083 - Building Partnerships from the Ground-up: A Crosspod takeover with Adam Michalski

What is up PartnerUp!?

Adam Michalski joins us in a cross-pod takeover, recorded live on Day 1 of PL[X] - Partner Led Startup Day. Adam is Co-Founder & CEO of Partnered at Crossbeam and contributes to The Partnered Podcast.

Adam, Jared, and Isaac discuss what they learned about building a partner led startup at Day 1 of PL[X]. They talk about the knowledge bombs dropped on Day 1 of PL[X] like this one from Nathan Latka who said:

Partners will want you if their customers watch you.

They talk about the first principles approach to partnerships that were introduced by the speakers of the day at PL[X]. Adam distilled partnerships down to one sentence:

Partnerships are basically just working with another organization to build something that people want!

3 Key Takeaways

  1. "Your partners want you if their customers watch you." - Nathan Latka
    Attention and influence are the scarcest resources of the modern world. If your partners' customers are watching you, you have access to a valuable commodity – their attention.
  2. CCC – Curious to Courageous to Convicted
    Start curious, become courageous enough to have conversations, and then go all in with conviction.
  3. "Great product never meets great go-to-market, and great go-to-market never beats great ecosystem" - Jared Fuller
    It's a hard truth, but when you realize the in-bred network effects, you understand why ecosystem will always beat go-to-market and product.

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Full Transcript:

Jared Fuller  0:00

Hey what is up partner up? We're live from the pls studios. Adam, congrats on ending the day with partner led startup of the Year award. Thank you. I appreciate it. That was definitely unexpected, but I think it was in great company with, with Pete and the team from Allah. So I'm definitely excited.

Totally, totally. And we're also saying hi to your podcast audience to Adam, the host of the partner podcast OG partner. Podcast producers.

Adam Michalski  0:41

Oh, yeah, yeah. So I think we just wrapped up our hunt, like 120 episodes, and it's been a whirlwind. I guess we started back in the beginning of COVID. And have been posting episodes weekly ever since. So I don't know if it's, it's cool as a partner on podcasts, but I feel like yeah, the company. Pretty exciting. Yeah.

Isaac Morehouse  1:01

Could you Could you hear me laugh there. My microphone back. Go back. Isaac's back out. We're ready to roll.

Jared Fuller  1:10

Now we're ready to roll. All right. What is up partner beyond kidding. Amazing. What an end to an incredible day I actually kind of want to kick this off. Talking about the day. I mean, this is partner led startup day. We actually have three founders here. Right. So Isaac, myself, you. And we also believe in have a ton of conviction in the partnerships moment. But I kind of want to kick things off with talking about Nathan laka. I don't know if you saw his session this morning, Adam.

Adam Michalski  1:36

So I just missed that one. I had a session that just

Jared Fuller  1:38

was Nathan's. Yeah. So

Adam Michalski  1:43

like, it was pretty good. Yeah, I saw some I saw some stuff online. And so I'm happy to I'm happy for you to debrief me. Yeah. So I want to hear in chat.

Jared Fuller  1:53

What was Nathan lack? Because best quote of the day, because anyone writes it down. It was partners want you if their customers watch you. And it was just such a salient point. I was like he said, partners want you if their customers watch you. And obviously he's building a case on how to build media and audience and influence. And it just struck me I was like, gosh, I wasn't expected me anything like could have come here, because he's like the most controversial founder and SAS. He really is. I think he's the most student poskitt podcaster on the internet. And he came in and just started dropping influence in partnerships, boss.

