Here’s an organic way of getting your brand out there, and also acquire new customers and various revenue generating opportunities.

Early stage startups can grow much faster if they form strategic partnerships. If done right, your startup can get a very profitable growth mileage that has more than just money involved.

Trust. Recognition of value. Brand presence. And more. Partnerships with the right objectives and aligned action points can take your startup to the next level.

Instamojo’s Strategic Partnerships Manager, Vipin JS was live with HelloMeets 24th September, with his meetup on how to develop a partnership strategy for your startup.

And the learnings he gives are more than educational. They are alive and practical.
Here’s our blog with the actionable highlights and takeaways on forming strategic partnerships.

Basics of partnership


  1. Supply Chain partnerships

    Any partnership that is essential for business' operations.
    For example, Dunzo partnering with a local supermarket chain to deliver daily need products in minutes.
  2. Channel partnerships

    Using more and more channels that can sell your products. It needs to have a pre-defined revenue sharing model.
    The more the number of channels that become your partners, the better. The most common form of partnerships you see around. For examples, Hotstar and IPL - where Hotstar is distributing and marketing Indian Premier League.
  3. Market-Tech swap

    Eg: A legal services provider - which is helping businesses to get incorporated - is a good partner for any online payment startup that is helping MSMEs start their online businesses [Like Instamojo].

A mindset to think about partnerships as a startup

  • If a partnership is not making more value than what you're individually making, it is not a partnership that you should pursue.
  • Have a clear process that defines the working relationship your startup will have with an in-coming partner. Establish contacts with all levels of the company you’re partnering with.
  • If both the parties are not getting some value out of a partnership, than don't pursue that partnership.

Partnerships are a mix of sales and relationships.

How can startups identify and evaluate partnerships ?

Here’s a pre-requisite you need to first solve — defining the objective of getting a partnership.

  • Is it to get more engagement?
  • Is it to get 100 leads per month?
  • Is it to share the customer base?
  • Is it to increase your brand visibility?

It can be anything that moves you forward to realize a business or a marketing goal.

When trying to identify which startups or companies you can partner with,

  • Look at the companies who have a presence in the markets that you're trying to get into.
  • Prepare a list of possible companies that you'll approach
  • And list of the benefit that they'll be getting out of your partnership with them
  • Take a holistic view of the relationship you’ll have, as a brand, and as a revenue-sharing partnership, and in terms of the customer base you’ll be sharing. And will the possibilities fit your ability to create value that would interest that company?

How to develop partnerships as startups

Have multiple ways to reach your potential partners [in the list you made in the identification phase]

  1. Cold outreach - Have a template that clearly expresses the outcome of the partnership you're proposing. Have clearly listed Split the partners into 2 categories:

    - Those who want a subjective proposition - who'd get on call with you and understand your value proposition deeply. [Big players go for this usually]

    - Those who'd understand your value prop directly and objectively. They'll fit the bill of multiple partnerships.
  2. Use your existing customer base
    Let's say you're a b2b company and your customers are working with companies you are prospecting to partner with.

    Use your regular customers to talk about your product and go through them to reach your prospective partners. Because your existing customers will be exited about your offerings, and it will establish a level of trust right from the moment you’re pitching for a partnership.

    Tip: Avoid partnerships that have fundamental difference in terms of vision.Eg: Instamojo will avoid Flipkart and Amazon, as instamojo is fundamentally different from these two.
  3. Use Your brand
    Your brand identity really helps when you've established yourself as a creative brand. This will invite opportunities that will create ecosystems of networking.

How to manage and review a partnership?

  • For startups, partnerships need to give a parallel branding exercise for the parties involved.
  • Align your objectives - Have short-terms goals defined when working.
  • Create an ecosystem - Create an eco-system of people from similar backgrounds and objectives. Early stage startups can benefit a lot from this.
  • Learn to measure and measure to learn - See if the right kind of audience getting attracted to your startup due to the partnership? Keep reviewing the data.
  • Review constantly - Partnerships are dynamic. Is your offering valuable to your partner's customers? Is the revenue model and incentive doing justice to the effort to the partners are putting in. Regular review of these things help a lot.
  • Have perseverance - 1/3 to 2/3 of partnerships are going to fail. Only 40% of partnership you build actually persevere.

Frameworks for partnerships [To make partner services available to customers]

  1. A platform approach [For tech startups]

    You can give your customer base, the services and products that your partners have. You can do this via deep integrations that your customers can use on your own platform, but the product they use for a function is your partners'.

    - the engagement rate goes higher.
    Eg: Startup X is helping new small businesses to file GST, and they’ve partnered with Instamojo. Instamojo’s users can get a one-click option to file their GST on the app, and that would be done through an integration that leads the users to Startup X’s service of GST filing. Benefits both, in terms of engagement for Instamojo and the promotion of service given by Startup X.
  2. Partner page

    An easier way to make products and services available to your customers from your own customer base and outside. If you’re a platform like Instamojo, you can give a separate interface where your partners’ offerings can be listed, with the advantages of accessing them using your platform.

    - Gives a lead gen model based on the merit of the partnership
    - Higher engagement Revenue sharing Up-selling and Cross-selling of products
  3. Unique rewards system for existing customers of your service

    Allow partners to earn points through the usage of your service. Those points can be used to avail the services and products of your partners - either for free or at a discounted rate.

    - Higher engagement
    - Higher quality of leads for partners Revenue sharing

HelloMeets + Vipin JS is a crazy fun combo! We give a huge shout-out to Instamojo and Vipin for being so cool and exemplary knowledge sharers!