How to grow your startup through partnerships
Partnerships is one of the most underrated growth strategies for bootstrapped startups. It’s powerful, it’s efficient and it’s most often free. Here’s a manual on how to use it.
Partnerships are any connections you can use to get yourself more traffic or more deals. VC-backed startups or accelerator alumnae are extremely good in using them because getting “into the network” is one of the most valuable aspects of being admitted into an accelerator or being supported by a venture fund. It’s not only about money, it’s about opportunities, and network of partners provides limitless opportunities for growth.
Just one “little” example: Reddit. This social media managed to use partnerships as a powerful boost for its growth. Everyone knows that first 600 accounts on Reddit were absolutely fake — they were created by the founders just to showcase their platform. But in 6 months the number of users were already dozens of thousands. I’ve just recently found out how did they do it. The reason for the huge traffic to Reddit in it’s infancy was Paul Graham — founder of YCombinator and personal advisor to Steve Huffman, Alexis Ohanian and Aaron Swartz (there’s even a rumour that Paul Graham was the one who suggested the idea). He publicised a new network on his personal blog with essays that already generated good traffic in 2005. Paul Graham admits that the links from his blog brought Reddit about 1K sign ups a day (!) That’s a partnership to dream about, isn’t it? Another great example from Reddit’s history — partnership with Google which added Reddit’s custom button. You probably can’t convince Google to do the same for you but it should not stop you from thinking along the same lines: can you create a custom button that will lead to your website and arrange this button to be placed on other websites? Perhaps, make it a part of your affiliate program or reach out to your friends on social media: if your friends have a website and agree to send traffic your way, it’s always better to design it as a button than just an affiliate link.