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When David meets Goliath: How startups can land a partnership with a giant tech company



Phil Rasmussen is the Managing Director at Kudos Travel Technology.

Startup

By Phil Rasmussen

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The saying, attributed to Aristotle, can be applied to many life situations. But it’s a very apt way to sum up a great business partnership.

After all, the purpose of partnership is to combine the very best of both parties with the expectation the outcomes are much bigger and better than anything you could achieve solo.

And so it is with Kudos Travel Technology and our new strategic relationship with Amadeus. In the travel tech sector, this could be seen as a bit of a David and Goliath situation.

Amadeus is a global leader in travel technology spanning travel distribution, airline, airport, hospitality and rail IT solutions. Then there’s us – a newer, Australian-based IT provider with a specialisation in integration platforms for businesses and business travel agencies.

More and more corporates are boosting their innovation engines by collaborating with startups. But for a startup, it can actually be quite tough to get the attention of a mega-operator and convince them to join forces with you. Believe me, the process is not easy and should not be entered into blindly.

While there is no magic formula, there are a couple of tactics you can implement to increase your chances of landing a successful and long-lasting partnership with a “giant tech company”.

Ensure your values and goals are aligned

There’s no shortage of corporate partners and programs out there, and each bring unique attributes to the table. Before you even start approaching your corporate wish list, make sure that you’re both aligned on values, long-term goals and what “success” will ultimately look like.

To test future alignment of values and interests, you need to gain a sense of where they’re headed. Don’t hesitate to ask about their long-term strategy, timelines, and plans for the future. This way, you can better understand what you bring to the table and what can be achieved by working together.

For Kudos, it was important for us to find a corporate partner who was heavily invested in R&D and could demonstrate a strong commitment to innovation. Unlike its competition, Amadeus offers open source technology, which gives them a flexibility and skillset that is more closely aligned with our own.

Join an accelerator program

Accelerators and networking programs in your sector can be a great way to land partnerships with big corporate or attract investors, and there are a number of ways startups can get involved.

Expanding your network via LinkedIn or other online social communities is a good place to start. There are also government initiatives that can help, offering grants or entrepreneurial programs, and not-for-profit organisations like Fishburners, TechSydney and StartupAUS (to name a few) that provide support, resources and connections. A quick Internet search will bring up plenty more options!

While finding the right accelerator can be challenging, the rewards can be enormous: access to a community of likeminded entrepreneurial people, a network of experts to support and guide your business, and the possibility of classes, events and co-working spaces. It’s these kind of opportunities that give exposure to potential customers and investors.

Through research, we found that Amadeus offered a few different programs for startups in travel and related industries: Amadeus Next and Amadeus For Startups provide opportunities for startups to network and leverage resources in Asia Pacific.

Make yourself invaluable to corporates

Every big established company struggles when it comes to leveraging new, disruptive technologies and/or business models to drive growth. Most struggle with achieving the speed and agility they need to integrate new solutions without disrupting their core businesses.

Make yourself invaluable to corporates by creating a value proposition that enhances what they already have, perhaps in a way they hadn’t yet considered. Look for ways to seamlessly integrate with their existing tech stack and become an early adopter of new technology offered by your potential partner.

For Kudos, we identified an opportunity to combine our technology with Amadeus’ to address the challenge of passport data accuracy in the corporate travel space. By combining our platform with their existing systems and tools, we’ve created an innovative solution that benefits Amadeus and its customers, while enabling us to quickly bring a new product to market.

Ultimately, the best corporate partner is one that is genuinely interested in building something great together. Make sure you land a corporate that is willing to collaborate, co-create and combine their wisdom with your thinking.


Phil Rasmussen is the Managing Director at Kudos Travel Technology.

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