Negotiation is a tricky thing for entrepreneurs. There are so many strings pulling in different directions that you are never quite sure where to focus. You know that each deal, each client is critically important – but how do you balance short term gain with long term relationships. And really what exactly is negotiation, is it all about the money? Rajul Garg (Director – Sunstone Business School) has extensive experience in negotiations and shared his thoughts in the context of startups.

Startups should champion integrative negotiations.


Big companies are like brick buildings; solid, structured, uniform and single colour. When they fit in stakeholders, the other party fits in a hole that already exists. Irrespective of whether it’s customers, employees, investors or any one else – they all need to fit in a structure.


From my experience, Startups should be like clay.  When they encounter an opportunity, they can mould themselves around that opportunity. Hence they may look zigzag, not structured, multi-coloured. Ultimately a structure emerges. Hence, negotiating for a startup is all around integrating and moulding. This has an impact on how they deal with all their stakeholders. Lets take a few examples:


Employees: The best startups are always looking for great people. They keep meeting great people, and when they have an alignment, they ask a question – “what will it take to work together”. They try to find a way vs having a job description and a budget.


Customers: Startups should get married more to customer needs than to the products. To be able to meet the need, they may mould their products, pricing and distribution constantly. Often they pivot dramatically and end up doing very different things from what they started.


Investors: for startups, investment means more than money. It means validation, feedback, networks and so on. Hence the negotiation needs to be far more integrative.


In the parlance of negotiations, these are great examples of integrative negotiations. Basically it all boils down to seeing the bigger picture, taking an investigative approach and building trust. And then, good outcomes happen.


[Rajul was a co-founder of GlobalLogic, a global leader in R&D outsourcing with offices in 8 countries and over 6,000 employees. He built the operation ground up in India and later helped GlobalLogic expand exponentially through global acquisitions. Earlier, he was also a founder of Pine Labs, a leader in point of sales transactions in India. Rajul has consulted with leading venture capital firms like Sequoia and Battery Capital. Rajul also consulted with Aavishkaar, focusing on rural investments in Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh. Rajul is a graduate from IIT Delhi.]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *