March 9th, 2015


Product partnerships are an ongoing topic of discussion for any CEO because they’re subject to so many variables. Not only are there different kinds of partnerships, but also different opportunities, depending on the product. Knowing which partnerships are worth pursuing, which last, and which are unlikely to be beneficial can be crucial to navigating the partnership process.

I spoke with entrepreneur and angel investor Scott Banister, perhaps best known as a co-founder of IronPort as well as an early advisor and board member at PayPal. He gave us his perspective on what makes for a fruitful product partnership. His take: Listen to what your customers want without losing sight of your company’s core vision.

Katya: How important are product partnerships for a company?

Scott: They are a mixed bag. First you have to make sure that you’re executing well on your core business; if you’re not, no partnership is going to save you. Google’s partnership with AOL in the early days was a big deal to Google, but it didn’t save them. They were doing well with their core product as it was, and the AOL partnership just helped them to distribute it to a wider audience. If their core product was crap, then it wouldn’t matter if they started putting that crap product over on AOL; it still would be crap.

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