Transforming a concept into a viable product takes more than just passion, no matter how brilliant it may be. Dave Evendon-Challis, VP of Innovation at RB, explains how linking up with corporate partners could help take your ideas to the next level
Driving innovation is important for all businesses that want to grow. However, as many of us know, juggling the excitement of a new discovery alongside the day-to-day of running a business can be a challenge.
As the saying goes, it's often not what you know but who you know. To take an idea from a concept into a fully-fledged business proposition generally requires help from those with market expertise and consumer insight, who can make investments in areas such as product development, marketing and PR.
But getting in front of the right people can be tricky. In fact, research from Enterprise Nation, commissioned by RB, found that although 66% of UK entrepreneurs would consider partnering with a multinational organisation to scale their business or take it in a new direction, they haven't yet. The vast majority (86%) do not even know where to start when it comes to seeking these prized potential partners.
UK entrepreneurs are missing out on opportunities to draw on the expertise of large corporations that could help them leverage product innovations and, ultimately, boost their bottom line. But how can they join the dots?
1. Target prospective partners
Rather than blanket pitching numerous companies, identify only a handful to target. You then need to investigate what they have to offer you - are they the right fit? Consider how you would benefit them, so that you know what both would bring to the table in the partnership.
2. Make corporate connections
Getting your ideas heard can be hard. That's why you need to look out for opportunities to connect with big corporates, whether that's at key conferences, trade shows and networking events, through online portals or on LinkedIn.
Once a connection has been made, focus on making an impact straight away. Critically, have your elevator pitch ready to grab their attention.
3. Get in the mind of the consumer
When it comes to preparing to pitch for a partner, you must be clear on what your unique offer is from a consumer mindset. This means translating any technology jargon and technical benefits into consumer benefits - the stronger the consumer insight, the better the pitch.
4. SWOT up
You'll need to demonstrate to potential partners that you understand the competitive landscape for your innovation on a national and, ideally, an international level. You must be clear on where the opportunity lies, while also having an understanding of potential challenges to navigate, such as exporting regulations.
5. Soften the pitch
Of course, corporates want the facts, details and data, but a stand-out presentation is about much more than that. The best pitches are the ones where you tell a story and really engage prospective partners.
Don't be afraid to delve into the different members of the team, their personalities and how they can help grow the business.
6. Be open to new directions
Once all is unveiled to your prospective partners, they may have new, different ideas to help propel your business. Be prepared to explore new directions. Innovation stems from collaboration and fresh perspectives. Stepping back and listening to suggestions, no matter how outlandish they may initially seem, can be rewarding in the long run.
In as little as 12 months, an agile partnership can deliver a new product to market. While it may feel daunting to pitch to a corporate, there's a lot to gain - market expertise, help navigating regulations, product development and more.
Equally, they're looking for fresh ideas to grow into innovative consumer products. It really is a win-win situation. So, what are you waiting for?