Within 72 entrepreneur interviews, 37 DesignBites case companies reported 606 interactions with stakeholders outside of their company when describing their development efforts – we’ve analyzed what these reflect on during-crisis collaboration.
DEVELOPMENT INTERACTIONS BETWEEN ENTREPRENEURS AND THE WIDER ECOSYSTEM
Within 72 entrepreneur interviews, 37 DesignBites case companies reported 606 interactions with stakeholders outside of their company when describing their development efforts. 14% of these happened with actors from other industries including players like consultants, investors, designers and peer ventures, 12% took place with the public and non-profit sector entities such as governmental funders, media, educational institutions and regional agencies, and 9% played out amidst personal network made up of friends, family and former colleagues.
Government agencies, educational institutions and non-profits can offer both formal support in the forms of grants for purchasing services or internationalization efforts, as well as informal sharing of expertise. Many ventures also work with organizations with aligned values to develop processes and products, but also sharing their own expertise to help others.
- formal support: development grants and help, such as health officials clarifying which regulations apply to the operations of a venture
- lightweight collaboration: recommendations and help from institutions and foundations, such as a university entrepreneurship program offering advice on funding models or a non-profit connecting a venture with a good designer, or Vegaaniliitto helping 3 Kaveria ice cream to anticipate supply issues
- active collaboration: ventures giving back and collaborating with non-profits, such as The Good Guys Kombucha creating a Baltic Sea conservation themed customized flavor for Flow festival
- co-creation: developing joint offering, such as Entocube collaborating with an educational institution for insect cooking courses, building the concept and recipes together
Wildcard collaborations can occur with ventures and professionals from any field – for example, DesignBites ventures reported collaborating with fashion companies, clothing retailers, real estate companies, cosmetics, health and fitness companies, museums. These could leverage access to new customer groups, complementary brands, new materials or all sorts of creative ideas. For example, Helsieni collaborated with the restaurant Ultima and a glass-bowl designer to showcase locally grown mushrooms to restaurant customers, The Good Guys Kombucha and Flow Cosmetics were collaborating to see if kombucha waste products could be used in natural cosmetics and Kyrö Distillery co-developed a moisturizer gift with Tummeli, a cosmetics company and a group of bartenders:
“We saw who we were doing it for, why were we doing it with them specifically and then everyone benefited – bartenders got the hand lotion plus the feeling that they were taken into consideration, Tummeli got a bit of a lift to their brand and we got a better connection to the bartenders.”
Friends, family and former professional networks also come in handy. First iterations of ventures-to-be are often tested with our nearest and dearest, and are a source for quick and easy feedback on taste, branding, packaging, business plans and so forth. Acquaintances can offer low-threshold access to a surprisingly wide variety of fields and expertise. These types of inputs are typically fairly low-key, more intensive collaboration has been rare – with the exception of going into business with friends, family or colleagues in the first place!
“This Saturday I’m going cycling with my Finnish friend, who also has a food brand here and they’re selling in a large supermarket chain. So every time I have questions related to selling in that retail chain, I always call him and he is super helpful. It also helps me to realize that others have similar problems too, they don’t have it easier either. That is super nice.”
“[Ideas] always come from surprising places. For example, I was talking with my good friend from the States, when she was visiting, and when I explained to her about the new idea she told me we have to change the name. That if you ever want to enter the US market, you’ll be in court on the first day. So, those kind of comments, which even if you Google and try to find out, often when you say things out loud, you can get good feedback.”