Episode 001 - Jared Fuller & Kevin Raheja - Landing your first “sumo”

In the very first episode, Jared and Kevin set the stage for how PandaDoc became HubSpot CRMs number 1 integration partner and more broadly discuss how to land your first "sumo" or key alliance partnership.

Kevin discusses how HubSpot evaluated the value of startup integration partnerships and how the PandaDoc team was able to create a successful alliance even before HubSpot had APIs! Here's the PartnerUp origin story - enjoy! Don't forget to subscribe on Youtube and your preferred Podcast network.

This episode is sponsored by Crossbeam. Crossbeam is a partner ecosystem platform. It acts as a data escrow service that finds overlapping customers and prospects with your partners while keeping the rest of your data private and secure. Sign up for free at Crossbeam.com.

Join Jared Fuller and co-host Kevin Raheja with their very first episode of Partner Up! - The Partnerships Podcast. They discuss their early beginnings, the value of a good partnership, the SUMO tactic and Kevin shares what was the first job he go...


Jared Fuller 00:19
Welcome to partner up the partnerships Podcast, where Kevin and I we unpack all things partnerships and partner related. And this first episode is brought to you by cross beam. Cross beam is a partner ecosystem platform. It acts as a data escrow service that finds overlapping customers and prospects with your partners while keeping the rest of your data private and secure. So you can sign up for free at cross beam.com. I'm in a big pilot right now, Kevin, I know you're a customer. So happy to have cross beam sponsoring the show. But this is our first one, Kevin. It's our first one.

Kevin Raheja 00:54
So first podcast, Jared,

Jared Fuller 00:56
where do we want to kick this one off? Because we have a storied history together?

Kevin Raheja 01:01
We do. Yes. So I think if you go back we met in 2015, at HubSpot inbound conference. And this was actually my first day of work at inbound. I don't know if you are at HubSpot. I don't know if you knew that. But that was my first day. There. We met at the conference. And we kind of like kicked it off. We knew there was something there. And I wanted to work with you. But why don't you talk about like what you wanted to get out of that conference or out of the partnership with HubSpot. And then we could talk about how

Jared Fuller 01:36
that eventually Yeah, so you were director of partnerships at HubSpot, that was your first day at inbound. And then I was heading partnerships in sales at a company called panda doc. Gosh, so I have a lot of philosophies. And you do too, Kevin on how to land your first I call him Sumo. So many companies try to go out and partner with you know, 50 different alliances. Right. so in this situation panda docs, you know, definitely the David. HubSpot was the up and coming Goliath. I mean HubSpot CRM was pretty new in 2015. But growing like wildfire.

Kevin Raheja 02:13
It was just launched. So yeah, it grew slowly, after that kind of like wildfire. But it was kind of just launching around. We were pretty much on marketing automation.

Jared Fuller 02:25
And you didn't even have an API yet around that. No API. So I had this theory that like that HubSpot was just going to dominate the CRM market because well, he launched it for free. Right and panda Doc, we we've had some traction with like pipe drive and a couple other alliances where we integrated with CRM, and you could send a document right from CRM. And I just thought I think HubSpot is gonna just take off here. So I actually, I pinged Brad coffee back in the day. And I said, Hey, I think I emailed him, I don't know, umpteen times and was like, I'm going to be your number one partner for CRM. And he's like, that's cute. We don't even have API's. Good luck. And what we did is I don't know if you remember this, we actually, we shipped a Chrome extension panda doc Chrome extension for HubSpot. So that way you can send documents. So like we were demonstrating product value before there was even, you know, API. So I think we actually had customers using both solutions whenever we met at that conference. And I think you and Brad were kind of like, how are we already partnering? There's not even API's yet.

Kevin Raheja 03:33
Yeah. What struck me about you, Jared, was that you had bet, arguably the earliest of any of our partners on the HubSpot CRM, and you built something, you know, you kind of like hacked your way into the ecosystem in a clever way. And I think that that early bet, really paid off for panda Doc, I mean, you were in our ecosystem before any of our other competitors in your space. And that I think was a big part of your Sutton's,

Jared Fuller 04:05
tell me a little bit about how you and Brad and like, you know, kind of the partner team started to think about what eventually became HubSpot Connect. Right? And you You're, you're working with me, and you're saying like, Okay, what, what is good look like from, you know, an ISV ecosystem, like, what are the types of companies that you were looking towards? And what were the things that they were doing? And I don't know if I was doing some of them. I think we could talk about where this relationship went. That that made that stand out.