Isaac Morehouse  2:33

Yeah, you know, it's interesting. After that session, I was at one of the tables in the lounge chatting with some people in there. And a shout out to me for all these little little features like that in between sessions, but and someone said, Hey, man, that session with Locker was incredible. But he was talking about the strategies. If you're not a media company, and you're not monetizing your media, some of these strategies don't really apply talking about doing pre sales of his book and doing you know, selling seats. And then we just started chatting about like, Well, look, the principles still apply, like the pre sales idea. So he was talking about, Hey, before I published my book, I went and got deals done with like a whole bunch of different people saying, If I publish this, will you agree, will you buy 500 copies, and he had these various that he like went and pre sold before he even wrote it? That concept doesn't matter. If you're not trying to sell your book, that concept still applies, hey, we're going to put together this webinar, we're going to do this event, we're going to release a study, we're going to put out, you know, a guide. If we do, will you agree to be a part of it, to share it to get X number of people. And if you get those pre agreements, like that's just such a great way to decide whether something is worth investing in. It's like, it's like the version of I had a developer that I worked with in my previous company who I remember he had a name for it, but where you have like a button that doesn't really do anything that says like, it has like a feature. And every time someone clicks on it, it pops up and says, Hey, we don't have this feature yet, put in your email if you want to be notified. And that's your way of testing if there's actually demand for that feature, if all the users are like, oh, yeah, give me this feature, Export Export, and it's like, we don't have it. If nobody clicks on it, then you don't need the feature. Right. So that idea of you don't have to build it until you've actually sort of sold it in a way you've gotten some buy in. So anyway out I don't know if you've got any, any examples of that, you know, like, ways to sort of prove demand for a partnership or for a deal like that, without actually having to go and build that ahead of time, but I thought it was a great insight.

Adam Michalski  4:30

Yeah, no, I mean, um, well, I'll take a step back like I mean, huge shout out to you guys, because I think like this is definitely feeling like the moment when partnerships goes mainstream. I feel like you know, yes. Whether it be like NATO or and or I mean, these are like talking about some of the you know, most well known and like well respected folks in like their individual domains and I think like partnerships to your to your question more directly, Isaac is just like, if you really just distill it to like, Y Combinator has a saying where it's just like they really distilled, like, what you're doing when you're building a startup is just build something that people want, like, period, you know, like, partnerships are basically just working, you know, together with another org or individual to build customer value, you know, and that could be pre sales in advance and letting them know that this cool thing that they want is coming. Or it could be a tech integration, it could be an agency partnership, I mean, these things takes like form and a whole bunch of different ways.

But I really do think like, I mean, spending a lot of time thinking about, like, all the stuff that partner hackers putting out and like, why is this the moment? Yeah, and it's just interesting. Like, I mean, I just feel like, it's just like, a lot of interesting, like, waves all converging at the same time. I don't want to spend too much time talking about this, because you guys spend a lot of time on the on the blog, but it's just really cool seeing it come all together, you know?

Jared Fuller  5:56

Well, thank you for, for the kind words out of my truly appreciate it. I mean, I I feel like, you know, Isaac, to your point, like all the things that Nathan was saying. I mean, I wasn't like violent agreement with a lot of it, because that's kind of what in a lot of ways we've done was, had this idea for pls. And like, we went out, we started pitching it and selling and getting demand in advance. Same thing with the partner hacker handbook, you know, Adam, like we came to you, Well, before we published it, right? And we're like, hey, contribute to this. And like, you had an awesome chapter in there. And I think it isn't natural, like, it's, if you can't do something that generates interest before it's live. Was it even worth doing? I mean, I really don't think that that it was, I mean, you should be able to generate demand prior to something existing. And that doesn't mean, actually, I think it probably goes back to that concept of stock and flow, right. So like, your flow should be able to generate stuff on the daily. And then the stock pieces should be able to be monumental, where you're generating pre sales and doing things like that. And even even then, it's like, I think I saw a session from was an air meet, or airtable Air table on how they got 1000 people to register for their next product product release. Right? Well, how did they get 1000 people to register for the next product release, they got all the partners that had integrations with that product ready to rock and roll prior because that product really so like air table by themselves. They didn't have enough bandwidth, or power or social capital to like, you know, who, who really wants to go watch a product release? Well, they got all their partners to go like, no, here's why this is so sick. So yeah, it absolutely applies to partnerships. So I wanted to

Isaac Morehouse  7:42

take us on a I'm gonna take a little left turn here. So this is partner led startup day. And of course, as we mentioned, Adams company partnered, which was acquired by crossbeam. won one of the three partner led startup the Year awards. I want to get into because I don't actually know the story. Adam, I would love to hear your story for founding, partnered and ended the podcast come first, and then the company or did the product come? And then you're like, oh, we need a podcast to vanish. I just love to hear the genesis of that. If you could, I think this is really fitting for for this day, especially for other founders or potential founders who are listening to this.

