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The Top Five Things Startups Should Evaluate in a Startup Program

There’s no denying the crucial role startups play – and have always played – in the global business environment. Startups are vital innovators and agile organizations full of people behind some of the most exciting innovations in every industry. Without startups, we wouldn’t have much of the technology that forms the fabric of modern life or the incubators from which that technology emerges. 

That said, life as a startup isn’t easy. Often, startups have small teams and only a handful of technical experts, which means teams are usually stretched to their limits and unable to take on too many new projects or initiatives. Additionally, most startups aren’t sitting on a mountain of funding – that means they must make design decisions quickly and cost-effectively so they don’t run over budget or behind schedule. And lastly, they often lack a comprehensive set of technology solutions that could help them grow and generate long-term value. As such, most startups need to join forces with a partner organization that offers tools or sets of tools that match startups’ needs; these larger organizations usually offer these tools in bundles through dedicated startup programs. 

There’s no shortage of startup programs, which is good because it means startups can find competitive plans and bundles from a range of established companies. At the same time, this vast landscape of offerings can make it difficult to navigate the wealth of plans and packages available. Thankfully, there are five key aspects every startup should be analyzing when it’s considering which program best fit its needs.

1. Partner Organization Experience, Expertise, and Examples

It might be obvious, but that doesn’t make it any less important – one of the most important aspects startups should analyze when choosing a startup program is the experience of the organization offering the program (especially their history with startups), its subject matter and domain expertise, and its track record with other startups. Startups should ensure their collaborator’s domain expertise aligns with their company’s goals and values and will help them create short- and long-term value by getting their products developed quicker, more efficiently, and more reliably. In addition, startups should ask prospective collaborators to provide concrete case studies, testimonials, and customer stories that demonstrate how they’ve helped startups, their program philosophy, and how they’ve supported startups beyond the scope of their program.

In essence, startups should be asking prospective technology collaborators: 

  • What is your organization’s specialty/specialties? What are your company’s biggest strengths?
  • How many years of experience do you have in your industry or sector? 

2. Program Length

By definition, startups live on the edges of what we think is possible. That means that while startups create some of the most boundary-breaking innovations, they’re often facing immense pressure regarding deadlines, manpower, funding, and competition (often larger competitors). Poor startup program deals only amplify this pressure. When startup programs only give startups access to tools for a short period of time, startup teams might feel like they’re in a race against the clock to build up workflows, structures, scripts, and prototypes before they’re forced to move to a full-price solution suite or seek out a different program. 

This means startups should seek out programs that promise them reliability and continuity. Ideally, teams should look for a startup program that offers them multi-year access so they feel free to acclimate and work within solution suites at their own pace, without the threat of losing their hard work after a short period of time. Long-term value isn’t built in a day – quality programs and collaborating organizations know this and reflect that in an offering that gives startups the freedom to work on their own timeline.

3. Onboarding, Training, and Support

For startups, speed is everything. That’s why it’s crucial every startup finds a program that provides them with a dedicated onboarding process, continuous, round-the-clock support, and additional training and training materials that help teams get comfortable and competent with tools right from the start. One of the most devastating pitfalls a startup can fall into is entering a startup program that “dumps” tools onto teams and doesn’t give them the know-how or personal support to utilize those tools to their full potential. This makes it impossible for startups to maximize the value they’re getting from those tools, and robs teams of potential opportunities, value, and innovative potential. 

Regarding onboarding, training, and support, startups should be asking: 

  • How comprehensive is your onboarding and training process?
  • How large is the company offering the program? Will we be subject to long response times? How large is the startup department and how robust is their expertise?
  • Will we have access to 24/7 support from dedicated experts? Will we also have access to documentation, product guides, and other support collateral?

4. Co-Marketing Opportunities

Startups don’t often have the marketing capabilities of larger, more established organizations. Often, media outlets and large industry players have established relationships that keep one another in the know about new products, offering, events, and other newsworthy developments. Startups often don’t have these same types of relationships – or the time and means to pursue these relationships – and so such it can be hard to find media outlets willing to carve out headlines or speaking engagements for lesser-known organizations, even if what they’re offering is second-to-none. In addition, startups may not have the resources to generate other promotional marketing materials such as case studies, testimonials, social media presence, and other related collateral. 

The world’s best startup programs will include co-marketing opportunities, which give startups the promotional reach they so desperately need. These opportunities – which often consist of the collateral above and more – give small teams the chance to demonstrate their products and offerings to new audiences in new regions, which helps them secure additional funding, build marketing momentum, and bring their innovations to the forefront of their industry. These co-marketing opportunities also give startups the chance to engage in events they might not otherwise have had the chance to, such as trade shows, guest speaking events, panel discussions, podcasts, videos, and more. Especially as networking and word-of-mouth information slowly becomes a (mostly) in-person phenomenon once again, these opportunities unlock doors and give startups visibility on an international scale to broad audiences. With a solid co-marketing campaign, startups can leverage physical, digital, and intangible materials that help them gain market share, establish brand credibility and reach, and increase their global footprint. 

5. Additional Product Development Consulting and Support

Even the best startups and development teams could use an extra set of eyes once in a while. For a startup program to go above and beyond, it should offer teams free or discounted access to consulting and development services within the collaborating organization that startups can access at any point of the design and development lifecycle. By having access to external design and development experts, small teams can boost their bandwidth through additional subject matter and domain experts that can provide advice, guidance, and additional support that ensures startups’ offerings are the best they can be. 

Regarding additional design and development consulting and support, startups should ask: 

  • Does this organization have an internal product design or development department? Do we have free or discounted access to their services? 
  • How many experts will we have access to? 
  • What is this organization’s design and development philosophy? Do we share the same values? 
  • Can this team provide support at any stage of the product development process? 

We know what makes a great startup program – and how to find one – because we’ve been there. More than 35 years ago, we were a small, scrappy team of individuals that hoped to create solutions and products that would transform the way people worked and lived. We know what it takes for startups to succeed and we want to see them grow into their potential because we know when startups succeed, everyone succeeds. 

That’s why we think any startup would benefit from the Altair Startup Program, which features four specialized packages that suit the needs of startups looking for game-changing solutions that will turbocharge their growth and streamline their development and design processes. Our packages give startups multi-year, low-cost access to solutions that put the power of artificial intelligence (AI), high-performance computing (HPC), data analytics, and advanced product development tools in their hands. All packages come with 24/7 support, access to our industrial design experts, and access to the Altair Community and Altair Exchange, where all Altair users can share know-how, tips, and guides that any user can implement into their existing workflows.