Kevin Raheja 04:36
Sure, yeah. So Sequoia was our lead investor. And they made everybody read as we you know, we had just IPO we were a marketing automation company. We were trying to branch out and be like a true platform, but we weren't sure if we could pull it off. I mean, this was before we had done that. So Sequoia made everybody at HubSpot replatform revolute. And so that was interesting and how that helped us really align internally on this mission to become a platform. And so we knew we had to build out HubSpot Connect. What we did was we just we looked at, you know, other competitors in our space, what we learned what kind of like the best categories, and the best partners were in those ecosystems, we went out and targeted them. Once we opened up our API's. On our CRM, we invited them to be a part of the developer community really encouraged them to build an integration and that we could grow together. And so building out a program around type form Connect was really, I mean, we had to do that in order to incentivize developers and sass companies to build on us like panda Doc, to show them that there was going to be an ROI. If you do this, if you build on our platform, we're going to give you something we're gonna we're really good at marketing, we can do joint. You know, we can do blog posts, we can do ebooks, we can do webinars, things to distribute the partner and showcase the integration. And so we kind of built a program around that that was the beginning of type form, how's that connect?

Jared Fuller 06:26
And then their type form? Sorry, I'll do that too. Well, we'll change company names throughout this where we're at different companies. I'm at drift now you're a type form. But

Kevin Raheja 06:36
yeah, and this whole, we, we've we've kept working together, which is funny, but yeah, so this is HubSpot Connect, of course. And then over time, you know, as we saw partners like panda duck building on our platform, we could see traction of those partners. And penta doc was really one of the first partners we saw build on our CRM API's, where we saw really, really fast traction, I believe you are our fastest growing partner in 2015, or 2016, or maybe both. And we knew that this category was really important to our product. So what ended up happening was your success led to me reaching out to your competitors, inviting them into the ecosystem, but because you had that headstart, we saw the most success with panda doc. And that's to your and yours. Yeah,

Jared Fuller 07:29
absolutely. The team was the team was great around this initiative. And I think one of my philosophies is that whenever you're picking that Sumo, like, it's all about being number one. Right? It's being if you're not first, you better be best. Right? And that was a stated objective. I don't know how many times I told you or Brad that I'm I am and I am going to be your number one partner. And it's funny, I've done the same thing adrift with like Marketo. And Adobe, like we speak in those terms for a very purposeful reason. But whenever you were looking at some of that early data, in the beginning, I know we were sharing stuff around, you know, act, you know, weekly active users. Right. So we had a strong weekly actor use active user use case in that sales reps, were sending, you know, deals like they're closing, closing deals which reinforce the value of HubSpot CRM, tell me how you started to think about, you know, from a, because we're kind of trying to extrapolate here. How does a bigger company think about the value of a smaller company to its ecosystem? How did you start to formulate those kind of KPIs and think through like, hey, what is our North Star here? Is it you know, weekly active users? Is it you know, reduction in churn? Is it activations? How did you start to think about that?

Kevin Raheja 08:43
Yes, definitely, we had a couple of metrics on our mind. So monthly active users, or monthly active installs, were something that we were like monitoring closely. But we always knew that this was like more of a retention play than acquisition play, or at least, you know, retention was really important here. Because we knew that if you had one of our one of our users that had no integrations installed, versus one versus two versus three or four integrations installed, the retention just exponentially increased to the point where we had like positive retention above for install. So if we could get our users to install four pieces of software, that was really the sweet spot for us around retention, but incrementally it increased this from it's interesting, because