Adam Michalski  8:19

Yeah, so what what came first, the chicken or the egg? The I think the as with like, a lot of companies, you know, like, partnered was born out of just like, my own personal frustration, you know, so I had been working for five years for a company called branch metrics. And we saw like, firstly, a huge ISP program, like a couple 1000 ISPs that we would integrate with just by nature of like, the technology. And, you know, whenever we would work with a partner, either getting like an introduction or recommendation or even just like information, it was such a no brainer, like, it was like a cheat code, you know, and almost felt like yeah, like the superpower because you were able to navigate that deal, like 10 times easier. And they were just close faster, they would, you know, typically close for more money. So the, it was abundantly obvious that this was like a motion that work, but yet there was like, no technology that there was, you know, this is we're going back to like pre Crosby and pre reveal pre like, all the technologies out there for account mapping, so, so So yeah, I mean, it was, it was a problem that like, I was definitely passionate about, and like, frankly, from the beginning, it was just nights and weekends, you know, like, me and my buddy, we just like hack on it and figure out like, just try to solve our own problems. And then once we started to get other organizations like bigger organizations, folks, like segment folks, like, you know, amplitude, like a lot of the partners of my company, like we're like hand raising saying that they wanted it that's when we realized that we had something and we applied to Y Combinator got in and you know, raised like our seed round to help like scale the business. So it was Yeah, I mean a lot of it like, frankly, if you especially if you're working in b2b Like if you see a problem, I'd say for anybody on the call who's like interested in starting a company, like their sheet, you see a problem, like you're, and you're really passionate about it, like, that's usually a very, very good sign to go for it. You know, there's, there's a lot of these issues that exist today, whether it be partnerships, or like any other part of the organization that needs innovation, you know, like it needs folks to go after it. And usually, it's the ones who have that problem firsthand, who are the ones who are best able to solve it.

Isaac Morehouse  10:37

So in the words of the immortal startup guru, Vanilla Ice, if there was a problem, Yo, you solved it.

Adam Michalski  10:49

Forgot the next verse. It was like blah, blah, blah, checkout revolve it or something like that. Yeah.

Jared Fuller  10:55

There's Isaac's dad joke of the day. I was hanging out with his four kids last night. So yes, he's he's certified dad times four. Earlier in the day, Adam, I was talking about this, these three C's that? I don't know there. You mentioned passion. I've mentioned many times that like, I think in the beginning of the year, I started to say phrases like, I have this conviction in this partnerships moment. But you really have to move from Curiosity. Right? So like your brand's you were probably curious about this problem. Right? Yep. And then you had this tipping point to be courageous. To start working on it nights a weekend, you have a partner, right, and you have your partner at home, you have a family have a job, you have to have the you have to move from curious to courage. And then you have to move from courage to conviction, like I'm going all in. Right. And I think that that progression is something that I've been using as a new framework or mental model, as it relates to, you know, founding a company pushing on your leadership, convincing other people you have to move from Curiosity, to courageous, to having full blown conviction. And, to your point about like, maybe this is the partnerships moment, I think a lot of people are finding a lot of courage right now, to speak about building their company outside of their own walls. Maybe you speak to those three C's a little bit on like, you are curious. And then, you know, maybe you had some courage, what was the thing that gave you the conviction to go I'm going all frickin in on this.

Adam Michalski  12:26

Yeah, I mean, I think that the interesting thing about partnerships, it's like, you know, I had the, like, specifically around the conviction was just around, like, the research and understanding of like, the current market dynamics, and the way that like, you know, most of the technology, like let's just say, four or five years ago, was really all just channel technology, you know, and SAS partnerships were an entirely new animal that we're, you know, kind of creating this new type of these new motions that were while they were very obvious for somebody within a SAS organization, like, not a lot of technology had been built for them prior. So it was kind of like this interesting void in the market. That, you know, it was very clear that not only could you like, this seems like a large problem, you know, just back of the napkin math, there's plenty of sass companies out there, I think Jamie McBain quotes that there's 175,000 of them, you know, and I'm seeing it firsthand that this is like, you know, a very easy mode, like CO selling is like one of the better ways to go to market. But yet, there's no solid technology built in the space. So, I mean, a lot of that was just like the macro, you know, ingredients, if you will, that definitely, like fed that conviction. And then you know, as, but it's a combination of that. And then like, you know, getting the product, like getting your initial product into the hands of organizations, especially organizations that you like, you know, really respect like, like it was those larger companies that I was talking about, like segment and amplitude, who were like early customers, you know, who also confirmed that it was, you know, a problem that they had, which was, I think one of the things that like I was concerned about, that I was just building for myself, and maybe it's a problem that just I have, and I'm crazy, you know? So like, Yeah, I mean, each one of those, I guess, like you tend to get a little bit more conviction as you go. But yeah, I think a similar thing is also just happening, like, you know, we talked about what we're talking about, like, you know, entrepreneurship right now, but even for partnership professionals, like, I think what I've seen at a lot of organizations, because we have these communities, because we're having these discussions and stuff in public, it's the ability for folks to just have a lot more confidence when they're having those, you know, discussions with their C level and like asking for additional budget and doing all that stuff, because, you know, they've talked to five other people who've executed a partnership strategy, and it's worked and it's a very simple or type of business model like that that also didn't exist, you know, like four years ago, this is all new stuff, which is super exciting because like, we all know that partnerships can drive a lot of value for an organization. But until this moment, you know, like PLX, we're looping in the other parts of the, you know, the organization like, it still isn't that predominant of like a thought, you know, it's, you know, it's it's not in SaaS, being viewed as like, yeah, a silo at most organizations where you say, it's like, you know, I think you guys are the ones who quoted it's a horizontal horizontal play. It's a strategy. It's not it's not a silo. It's not a department. Yeah, it's not a department. Exactly. So yeah, I think we're moving in that direction. But we need to be having more conversations like this, where it's not just partnership people, you know, going rah rah, with other partnership people, it's, we need to be bigger than that, you know, you need to start getting parts of the organization.

