Established state companies could benefit from special relationship with startup firms
By Scott Meacham
Copyright © 2016, The Oklahoma Publishing Company
No matter what your business is or the size of your company, it’s likely that you have at least one relationship with a customer or a supplier that stands out.
It could be with the customer who applies your product exactly the way it was intended, the client who is always eager to try something new, the firm that stayed with your company when times were tough, or the customer who, after an emphatic process, chose your solution over your toughest competitor.
That special connection could simply be with your business’s first customer — the decision-maker or corporation that took a chance on you, your product, and your team when you were just starting out.
From the supplier side, special relationships gain roots when a solutions provider adds features you requested, after a vendor expends special terms or pricing during a challenging business cycle, or with a supplier that unfailingly keeps commitments, delivers on time, and meets high standards of quality.
Many special partnerships evolve when a supplier understands a challenge in your industry better than anyone else and is creative enough to come up with a solution to a problem that no one else in the industry could solve.
There are dozens of innovative startups in Oklahoma with groundbreaking technologies and creative solutions who are seeking their first customers — startups with prototypes, proven solutions, and the will and the character to build productive business partnerships with customers large and small.
There are also hundreds of decision-makers, general managers, and C-level executives in Oklahoma corporations who share a vested interest in innovation and job creation in our state. These business leaders face unmet challenges and opportunities — problems to solve, competition to overcome, new markets to claim — and they have the desire to see their state grow.
What if established Oklahoma companies opened the door in a very deliberate way to the entrepreneurs and startups in our state? What if they became that special customer or supplier for an Oklahoma startup?
i2E has a well-vetted portfolio of young businesses, some with customers that could act as a reference and some at an earlier stage. These are entrepreneurial firms with big ideas, groundbreaking solutions, and founding teams that are solving old problems with new ideas.
So I have a suggestion for Oklahoma’s business community.
Everyone in an established business knows just how difficult it can be to secure the first customer appointment or get the attention of the right audience for an initial demonstration or presentation. We’ve also all seen examples of industry solutions that come from unexpected and even unexplored technologies.
My suggestion is, give i2E a call. Talk with us about your business challenges and invest some time to hear about the diverse portfolio of Oklahoma startups that we invest in and support.
Let’s see if we can’t connect to move Oklahoma’s innovation economy forward by sparking some special and inspiring new business relationships.
Did You Know?
The broadest measure of startup activity is now about the U.S. historical average from the last 20 years, with more people entering entrepreneurship out of choice rather than necessity.
SOURCE: Kauffman Index
Read the story at The Oklahoman. (Requires subscription)
Scott Meacham is president and CEO of i2E Inc., a nonprofit corporation that mentors many of the state’s technology-based startup companies. i2E receives state appropriations from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology and is an integral part of Oklahoma’s Innovation Model. Contact Meacham at i2E_Comments@i2E.org.