We often see pre-seed and seed startups approached by Big Companies. These Big Companies say they are interested in investing or partnering on product development. (Note: the game changes when your startup is Post Series A or there is a set partner program from Big Companies.)
These interactions are confusing for first-time founders. We advise this:
Big Companies who want to talk are presumed evil unless proven otherwise. They may be caring people individually, but as a group, they'll steal your learnings and leave your carcass for dead.
This is pretty strongly worded, but accurate in my experience. These interactions are almost all downside for the startups:
So, we encourage our pre-seed companies just to play hard to get. Big Company will still want to talk to post-Series A when you have a team of fifteen to take the load off your shoulders.