Partnering with Competitors

Partnering with Competitors – Amazon did it with LogoMix, GoDaddy, and many others who were competitors that turned into strategic partnerships formed to drive more value in the marketplace. In most companies with plans to deliver value to consumers, there is often an opportunity to collaborate with adjoining organizations. For instance, if a merging of external data could make for a better end-user experience, it may make sense to work together on solving it.

Partnering with Competitors

Once all the legal NDA’s and agreements are in place (which as product nerds can be a little more lengthy than we like), now we start to have more in-depth exploration meetings. But there come two questions in our minds early on. How much do we share? How does that “hesitation” impact the relationship and creative process?

My finding is that many of the concepts take far longer and have more roadblocks than a usual POC or Design Exploration. I am slightly biased as I work for a large company that often deals with other large companies. Not to say there have not been some apparent successes, but they are harder to come across.

So, what is the secret sauce to success? My experience is that small teams who can meet face to face have a higher degree of success in lifting something off. Looking at new markets based on combined insights and availability of customers is another great way to make the most of the partnership. Finally, each joining with a chance to learn new things is also a way to establish a win/win. This could be about learning about user behaviors together or finding out where each has found success in introducing new concepts.

How much information to share is one solved with a bit of art and science. You will want to set the parameters of the discussions early on. You have hopefully slowly brainstormed on the domain you want to focus on together. Of course, asking questions and honesty in answers is always helpful. It’s ok to say, “sorry, but we’ll need to discuss that internally.” The general rule of thumb, don’t share anything your not sure you should. You can always expound later if you’ve come to that conclusion or have agreement from your team and leaders.

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