An example of collaboration between companies and startups for process improvement
Please introduce yourself and your company/startup:
Our startup is called everlean and we offer our customers a web-based app which enables employees to easily enter suggestions for process improvement via mobile phone, tablet or PC. These are displayed transparently and tasks can be managed, reports are generated automatically. Employees are much more motivated to contribute their suggestions, as appreciation increases and they feel taken seriously. In the long run, costs can be reduced in the company, customer satisfaction increases and ultimately profits. Our customer Bauer & Böcker produces magnets, LED lights and other inspection tools.
How are you cooperating? Please present the cooperation to us:
Bauer & Böcker uses our product to take up and implement suggestions from employees. In addition, the transparent display on the digital board (monitor showing suggestions and tasks sorted by status) helps to keep track of current projects and tasks. Additionally, the digital board allows the user to monitor the status of the suggestions and tasks. Bauer & Böcker gives us feedback on how to improve the app. A short case study about our cooperation can be found here: https://www.everlean.de/beispiele/
How did you find and get to know each other?
Our founder Yannick Müller met Bauer & Böcker owner Inga Bauer at a startup event in Berlin. Since then Bauer & Böcker has been a customer of ours and the relationship between the two companies is beneficial for both sides.
What mutual strengths do you see in your cooperation?
Through the cooperation with Bauer & Böcker we receive feedback for the improvement of the app. At the same time Bauer & Böcker benefits from a lean management system like everlean. The benefits include more motivated employees, improved processes, more satisfied customers and lower costs.
What challenges were waiting for you in the beginning, what barriers did you have to overcome?
After we had quickly implemented everlean in Bauer & Böcker some employees had to be introduced to everlean first. Since the app was new, some employees had doubts, but these were quickly resolved. The employees realized what it means to continuously improve the company and how this helps their company to secure its competitive advantage.
How did you balance your expectations, did you have the same expectations from the start?
Before we had a business relationship we both had the same expectations. It was clear that Bauer & Böcker would get a tool to implement suggestions from employees and we would get feedback from them on how the app could improve. Both companies wanted to get started fast and got the collaboration up and running very rapidly.
How did the communication go in the course of your cooperation?
While communication by e-mail or telephone is the most common, our CEO Yannick Müller also travelled to the office of Bauer & Böcker. Mrs. Bauer has also been to Berlin a few times, in this case she has visited our office.
How have you managed to identify a win-win so you both benefit from the collaboration?
On the one hand with everlean Bauer & Böcker has received a tool which helps them to improve their processes, while we have the opportunity to receive valuable customer feedback. We have also learned how to help customers initiate lean management or a continuous improvement culture throughout the company.
What cultural differences have you experienced?
Since startups have fewer employees they often act quickly, while established companies employ more people and have often introduced long-established processes that are rarely questioned. Much has “grown historically”. It often takes a little longer to make decisions. This point is of course much less pronounced at Bauer & Böcker than at other even larger and less agile companies.
What are the three biggest general challenges to collaboration between companies and startups?
After working with Bauer & Böcker for about a year we learned that companies use everlean a little differently. We have shown these differences here: https://www.everlean.de/beispiele/
What tips do you have for other innovation managers and founders who are in the process of initiating cooperation?
Innovation managers should try to act as quickly as possible, try things out and not dwell too long in theory. At the same time founders must have patience and understanding.
Ambivation connects established companies with startups for innovation partnerships. As an innovation consultancy and matchmaker, Ambivation facilitates collaboration between founders and executives for general exchange, concrete customer, supplier or research partnerships. Ambivation supports companies in the identification of needs, startup identification, startup evaluation and initiation of cooperation. Formats such as research of relevant startups, startup monitoring, strategic cooperation consulting or event formats such as startup tours or Design Thinking workshops serve this purpose. The monthly newsletter also informs curious company representatives about current collaboration examples and events related to these cooperations.