Webinar Highlights: Connecting the Dots Between Investors and Corporates

In the third edition of the 2019 Navigate Webinar Series, NECEC’s Navigate welcomed thought leaders from Greenbacker Labs, Walmart, and VIA to discuss ways in which startups and entrepreneurs can leverage their ideas and ventures to increase their number of investors. Daniel Hullah from GE Ventures, the venture capital and private equity branch of GE, led a highly engaging discussion with Ely Greenberg, Anna Jarman, and Colin Goundin  as they shed light on their involvement with startup investment.

With a theme tailored towards helping entrepreneurs better connect the dots to investors, we picked the brains of each of our panelists to gain answers to many questions.

Revenue or capital, which begets which: Anna kicked off the conversation by sharing that, in terms of whether a startup should have a revenue first to attract corporate investment or if corporate investment leads to revenue, it really depends on place and the type of startup. Colin added that although he agrees that it depends, in his experience, it is often smarter to have revenue first to show that there is a proof point and investors will come to you.

An internal champion for your venture: Next, the panel spoke about how startups could find an internal champion that will mentor them on navigating corporate investments. Colin explained how when identifying corporates or investing companies to approach, they all have a different process for how to move startups through investment channels. It is important that as an entrepreneur to find an enthusiastic supporter that has enough clout to make connections for you. Daniel added that it is important that entrepreneurs avoid risk by not dedicating a huge amount of time to one champion in case they switch  roles or companies.

The prevalence of “not invented here!”: Daniel posed the question of what entrepreneurs should do when they reach out to organizations that in turn say they do not need the innovation because their internal processes are sufficient. In his experience, it is best that entrepreneurs who show how they can have immediate or incremental improvements tend to do better in this area then those who try to completely change or disrupt the foundational parts of the company. Ely added that entrepreneurs should not only look at large corporations but also midsize, regional, or family companies to mitigate the “not invented here!” syndrome.

To wrap up this highly informative session, each of our speakers shared one piece of advice they would give to entrepreneurs. To learn more, watch the live recording of our webinar! And if you want to hear what experts from General Motors, Equinor Energy Ventures, National Grid, MassCEC, NYSERDA, and Braemar Energy Ventures have to say about strategic partnerships and fundraising, checkout our previous webinars on YouTube.

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Joel Pugh

Joel is Navigate's Intern.