How Successful Startups Do Collaboration: Lessons Learned

27 Mar, 2023 | Read in 5 minutes

Learn how successful startups leverage collaboration to reach their goals. Find out the secrets to collaboration success with this guide.


Collaboration and innovation are key to the success of startups. It's no surprise that the most successful startups come from teams. Teams can complete tasks quickly, with quality and at lower costs. While most startup founders recognise the importance of having a team, many struggle to form one.

Meanwhile, several startups also have the wrong focus. They spend much time on the core product, forget about team and collaboration, and fail. CNBC reported that about 20% of startups fail in their first year. CB Insight also released 20 reasons why startups fail, and 23% of them are due to collaboration and innovation issues.

It's worth noting that many startup employees are young and lack business experience. They may struggle with communication and effective collaboration. To overcome this challenge, startups can learn from successful predecessors like Google or Meta.

What can Startups learn from Big Giants?

The honest answer is that there are many, many things to learn from big startups. Google, Meta or big startups are built with a simple principle: to change the world. They have a strong entrepreneurial spirit but much room for improvement regarding collaboration.

Examples of successful teamwork and innovation are in big startups like Google, Tesla, and LEGO. Google, established on September 4, 1998, offers numerous insights for startups to learn from. Similarly, LEGO started as a woodworking business and is now a leading toy brand. A good idea is just the first step; success requires execution, collaboration, and innovation.

5 Collaboration Lessons from Successful Startups

Companies that have achieved success, such as Tesla, LEGO, and Google, serve as excellent examples of effective collaboration and teamwork. These startups invest resources in employee training and innovation to facilitate better collaboration. Let's explore five inspiring collaboration secrets:

1. The People-First Culture by Google

Google has become the most famous role model for many startups. Its culture emphasises collaboration and values its employees. Google believes collaboration is essential, regardless of its employees' intelligence. Google’s company culture which is “people first culture” ensures that employees are valued and included in every company decision. It fosters collaboration and enables decisions based on employees' input.

Furthermore, Google promotes open spaces that encourage communication and cross-functional teamwork. Employees are encouraged to spend 20% of their time working on projects of their choosing.

2. Promoting competitive spirits by General Motors

Having a competitive spirit within a company isn't always a bad thing. General Motors, a big startup in the automotive sector, proves that departmental competition can bring positive outcomes. The design team focused on creating a more futuristic car, while the development team aimed to make it more functional.

This friendly competition didn't lead to conflicts but resulted in innovative products like the Chevrolet Volt and Cadillac Converj. The goal of this “friendly war” was to encourage cross-functional collaboration. Such efforts foster healthy competition and productivity and play a role in the organisation's success.

3. Dare to try different things by Tesla

Like Google and Meta, Tesla Inc. sits at the table regarding corporate culture. One of the strongest reasons is to dare to try different things the world needs. The importance of teamwork has been emphasised frequently by Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla. Teams are encouraged to take on new roles they are comfortable with to increase engagement.

Tesla takes a collaborative approach, using cross-functional teams to create a diverse workforce with the best talent in all fields. For example, even though managers may not expect developers to have marketing expertise but if developers are willing to step out of their comfort zone and try their hand at marketing, they are given the opportunity.

Tesla has clear direction and goals, encouraging employee collaboration to achieve them. It fosters employee growth and development and helps create a supportive work environment. It's essential to take the time to understand the long-term goals and share them with the team.

4. Freedom of experimentation by LEGO

Lego has been around for over 80 years and is still strong today. Lego culture is based on the belief that the right people and environment can create masterpieces without excessive supervision. It gives Lego employees the freedom to experiment with new ideas.

Lego has created a "failure bonus" at its headquarters to maintain this experimentation culture. This bonus provides a small amount of money employees can use to pursue their projects and ideas. This method encourages creativity and innovation among employees, which in turn helps the company to grow.

5. Fostering individual autonomy by Virgin

Virgin is a fast-moving company founded by Richard Branson with a unique corporate culture. It has become a significant player in various industries, and Branson attributes this success to its customer appeal. The hands-off leadership style encourages employee autonomy, enabling Virgin to innovate faster and stay ahead. This approach also eliminates the culture of micromanagement across all departments.

How better collaboration boosts innovation and success

Innovating quickly and on a large scale can be daunting, but collaboration provides a solution. By collaborating, organisations can bring together the best ideas and execution to solve problems. So how exactly does collaboration drive innovation and success?

1. Cultivate openness and transparency

Transparency doesn't mean revealing all information to everyone in the company. Instead, it means that employees can access important information about the company. Managers must be open about the company's challenges and problems so that employees can offer solutions.

2. Establish a judgement-free idea-sharing culture

Employees often hold back from sharing ideas for fear of criticism or rejection. A collaborative culture should encourage free speech, where new ideas are valued and discussed. It creates an inclusive environment where employees feel comfortable sharing their ideas.

3. Encourage collaboration across departments

Working with the same team daily can create a routine that hinders innovation. Startups should encourage collaboration between different departments to generate new ideas. This approach pushes employees out of their comfort zones, promoting creativity. Combining multiple perspectives, ideas, goals, and expertise can lead to the most effective idea generation.

Try a collaboration with your team with a project management tool using VirtualSpace can be a good idea.


Startups may possess skills and mindsets that are more adaptable to change, but they may lack experience in execution. This is where collaboration comes in. By fostering collaboration that drives innovation, startups can achieve long-term success.

Ready to grow your business with VirtualSpace?

One platform to manage and organise your teams, tasks, projects, and more.


Subscribe to our newsletter to stay updated

We'll keep you posted with everything going on in the modern working world.