Jared Fuller 09:44
it's funny, because there's two different objectives here. Right, like I'm thinking acquisition, and you're thinking retention. Yeah. And how those two things interplay seems like that applies more universally to how partnerships professionals work. you're partnering down or partnering up, right like in this situation. This is a example of partnering up right like I'm trying to go to market with HubSpot and make HubSpot. You really distribute us to your customer base. So you needed to see strong retention mechanisms inside of there. Right. We were one of the first adopters of the API's in the platform in order to do things that were, you know, different. I remember at one point, I guarantee it's not around today, because this was crazy. At one point. I was able to work with you and the team and we got into the HubSpot CRM onboarding journey, the email journey that went out to every single person, it was like, you know, connect your integrations and like panda doc was right there. Right. Like we saw it, we saw a bunch of traffic and a bunch of installs from that, like, Oh, yeah, I can close deals right from CRM, this is great. But you got to have those things, you know, defined. It's like, well, what's important for the partner? Like, well, we had to solve some churn things. And the reality was, is that I think SMB CRM churn, like, what I know about pipe drive, and close and HubSpot, and copper, aka formerly known as prosper works and all the CRM, so I've worked with all of them. Is that that that space is pretty ripe for churn. Right?

Kevin Raheja 11:14
Yeah, definitely. And you know, like, don't get me wrong, we were still interested in distribution. But I think when you're a partner like panda Doc, you're looking at HubSpot as a path to distribution if if you can secure the right partnership, and we were looking at, you know, at HubSpot, we were looking at Google, right, and Facebook, and LinkedIn. And part you know, like these companies that are even bigger than us, for the majority are for like, really big strategic distribution place. And the way I was looking at the platform was like looking at our developer partners like panda Doc, as more of a retention play for us. I mean, the number one reason sales person would lose a deal at HubSpot, or, you know, other companies that other software companies that I've talked to is because the prospects tech stack doesn't integrate into your solution. So you know, getting at filling in as many gaps with partners as possible really prevented us from losing deals. On the sales side. It was a huge retention play. And we measured retention, probably, or we waited it a little bit more than we did distribution from,

Jared Fuller 12:34
right, because you didn't have API partners that were you know, bigger than HubSpot per se. Right. And that in that situation.

Kevin Raheja 12:42
Yeah, I mean, we've had Salesforce and stuff, but like we built those, typically, like we built integrations for partners bigger than us, they weren't going to give us like a whole lot. And we were actually getting better distribution from panda duck from the partnership that we built with panda Doc, than we were saying with like Salesforce, which we would just use to, if we were talking about prospect, and they were on Salesforce, we had to have an integration with Salesforce in order to close that deal. But we weren't getting a lot of distribution.

Jared Fuller 13:15
That's interesting, because I remember in those, like in the beginning, it was a bet, you know, that I believed in Makita. And Sergei, like, we all believe this is going to be number one, I remember telling Makita and Sergei, we're going to be their number one partner, and they're like, okay, we will dedicate the resources, but we'll see. And then I remember the second a lot. Oh, every time that there's a sumo I want, I'm going to say it till I'm blue in the face. And what I remember ended up happening, you know, like, we grew into multiple offices, right. Like, whenever I was first talking to you, I think that was an apartment in San Francisco that I was living in for like a month. You know, there was the panda doc office. I mean, so that's how early it was. And then when we got you know, multiple offices and teams, and we grew, I remember hearing phone calls where people were asking us, what we recommended, and my sales team was would always say, you know, HubSpot, I get we we have a great partnership with HubSpot. And

Kevin Raheja 14:10
how do you think, how do you think? Yeah, I guess I'm curious from a HubSpot standpoint is what did we do to get your sales team to wreck? Well, they started to see leads

Jared Fuller 14:21
come in from HubSpot. Right. So it was it was that that virtuous cycle that most the great partnerships are built upon? The business has to go both directions. Right. And yeah, that's when I've seen things really just sing is when it really is going both directions, because we had a lot of people that were like, unsatisfied with their current solution, but they needed to close deals. So we sat at a very important inflection point, right, like panda docs, the thing that they're going to use to close deals and once they've closed a deal with panda Doc, the likelihood that they stayed what went way up, right?

