise and a closer relationship with their customers, when compared to corporates. As they grow their business, these startups are constantly challenged to think about their business model, target market and social impact bigger in a way that more established companies do not have to consider any longer.
Corporates, on the other hand, can provide a tried and tested business environment that startups can gain from. It is well-known that most startups are likely to fail in their first year, so access to a corporate network can help support young entrepreneurs in developing, testing and adjusting their products faster.
What is important when you want to bring your product to the market? ‘Show retailers that your product bring a new type of customers to their store and make sure your branding is strong enough to keep ahead of similar new products’ says Klaus Arntz, Sustainability and Marketing Manager at Wessanen.
The strong collaborative spirit shared by the 11 startups and Wessanen is just one of the factors why this organic food accelerator is so unique. All parties involved are also willing to open up and share all they know about their respective sectors and niches. Bringing together such diverse businesses, no matter how far along their growth journey, may just be what we need to set our food system on a more sustainable and healthier path.