Jared Fuller  15:56

I'll be perfectly honest, the plx concept of like, five days, five different audiences, five different watering holes, really had nothing to do with our ambitions for partner hacker, and it had everything to do with the conversations that are going to happen between you everyone that's in chat, everyone that's listening to partnered podcasts or partner up podcast, to ascend that see CCC ladder to be like, Hey, I'm curious about this. No, wait, no, I'm courageous, I'm gonna go talk to my CMO. And I'm gonna lay it on the line and say, we're not marketing with any of our partners. Right? I just watched this thing from Nathan laka. And guess what everything should be partner lead, I want to partner lead more, actually, you need to come to attend partner lead marketing day, these conversations need to happen. And to your point, right, you can go have five conversations inside of partnerships, leaders, right that you couldn't have four years ago. And then I wanted to platform. Like the ability to bring those mainstream people together, like the next four days are just absolutely bonkers of the talent and the people like, I was just so taken aback like recording a session with like, Brent Adamson and the Challenger sale. And I'm like, you know, for partner led sales day. And I'm like, Dude, I've read your book, like three times, I've just spoke in front of like, 50 salespeople, like I made them read your book, and like, you're talking about partnerships with us, like, hello, if you're out there in partner land, if you're listening to this live or recorded on one of our podcasts, have the frickin courage and conviction to stand up and go talk to your frickin sales leader. Because guess what you have people like that, like we have CROs talking with our VPs of partnership was talking about, you need to go all in on partnerships. And like, wow, that's why we did this is because I, we, I saw the seeds of this existing in the market and platforming those conversations man, like, what a powerful moment.

Adam Michalski  17:43

But it's all of this Exactly. Like I mean, you know, this ties back to what we were just talking about before, like, what gave me conviction was like, market feedback and knowing like, you know, like, the best practices on like, how to make the jump to the next, you know, to the next level, this is all very similar stuff that like a partnership person is thinking when their partnerships internal of an organization is also very much entrepreneurship, you're getting buy in from other folks, you can't execute as well, if you don't have the buy in of, you know, sales, product marketing. So it's very much like an entrepreneurial role. And the more of these discussions happen, you know, the more confidence that folks get, and it gives them that, you know, conviction to basically say, like, hey, partner, led XYZ is like the best way to basically execute any of these motions with Simon inside of company. So yeah, I mean, hats off to you guys. Like, I just want to emphasize, like, I think how important that this is, like this juncture right now. And like this chasm of, you know, having these discussions and getting the buy in, more broadly, like making this mainstream, where like, salespeople think that, you know, the partnerships is one of the best way for them to close their deals, marketers think that it's one of the best way for them to market product things is one of the best way for them to build product like that mind shift change is not something that's going to happen overnight, and it takes conversations like this in order to get there. And it's like, it's, I would argue that it is the duty of everyone here, you know, to be having the like to be forwarding that it's not going to happen by one organization, it's not going to happen for its needs, you know, all of us pushing in the right direction.

