My first post here, finally decided to stop reading and start asking :)
Apologies for being long-winded, but want to make sure I explain myself.
I'm a tech-guy myself, have been developing/architecting for the last 16 or so years. Since the end of last year, I've been nursing an idea for a company that I've finally decided to start working on during this spring.
5 Months and ~1000 working hours later (on top of my full-time job) and I believe my product is about 80-90% done (IE: it all works, but needs "polish"). It is a software service for businesses doing stuff with cloud computing.
I've incorporated in the summer. I've setup my website, logos, gotten some PR documents with the help of websites like freelancer.com and elance.com. Also did a ton of the "busy" ground work that had to do with opening of a company and making all sorts of related decisions. The effort has been so far completely bootstrapped by me.
Now, I've gotten a bright coworker interested in helping from a technical perspective because: 1) I can't do it all, especially once I release to production, 2) I don't want to do it all going forward.
He's going to be joining me and getting a 20% share vested over a period of 3yrs (and he's on trial now thru the end of the year).
What I need right now is to market the crap out of the product. (Un)fortunately, this product is not targeted toward consumers. It fills a small niche in the cloud computing space and is thus targeted toward companies doing business in that space.
I have three options for marketing the way I see it:
1) Market the product myself. Find all the bloggers, news sites, forums, PR sites. Send them newsletters and emails. Purchase an ad campaign with Google. Get into the industry basically much more heavily. This is something I am not particularly good at, I must say.
2) Go back once again to sites like elance.com and freelancer.com and hire someone to do this for me. I'm not sure how great of results I'll get. This is not exactly like creating a logo or putting a cool looking template site together.
3) Find a business partner who'll basically handle this aspect of the business for a certain share in the company.
What would you recommend? What should be such a share if I bring someone on to do marketing and relationships and sales?
I thank you for your opinions and welcome your questions.
Having the right partner(s) is awesome and a huge benefit.
Having the wrong partner(s) can destroy your business.
I've done both. Having the right partner is worth the time and effort it takes to find that person. From my own experience, it's been a luck of the draw. There's got to be good ways to qualify partners, but I haven't figured it out yet.
My observations so far over 10 yrs of having and not having partners:
Specific to your situation, beware that not all marketers are created equal, just as not all programmers are. You will want to find someone will similar ideas about go to market, someone who has been able to market similar products, and someone who has done this at this stage of the company's life before. Someone from a Fortune 500 who can successfully do marketing with a lot of infrastructure around him isn't what you need here.
Even though your business needs marketing help, I think it's good to have more than one technical person on board as well. This can free you up to do more marketing or just help share the burden of supporting a product.
It's tough to do all that you need to do; if you can bring in quality people to help, do it.
I would offer the product for free for a few of the potential customers. You can get good feedback and also get exposure that way.
Finding a business partner is like marriage. The ONLY way you can do that is by lots and lots of networking. Not living in the entrepreneurial hotspots makes it much harder.
Couple of article that may get you closer to the solutions:
I think the best "timings" to look for a partner are:
Not in the middle.