Scaling a startup’s Business development efforts is the single most important part of growth. Looking at the success stories of HubSpots, Salesforce, and other tech titans, their single most important initiative is partnership development.
There's a few key-points startups should focus on to develop and scale their BD initiatives:
There are multiple ways to discover new business development leads:
You can find a partnership by looking at other companies in your industry. Specifically, the best companies to find are in sectors that tend to partner with your type of startup. This strategy will also help you keep track of your potential competitors’ business development strategies. It ensures that you will not fall behind. It is an easy solution that allows you to ace the catch up game, but perhaps doesn't deliver a unique edge.
Startup teams often make roadmaps for years ahead, with features that are destined to bring tremendous value to the main product. However, due to resource constraints and laser focus on the more immediate core products, these roadmaps are usually put on the back burner. Instead of keeping future products on hold until your core product succeeds, you can find partners to develop products that can connect with your business and establish those useful features your team dreams of. In this way, you don’t have to divert your essential resources away from your main product and at the same time build up a partner roadmap based on your existing plans. A potential downside to the strategy is that you can potentially partner with indirect competitors. Or more likely the partnership might not bring implement the best way to make features. However, this strategy helps start partnership discovery.
The most sustainable and unique way of finding partnerships is joining the first partnership-focused Coopsight Platform. At Coopsight, you can instantly match to compatible new partners that deliver a cross-industry value proposition. Using the free platform, you can rest assured that you aren’t merely trailing your competitors, but gaining an edge of full ecosystem partnership that brings your startup rocket speed growth. Sign up today!
Successful strategic partnerships are created everyday. Below are just some of the most famous examples of startup to startup partnerships:
Instacart + Food networks
This famous partnership created a new culinary learning experience on Food Network. By integrating the meal planning, shopping, and preparation experience with Instacart online ingredient orders, this partnership found a way to bring the ingredients for your culinary walkthrough to your door in as little as one hour with Instacart.
Spotify + Ticketmaster
Potential concert-goers that stream their favorite artists’ songs via Spotify were able to find their idol events and purchase concert tickets right off the page. Not only was this a brilliant way of announcing concerts to the ideal target audience, but it also allowed Ticketmaster to create an unbeatable emotional purchase experience. The listener of a song is able to buy tickets on the spot, either right after or while listening to the artist. This led to much higher page conversion rates, and smaller drop-offs. Spotify generated a reported 40 million USD in ticket sales in 2018.
Spotify + Uber
Uber's partnership with Spotify allows users to connect to their Spotify accounts and stream their favorite tunes while riding in an Uber. This partnership creates a more personal connection for Uber riders and gives Uber a new competitive advantage over other ride sharing offerings. By targeting the urban rider audience, the partnership created more ubiquity for existing Spotify users.
The answer highly depends on whether or not you are planning to pursue a partnership with a Corporation.
If you are interested in pursuing the opportunity, make sure to set up an intro call as soon as possible to establish expectations and goals of the company initiating the CD offer.
From our experience of establishing partnerships with multiple Global Fortune 500 Corporations, it is often a very long and tedious process. Establishing an understanding of the goals early on is essential.
Try to make your objectives clear with room for flexibility in the initial response. Make sure to establish a clear position between you and the corporation to make it clear you plan to be treated as an equal partner, regardless of your startup's size or development stage.
Also, be prepared for a long response time by the corporation, due to their internal bureaucracy and slower decision making process.
During our CD experiences, we often had to speak to multiple stakeholders that had to be introduced to the partnership proposal before establishing a baseline within the Corporation.
There's plenty of literature on partnerships for startups. Here are some of our top picks:
Although it is not a book directly on startup partnerships, it gives great insight into the way corporations find shared synergies with investee startups. The book also dives into what ways corporations have successfully executed startup investee partnerships and valuable lessons from partnership failures.
The book explores partnerships as the fastest growth strategy that any business can follow. It shows exactly how to create successful partnerships and more importantly, how you can attract partnerships to you so that you don’t have to go chasing them.
Even though this book focuses on the Corporation’s perspective on Business Partnerships, it is nevertheless insightful for founders to understand how Corporations view partnership opportunities. Moreover, the book focuses on the execution of IT partnerships, which offers more relevant insight in comparison to other partnership literature oriented towards low-tech partnerships.
The short answer is yes. But it depends on the startup and the context of the partnership.
You don’t have to always look for the biggest corporation in the room. After all, bigger corporations can potentially treat you like an inferior partner. Preferably, pursue partnerships that help to build awesome product features that add value to your customers.
Other startups are a great way to improve your product’s value proposition by connecting your product to similar or cross-vertical partners.
Your company might not get a huge influx of new customers, depending on the startup size, but is a great way to build up your ecosystem and add new features without diverting resources from the core product.
Partnerships have proven to be a great way to build new product features. For example, Uber’s partnership with Lime Bike created a completely new modular mobility model. A partnership between Spotify and Ticketmaster resulted in the creation of a new immersive buying experience directly linked to music streaming (you can read more about successful partnerships in our “What are some famous strategic business partnerships?” section).
Startups offer a simple way of adding value to your product without the lengthy and constraint partnership development process associated with larger corporations.
You can discover new startup partners that bring you value without lengthy partner search or huge Business Development teams using the Coopsight partner matching platform. Use your 5 free matches starting today to find compatible peer startup partners that will give you a partnership competitive edge.
It depends on when you are ready. Contrary to popular belief, there isn't a particular benefit of waiting for the maturity of your startup to begin launching strategic partnerships and hiring a Business Development department.
It is unlikely to be meaningful to work on business development prior to the completion and product-market fit discovery of the product MVP (minimum viable product). However, for any later stage starting from Seed, Series A, and later stages, it makes sense to look into BD.
Rather, it is important to look at what you plan to get out of the BD. Meaningful integrations that help your product, or maybe co-marketing opportunities to target new users while keeping the Customer acquisition costs nice and low are just some examples.
In regards to hiring a full-time BD manager, it wouldn't make sense to look at a hire until you are looking at multiple complex partnership directions and 10+ strategic partners.
But there are great tools that can keep your business development on autopilot to help gain an early lead without going for expensive hires - check the Coopsight Open Platform to boost your startup’s BD right now without hiring extra workers.