CEO at CauseLabs. Purpose Ambassador. Passionate about social entrepreneurship and international development. Traveler, strategist, speaker, mentor and writer. Design thinker and creative problem solver. Girl Scout leader since 2006.
Have a look at Digital Globe's map API. We partnered with them recently and I learned about their mapping disaster recovery assistance in Nepal after the quake. I think the maps they offer will meet your needs: http://developer.digitalglobe.com/maps-api/
I was just speaking with a colleague about this as we are both starting new startups and were reflecting on our previous projects together. In hindsight we recognize that one of the main challenges was proper expectation setting around adoption and engagement. If someone else is setting those expectations for you, it can be challenging to live up to them unless that person is familiar tech startup analytics. Not every business is a unicorn. You have to learn how to survive and grow when things don't go viral. Once you set expectations accordingly you're able to focus on what really matters and hone in on the user experience to identify what is sticky. You may have a long roadmap of features on your wish list, but it may not be what people want or need. Be open to pivoting and listen to your users.
One of my favorite quotes is actually by LinkedIn Founder Reid Hoffman, "If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late." Being in tech B2B and product development for almost 9 years now, I completely agree with this statement. There is so much you can learn from getting your product out into the world and in people's hands; invaluable lessons that you can't learn coding in a silo.
Here's a great book for user engagement analytics: Lean Analytics. Also, happy to share my experiences on this topic.
I agree with most of the answers already posted, but the one thing I will add is: Perseverance.
When you go into a situation hoping for a user engagement rate of 80%, but only get 20%, do not give up. If you have any power users at all, this is a great sign. That means there is something of value there. Find what works for those 20% and pivot as needed. See my Core77 article about Moneythink's misunderstood stats and the power of their power users.
I also wrote an article for NTEN Change called the 1% difference. It was related to crowdsourcing, but the principles and growth strategies can be applied to any sector or app type. Your 1% difference should help you decide if an app or feature is worthwhile.
It does depend on the experience levels and responsibilities outlined for each role, but in an ideal collaboration the developer feels like he or she has had input on the designs so that something out of scope or technically impossible is not handed off for development. Likewise, the designer feels as if they continue to have creative oversight and that the UI and UX meet their specifications and that changes are not implemented without first discussing the reasoning and there is agreement on the compromises.
Have them sign an NDA.
You'd be surprised how many partners are willing to collaborate so that they don't need to build a particular feature themselves. They have their own roadmaps and initiatives. If your feature really is a value add to their offering and they feel they can sell it to their customers, I suspect they'll consider negotiating.
I personally wouldn't go to the biggest players first. There may be more departmental segmentation, more execs to convince, and more red tape involved in closing the deal. They also, like you said, have the capacity to build the feature themselves. NDAs are great and legally binding, but if you don't have the capital to stand up against them in court, you may be at a loss. You really don't want to be in a position where someone else holds all of the control.
You have something to offer. You should remain in the position of control (even if it does lead to a negotiation.)
Smaller or similar sized businesses may be more willing to join forces as it serves as a win win scenario.