Nike, Adidas, Carrefour, Booking.com, L’Oréal, Auchan… the Parisian start-up WeWard can boast of having concluded a fifty partnerships with large groups. Launched in 2019, the mobile application designed to encourage the practice of walking monetizes its 4 million active users with the heavyweights of leisure and retail. Thanks to this application, Nike, for example, will attract additional visitors to its flagship on the Champs-Elysées and increase traffic to its online store.
By signing with these big machines, WeWard will boost its turnover, strengthen the company’s credibility and reassure potential investors in the perspective of fundraising. But for Yves Benchimol, co-founder of the start-up that counts 15 employees, several conditions must be met for a start-up to derive real benefit from its relationship with a large group.
#1. Identify a key contact
In an international company, made up of multiple departments, the start-up begins by identifying who its client is: who has decision-making power and in which department.
This will generally not be the group’s “innovation” department, whose mission is to connect innovative projects with the department likely to use the product. In the case of WeWard, the client is the marketing department. She is the one who will use the application and who will pay for it.
#2. Set scale-up goals
From the start, the start-up will have to establish quantified objectives with a timetable for deploying the solution. “Don’t talk about POC, proof of concept, rather talk about proof of commerce! “, advises Yves Benchimol.
The collaboration must start on good foundations: what value the tool can bring to the group and what turnover the start-up can, for its part, achieve. “By trying to imagine under which scenario the deployment can ramp up, we quickly see if there is a long-term interest for both parties,” explains the leader.
For the start-up, the speed is a key issue. Without the objective of scaling up, it will run out of steam from responding to a lot of experimentation. Little chance then that it leads to a real business.
#3. Don’t oversell
When setting objectives, for example the number of additional sales generated by the product, the start-up has every interest in being transparent about what it can bring. Be careful not to “oversell” your project to maintain the contract at all costs. “It is better to exceed your objectives rather than create disappointment and thus weaken the collaboration”, sums up the CEO.
#4. Know how to say no
The biggest risk for a start-up facing a large group is to give in to all the demands. If the operation can be profitable in the short term, it will turn out to be negative in the long term, the essence of its weak resources being vampirized by only one business.
Yves Benchimol does not regret having rejected the project of a large bank which wanted to offer the application to its customers under its own brand. By taking the market, the start-up risked, according to him, becoming a service provider for a few large clients. WeWard preferred respect its initial vision consisting in making the application compatible with the strategies of a maximum number of mass market players.