Startup Relationship Management during COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all areas of business, and startup relationship management is not an exception. Since many startup events have been canceled for the foreseeable future, companies involved in startup relationship management are finding it increasingly difficult to manage startup relationships without these events.

Prior to the pandemic, startup relationships were easily managed through events such as demo days, in-person accelerators, and pitch events. With social distancing measures in place and most work going virtual, these events have been harder to organize.

The first major event that was canceled due to COVID-19 was South by Southwest. South by Southwest was essentially an annual event that consisted of multiple exhibits that served many different industries, including tech, media, and film.

Events such as this gave startups exposure and networking opportunities, which are especially essential for early age startups. For larger corporations, this gave them the opportunity to find new talent and establish partnerships with startups that could help them solve current business problems. All in all, these events were essential for establishing and maintaining corporate-startup partnerships.

In a 2020 McKinsey study, 75% of surveyed startups considered partnerships with corporates to be an important aspect of their business; 63% of these startups also said that they anticipate partnerships becoming increasingly important in the future. In the same study, interviews with corporates showed that executives believed that these partnerships with startups were the key to innovation and product development.

Most of the events that were critical for startup relationship management have either been canceled indefinitely, been moved completely online or have been turned into hybrid events.  

However, some have expressed their opinions and said that in-person events give participants certain elements that virtual events fail to offer. When you meet face-to-face, it is easier to build trust and engage

 with people since there are often fewer distractions around you and it is easier to detect non-verbal cues.

With COVID-19 and all the uncertainty that accompanies it, corporations are now under pressure to be innovative and restructure their business models to be more versatile to unforeseen events. Now more than ever, technology has become a key factor in creating and sustaining these relationships.

Though in-person events gave corporations more opportunities to meet more startups, there are numerous technological alternatives that would still enable these companies to expand their lines of innovation. These alternatives include startup relationship management platforms, which allow corporations to connect with startups in order to expand business lines and solve key innovation issues.