Isaac Morehouse  19:15

So, like, I have to raise my hand here to make sure that you know, I get a chance this is you guys are getting getting super excited here. I want to just this day as a whole. There's other really interesting to happen. I wanted to ask both of you about it as founders and as people who are very much in the partnership space. So we had a session in the beginning of the day that I moderated wearing a different shirt, if you noticed, that was pre recorded with James courier from NSX and Kyle Porter from OpenView. And I asked them about building or distributing on other people's platforms or in other ecosystems versus trying to build your own. And Kyle was kind of like yeah, you can do both. James was like we almost always Tell founders Build Your Own, don't build on somebody else's. He said, Maybe sometimes you can start there. But then you got to build on your own because then you're you're beholden to them, they could, they could just go and build it themselves they could, right. Which is really interesting, and which is what you'd expect to hear from a VC who's like, Hey, here's our play, right? We need the billion dollar IPO outcome. And then later in the day, Andrew Gazdecki, who has, you know, built in and bootstrapped and sold some companies and then created micro acquire, which helps founders basically do that, right, get their companies acquired, he had a very different take, he's like, Hey, if you want to build a company, you want to bootstrap it, you want to a couple years to an exit, that is, for a VC 510 $20 million exit, they're not going to care about that for a founder, if you especially if you own 2030 50% plus of the company because you bootstrapped it. That's a life changing exit. He's like building an ecosystem that already exists. He's like, I've seen people do this on Shopify, tons of times, I've seen people do this elsewhere. And I just thought was really interesting. And we have the Shark Tank session as well, where again, the VCs have that question and that interest, I think it's really interesting to see. And I feel like there's gonna be something that emerges in between these two. And maybe it's already starting to where you have like the pure bootstrap play, which may make way more sense to say, I'm gonna launch an app. And it only exists on Salesforce marketplace or on AWS, or it's a Shopify plug in integration. And my goal is to get it bought by somebody in two years, and I'm a solopreneur, I'm a bootstrapper, whatever, versus the venture backed, where it's like, Okay, I gotta build an entire ecosystem, I have to be the platform, I'm not going to build on someone else's platform that's too risky. I'm curious to see how this unfolds over time. And I'm curious, both of your thoughts, I've heard it, I've heard you say, like, build in someone else's ecosystem until you're ready to create your own. So what do you think, build your own or building somebody else's? Yeah,

Adam Michalski  21:49

I mean, I think that you kind of painted the right picture there were like, there is no right answer here. You know, like, the right answer is dependent upon your circumstances. And it's just the same thing as like building a company, there's no right way to build a company. Like there's no right way to find what product market fit. Like, all of these things are very much part, you know, maybe there's science on like, scaling companies, but product market fit, like, I hate to break it to everyone, you're pretty much on your own every single time. Like it's all, you know, mostly art. So the Yeah, I mean, I think like, if you are, I would say, if you're a bootstrapped, you know, company, in a lot of ways, I agree with the sentiment from, you know, Andrew, that tapping into another ecosystem is probably in a lot of ways, a no brainer, I mean, you know, you can probably not even count in the hundreds, how many people you know, have had amazing exits in like the Shopify ecosystem, and all these other ecosystems, like, I mean, if you think about, like, just distribution for social, like, you know, building an audience on Tiktok, or YouTube, or, you know, Twitter, like, there's all these different places that, like, you can tap into over there. So I think that, yes, once you start introducing venture capital, like, you're, you're setting different expectations, I caught the tail end of that session today. And I just think it's really, really important that like, when you're like, you know, when you're pitching a VC, you have to understand, like, what their business model is, you know, like, they're gonna make, you know, maybe 10, that's seven of those that are going to die, two of them, you know, might do alright, and then one of them's going to return everything plus some sell, like they need to go, you know, swing for the fences, which means like, they're gonna want, you know, a business model with a moat, and they're gonna want you know, you to own the ecosystem. They're gonna want network effects, like the, you know, Andrew Chen was just talking about, particularly if you're going to be raising a sizable amount of money. I'm blanking on the name of there was this one fund that was like, This must have been like five years ago, they were trying to bridge the gap in between where they wanted to basically fund more like cash efficient businesses, I think, I think they were headquartered out of Utah or somewhere.

Jared Fuller  23:55

There's gonna be a lot of those coming up quick.

