top of page

Challenge Accepted: How to get a pilot opportunity with Fortune 500 in 3 days

Updated: Apr 18

pilot opportunity with Fortune 500 in 3 days

Last week we ran 3 simultaneous Innovation Challenges in collaboration with JETRO New York. Three Japanese enterprise giants (Atrios by Sony, Aucnet and Sanyo Chemicals) presented their challenges giving 24 startups an opportunity to pitch their solutions in response to an actual business challenge across various domains: pre-owned luxury fashion luxury goods auctions for B2B; manufacturing, logistics and inventory management in mobility industry using ai edge technology to make operations smarter; and carbon capture using chemical engineering ionic liquids, dehydration technology.

JETRO’s innovation challenge call to action was clear and compelling: Japanese companies presented well-defined, real-world challenges, inviting startups to bring forward their most innovative solutions, 8 startups were invited to ignite pilot conversations.

Over the course of 3 days startups not only worked on their solutions and prepared the pitches but also learned from experienced B2B/enterprise founders and lawyers on how to build relationships with corporate stakeholders, navigate corporate-startup business negotiation and develop the relationship from pilot to M&A.

Here are the main insights and takeaways:

💡Can pilots lead to M&A?

A pilot project presents an excellent opportunity for potential acquirers to experience your technology firsthand. However, it's essential to carefully manage intellectual property (IP) risks. A pilot should be approached with caution, especially if there's a chance your technology could be replicated without strong IP protections in place.

Executing a pilot in a controlled setting allows you to safeguard your IP while demonstrating your technology's value. The key is to design the pilot to quickly generate actionable insights within a manageable scope, ensuring it aligns with the potential acquirer's organizational dynamics.

💡Understanding tactical and strategic M&A scenarios

Tactical M&A focuses on short-term gains and financial metrics (like MRR and ARR) to assess immediate value and synergies.

Strategic M&A looks at long-term value, integrating the acquired company’s technology into the acquirer's portfolio for future growth and innovation, regardless of the acquired company's current market traction.

💡Culture Matters

Especially when dealing with Japanese companies, understanding and respecting cultural differences can significantly impact business outcomes.

culture matters

💡 Quick Exit Strategy vs High Valuation Strategy

Choosing your M&A exit strategy wisely shapes your negotiation approach.

“You can increase your valuation with a bridge round and signal high growth or you can expand your team”.

If you're aiming for a quick exit to start a new project, focus on securing a deal that offers a fair valuation for a speedy transition, prioritizing efficiency over maximum profit. On the other hand, if you're after a high valuation and willing to wait, prepare for a thorough negotiation process. This might mean engaging in bridge funding to show growth or adjusting operations to increase value.

💡 How do you effectively initiate contact with key stakeholders for collaborations or M&A, especially without prior engagement?

merger and adquisitions

From Challenge to Pilot Opportunity in 3 days:

V-Art emerged as the winner of e-commerce category, showcasing their innovative solution to revolutionize the pre-owned luxury goods market through technology and logistics. Aucnet also ignited pilot conversations with a few other selected startups: Uvii, Blueberry and Niteon.

For carbon capture challenge Carbon Utility won by addressing the need for innovative applications of ionic liquids in carbon capture and utilization. Sanyo also chose Genesis Systems and Mitico since their proposals aligned with SANYO Chemicals objectives, resulting in potential pilot conversations.

Sony was impressed by Roadly, Inc. in the Mobility challenge, that proposed a solution that leverages technology to solve operational issues in manufacturing, logistics and inventory management.

pilot opportunity with Fortune 500 in 3 days

Excited to bring your startup solution to corporations and start pilot conversation in 3 days? There’s a world of opportunity awaiting, and our hackathons are designed to turbocharge your business growth. We’ve witnessed how fresh ideas can blossom into substantial opportunities, and we're here to guide you every step of the way.

Want stay at the forefront of the most thrilling challenges and collaborations between VCs, corporates, and startups?

Subscribe to our newsletter! You’ll gain access to exclusive opportunities, insightful articles, and the scoop on our innovation challenges. Plus, be the first in line for our upcoming events and discover how we can achieve greatness together.


bottom of page