Alexander Pinker’s Expert Küb: How can companies and start-ups work together?

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As a future strategy and innovation profiler, it is important for me to understand how companies can work together optimally with start-ups. In the coming years, this type of collaboration, which goes beyond the company’s own boundaries, will become increasingly important in order to drive innovation and disruption forward. No company should work alone here, but should recognize an opportunity in the changing market. This Kubernetik shows which steps should be taken first.

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Question: The “How-Question” of the Kubernetik was: How can companies and startups collaborate?

Alex Pinker's completed expert review on cooperation between founders and entrepreneurs
Alex Pinker’s completed expert review on cooperation between founders and entrepreneurs

Response Phrase 1: Tell the Story

The best collaboration results from a contractual partnership with honest communication.

Response phrase 2: Best to Start

Collaboration requires a cooperative culture in the companies that has defined a common language and that has the potential to earn a lot of money through synergetic cooperation.

Top3 derive ToDos: Come into action

The topic of collaboration is not in itself a topic that can be started at short notice. It is therefore important to think in two categories. In the short term, in order to optimize collaboration with startups, the following three ToDos should be started in the next few weeks:

  1. Conversation with colleagues about innovation goals
  2. Assembling a roadmap of collaboration tasks and possibilities
  3. Identification of startups with which the defined goals can be realized

In the long run the following three ToDos will be added:

  1. Companies must first adapt their culture and design it for collaboration and cooperation
  2. This requires an understanding of the partner (start-up and company) in order to find a common language
  3. The common innovation goals can then be used to plan possible measures and, of course, monetary income


It was very surprising what role money plays in this relationship. That a contractual agreement brings more security and also a mutual understanding of the other is necessary, is obvious. But the goal (objective and monetary) and transparency in communication are key elements for the success of the project.

About Alexander Pinker

Alexander Pinker is an innovation profiler, future strategist and start-up expert. He advises companies on innovations, technologies and emerging trends and founded Medialist Innovation in 2011, which specialises in trend scouting, futurology and digital mindsetting. As a board member of the startup network SUN with thousands of entrepreneurs and founders, he has gained deep insights into organizations of various sizes and industries. The combination of the creative with the analytical view is his profession. As a consultant, Pinker works with companies in search of traces of change and their individual innovation profiles. The goal is to pave their way into the future and enable them to collaborate with start-ups, spin-offs or the competition. Pinker is a founding member and Foresight Expert at Futures Space, lecturer at the University of Applied Sciences Würzburg-Schweinfurt and author of the book “Innovations in Retailing – Innovation Technologies and Digital Strategies for Retailers”.

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