Isaac Morehouse  24:01

Yeah, indie VC. Yeah. And they and they remember why I think they ended up. They were doing great on the deal flow side, from what I understand. But they had a really hard time with LPS convincing enough LPS of this approach. And I think that's part of the reason why they but they say that's what's interesting. Like, there's but the times at St. lag. That's the last line, right? Yeah, yeah. Oh, hold

Jared Fuller  24:26

on, hold on. What do you what do you need to return? What is the average VC rate of return versus I mean, does not the s&p beat the average VC rate of rate of return? So if you can consistently like play the s&p, you know, rate of return by funding capital efficient businesses? I don't know. I think I think that's all gonna get changed tremendously over the next few years. Maybe to like hop in and between, like, Adam, your comments are 100%, right, that it's all contextual, independent. But I think going back to the three C's of courage courageous to conviction, like here's the difference, like, do you have conviction to build up platform that everyone's going to build on, he would be really freaking smart. You better have answers to all the tests, you better have an earn secret. What platform are you building? And what audience do you own? Where everyone's gonna come to you? Like, yeah, if I if I have the platform that I know, everyone's going to build on, and I already own the audience, I'm going to go pitch who Andrew Chen at Andreessen Horowitz right, because I have that conviction. I know, like I have conquered the cold start problem. I know exactly. ABCDEFG. You know, whenever Bob Moore from crossbeam, you know, conquered the cold start problem, he had a platform where they had network effects. And then, you know, Adam joins it. Like they raised the, you know, the big round and Andreessen participates rat, you know, like, that's, there's a platform play there for sure. And then same thing with, you know, reveal, and inside partners, like we listened to them this morning, you know, Simon, and, you know, Brad from insight. And I think you know, the answer you go back to your question, Isaac, like, do you build in someone else's ecosystem? Or do you try to build your own? I think I've talked about these three types of entrepreneurs, there's builders, geniuses, and pros. I think the thing about geniuses, they think they can build their own ecosystem, their own platform, their own product from scratch, and like, maybe they do create some 10x technological innovation, what they quickly find out is that great product never beats great go to market. Yep. And then with a built in, then what the builders find out is that great go to market never beats great ecosystem. So great product never beats great go to market, and great go to market never beats great ecosystem. There's your quote from this podcast today. If you haven't heard that one for me before.

Isaac Morehouse  26:34

I mentioned in in that session, like a if you're if you're gonna go the we got to build our own. It's not just about building your own tech platform or business model that has you being you know, having your own ecosystem, you have to actually create the category and be the one who you're confident you can own the words, the definitions, the language that's used in that category to the James couriers point language is one of the network effects, you have to be confident no one else has has owned that yet. And that you can actually own that. And so that means you have to create a category through content that rallies a community around it. This is whether or not your product is ready to go, right? Like this is something you have to do regardless. So if you are prepared to do that, and you think you can do that, by all means the if you when the payoff is going to be way, way, way bigger than building in somebody else's. And there's less risk of being you know, having somebody kick you off or, you know, build what you were offering. But let's not pretend like this is a moral judgment. Not everyone is cut out for that some people are great at building products, and they don't want to create a category and there's a category that somebody else is already creating. And they can come in, and they can say, here's this and here's this, but there's a gap in between them, I can build that solution that's in between and that's a great business right there. Whether it's a cash flow business, a smaller exit. Some of those are even venture backed businesses.

Jared Fuller  27:53

Well look at Jesse Shipman from fluency they got four for four meetings on the ecosystem Shark Tank today. What's she doing? She's She's literally building a connector between slack right, and Gong Salesforce crossbeam like it's this real time problem that solves a really cool thing. And it's in between the gaps of these existing ecosystems so like it's just so self evident to me after you saw that pitch you're like, Yeah, that makes a ton of sense. And I posted this LinkedIn video earlier last week where I said you know, I think the the sage old advice of build a product that's an inch wide and a mile deep is gone. That's garbage advice. That's garbage advice today because why there's gonna be million SAS companies by the end of the decade, and someone commented on the post that I just absolutely love. If you build a product that's an inch wide, you're gonna get fucking buried and I was like, Absolutely, you're just gonna get buried. You can't they can't there's so many points solutions. How do you work with everything else and I think Jesse just nailed it. Like, hey, here's the exact opposite of a product that's an inch, inch wide and a mile deep know her product. Is a mile wide and an inch deep.

