I think the creation of the role shows a real investment in ecosystems.
– Kelly Sarabyn
Kelly Sarabyn was just hired by HubSpot to fill their brand new Platform Ecosystem Advocate role.
HubSpot is no stranger to an ecosystem-first approach, having built one of the strongest partner networks in B2B SaaS around agency and tech partners. But this role shows an even deeper commitment to not just their own platform ecosystem, but to spreading the model to other companies.
I asked Kelly about the new role (emphasis in quotes mine):
My job is to advocate for the ecosystem business model both for HubSpot platform partners and in the broader SaaS community. The goal is to help empower current HubSpot platform partners, attract new partners to our ecosystem, and have HubSpot contribute to the broader adoption of this business model in SaaS.
The obvious follow-up question is, 'How will this benefit HubSpot'? It's great to help other companies who aren't direct partners or customers to take the partner pill, but how do you justify the investment?
The short term way it will benefit HubSpot is by providing value to our potential and current partners who are seeking to leverage this business model. Providing value for partners creates a healthier ecosystem for us.
In the long term, more SaaS companies adopting this business model translates to more potential partners for HubSpot.
Pro-ecosystem SaaS companies will have the resources to invest in APIs, building an integration to HubSpot, and sharing that with their customers.
That's a long-term play worthy of a category leader. If you're not a tech giant, educating and evangelizing the entire market on adopting an ecosystems approach to business might seem too disconnected from the bottom line to be worth it.
Maybe not. If your company is an ecosystem driven business, maybe you can't afford to not be advocating for the same from partners and potential partners.
Kelly pointed out the risks of working with partners who aren't bought in:
Ultimately, thriving ecosystems require internal buy-in from leadership but also buy-in on the ecosystem mindset from all the companies you seek to partner with. For example, you can be an ecosystem-led company but if no one in your space has a partner-accessible API, then any tech partnerships are mostly dead in the water, which limits your ability to fully leverage ecosystems.
If HubSpot is investing in a role like this, you'd better believe we're going to see more companies get partner pilled.