How To Get Ahead With A Strategic Startup Partnership

Find out how you can get your show on the road with a strategic startup partnership.

April 15th, 2016   |    By: Paul Swartz    |    Tags: Strategy, Planning

In the early years of your startup, you may feel like a one-person show. You have infinite faith in your product or service, but how do you translate that commitment to investors and stakeholders? How can you raise brand awareness before you have the funding necessary for marketing and PR?

strategic startup partnerships

Despite these obstacles, you must find a way to gain traction in building a community or generating sales. Otherwise, you risk stalling or, worse, folding. Fortunately, this is where “strength in numbers” comes into play. Find out how you can get your show on the road with a strategic startup partnership.

Getting ahead with a strategic startup partnership

1. Instant Street Cred

Validation by large enterprises generates the credibility and exposure you need to gain momentum and sales. Most important, it helps attract investors.

I’ve seen this firsthand at American Airlines, where I’m part of a team focused on supporting startups and small businesses throughout the U.S. We provide select startups with travel benefits and marketing opportunities; we also sponsor entrepreneurial events and facilitate business connections. We want these startups to know we’re serious about getting them the support and resources they need for success.

2. Exposure to a Large Customer Base

Startup brand partnerships offer volume. When you have access to a partner’s customer base, it’s much easier to drum up interest and develop brand equity. Each month, we feature a promising startup in our American Way Magazine to provide growing companies the exposure they need. This January, we featured wearable company ShotTracker.

“The biggest challenge for a new company with a breakthrough product is generating awareness on a small budget,” ShotTracker Co-Founder and COO Davyeon Ross said. “The partnership with American Airlines put ShotTracker front and center, exposing us to a large number of travelers with a special offer. We saw an increase in traffic to our site and sales to American Airlines’ travelers.”

Many big enterprises even support startups with free services and products to build customer loyalty early on. For a startup, this can be a great way to save on capital expenses: web design, software, cloud storage space, legal fees, or travel costs.

3. Ready-Made Mentors

When you partner with brands already familiar with your industry, it saves you time and headaches. You can learn from your partners’ challenges and generally view them as mentors.

Insights from industry experts go a long way in fast-tracking your startup — and can mean the difference between success and failure. That’s why, as part of our Innovators Initiative, we connect select startups with influential industry thought leaders.

4. Potential for Permanent Partnerships

Sometimes, a startup-brand partnership initiates a long-term gig. Many large enterprises lend support as a test run for future acquisition. For you, it’s a win-win: You gain support and access to the fast track now, and even if relationships aren’t long-term, you’ve still made valuable connections that propelled your business forward.

Despite how it may seem at times, your business is not a one-person show. Support from strategic partnerships can come in many forms: marketing exposure, validation, product testing, cost-saving services, or just good old-fashioned feedback. Pursuing these partnerships will help drive your business to the next level — and set you up for long-term success.

About the Author

Paul Swartz

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