At the InsureTech Connect conference, I witnessed several win-win-win scenarios. For example, one of my friends is doing some fantastic work with data models for the auto industry. One of my other friends is doing amazing work on providing back-end infrastructure (secure chain) for carriers and insurtech startups. All I did was make the introduction, and I witnessed something cool – true collaboration, as other introductions have occurred and produced a possible contract for one of my friends.
In my startup journey, I’ve learned we are stronger together and that, the more wins we have, the better for all of us. Even if we are in different industries or verticals in the same industry, the more we collaborate and share, the better for everyone. Startups are interesting, and mentors and experts come in all shapes and experience – folks with deep knowledge/industry expertise and folks who have recent experience in the area they are wanting to disrupt. I’ve seen entrepreneurs chase mentors who have lots of experience. That is awesome! Don’t forget to build relationships with your peers and other startups. The recency of experience for startups is just as important.
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Let’s look at a couple of examples of creating win-win-win scenarios:
Fundraising: Someone who has raised capital for their company 10 years ago is different than someone who is doing that now. Why? Strategies could have changed; players could have changed; and tactics could have changed. For startups wanting to raise capital, talk to your peers who recently raised money. You will get a lot of knowledge vs. a traditional spiel on how to raise money from someone who did it years ago. Collaborate and share! If there is a carrier VC group that may help your colleague, introduce them. If there is an accelerator or competition, share with your network. For insurtechs, insurance is HUGE! I keep joking within our founding team of Benekiva that I have a backlog of problems I want to solve. The only way to win is to collaborate and create win-win-win scenarios not just for you but also for your peers, even if you don’t see a win directly for you.
Prospecting: Prospecting during startup stage takes a different lifecycle than for a traditional mature organization. If you come from sales, don’t get hung up on the “sales process and roles.” Be nimble. Involve your team – diversity and team matter. We’ve seen at Benekiva that, if we stick to traditional sales roles, the passion of the founding team doesn’t come through.
At ITC, I heard someone make a comment: “The best thing to do with knowledge is to share – not to hoard.”
I encourage all my startup colleagues to continue collaborating and train your sixth sense on finding the right collaborative partners. Not everyone talks to you in the spirit of collaboration, but even when you get burned you get great experience and can build a great support system to vet opportunities.
See also: Innovation: ‘Where Do We Start?’
Indra Nooyi, whom I’ve admired and who was the ultimate boss when I was fortunate enough to be working at Pepsico, said during a graduation address at Wake Forest University that it’s crucial to help others rise. “Greatness comes not from a position,” she said, “but from helping build the future.”
Cheers to creating win-win-win scenarios!