Do I need a business partner?


5

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.

Igor

Software Partner

asked Sep 24 '10 at 08:20
Blank
Igorek
886 points
Top agency to build award-winning mobile apps: Utility NYC
  • You may want to throw a link down and describe the specific business. Buying behavior varies so much for different niche markets that the suggestions could be better tailored. – John Bogrand 9 years ago
  • Of course. Company website is at http://www.paraleap.com -- software service is called AzureWatch is helps companies who've invested in Microsoft Windows Azure platform to scale up/down their Azure instances dynamically. – Igorek 9 years ago

4 Answers


3

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:

  1. Is the person really dedicated to doing this or are they looking at it like a hobby? If you're working on this full time, they should be as well.
  2. You should have vesting for anyone you bring in.
  3. If it's not working (the person isn't serious, a good fit, performing, whatever), fix it immediately. Don't drag it out.
  4. Be sure you have the right legal frameworks in place. IP assignment to the corporation when the person joins, and a release when things take a turn for the worse. If you don't have these in place, you will have to disclose this during M&A or raising money--and that cloud hanging over you can prevent you from raising money or closing a deal.

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.

answered Sep 24 '10 at 23:25
Blank
Mitch
659 points
  • +1 for the advice on what to do when it's not working, and also for the tip re tech staff - Igorek, sounds like you really understand the customer's problem, so I would think you are the best person to market/sell the problem in its early stages (see http://www.amazon.com/Crossing-Chasm-Geoffrey-Moore/dp/0060517123 for some sound advice on getting your early adopters onboard). Best of luck. – Steve Wilkinson 9 years ago

1

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.

answered Sep 24 '10 at 11:21
Blank
Tim J
8,346 points
  • Hell no! Offering products for free is the dumbest thing someone not serving consumer market could do. #1 thing you need to do is know how to get $1. Your product is crap and your business is set to failure, if you can't get a customer to write you a check. If you are scratching the right "itch", customers will pay. – Apollo Sinkevicius 9 years ago
  • I don't know if I would characterize it as the dumbest thing to do. He's got no customers anyway - please explain to me why offering some free licenses/trials in order to get feedback and "press"/customer list is a bad thing. – Tim J 9 years ago
  • The beta would obviously be free. There would also be a 30-day free trial period with certain limitations on usage. Those things are pretty standard and I have no qualms about them. – Igorek 9 years ago

1

Igor,
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:

What to look for in a business partner How to build your startup core team How to be an entrepreneur/intrapreneur and not ruin your marriage How to Get It All Done with 2 People in Your company

answered Sep 24 '10 at 12:31
Blank
Apollo Sinkevicius
3,323 points
  • Ap, I think my core query is not how to find a business partner, but whether I even should or not. Will there be much use for such a person as a "partner" level. Is it just as good to find someone who can blog for me and build online networks? One of the requirements for my business when I planned to start it and it still is a requirement in my mind is that it is mostly an online business, not requiring personal sales calls or visits or sales staff, etc. – Igorek 9 years ago

1

I think the best "timings" to look for a partner are:

  1. when you don't have anything yet, you're both passionate about creating something, you both work passionately on it
  2. when you already have an established product, that you invite a partner into

Not in the middle.

answered Sep 24 '10 at 19:23
Blank
Jitbit
267 points
  • This is very interesting. can you elaborate why? – Igorek 9 years ago

Your Answer

  • Bold
  • Italic
  • • Bullets
  • 1. Numbers
  • Quote
Not the answer you're looking for? Ask your own question or browse other questions in these topics:

Software Partner