Approaching big corps for partnerships


I've created a series of mobile games that could be effectively re-branded with products of large corporations. I'm an independent developer and already have a generic one being sold and can use it as a demo/prototype when presenting to larger companies. However, I'm at a loss when it comes to the business side of approaching these large entities.

Here's a hypothetical order of events before approaching a partner:

  • Garner some positive press beforehand
  • Establish positive examples of my app's usage in the potential partner's customer base
  • Secure legal advice on NDA's and non-competes before presentations or agreements
  • Draw up a plan of how my app could benefit them and their customers
  • Draft an initial proposal of profit shares
  • Contact their PR department and hope to be taken seriously

Any experienced-based suggestions on handling something like this?

Partnerships NDA Mobile Apps

asked Nov 24 '11 at 07:39
Old Mc Stopher
135 points

3 Answers


You've got limited time and limited resources. Instead of thinking about the market at large, think about the market segments and companies where you have the highest probability of generating a deal. Use LinkedIn and other social media tools to find connections with anyone you can find at the companies you are contemplating, then narrow the field down to a reasonable number of target companies. Use your connections to get introductions, and just ask basic questions like, "Hey, who in your company would be the right person to talk to about a branded game?" In my experience people generally want to help, as long as you're gracious and respectful of their time.

It took me a long time to realize that transactions between businesses aren't really transactions between businesses. They're transactions between individuals. But transactions don't occur out of the blue. They are an outgrowth of the process of getting to know each other, getting comfortable with each other, and ultimately trusting each other. So once you find the right person inside each of your target companies, give them a little something up front as a gesture of good faith. Maybe that's a detailed demo specifically tailored to their brand. Whatever it is, establish that you're not just trying to come to them with your great idea, seeking to cash in on their brand. Show that person you're interested in helping them win at whatever their job is inside the organization, that you see this as a win-win.

I'm not a lawyer, but I can tell you that in my experience anything beyond an NDA is only going to slow down the process. Too much involvement from their legal department up front will put your contact on guard and give him or her the impression that you're more interested in guarding your interests than in helping them out. If your idea is good enough, it will almost always be faster and easier to work with you than to take off with your idea and have someone else do it. A lot of entrepreneurs focus on the risk associated with working with large companies and fail to recognize just how slow and cumbersome the big guys really are.

In summary:

  • Pick a small number of target companies that you think you can actually get inside
  • Find a person inside each company who needs what you provide and has the budget authority to spend on it; work to make the deal advance that person's goals as well as your own
  • Worry about missing the opportunity, not about getting screwed

Best of luck!

answered Jan 24 '12 at 07:43
Erik Schmidt
256 points


When approaching a big organization the most important aspect (IMHO) is to recognize:

  1. How can make the decision to buy (or build) the technology (in your case - app).
  2. To find the person that got some real 'pain' that your app is solving. It's not easy and sometimes it's worth to invest in this stage in order to create the need (=pain).

If you don't have both points you are going to waste a lot of time and effort.
In my past experience, even after you pass the first meeting (which is not trivial) you need to make sure both #1 and #2 are valid to the person that is going to do the 'tech due diligence'.
In many cases, I saw how this person will 'kill' your idea base on some political agenda she/he got. It would be cleaver from your side to make sure you show this guy 'whats in it for me' and put her/him on your side.

I would not put energy in NDA (no one will sign it) nor some rev-share plan. It's for later stages.

answered Dec 23 '11 at 22:29
Ido Green
171 points


Here's a novel approach. Just put a huge brand product in your game, like Coke or Pepsi. Get sued. Now you've opened a door. When interviewed by the press mention that you can put all sorts of products in the game, just looking for a buyer.

Non-conventional but it has worked in the past. I have some dorm-mates in college re-egineer an Atari arcade game to give it more levels. They opened a business doing this to the game in bars etc... Atari eventually sued them and they got the product bought out from under them. They went on to form a fairly well funded hi-tech company whose I cannot remember and had upwards of 50 employees at least based on the ads they had on campus at the time. (MIT, early 80s)

Risky approach, of course, very risky. Make sure your personal assets are well shielded.

answered Dec 24 '11 at 01:15
Paul Cezanne
649 points

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