Kevin Raheja 14:56
Did you it was your sales team influenced at all by like the function analogy of the integration specifically with HubSpot, like in other words, did the integration add something from on a product level that other partners didn't have? Or was it really truly just the fact that like we were delivering leads, your sales team was happy with that it was the Elias,

Jared Fuller 15:17
that did it. Because part of our sales motion, it was hilarious. Thinking back to this now, it's the first time I thought about this in years, is the way that we would demo panda doc is I had this Trello board and like this single sign on solution that had demo instances of like 15 CRMs, so that the sales rep could jump into that CRM that the prospect was using, right and send a document out of that CRM, like Insightly, or pipe drive or whatever. So like to show them the workflow in their day in the life. Right. So it was wasn't like a solutions consultant, you know, completely custom demo, but it was personalized enough to make sense. So technically a rep could have recommended, you know, any of those. But I think it was the Hey, you know, I've seen some good leads come in from HubSpot that I've closed. So I'm going to recommend the one that's, you know, helping me out, right, if I and there was executive alignment around that, like we talked about the HubSpot partnership and Alliance. And then that grew to, you know, some interesting conversations that ended up leading to you know, HubSpot, investing in the in the series B, right. And I think that really solidified it, where, you know, we took this idea and it turned into you know, like a best in class kind of partnership for SMB sales productivity and an SMB CRM. And you know, HubSpot, an owner and penta doc now.

Kevin Raheja 16:42
Yeah, so this is actually one of the the best partnerships. We are I ever created at HubSpot. And hopefully, I would say the same thing about your work at penta doc. But as you mentioned, so the the partnership was so successful, we saw so much traction, that panda duck was the first company that we invested in from the HubSpot. It was the first I

Jared Fuller 17:09
remember that right? I was working with, oh, gosh, she's at gt now. What's his name? the CMO of GE. Yeah. Ryan, on the press release. I remember that now. And he was like, yeah, this is the first one.

Kevin Raheja 17:21
Yeah. So what we were able to see was how quickly this integration was kind of like picking up amongst our users how much value this integration was adding to our users that we had kind of like access to this data as it pertained to our ecosystem on the back end, where we could see how quickly this was growing in the traction. And that was a big part of our thesis, when we created the HubSpot ventures program was that we should be able to look at the data sets that we have around our platform, and invest in companies that bet on on us. And you were the first one or one of the first partners to do that on with our CRM API's when those opened up, and when we saw how much traction

Jared Fuller 18:16
the panda dock integration was getting, we decided to invest in your series. But you know, what's, what's interesting is that you started to see this come up even more frequently now, like, I'm not good acquaintances with Scott over at troops. And they placed a big bet on Slack, right? for their, you know, kind of go to market motion and built a lot of stuff and broke, you know, slacks API's, and then slack ended up being a, you know, key investor for them. And I think Kevin, one of the things that you're really, you know, passionate about is using kind of some of your experience and partnerships across Groupon, HubSpot and pipe form, is that kind of, you know, startup strategy, where troops was a very tiny company when they made that bed, right. So if like, if you're in the startup space, you're in a super early stage company. Like what what would be your advice to kind of leveraging, you know, API ecosystems as like a vehicle, right to have a strategic partner and potentially even an investor?

Kevin Raheja 19:20
I think like, I've seen a lot of partners. I'm frankly kind of like half assed the partnership, right? Like there are partners who want to build an integration just to have it as kind of like a table stakes level integration, but they don't really invest in in the partnership. I think like what you did, Jared, which was very different than the majority of our partners was, you built an integration, but you you were so engaged with us that I'm not sure if panda doc was like from, you know, synergy standpoint, the most special partnership that

Jared Fuller 19:56
documented but it's not the it's not the You know the the brightest light so to speak in terms of software functionality?

Kevin Raheja 20:06
Totally but what what were the magic was was your engagement and like the aligned engagement that we both had with each other between penta doc and HubSpot. And I think you could probably say the same thing between troops and Slack, right? It's not like troops is the most important partner just because they invested in troops it like it doesn't mean it's the most important partnership that they could have invested in. However, the level of engagement that Scott and the troops team gave to gave to slack ended up showing how invested they were and slack wanted to, you know, return the favor with an investment because of that engagement, and trust and the relationship that was built out of that. So I think like if you're interested in building a partnership, like you did with HubSpot, your you the trait that you had of just cultivating that relationship checking in, I would say you were checking in like weekly on us, and we were communicating very frequently. But that level of engagement alongside the growth and traction we saw with your product, that that's

