I’m crazy about new businesses. The passion, the excitement, the discovery involved in starting something new, figuring out what works, pursuing a passion. I’m known in the office for exuberant introductions to a favorite new customer. I carry pictures in my briefcase of my favorite old customers. Starting a new business is hard as hell (I have first hand experience), but it is a special breed of person who can weather that perfect storm. And those are the people I want to spend my professional life with.
So why, you might ask, would someone this loopey for the little guys hang out with the corporate suits? Do I want to get bought? Do I want to get financed? Do I want to get customers? Do I want to get free lunch? Yes to maybe a few of these things, but the real reason is that there are some amazing things that can be done when the industry stalwarts are working with the young innovators. And I want to be the small company in on the big conversations.
And so co-upstart Sunir Shah from FreshBooks.com and I are proposing a SXSW Conference panel presentation titled “Dancing with Giants: How Start-Ups Do Deals with Industry Titans”. Our plan (and you can support it by voting for our session) is to spend our hour talking with 3 of the mega giants in our industry; Google, Intuit and American Express about how small and big businesses can work together to build small business greatness.
There can be many pitfalls in doing “game-changing” deals with large corporations; they can disrupt your product plan, delay development efforts, cost money in legal fees, then change directions, abandon your project or launch a competing product. Not to mention your 3 person development team working with a 50 person “rule by committee” scenario on the other side. Not ideal.
But the rewards can be great; distribution channels on a global scale, revenue numbers even your hockey stick never dreamed of, corporate VC offerings, and the elusive aquisition. These are companies that regularly invest in, partner with, acquire and squash companies like BatchBlue. So I’ll be spending some quality time finding out how to be on the right side of that equation.
Please join us at SXSW next year and let me know you will be there. We’ll be throwing another mean Small Business Web party!