Tag Archives: strategic partnerships

Startups and the Role of the “Other” Development

Business people

There IS a difference between Business Development and Corporate Development

By: Michael Kaiser

It is an accepted fact that Business Development is not the same as Corporate Development, although they may (or can) intertwine. Even today, business development stands as a euphemism for sales and marketing, but especially in the case of high technology that definition is less acceptable and more complex. Whereas business development is an organic growth, corporate development’s inorganic role is the opposite, with its emphasis on mergers and acquisitions, alliances and joint ventures.

What is Corporate Development?
There are several definitions of Corporate Development but the following ones address the essence of this subject:

A) Corporate Development applies to planning and strategies that assist a company to achieve its goals (Wise Geek -1)

B) Corporate Development refers to the planning and execution of a wide range of strategies to meet specific organizational objectives (Wikipedia – 2)

C) Corporate Development encompasses the various facets of the corporate portfolio, growth, and strategy. (Boston Consulting Group – 3)

Does a startup need a Corporate Development team?
The answer could be “No and Yes”.

“No” because the entrepreneur(s) behind the birth of a new company based on their vision, initiative, creativity, technology, personal values, trade connections, etc. are building their product and/or service offering on the premise that the growth of their business is dependent on sales and marketing. At the onset of a startup, its actions will resemble more those of guerrilla warfare than those of a strategic military operation. And therefore…

Yes” because a lack of growth, or inversely, an unexpected growth demand requires the help of seasoned experts for corrective advice to prevent mistakes and steer the company towards success. And that’s where the professional corporate colonels and generals devise the client’s strategies.

More importantly, a primary reason a startup has to deal with a corporate development team is the need for investment sources, such as venture capital and crowd funding described as the “the collective effort of individuals who network and pool their money …to support efforts initiated by other people or organizations… in support of a wide variety of activities, startup company funding, inventions development, scientific research…  Crowd funding can also refer to the funding of a company by selling small amounts of equity to many investors.” (Wikipedia – 2)

Corporate development strategies
The strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analyses of startups, mid-sized or large companies is just one basic tool used by corporate development professionals in order to objectively determine and address the challenges and opportunities of new technologies, products and services. Here is a brief example provided by a consulting firm on the subject of some critical questions for an alliance or joint venture case  (Boston Consulting Group – 3):

  • In which areas—geographies, product lines, or functions—might an alliance or joint venture make sense? Is it better than an outright acquisition?
  • For a given opportunity, who are the right potential partners?
  • How can we prepare for alliance or joint venture negotiations—for example, for value capture and split?
  • How can we ensure constructive management and decision making in the alliance?
    • How can we set up an active joint-venture-and-alliance portfolio-management process for evaluating strategic options?

Another consulting firm defines corporate development as a function with three features of excellence (Ernst & Young – 4):

  • Strategic alignment with broader business goals
  • Well-documented transaction processes
  • Close relationships between corporate development and the rest of the organization

The bottom line
As social media, software and hardware applications, local and global connections and narrower opportunity and time horizons emerge due to advanced technologies, startup companies in the life sciences and other high technology sectors have to increasingly depend much earlier on the role of professional corporate development working in unison with a company’s organic business development in order to sustain their financial and market viability.


  1. Wise Geek (http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-corporate-development.htm)
  2. Wikipedia  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporate_development)
  3. Boston Consulting Group (http://www.bcg.com/expertise_impact/capabilities/corporate_development/default.aspx)
  4. Ernst & Young (http://www.ey.com/GL/en/Services/Transactions/Toward-transaction-excellence–The-DNA-of-the-corporate-development-function)

Suggested reading

  1. Deloitte (http://www.deloitte.com/view/en_US/us/Services/Financial-Advisory-Services/Corporate-Development/696435131bc16310VgnVCM1000001a56f00aRCRD.htm)
  2. Forbes Magazine: (http://www.forbes.com/sites/scottpollack/2012/03/21/what-exactly-is-business-development/)

Picture Credit: © Sudoku | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

The Hand-Shake Co-marketing Agreement: What every Life Science Company Should Know

Hand shake

Keep agreements simple to start – build on those that work!

By Andrew Johnson, Ph.D.

Complicated co-marketing agreements use up a lot of time and often produce no results.  How many times have you met with another company at an industry event and talked about how great both of your products would sell to your respective customers, go home with high expectations only to have nothing really happen.

Here are two questions you should ask yourself before proceeding:

  • How much time and effort would I expend promoting/selling my new partners product instead of my own?
  • Will they do the same thing for me?

If the answers to these questions are  ‘not much time and effort’, politely move on and find a partner with a better fit.  If you really believe that your partner’s customers would appreciate learning about your product and vice versa, read on.

When your product and theirs together might be valuable for some of your respective customers, this can work.  You have an instrument – they have analysis software—you have a reagent kit –they have the instrument etc.

Handshake Agreements Start Very Simply:

  1. Determine value proposition of both of your products together
  2. Pick a few of your current customers that might be interested in your new partner’s product and contact them on behalf of your new partner
  3. Provide warm introductions for you partner to these customers.  They should be doing the same thing. (Suggest starting with 3 or 4 introductions)
  4. Assess how valuable the leads that you got were from your new partner.

Continue or dissolve the relationship based on how well this is helping you with your sales.

Keeping things simple will allow you to avoid wasting money and time on initially exciting but ultimately ill-fated relationships.  Once you have developed a successful relationship based on your handshake (i.e. informal agreement), transitioning to a more formal agreement will be much easier and productive.

Picture Credit:  © Pakhnyushchyy | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos