When Postmates founder Bastian Lehmann introduced himself to Travis Kalanick, the founder of Uber turned on his heel and uttered the now-infamous words, “See you in the trenches.”
On the surface, the Silicon Valley feud seems misplaced: Postmates is a logistics company that connects couriers and consumers, and Uber’s bread and butter is transportation for humans.
But Uber has been trying to establish its own competing delivery service, and both companies are using big brands to fuel their explosive growth. Uber has partnered with the NFL, Capital One, and Starwood Hotels and Resorts. Postmates recently inked deals with Starbucks, Chipotle Mexican Grill, McDonald’s, and Apple.
Pursuing big brands has been a smart way for Uber to expose more users to its service and for Postmates to gain brand recognition and credibility. In fact, partnering with large brands can be worthwhile for just about any startup. It can mean the difference between fighting for every inch of new business and gaining a pool of big-name clients that lend a host of incredible benefits.
Here are just a few that make brand partnerships worth pursuing:
For example, Etsy has forged partnerships with retailers such as Nordstrom, Anthropologie, and Whole Foods Market to capture a share of the substantial sales that still happen in brick-and-mortar stores. It’s also using its Etsy Wholesale platform to show proof of scalability for a select group of sellers.
Working with an established brand is a great way to demonstrate the value of your offering and convince others that your startup is here to stay. For instance, when Starbucks partnered with Postmates to deliver lattes and macchiatos, Chipotle, McDonald’s, and Apple hopped on board soon after.
When we opened applications for flight attendants for the first time in 12 years, we partnered with HarQen to streamline the recruitment process. The company’s solution helped us avoid scheduling hassles during the initial phone interviews and helped recruiters assess critical skills objectively and efficiently. Word spread quickly about how well its product worked, and soon, other departments wanted to use HarQen for their hiring needs.
How to Win Over Big Brands
Partnerships with big brands can be tough to land because so many startups are going after those same companies. But there are a few steps you can take to capture a brand’s attention and build a partnership that flourishes:
For instance, when we received 22,000 applications for 2,500 flight attendant positions within a week, partnering with HarQen seemed like a no-brainer to speed up the process, reduce costs, and improve the quality of hires.
Partnering with a big brand takes a lot of work, but if you succeed, it can be a game changer for your startup. With a little patience, a discerning eye, and a knack for understanding what the brand needs, you can win big-name business and all the fringe benefits that go along with it.
About the Author
Aleda Schaffer is a strategic partnerships manager at American Airlines. Her team is focused on helping businesses through American Airlines’ Business Extra program, which is a complimentary business travel rewards and incentive program designed to help small and mid-sized companies reduce their travel costs.
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