5 Tips for Effectively Collaborating With Your Competitors
Classical economics tells us that competition is socially desirable because it may lead to innovation, promote growth and creativity, decrease prices, and improve the quality of goods and services. And, of course, here in the Silicon Valley, the past and present are full of great competition stories, such as Microsoft v. Apple, Yahoo! v. Google, and Box v. Dropbox (just to name a few). This article takes a look at an early stage Silicon Valley startup that is turning classics economics on its head with its innovation fundraising platform.
STOP COMPETING, START COLLABORATING
SunnyKarma collaborates (rather than competes) with its competitors to create win-win outcomes for the greater good
SunnyKarma.com, an early-stage, technology-based social enterprise headquartered in San Francisco is on a mission to disprove the conventional view of competition by providing a social, fun, and engaging fundraising platform for charities. The platform is designed to bring out the best in people by being both collaborative and inclusive. SunnyKarma’s Founder and CEO, Elina Elek, believes its fundraising platform will lead to more satisfying user experiences, improved communities, and increased social good.
The premise behind SunnyKarma is simple: giving should be fun, engaging, and rewarding. It should be inclusive and democratic. To create a culture of giving and philanthropy we need to look beyond a tax deduction or a handwritten thank you note. Giving is an intrinsically positive experience that is contagious. So, SunnyKarma has created an “ecosystem” where the giving of assets, time, and expertise leads to a cycle of even more giving.
To achieve this seemingly utopian vision, SunnyKarma offers an online platform – technology and business savvy – where you earn Karma Points, the platform’s virtual currency, for monetary contributions, creating auctions, inviting friends and sharing on your social networks. With accumulated Karma Points in your SunnyKarma bank, you can win rewards in charity auctions, sweepstakes, and contests which makes giving fun, engaging, and rewarding. In a sense, SunnyKarma aims to bring the joy of philanthropy to those who have been traditionally excluded – everyone except those rich or famous.
To test this concept SunnyKarma is beta testing its platform to help raise money for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) by extending its fundraising platform at no cost to all Man and Woman of the Year (MWOY) candidates nationwide to reach and exceed their fundraising candidates’ individual and LLS’ collective goals. After all, Elina reasoned, “we all have only one common enemy to fight – cancer.”
MWOY is an annual competition in the communities across the US, in which participants vie for the title Man or Woman of the Year. They raise funds for blood cancer research in honor of local children who are blood cancer survivors, the Boy and Girl of the Year. The titles are awarded to the men and women in each community who raise the most funds during the ten-week campaign.
5 TIPS FOR EFFECTIVELY COLLABORATING WITH YOUR COMPETITORS
Not all business situations are created equal. Of course, certain types of dealings with competitors may violate antitrust laws. Talk to your competent legal provider before you proceed.** If you want to collaborate with your friendly competitors, here are a few tips to keep in mind before you proceed.
UNDERSTAND YOURSELF, YOUR GOALS AND YOUR REASONS FOR COLLABORATING
Doing so will help you define the scope and goals of collaboration, making the experience ultimately more satisfying for everyone involved.
UNDERSTAND YOUR COMPETITION, ITS GOALS AND REASONS FOR COLLABORATING
“Competition” is a broad concept – it is anyone who is diverting resources from you (not always a direct business competitor). Understanding your competition will maximize the fruits of the collaboration.
SOCIALIZE WITH YOUR COMPETITION BEFORE COLLABORATING
Collaboration is a social phenomenon. Relating to your competition and its key stakeholders makes it more likely that your collaboration succeeds.
AGREE ON THE RULES OF THE COLLABORATION
For example, identify whether confidential information will be shared freely and who will own any creative or intellectual products resulting from the collaboration. You should consult a competent legal provider about these issues.
CONSIDER WHETHER THE SITUATION IS TRULY “COMPETITIVE”
Not all business situations fall into a zero-sum game scenario. Evaluating all circumstances will help you benefit from collaborative opportunities.
** Federal Trade Commission provides brief guide on these issues.
The illustration is by Molly Doering. She is a concept artist, illustrator, and cartoonist. For more of her gallery visit: http://balloons504.deviantart.com/.