The Right Partner

Contextualized partner fits within different opportunity sets

When someone brings up a new opportunity, my typical response is "I have a big appetite, so I'm happy to at least discuss." There are three typical opportunities that I'm interested in.

  1. Someone approaches me to start a newco or help them build something that's very early

  2. Someone approaches me to run marketing / growth for their established org in a traditional fee-for-service arrangement

  3. Someone approaches me to run marketing / growth for their established org, but wants a more intertwined arrangement (most typically revenue share)

All three of these excite me for different reasons, and the "perfect partner" for each can vary greatly.

  1. In a newco, I'm looking for someone that's extremely self-motivated and has complementary skills to mine. If those two things aren't true, it's a hard pass. If those two things are true, then I move on to considering the industry and associated opportunity.

  2. In a fee-for-service scenario, I run from people spending their last X dollars. If the budget is extremely tight, then the pressure applied to our services will be unnecessarily high. It's not fun...which is why my marketing agency typically only works with companies with at least $1mm in annual gross revenue. I want to move them from healthy to high growth.

  3. When working in a revenue share model, I'm looking to work with owners and executives that view me as a partner but will not or cannot touch the cap table.

The lesson of working with the right partner(s) became clear while I was the head of sales at a healthcare SaaS company. Two cousins had purchased the 10-year-old company from the original founder, who was ready to retire. One of the cousins was creative, technical, and a skilled visionary. The other was reserved, focused on the numbers, and built some industry credibility through speaking opportunities.

It worked like a charm...not perfect, but you could easily see the natural fit.

That's what I look for in any of the scenarios I outlined. I want the no-brainer, slam dunk, "this makes too much sense" partners. Don't we all?

I believe this is a skill that can be developed, but it's not easy to grow those muscles if you aren't taking many reps. Apart from potential financial gain, this is one of the reasons I entertain a high quantity of opportunities. As you probably know, I have a goal to build 50 companies by 2050, and it's an impossible task without some incredible business partners.

I already have a handful of them, but I'm always on the lookout for the next one.