Jared Fuller 21:19
definitely I think there's there's probably two episodes that can come directly from that part of the conversation, right, like how to leverage platform API's as an early stage company for, you know, growth and investment. And then there's also the components around, okay, because we did a lot of partner marketing together, right. Like we published a lot of content on the HubSpot blog. Like I was writing for the HubSpot blog. We had a dedicated partner marketer that we actually hired specifically to do stuff. Right right content with HubSpot. We I was in Boston a lot, right? Like I was on the floor with the sales team. And Mike and Pete and those folks and not going desk to desk, right actually telling each sales rep at at HubSpot about panda doc and what we could kind of do together. And there's a lot of tactical tips that I think we could break down into subsequent one. But for kind of like this origin story episode, so to speak of Kevin and Jared, we're going to be bringing guests into our subsequent episodes and kind of grilling them on specific topics. And I guess you could say the first topic here was like how to land that first Sumo relationship. But how this podcast even started, there's kind of a kind of like a partner story there. Right? So I pinged you was just a couple weeks ago.

Kevin Raheja 22:36
A couple weeks ago, you asked if I wanted to be a guest on the podcast. And I was very excited, because I had have noticed, like a big gap in content around what we do, Jared, there's a not a lot of resources for business development and partnerships. And when you said that you were going to start a podcast, I was super excited as first just like humbled and flattered that you wanted to be on it. But I was just excited. From an audience standpoint, initially, like I wanted to listen to this podcast, because there are very few resources around

Jared Fuller 23:09
definitely. And then in typical partner kind of fashion, like, I was like, Well, why not just partner up on it? Right, like Kevin, Kevin's one of my favorite people in BD, because you're just you're different. Like, I don't think either of us fit the typical business development mold. I don't think you do in particular, Kevin, your story is definitely not one that lends itself to like, Oh, I'm gonna be a business development and sales executive. And I love your story. And like, one of the things that you've seen that have been tremendous, like, tell me a little bit about, I just, I feel like our audience is gonna have to know this about you. Like, I'll just say one phrase Deadliest Catch, right? Like, all of your all of your tags is crab Fisher. So just walk us through that real quick, because I think it has to be said,

Kevin Raheja 23:56
Sure, I have a very strange story. I dropped out of college in 2003 and went up to Alaska, to try to get a fishing job. I ended up salmon fishing. And then for five years, I did commercial crab fishing on a boat in the Bering Sea. And, man, I have a lot of stories around that I won't get into it, but I did that in my early 20s. It's a young man sport. And and then I kind of just fortuitously got in contact with Groupon when they were just taking off in 2008. And I was one of the first hundred employees of Groupon and that kind of got me into tech and then eventually I ended up falling in love with with software along along my path,

Jared Fuller 24:44
but in similar fashion, I think there was we were you involved with the, the Uber and Groupon deals on the BD side.

Kevin Raheja 24:54
Yes. Yes. So I remember reading about Uber is It was like TechCrunch, or Mashable or something back in 2009, I believe. And I and I, it was an interview with the founder. And I was like, I bet his email address is Travis at Uber. So I just sent him an email. I was like, Travis, we could launch you in every major city in the US through Groupon. And I didn't hear back from him for about 12 hours, he got back to me. And he was like, let's do it. And it ended up being one of the biggest deals that Groupon did. And it launched Uber in every major city in the US. And after that,

Jared Fuller 25:37
that moments really important in like your story in particular, because like, look at Uber today. I mean, it's more valuable than any car company. Right? Isn't I mean, it's not Tesla. But in terms of transportation companies, it's definitely the most valuable, you know, automotive transportation company. And it started with a BD deal. It's a b2c bd BD deal, but it's a big deal.

Kevin Raheja 26:06
Yeah, and I mean, if I think if I get any credit for this, it's that I recognized that a platform for matching somebody to, you know, a driver's with riders, could be very interesting and successful. And the same way to bring it back here the same way that you bet on HubSpot very early. I knew that if I wanted to optimize the success of the company that I work for Groupon, I needed to get like a deal going with Uber very, very early on. And that would be the best thing for for the company. So

