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3 Ways your Startup can work with Brands

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by Startacus Admin

The holy grail - well for some startups anyway… Startup and Brand Collaboration.

Startup and Brand CollaborationBack in May we attended the CONNECT day at Digital Shoreditch. A core message of the day was an overriding theme that collaboration between Startups and Brands is a potentially great combination, and a great combination for both parties too, not just the Startups themselves.

Pioneering collaborations between Startups and big business, can, if done right, support the learning, growth and power of both parties and with this in mind, we thought it wise to highlight (in this first of a series of Brand and Startup related posts) three ways, places and spaces that that Collaboration can potentially happen.

Accelerator programmes

Of course in a way, all Accelerator programmes will welcome collaboration between you as a Startup and an established big business or brand. After all, for you as a Startup to scale and scale to the size they want you to, you may need to not only sell to Brands / big businesses, but work / partner alongside them too in order to get there.

However, in terms of Accelerator programmes that specialise in Startup and Brand collaboration, many Accelerator programmes themselves are actually now managed by Brands  - be it the BBC, The Disney Accelerator, Microsoft Ventures, Coca-Cola, Agency Giant Ogilvy & Mather, Unilever, John Lewis (JLAB), William Hill Lab and so on. There are also several Business Accelerators such as London based Collider who are dedicated to marketing and advertising startups and who help brands and agencies identify, understand, engage with and sell to their consumers. Then of course there are other key players in the Brand / Startup space such as The Bakery - again based in London.

Ultimately it seems that they all (all brands that is) want to get a piece of the Startup pie, as this is a space where innovation comes easy and early integration and hand-holding, can do no harm as those Startups and BrandsStartups evolve and grow into the next big things. And it’s not just MADTECH (the intersection between Marketing, Advertising, and Technology) Startups, but every sector of the ‘established’ business world - Finance, Food, Education and so on that seemingly wants a piece of the action. Business Accelerators seem like a fab place to make that connection early.


A hackathon (as a general rule) is an event where lots of folk; programmers, developers, managers, entrepreneurs, and startups themselves collaborate (over a weekend or similarly short time period) on solving a challenge by building a tech solution, with the intention that by close of play the innovation / solution is as close to a useable product as they possibly can get.

Brands / Corporates like Startups and Startup type folk, because unlike traditional big businesses (as a rule) with tall management structures, Startups have flat management structures (as a Brand Hackathonsrule!) and are used to working out and making big and bold decisions quickly. The more often that as a business you make decisions quickly, the bolder and bigger your solutions are likely to become, so a Hackathon where quick decision making, implementation and design is key, is a fab chance to find a solution / solutions to a big problem and at a low cost too. Check out recent feature on the London Cyber Hackathon as a good example of just that.


We are going to start with an analogy. Perhaps a poor one, but one that we think makes sense! As a Startup you are ‘the New Kid on the Block’, the one with the new ideas, solutions, with your finger on the pulse and an audience that respects your vision and the tune that you sing.

Brands, well they've been there, done it, the’ve got the history, they've walked the walk, lasted the test of time, and we all sing to their tune.

So imagine you are Rihanna. You reach out to Paul McCartney to collaborate on a song. Paul is delighted - he’s got history on his side, but recently his street cred and relevance has waned. Of course Paul is delighted and so is Rihanna because both win. Rihanna becomes more associated with the populist consumer, Paul (Brand) with the new big Star (Startup).

Therefore as a Startup don’t be put off just making connections with big businesses if you can offer them a Return on Investment that adds value to them and their brand as an organisation. This might not be always monetary, but may be more about a connection or brand association that money can’t buy. If you can offer that Brand / big business a way into your own sales channel and community, you may be surprised at how much they are willing to help and potentially offer.

We work with brands, business accelerators, hackathons, enterprise themed events, programmes and services here at Startacus. If that's potentially you, and you want to find out about working with us - find out more here!

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Published on: 20th August 2015

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