Finding the right partner

I run a relatively young media company and have been securing a number of small pieces of work. One of my team comes with a strong contacts book, including many decision makers at major blue-chips. She has already set up a number of exploratory meetings and has suggested we look to partner with one of them in exchange for a slug of equity. I’m not entirely against this in principle, although I had hoped to generate sufficient revenue to meet targets by working with a greater number of small and medium-sized business clients. Our last meeting, in which I laid out the business’ plans appeared to be going well until they asked: “So what do you want from us?” I didn’t feel the relationship was established, so tried to sell our basic service, hoping it might lead to future business and possibly a partnership. This went down like a lead balloon to the extent they appeared to feel their time had been wasted. Can you offer some advice on dealing with major companies with respect to when and how to push for a larger deal?

A. Raam Thakrar writes:

Confirming a major deal with a large player can be one of the biggest catalysts in the life of a small business. However, all too often, these deals fall through because both parties haven’t really worked out their respective roles and how they add value.

You need to pin down what you really want from this partnership, as well as what you have got to offer. At the moment, it sounds like you’re not too sure on either of these. Think broadly about what would help to leapfrog your company. Where would you like to be? What services would you be offering? What profile would you want to have? What are the challenges that you’re facing that this partner could help you to overcome?

As for the partner, what can you do for them? What challenges are they facing? Is it about revenue, innovation, team culture, innovation or something else? What can you bring to the table? What do you have that could become an incredibly useful asset to them? How are they positioned with respect to their competitors? What’s the next big thing that’s about to happen to their industry that this company hasn’t acted on?

It sounds like you might be onto something, based on your initial chat. Taking a little time to clearly think through the above could prove invaluable.

Raam Thakrar is the founder of award-winning business Touchnote, which he set up in 2008. The company enables people to turn their digital photos into greeting cards within 24 hours.


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