Jared Fuller 26:45
yeah, you probably don't remember the, you know, the hundreds of other Groupon deals that you did, but like, you know, some of them you do, I'm sure, right, but like that one is like, wow, that really sets the stage. And that's that's typically my my number one piece of advice to folks as they're building out an alliance or, you know, BD program, like find that Sumo. Get that Northstar. Get that. That first one in quick. Because so many people like I've had a couple people build integrations on the drift platform recently. And sometimes they're their material. And sometimes it's just like, launch the integration blog post tweet, and then crickets. It just crickets, like no active installs, no, nothing. And it's like, Hey, can we you know, we want to do this webinar, this blog, post this ebook, this thing together, and it's like, no one's even using the integration. Like, are we gonna probably gonna prioritize this? Like, that's not that's not important. It's not important at all. So, so often, you missed that Sumo. Whereas today, I mean, like, we do so much with a very small number of partners today. But what about it? typeform right now, like, y'all are doing some interesting stuff, and typeform can kind of work with a little bit of everyone and everything. Tell me a little bit more about, you know, are you building a platform, a type form? How are you partnering with people on the on the ISP on the tech side, since that's kind of the run this alliance topic right now today?

Kevin Raheja 28:16
Yeah, sure. I mean, it's kind of interesting. It's like, I'm kind of on the other side of the table at typeform, where we're more of a point solution today, that where we need to build integrations onto other platforms like HubSpot, and Salesforce and Shopify. And it's interesting being on the other side of that, and understanding like what our incentives are, from the other side, but we are at typeform. We're looking to kind of pivot into becoming a platform. We have open API. So I guess technically, we are a platform, but I think we're kind of more known as a point solution. And we're trying to build more platform elements into our product open up even more surfaces of our product for API's for the developer community. So I think you'll be we're certainly less mature than HubSpot was when I joined. But again, when I joined HubSpot, we were mostly a marketing automation company. And then we became a platform by, you know, building the CRM and then the service hub and now CMS. But yeah, we're we're on the other side of that trying to transition into becoming a platform and that's really fun, really interesting. And a lot of challenges. There's

Jared Fuller 29:41
like an old rule that like you really shouldn't invest in into becoming a platform until you're 100 million dollar company, which next week we got it's confirmed on a fall lead on this this episode, but we have someone that's built on the from the ground up one of the biggest ecosystems in the world. And I think everyone says that they should have done it a little bit sooner kind of being at that. We're kind of at that inflection point adrift right now, where we're thinking about ways that we become more of a platform. In fact, we, we created a category conversational marketing, and then we rebranded or said this category, conversational marketing is actually a part of a bigger category called revenue acceleration, and that we have a platform around it. But that hasn't translated into the dev side of things, right, and building that out. And it's something that I think is gonna be very important to us next year. But it's, it's always interesting, because so many companies are in this space. Right now, there's actually a lot of companies around this, like, you know, the tres.io is the word kados. The Zapier is and this interconnectedness between software and SaaS applications, both big and small. It's like, if you're going to be a platform, if you're going to build a platform, you really better be delivering enterprise value beyond what you could do with Zapier tre, or workato. Right? I mean, because most of the time, like that gets the job done for most, most SMBs

Kevin Raheja 31:11
100% You're right. And, you know, like be first of all, being a platform isn't just like flipping a switch it you know, like you you invest in it slowly, we're at 40 million arr at typeform. And we're starting to like really invest more in it this year than we ever have before. And once we get to 100 million dollar company, we're certainly going to be in a much more mature platform space. But um, yeah, it's you know, it's really what we saw at HubSpot was very interesting, Jared. You know, while you have a lot of the similar integration, functionalities and capabilities, with some of your native integrations that you do with some of these Platform as a Service partners, we were seeing a shift of like agencies, like our digital marketing agencies, building little tools on our platform. So we saw this like incredible shift of not just companies like panda dock, and others building on our platform, but like, people who wanted to start a business and build that around the HubSpot ecosystem, or agencies who wanted to create a tool for their clients and sell it because they knew that software margins

Jared Fuller 32:26
and services bring us a really interesting is that I don't know that people really think about like, should we invest in a platform strategy, but there's, if we wanted to break this down into more of a science, I think you could that there are leading indicators of whether or not you could and what you just said was that people were building businesses around your, your value, right, which means that they would continue to invest is you open up API's or solution offerings, right around the services and the tech side. And I think that's something that you really need to see if you're in business development at this, you know, kind of Series B, C, D stage, and you're like, Are we a platform? Are we going to really invest in this? I think you would have to have that similar leading indicator that you mentioned to HubSpot? Yeah.

