Aligning solutions with corporate strategies can help startups collaborate for success
or startup founders looking to create innovative products and solutions or develop new ways of working, collaboration with a corporation can be a great starting point. Sibylle Fischer, director of strategic venturing at Baloise, suggests that startups in such a position align their solution with a company’s corporate strategy.
A startup’s ability to solve specific problems faster than a large corporation is a big advantage for the corporation, Sibylle explains, and by aligning its activities with a company’s corporate strategy, a startup has an opportunity to benefit from the corporation’s resources. She highlights the Baloise Simply Safe corporate strategy, which outlines the company’s goals and initiatives, and guides how Baloise collaborates with startups. The Simply Safe strategy aims to make customers’ lives easier and safer in the areas of core insurance and larger ecosystem of home and mobility. “Becoming a more agile, resistant and resilient organization underlies the whole strategy,” she says.
Sibylle started her career in mergers and acquisitions at Deutsche Bahn, and joined Baloise in 2010. Since 2017, she’s been part of the investment committee of Anthemis Baloise Strategic Ventures, the corporate venture capital arm of Baloise that manages a €100 million fund and invests in early-stage startups in the US, UK, Europe and Israel. Sibylle is responsible for corporate venture capital activities within Baloise and connects interesting startups with the business.
Making the customer experience, in insurance and the larger ecosystem, seamless, safer and simpler is where I think founders have a lot of potential.
Using Baloise as an example, Sibylle explains that collaboration among startups and corporations can begin by matching a company’s needs to startups in the market, or by having a startup approach the corporation with a clear problem and solution.
Then, the corporation might run a proof of concept test that can turn into a long-term partnership or investment. In addition to this, Baloise partners with global accelerators and incubators to scout for innovative solutions, and Sibylle encourages founders to join these programs.
There are three areas Sibylle highlights as opportunities for startups to collaborate with corporations for financial innovation: improving the customer experience, diversification and sustainability. “Making the customer experience, in insurance and the larger ecosystem, seamless, safer and simpler is where I think founders have a lot of potential,” she says. She also identifies mortgages and life insurance as areas where startups can have a big impact.
Sibylle explains that Baloise is always looking to collaborate with startups that can make it easier for customers to interact with the company. For example, in 2017, Baloise collaborated with startups KASKO and Picsure to create a single-item insurance product for watches using artificial intelligence. Clients can upload a photo of their watch and immediately receive an insurance quote. “From this, we developed single-item insurance where we have various partners that we can serve and deliver products with,” says Sibylle.
Sustainability is a key element of Baloise’s corporate strategy and an area where Sibylle believes startups can play a key role. One way the organization supports this is by investing in startups focused on climate protection. “They have a better risk return rate, deliver better financial results to us and have a positive impact on the environment and society,” says Sibylle. For example, via Anthemis Baloise Strategic Ventures, Baloise invested in Stable, which provides insurance to farmers that compensates them for lost income due to price volatility.
When building relationships with internal stakeholders at corporations, Sibylle suggests founders stay in regular contact to provide company updates and present opportunities for collaboration based on the corporation’s current priorities. “If the startup sees the right angle for collaboration, it’s easier for us to find the right people within our group,” says Sibylle.
Most important tips for startups:
- Do your research. Find the right people to contact on LinkedIn or the Baloise Group homepage and make a short list of who you’d like to speak to.
- Join an accelerator or incubator. Many of these organizations have good connections to corporations in banking and insurance, and can make introductions on your behalf.
- Work with other corporations. Having proof that you’ve successfully worked with other corporations shows that you know how to make a successful partnership.
- Be at the right place at the right time. Sometimes we meet really interesting startups but strategically they’re not part of our main focus at that moment. Read our latest media releases to find out what we’re focusing on.
- Build personal relationships. Regularly catch up with your contacts, share what you’re working on and let them know if you think there might be opportunities to collaborate.
A version of this article is included in Startup Guide Basel Area, alongside many more expert insights and useful tips. Order your copy now!
Written by Alexandra Connerty
Repackaged by Anastasia Ilcov
Photography by Jasmin Frei