Accelerators, Hubs

How to Connect with Corporate Partners

Three tips for attracting corporate partners

Three tips for attracting corporate partners

by: Richard Munassi|

January 9, 2023

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Articles | Hubs | How to Connect with Corporate Partners

“The large corporates, whether they’re involved as advisory council members, as sponsors to our programs, or as mentors within our network, really do care about the startups that come through our program and want to see them succeed and disrupt the world.”

The Background

Tampa Bay Wave has been supporting founders for over a decade now. This venture hub has grown from a regional meetup of founders to one of the top venture hubs in the country, helping its founders raise over $100 million in venture capital and angel investments per year. 

Munassi said, “In the early days, CEO, Linda Olsen landed a seven-figure federal grant that allowed the program to be transformed into an early-stage incubator accelerator that was matched by several local supporters. It was really off to the races from that point onwards.”

“We have formalized our quarterly-based program alongside our core program, which offers a longer-tailed solution to companies needing support versus the 100-day sprint that the accelerator does each quarter.”

"Track the data and communicate that you're successfully doing what you said you would”

- Richard Munassi, MD, Tampa Bay Wave

Working with Corporate Partners 

Tampa Bay Wave has fostered several great relationships with large corporates, whether they’re involved as advisory council members, as sponsors to their programs, or as mentors within their network. We asked Richard for his top tips for aspiring hubs on how to grow a base of corporate partners:

  1. Know your audience

    What are their needs, and what are they looking to do? Just like a startup founder, I’m going to go out, and I’m going to give people what they want when I do my customer discovery. Think of the relationship with corporate partners as the same. For example, when we launched our Fintech program, it took us about two and a half years to build out that corporate partner network before we even launched the program. Lots of meetings and listening; what are you looking for? What programs do you want to see us emulate?

  2. Recognize the value

    What internal issues has the corporate partner struggled with, and can you build on the momentum of that? In addition, can you find internal champions that are bought into wanting to engage with programs like yours?
    Recognize the value for the partner and the founder, potential acquisition, potential partnerships, and the list goes on. Tampa Bay Wave is unique because it’s a nonprofit, so it’s a zero equity, zero cost program for founders. I think corporates find value in philanthropic endeavors.

  3. Be proactive

    Reach out, listen to what they need, and ensure that you can provide them with what they need to really solidify that relationship. As you progress through your programs, track the data and communicate that you’re successfully doing what you said you would. Remember, too much communication is easier to fix than too little.

Tampa Bay Wave is a leading non-profit accelerator providing resources and support for early-stage tech companies. While Wave’s 90-day program is generally industry agnostic, the program does specialize in 8-10 industry verticals that are well represented within their extensive mentor network.

Each Wave company is matched to resources according to their industry and stage of business (pre-revenue, early revenue, growth stage). Wave calls these BUILD, LAUNCH, and GROW stages. Graduates of the program have the option to continue receiving mentorship, connections, and access to capital until they exit or otherwise graduate to breakout success; BUILD and LAUNCH stage companies advance to LAUNCH or GROW within 6 to 12 months.

Wave takes no equity and yet can offer access to seed funding through an institutional fund dedicated to graduates of Tampa Bay Wave’s accelerator program.




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