How Startups Secure Valuable Partnerships

Make sure that windfall isn’t a deathtrap

Where are you on the timeline of partnership viability?

A partnership deal, like any other transactional deal — be it customer, investor, or acquirer — follows a specific viability timeline.

Are they eager to work with you?

If you’re in the early to middle timeline, the short answer is usually no.

Do they really want to do the deal?

A lot of potential big company partners, especially the ones that inbound to you, will be very excited to talk about the partnership, plan the partnership, discuss the broad terms of the partnership, and strategize about how the partnership could quite possibly change the world.

  1. Future plans and roadmaps are discussed to determine what strategies make the most sense.
  2. Wishlists are drawn up and ideas are brainstormed as to what should be shared and what projects should be initiated.
  3. Goals are documented, terms are decided, contracts are signed, permissions are granted, work starts.

What do they mean by “marketing push”?

There’s nothing wrong with a marketing partnership, and in fact, oftentimes a more integrated partnership evolves from a simple marketing partnership. But remember what I said before about companies offering blatantly one-sided proposals? Some of these marketing partnerships can look more like ad sales, and some of those can turn out to be even more expensive than an ad sale.

How much do they want for free?

I get this all the time, even, oddly enough, from massive corporations with names you know. They reach out and ask me to do something for free in return for something nebulous, usually related to the fact that it’d be good for my company to be friends with their company.

Do they understand exactly what it is you do?

Remember back in Partnership Step 1 when I said everybody goes through their deck and learns what everyone in the room does? This is necessary, and I get a bad feeling when it’s rushed or someone is laser focused on only the part that can make them money.

I’m a multi-exit, multi-failure entrepreneur. Sold ExitEvent. Building & GetSpiffy. Former Automated Insights. More info at

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store