Isaac Morehouse  29:00

digitally, I mean, you look at I mean, Zapier is is a great I never know if people say is Zapier,

Jared Fuller  29:05

Zapier. Zapier makes you happier. So like, Oh, this is the partnerships conference. Zapier makes you happier. Thank you. No one says Zapier on this call ever again. If you're in chat listening to this, never say Zapier again,

Isaac Morehouse  29:15

forever, say Zapier now and now I am happier. Thank you, Jared. So Zapier, right. It's like did they create their own ecosystem or launched an existing one? Well, when you look, it's kind of hard. Well, they said, Hey, if you use this product and this product and want them to talk to each other, we got you. Enough people start using it for everything. Now, they kind of went from being the connector between ecosystems to being the ecosystem that everyone else is has to say we work with, right. It's like it's an interesting because they were broad enough. They they became their own, but I mean, I don't know enough of the details of their initial story, but that's at least how I think about that. I think what you mentioned with Jesse, so we just need to give a shout out by the way, that shark tank. It was amazing to sit there and watch six investor meetings Get Booked live right in front of us from people pitching brand new partner tech companies. That was awesome.

Adam Michalski  30:06

Yeah, that was amazing. I mean, the only thing that I'll add to your the discussion here is, you know, I think a lot of like Andrew Chen talks about this in his book, like, network effects are cool, they're sexy, they're awesome when when they work, you know. And like, I think it's also very important to understand that like, early on, like, especially for a lot of folks over here, which are on startup day, like, as you're building your companies, like, it's important to understand that network effects actually work against you in the beginning, like, Bob was just on the call prior to this, and he had mentioned it that the first 100 companies were incredibly, incredibly difficult to get, you know, onto the network. And like, Andrew, TED talks about the, like, the tipping point of like, when that happens, but you know, those initial folks when you're asking them to join a network, and nobody's on the network, like, that's not an easy conversation to have, because folks inherently come to a network based upon the network. So yeah, I mean, I think that, you know, there's a whole bunch of different playbooks here, there's a bunch of different ways to benefit are built on top of other ecosystems. But just, you know, if you're going to if you have enough conviction that you're going to be building your entirely own ecosystem with network effects and all that. Just be mindful of the risks that are associated with that as well. And like, pushing that rock, you know, uphill for a couple of miles before it's gonna start, you know, rolling downhill is a slog, like, it's something that folks should be ready for it.

Isaac Morehouse  31:38

I have, I have failed at that myself. For sure. So I understand, like, it is brutal, it is brutal. If you're trying to do that and saying, No, we're not going to tap in any of these existing networks, because they all suck and they're all old and stodgy. We're gonna build a new one. It's as more power to you if you do it, right. That's like that's the really big.

Adam Michalski  31:56

Do you think that staying power and that's the reason why VCs love them. I mean, like, you know, Venmo is by no means a great app, you know, but people stick around Twitter is notorious for having dropped the ball, you know, 100 times, and yet they're still the predominant like social network. Like, if you can make these things work. They're great. But yeah, getting them off the ground is like it's non trivial. How many friends have you had that, you know, have gone up to you and be like, oh, yeah, I had the idea for Uber. I had the idea for like, Yeah, cool. But you get you didn't solve the cold start problem, did you?

Jared Fuller  32:28

No, not at all. God, there was so much fun today. Like stuff that I want to talk about. It was really cool to also see, you know, the, the amount of people that I know, in partnerships at the event that were former partner leaders that are now founders or CEOs. So like, we had a great session on that with Bryan Williams from HockeyStick, who's just been like out there in the market, like helping everyone with their partner programs, like just helping everyone like I just seen Brian everywhere, like he quit zero. And he's in Australia, like 4am on phone calls, helping us be SaaS companies with their partner program for free and then like scaling a business off that to

Isaac Morehouse  33:09

he's like that guy where you're like, wait, he's like Kramer? Like, what? What do you actually do? Because you're always just around helping everyone. Like, you're just like this helpful floater guy? That's right. Yeah. So he's just completely to your point, like, clearly he's living in the market. And he's getting building trust and learning. And like, that's where I see to your point is where all these new founders are gonna come from, from from the partner tech space, I think the ones who are, who are in it, we're just living there working with people and helping people

Jared Fuller  33:40

get it together. Totally, totally. And you were you were talking about how the network effects work against you. In the beginning, Adam, I love that slide that Andrew Chen shared about how the telephone is the most useless tool in the world from the at&t founder. Because the telephone without any connections is literally worthless. And like, wow, like that, that distills down so much partnerships and ecosystem value, like I think juxtaposing What's crazy about today is like the how polar opposite is Andrew Chen and Nathan laka? I have two more opposite people of the world that like actually, I get a lot from both of them, right? Like, the reality is, is that if you're listening to Nathan, he's like, here's exactly how you go out. And you do this. And like, after the telephone, here's how you like, build the thing and like the hype in the audience prior to anything else. And then you can find a solution versus like, you know, I think a lot of the same things apply to what Andrew said. But wow, when you have like probably one of the best founder like hackers in the world, followed by one of the VCs that deployed more capital last year than any other VC. I think we might be onto something fellas, and folks, ladies and gentlemen, and everyone in the audience. This might be the moment the partner ecosystems go mains. Stream.