Kevin Raheja 33:13
I mean, look at it this way, like, you know, you can, you know, there's solutions that will work for anything now, like you said, with these like, platform as a service providers, but Shopify, for instance, or Salesforce, like their platform is one of their biggest moats like, if you're an up and coming like e commerce provider competing with with Shopify, it's very hard to compete with like, if you if you need any tool to work with Shopify, it's been built by a developer, because every developer that's building tools for e commerce is building on Shopify. That makes it almost impossible for a competitor of Shopify to just emerge and offer the same value proposition. So what I like to say is that you don't have to be the most innovative company in the world. If you're at the level of Shopify or Salesforce, or Atlassian, or Twilio, you don't have to be the most innovative company in the world. If you open up your platform, and developers are building the most innovative tools on your platform. And when you're at that level, nobody, nobody can compete with you. That's what that's what I love. Right. And

Jared Fuller 34:25
I think that's, you know, there's a leading indicator here. This is interesting, where I think you could actually write about this, you know, leading indicators for platform success. Like we built a Chrome extension on top of HubSpot CRM before there was any API's Do you think that helped strengthen the business case to go hey, we need to invest in connect more. It's like, look at these people hacking stuff together. Right?

Kevin Raheja 34:45
It certainly helped us put pressure on our product team to release more API's because you should you you and others show that there was a demand for it. I mean, it's it's very hard to get your product team to say okay, we're just going to open up API Before there's demand, or before, there are partners that are or developers that are willing to build something on it, where you can kind of like, scope it out with them and talk about, like how they want the API's to, to function and so yeah, you really help.

Jared Fuller 35:22
It's not just us, it's more about the learnings and the story that like, as people are moving from one area partnerships to the other and business development, I mean, BD, you know, can kind of encapsulate three buckets, right. So channel, so service and solution partners that sell and trade time for money, basically, right? alliances, where you're typically partnering up, you know, Microsoft SAP, Adobe, right, or an alliance from, let's say, drift to Adobe, where it's a much bigger strategic relationship, and then ISV and platform. I think there's, there's not a lot of content around like, if you're moving from one area of partnerships to the other because there's a lot of horse trading in partnerships. I think, Matt Cameron, one of my mentors, he's x, x, Salesforce and X, Yammer, Matt said, He's like one of the old adages that Salesforce was don't put the turkeys in alliances, with basically just means, like failed sales, people in alliances or in business development. In My point being is that I think people get exposed to different areas of the partner world without expertise of it, it's like, oh, they're in partnerships. They know, and I don't know, there's not much written about it, there's not much that actually dives deep into, you know, what are the leading, you know, indicators of, you know, investing in a platform strategy? Right, like,

Kevin Raheja 36:42
yeah, there's a lot of mystery around it. And, and it's very hard to, like, you know, like with sales or marketing, there are these very tangible, measurable ROI activities that these like reps kind of do. And in our department, it's, it can be more strategic, certainly, there are ways to measure a successful partnership. But I think there's a lot of mystery around. First of all, like, what it is we do at a company, like I think, just internally, some folks don't quite understand all of the levels of what our role encompasses. And, yeah, it's not always easy to measure ROI. For a strategic partnership, or, or, you know, channel sales is obviously easier than strategic partnerships, which which

Jared Fuller 37:33
brings, brings this conversation to an interesting point, if we're kind of talking about our origin story, and how to create your first you know, Sumo, it's like leveraging existing platforms to, to nail your first Sumo. I have a topic that I think is fun around this. And that's there's, there's not many books around this. But I say the word Sumo because of I don't know, if I were to give this book a rating, I'd probably give it 2.5 stars out of five. It's called the sumo advantage. Sorry, Mister was the guys from truecar, I think is the true founder, co founder true car, I don't know,

Kevin Raheja 38:13
we might just drop

Jared Fuller 38:17
the sumo advantage. But one of the things he talked about in the book, which is I think it's so fundamental to partnerships, executives, if you are trying to really nail that Sumo relationship is the power of a couple things like a being an entrepreneur. Right? Like you're making a bet on an ecosystem that already exists, and you're trying to go to someone much bigger than you and say, like, Hey, I'm gonna be number one. So you got to have that entrepreneurial spirit. And then be that, like, you're crafting custom agreements, right? Like you're starting with term sheets, and you're really figuring out and like having a vision for that other partner, like much like I did with you, or like you did with you know, Uber and Travis, right, you think you're kind of customizing everything that you're doing together, versus accepting the terms that are already baked into the platform. Right? Like, I think a lot of people think of the app exchange or Adobe or Oracle or whatever, as well, here's the terms of service. I go build according to that, and everything is magically going to happen.

