For startups, finding authentic demand is critical yet tricky. Large companies have business problems but don’t publicize them. This presents an opportunity for mutually beneficial collaboration between these two groups in Vietnam’s booming startup ecosystem.

Vietnam has around 3,500 startups, over 90% in digital tech like e-commerce and fintech. But many startups struggle to connect with real corporate needs. Established firms have legacy systems, risk aversion, and inertia that inhibit innovation. Partnering with agile startups can accelerate digital transformation. Conversely, linking with large corporations allows startups to scale and gain credibility.

Each side brings strengths. Corporations have financial capital, brands, distribution, and infrastructure but face regulations and siloed innovation. Startups boast agile development, the latest technologies, creative models, and cost-effective innovation but need help identifying real business problems and achieving scale.

Some best practices include:

  • Mapping corporate needs through internal interviews, ideation workshops, and observation of pain points, rather than guessing customer problems.
  • Creating interactions through incubators, accelerators, and open innovation programs to facilitate physical and digital touchpoints for startups and corporate decision-makers to connect.
  • Aligning incentives through procurement contracts, revenue sharing, and outcome-based arrangements to ensure both parties financially benefit from the partnership’s success.
  • Forging cultural understanding through job rotations, site visits, and team-building exercises builds relationships at all levels to develop empathy and trust.

With youthful demographics and tech skills, Vietnam is ripe for win-win partnerships. Corporations gain digital transformation. Startups get fuel for growth. However, it’s important to point out that human factors like cultural fit and communication channels determine success. Executives who purposefully bridge institutional divides will unlock collaborative advantages.

In summary, bridging divides between startups and corporations enables both to capitalize on each other’s strengths.

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Tim Burrill
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