Adam Michalski  35:01

We've pushed the rock uphill over the past couple of years and now it's just starting to roll downhill. So it's not over yet. We got to keep having these conversations. But it's starting to roll. So yeah, it's the right place at the right time. Amazing.

Isaac Morehouse  35:18

He's a good place to wrap for the day. I'm so glad we get to to put a an end cap on day one. We've partnered the partner podcast and with Adam. We kowski nightcap. We got people from all over the place. So absolutely amazing. And Jared, I feel like we got a we got a preview tomorrow, man.

Jared Fuller  35:38

Yeah, absolutely. Tomorrow, we got partner LED product Day, which this is one that was this is probably the hardest day to put together Isaac to be if I'm going to be perfectly honest, like, it's this. These were the I wouldn't say the cream separated from the crop. That's not quite the right word. It's just understanding like understanding product, and how to get engineers and PMS and product people. In technical leadership aligned around this is not the same conversation as marketing and sales. And because traditionally, as partner folks have reported into sales or marketing, we're one step removed from product. I mean, I'm lucky I've shipped and built products. I'm very lucky that whenever I started at Drift, I reported to Ilyas Torres, our CTO, whenever I started at Panda doc, my best friend like and I lived in his I literally lived in our CTOs house, you know, like so I mean, I was like, extremely close to technical leadership. And I had a technical background, I was super lucky to be able to be close enough to them to influence integrations, etc. But tomorrow is going to be I think, for those people that really break out over the next year or two years, they're going to understand how to influence the product. And I think it's extremely important, like I have a session with him partner tomorrow. That's called why the flywheel business case starts with product. I've made the mistake of going to executive leadership and saying, hey, I can save all of the products team time, I can do all this partnership stuff with marketing and sales. And don't worry, I'm not taking any products time. So you think that's a good thing. But then the reality is because products not bought and they don't have skin in the game, they haven't made an investment Guess what? The rest of the executive team? Okay, well, products, priorities, X quarters, we're doing this for roadmap, this is launched, this is this, this is this, and then marketing and sales of all the alignment I just gained. They just like stop. And I was always like, No, my partner strategy from here on out has to be aligned with product first, and then marketing, and then sales and then success. It is a flywheel approach. And if you don't start with product, you're screwed. I mean, I've seen this power of this. In front of 19,000 people drift whenever we overtook the Steve Lucas, the CEO of Marketo, his keynote, like Steve Lucas was like, and that's why I'm excited to announce conversational ABM with David cancel the CEO of drift in front of the entire Adobe summit audience, like we took that over. And it was like, Oh, that started because of product now because of marketing, not because of sales is because we co innovated. So tomorrow, I think is the most foundational and important day of the week. I feel like it's the probably the hardest one to pull off. But mark my words a year, two years from now, it's going to be where I think the best of the best players where they partner pros can co innovate and build with product. I mean to Adam right there. I mean, you co innovated and partner with companies build integrations. And now it's, you know, sales edge, the LinkedIn navigator for partnerships. So, Adam, thanks so much for doing the crossbar takeover with us again, this is a second time we've done this right.

Adam Michalski  38:36

Second, yep. And we'll definitely have to schedule a third sometime soon. These are always always fun. So it's always a pleasure.

Jared Fuller  38:42

Thanks so much for joining us live man and everyone out there. Pls summit day one. I mean, my heart is just warm with like the partner love. The partner ecosystem is the best ecosystem by far. And I said this on LinkedIn the other day, don't worry other departments just because your ecosystem is not the best ecosystem doesn't mean we're throwing any shade at you. Here's what it means. We're just out here to help you five days to redefine go to market for forever, and we're out here to help product marketing sales and success win in a world where everyone can win together. So thanks so much pls. We will see you tomorrow for partner LED product day. Partner up peace out later.

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