Kevin Raheja 39:16
Yeah, Jared, that's a great point. Like, the way you said that is, is really interesting and or the way the book frames that is really interesting, but so like, I'm an angel investor, and I've noticed that a lot of the same principles that you just described, like apply to angel investing and Nbd. So like to be a good angel investor, you have to like understand, Trent, like I only pretty much invest in like b2b software. So I have to like know the trends and like, what's going to be successful, like where this company could be 10 years from now. And in order to be really good at BD, I think you have to do the same thing you have to like understand which companies are going to emerge the most victoriously and which ones you want to bet on early. And your success as someone who represents the business development department at your company, really, I think is a, it, you know, you have to have the trait to be able to recognize which platforms to bet on before they're mature it and there's some tips around this too. Like, if you're trying to identify your first Sumo, I mean, you don't have to overthink it. It's like who owns the most, you know, Mongol hordes of customers that you want. Right? Like it to me, it's really that simple. So when I was looking at

Jared Fuller 40:38
panda at HubSpot, I'm like, okay, Salesforce, they're more mid to enterprise, right, like tons of SMB, but a little bit more difficult of a ecosystem to break into out of the gate, then you had like the pipe drives, which was good, it was a very important partnership to us. And at the time, but I was like this, they are going to take off like that is going, they are going to be the market leader in three years. So we got to get ahead of it. And then the same thing, you know, being at drift, like we have a very important Alliance, like we were Adobe's tech Partner of the Year, because we know that Adobe owns a relationship with a marketer, and as the creators of a conversational marketing solution, like you have to be able to understand who owns the relationships with the customers that you want to sell to. And then you have to have the entrepreneurial, you know, grit, and determination to go negotiate something that's not boilerplate. But you got to be able to demonstrate that those leading indicators, right, like, Adobe doesn't happen overnight. That was two years of work with Marketo. Right, and Marketo didn't happen overnight. Like we had we had an integration and built some specific values. I think there's, there's a framework and a process that could probably be sussed out of this for like leading indicators of platform success, and leading indicators of you know, strategic alliance success, right, and creating those, you know, those agreements that you mentioned, one thing that that it's sometimes harder to measure the value of strategic alliances, right. One, one thing that I've seen is people start putting money on the table both ways, like signing minimum committees, which I'd never been exposed to prior to prior to drift. And now that's, that's a fairly common thing.

Kevin Raheja 42:18
We should have a whole podcast around like, I've really never worked. Uh, I don't believe that I've ever worked with those. And I'd love to learn how you did that successfully. And what, yeah, there's

Jared Fuller 42:33
some, there's some people that are really good at crafting minimum commit deals, I know because they, they made me sign them. And now now I kind of use them the other direction to that I think we'd really want to dive into but this is, this has been a lot of fun. I mean, we've talked about, you know, how to get your first Sumo. And we're gonna have a lot of fun as we kind of continue on this, this journey together. So Kevin, anything else we want to say before we part ways?

Kevin Raheja 43:04
Oh, man, I'm sure we've talked about other things, but

Jared Fuller 43:07
we're gonna do it. How about this, we'll set the stage for how this is going to work moving forward, we're typically going to bring on a guest for a topical area, you're not going to hear us dive into their background and like, all this stuff, Kevin and I are doing this to give back to the partner community and kind of create a content, you know, a database, if you will, on some of the best practices and tips of tricks that people who figured it out on their own and who've who've crushed it, and channel and alliances and ISV and everything. So next week's guest is gonna be a lot of fun. I'll say it now is Bobby napal. Tonia, he created the app exchange for Salesforce, their first channel program, it's going to be a lot of fun. So thanks for tuning into partner up the partnerships podcast and reminder this episode was sponsored by cross beam. Cross beam is a partner ecosystem platform. It acts as a data escrow service that finds overlapping customers and prospects with your partners, while keeping the rest of that data private and secure. So you can sign up for free@crosby.com. We'll see you next time, folks.

Kevin Raheja 44:05
I love it. Thanks for listening everyone. Really appreciate it. Take care.

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