August 22, 2011

Partnership Programs – How do you know when the fit is right?

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It is hard to believe that it has been almost 1 year since I joined the SpiderOak team. When I was brought on, one of my responsibilities was to oversee our White Label Program, coordinating everything from the initial sales inquiry all the way through to implementation. For those of you that don’t know, SpiderOak offers a White Label Program which provides an opportunity for organizations to integrate their branding into the SpiderOak application while providing the flexibility to implement their own pricing strategy.

When I first started, we were still in the learning stages. We were seeing a huge variation in the types of inquires we were receiving. Companies from India & Australia, small Internet Service Providers, and IT consulting companies were flooding our inboxes interested in the product.

Now on one hand, this was extremely exciting! We were doing minimal advertising and people were coming to us. However, we found ourselves in the position of wanting to meet everyone’s needs while simultaneously creating a streamlined process for bringing on new business.

So what did we do? The truth is, we had to experiment. We starting bringing on partners that in retrospect were not the right fit. Initially our White Label Program had a very low upfront cost to join which attracted the wrong type of partners. We found ourselves maintaining branding applications for organizations who weren’t selling the product and if they were it was in very low volumes. Thus the cost to build, support and maintain the relationship was not profitable.

So we made some tweaks and shifted our positioning. Our product was built in such a way that it is quite easy to customize. Supporting an obscure slavic language, changing the User Interface text, hosting sub domains, it is all possible to do. The question became, WHO should we be doing this for?

While we still have a lot to learn about creating the right partnerships, we do know that the right kind of partner is the organization that can hit the ground running because they have the network established. Today, SpiderOak is white labeled by companies with anywhere from a few thousand to 100 million plus end users.

12 months later, I can say with certainty that we have made a tremendous amount of progress. Like most partnerships in life, they often take time to evolve. It’s rare to see overnight successes and I am constantly challenged by the amount of patience one needs to build a solid foundation. And so we try and we try again. However, despite all the variation we see on a daily basis, SpiderOak is much closer to truly understanding how to identify the right fit, which is critical when fostering long term growth and success.

For more information on our partnership programs please visit: