Tradition meets the future: startups and established companies join forces

Category: Startup




Very well, as indicated by the growing number of successful cooperations. Five success stories illustrate how cooperations between startups and corporate groups or medium-sized enterprises can be mutually fruitful.

42reports and DB Station & Service

It's not e-commerce or conventional retail, it’s a tool that links both worlds together: enables retail stores to analyse customer data in the same way as online shops have been doing for years. For example, they can see how many passers-by enter into the shop or how long visitors stay in the shop. Deutsche Bahn realised that these functions are also useful for large train stations. Since 2014, DB Station & Service, a subsidiary of Deutsche Bahn AG that operates 5,400 train stations, has been successfully cooperating with Deutsche Bahn has been increasingly focusing on startups in order to offer innovative products and services at its train stations. For 42reports, having such a renowned customer as a reference is like striking marketing gold.

Mister Spex & Optiker Bösche

In 2011 Mister Spex showed that retail stores do not have to fear the growing e-commerce industry. On the contrary, online selling and retail stores can complement each other in many areas. Through retail partners, for example Optiker Bösche, a German optician store, Mister Spex can offer its customers eye tests or an adjustment service for their glasses. Optiker Bösche also benefited from this arrangement. Instead of its online rival stealing customers, Mister Spex actually sends new customers who are dependent on offline services to Optiker Bösche. As this example clearly shows, traditional family firms and startups can indeed work well together.

Home eat Home & Coca-Cola

The Coca-Cola Founders Network helps company founders to implement their business plans. Coca-Cola searches worldwide for business ideas from company founders with whom it is worth cooperating. Marc Sebastian-Esser and Fried Große-Dunker were the first German startup to make it into the network. Their idea was a service that enabled customers to select a meal online or via an app. Home eat Home then delivers the ingredients for this dish to a nearby collection point. Particularly with regard to finding such partners, Home eat Home greatly benefited from the large network of Coca-Cola distributors. However, the partnership was not just about synergies, it was also about the financial added value. During the foundation stage, Coca-Cola finances startups with a convertible loan. For the company founders this means they no longer have to go through the time-consuming process of finding startup capital – and Coca-Cola profits from a lucrative stake in the company.

MyBook & Ullstein

Antonia Besse is more than familiar with the world of a traditional publishing house. Before she founded her startup MyBook – a rival to Amazon that adopts a rather more loving approach and offers personal book recommendations for customers – she worked in the book industry for many years. One of the publishing houses that she worked for was the Ullstein Verlag, which was established in Berlin in 1877. As her former employer, the Ullstein Verlag was immediately on board with her project right from the beginning. 

Ottobock & BigRep

Ottobock, a specialist in orthopaedic products, is supporting Berlin in its quest to become a centre for innovation. Rather than just manufacturing prosthesis – the actual core business of the medium-sized company – Ottobock is supporting the FabLab in the Bötzowbrauerei, a popular meeting place for founders of creative startups. One of its first cooperations was aimed at purchasing a modern, high-tech 3D printer - the BigRep ONE.2. In the field of medicine, production processes are changing more quickly than you think.