How a startup can get support from a large company is our path to friendship with Mail.Ru Group

    It happens that you bring a startup to a market that does not exist yet. People do not yet know about the problem that you are solving or do not consider it serious. To advertise a product in such an environment is a waste of time. It is unlikely that everyone will suddenly realize the importance of the problem that your startup is dealing with, probably the best and will run to you to buy a solution.

    The process will be gradual. Over time, an understandable market will form, the main players will appear, prices will settle. But you can’t wait until everything turns out by itself. Indeed, even if you have the best decision to sit still today, a miracle will not happen and you will remain at the side of the new market.

    It is time to take a strategic position in the future market. The task that you have to solve for this is extremely difficult, but very understandable. You need to convey to people the awareness of the seriousness of the problem that your startup is working with. There are only two ways to do this: either spend millions on working with the media, or try to find support for your ideas in the face of a well-known and reputable company. Let's face it. It is unlikely that you can attract hundreds of millions of investments in your startup for a global PR campaign and create a new market. There is only hope for a partner who can convey the seriousness and significance of the problem you are solving to people.

    I will tell you what you yourself can do now to take a favorable strategic position in the future market. And I will show this by the example of how we, a still young startup, managed to create a service for scanning sites for viruses with Mail.Ru Group , which now works with more than 1 million sites. So it's time to act.

    1. Who are you dreaming of

    First of all, you need to believe that large companies are not so inaccessible as you might imagine them. Narrow your search to get started. Choose from them those that can help solve the problem of conveying the significance of the problem to your potential users. After that, leave only those that you would like to work with yourself.

    I advise you to choose a company not only because of its size or “coolness”, but also because of your personal sympathies. Pay attention to their attitude to the quality of new projects, to their latest trends. The feelings that you experience when representing this company.

    At one time, we answered this question for ourselves almost instantly. Then myMail service appeared, which Mail.Ru Group launched in the US market. The entire team of our project used it and did not believe that a Russian company could create a product with such a high UX. At that time, we even borrowed some approaches from myMail when creating a new interface for our own service.

    The decision was unanimous - Mail.Ru Group was the organization we wanted to work with.

    2. Where to write to be noticed

    Large companies have affiliate departments, and especially large ones have startup support projects. It was in the service responsible for examining applications from startups at Mail.Ru Group that we wrote. Usually, each company describes in detail what content and in what form it wants to receive an application from you. You will not have problems with this question. So we sent a letter.

    We had no illusions and did not count on reaction - we simply continued to engage in our project in the usual manner. However, we still waited for an answer.

    Receiving a letter from the guys from Mail.Ru was an exciting moment. It turned out that their team was just faced with a task, the solution of which our startup could come in handy. Within several hours of correspondence by e-mail, we discussed the option of possible cooperation and agreed on a meeting.

    3. How to respond to failures

    Your task is to simply and clearly state your thoughts in a letter. You need to be clear enough to anyone who reads your message. The people who work on receiving applications have to look through a lot of letters. Make them understand your project in seconds and come up with an application for you. People in such companies have little free time, so specify the description of your project, otherwise you risk being ignored.

    If you have not received an answer - do not be discouraged. This is probably not your option. Just look for another.

    Of course, not in all cases you will receive a response from the company that you wanted to work with. Sometimes you can get an answer, but already reading the letter you will feel that this cooperation is not for you. Refuse. Such a union is unlikely to bring you success and joy.

    4. What to expect from the first meeting

    A few days after receiving the letter, we were already in the office of Mail.Ru Group. Of course, in such cases they are not invited to just get to know each other. The day of key employees of large companies is scheduled by the minute and a meeting in the office is not a tribute, but a way to save time.

    Sitting in one office, literally within half an hour you can discuss issues and come to a convenient option for everyone. If such a discussion was conducted by e-mail or videoconference, weeks would be spent on coordination. Nobody wants this. Such a meeting will allow both parties to know the subject of discussion quite well. You outline a task that you could solve together. Understand whether the proposal is convenient in its original form or not.

    In our case, it happened. Within a few tens of minutes, we developed an action plan and received from the guys the admission criteria for the quality of our startup.

    5. How to go a long way from the first meeting to the start of work

    You did not think that everything could be so simple? Of course not. I do not advise you to wait for a contract to be signed immediately. First you will need to prove your worth. A large company hardly wants to risk its reputation when it comes to collaboration. For example, we needed to test our service and get the approval of specialists. The accuracy and quality of work had to meet their requirements.

    We spent several months improving the service. As a result, the test was passed and it was possible to start discussing the final form of cooperation.

    Of course, you will need to document your arrangements. Legal aspects may take several more months before you can officially start working together. You need to understand that in a large organization, all processes are aligned and take a sufficient amount of time. This is still not a startup that can make U-turns on the run.

    Now you will face a specific task. It remains just to act.

    6. How to learn to wait

    No matter how you want to get started faster, this is hardly possible. Your big partner has his own work schedule and workload. He will include work with you in this plan. Nothing will happen instantly - learn to wait.

    When you are “seriously engaged” on the other side, a hard-to-hide smile will appear on your face. You will really feel that a huge company, which used to seem inaccessible, is working with you to solve one problem. Again, you should not expect that everything will work very quickly. The process of testing and debugging solutions in large companies is regulated and again you have to stock up on some patience.

    We can note to ourselves that the process of working on the code itself was more like teamwork than the work of two different organizations. This allowed us to make continuous improvements to future service from both sides.

    7. It's worth it.

    Well, finally, you are ready to launch a joint service with a large partner or to hold some kind of action. It will be some time after the launch, before a large company tells people about it. Will convey to them the importance of the problem being solved. When this happens - you will feel not only a surge of strength, but also additional attention to yourself from the market.

    We have tested this statement on ourselves and can say that it is worth it. Well, at least in our development Mail.Ru Group played a significant role.

    If you feel that this way is suitable for you - just act. Find the company you need, write a letter and they will answer you. You will definitely find your great friend!


    We went this way, like many other startups. Now it's your turn! I hope this article takes away your fear and gives you decisiveness. Do not be afraid to send a letter. Fight for your project - nobody needs it more than you! Who will you be if you do not try to use this opportunity?

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