Awesome People - Ep 68

partnerships, BD, growth, FT design hire

Hi fellow founders and VC Friends!

Each week we deliver one awesome person to your inbox. These are the people you need to know—the marketers, sales gurus, engineers, ops wizzes— who give your startup superpowers 🚀. The best part is, everyone is hireable on a part-time basis.


Please meet Alex Popp, your Interim Head of BD & Partnerships 😎

I met Alex back in my Quixey days 10 years ago. He was the third biz dev hire and one of my favorite people to work with! Alex is trusted by brands like Xamarin (acquired by Microsoft), Algolia, Google Cloud, and Census (Series A co that’s raised $20M+ from a16z and angels). Most recently, he built the partnership strategy for Algolia (Series C co that’s raised $180M+ from Accel, Salesforce Ventures, and more), driving a net new multi-million dollar revenue stream.

You can hire Alex to be your part-time head of partnerships. He’ll explore what partners make sense for your startup’s growth strategy and build out your partnerships, infrastructure, and team!

Fun fact about Alex: he just welcomed his first daughter in March! He’s quickly becoming an expert at dad jokes, “Where did the broccoli go to grab a glass of rosé? … The salad bar!” 😂

Want an intro to Alex? Lmk and I’ll connect you!


He was gracious enough to share some pro-tips with us here 🤩

Clearly communicate partnership goals and have an activation plan

Contrary to popular belief, the hardest part of partnerships is not deal-making. It’s activation. Make sure your internal teams and your partners’ teams are willing to do the work to get the deal live and make it successful.

To get everyone on the same page, build a business plan that outlines both your own company's goals as well as your partners’. Then outline the tactical implementation. Quantify your joint success and ensure everyone is aligned before executing. This plan could include:

  1. Outlining the number of joint events to be run together

  2. Identifying named accounts or verticals that you want your sales teams to prioritize together

  3. Building out 1-2 specific integration points that can impact a key product usage performance indicator (KPI)

Work backward from ideal customers to find potential partners

Build relationships with companies whose products or services are complementary to yours. Ideal partners should be aligned to drive joint customer success.

To identify potential partners, work backward from your customer. Ask these questions:

  1. Who’s your buyer? 

  2. Who’s your user? 

  3. What companies do they work with whose solution strengthens your value prop?

For example, I built the partnerships strategy at Algolia, an AI-powered search platform. At Algolia, our buyer was the Head of Product and our user was a developer. Both implemented our platform in tandem with a Content Management Solution (Adobe, Contentful, etc). Their CMSs didn’t offer search. The CMS + search-as-a-service story was stronger together than separate, so the partnership alignment was natural.

Drive value for larger companies with specific use cases

As a startup, it can feel overwhelming to get the attention of larger companies like Salesforce, Google Cloud, Servicenow, Microsoft, etc. Don’t let that stop you!

Here’s a secret: larger companies need partners too. Their product and engineering teams are strapped for time and talent, and always looking for tools to help.

As a smaller organization, you can drive immense value for larger companies by addressing very specific use cases and driving customer stickiness. Describe your case succinctly, find a champion within your larger partner organization who cares about your case (i.e. align incentives as discussed!), and build a fruitful relationship. 

For example, at Xamarin, Microsoft invested marketing funds into promoting our developer tool because it increased the usage of their own tools and the Azure cloud platform! Sharks need remoras (the small fish that clean them of parasites 🐠) as much as remoras need the shark for protection from larger prey. Partner dynamics in the startup world operate similarly! 

Need some help with partnerships or biz dev? Respond to this email and I’ll connect you! 


As always, let me know if you have any questions and if you want an intro to any of the folks in this email (including the PS section 🎉). 

Stay awesome,

Julia Lipton

Founder of Awesome People and Awesome People Ventures

If you liked this, ❤️ it below. If someone forwarded this to you, sign up here 💌


Looking for a full-time design lead? 🎨

Dan was referred to me by my good friend, Hadar, who’s a PM at Facebook and former PM at Lyft, Postmates, Kiva.org, and Quixey (where we met!). Dan is a rockstar product designer looking for a full-time role at a mission-driven co focused on social impact and climate change. If that’s you and you’re Series A+ with an existing design team (or budget to hire one), then Dan is your man.

Reach out to me and I’ll make the intro!

*If you have an AWESOME friend looking for their next thing, let me know and I’ll hook them up with a shout-out too 😉

Most Recent Awesome People 🙏

Juani - Creative director. Juani has worked on multi-million dollar marketing campaigns for Adobe, Sephora, Adidas, Pinterest, Google, and more. She recently won multiple awards for her advertising work for Tinder!

Manav - Product marketer. Manav is a funnel marketing guru who founded Subziwalla, the leading online Indian Grocery Delivery co. The average online grocery store has about 30% customer retention and captures 39% of their customers’ total grocery spend. Subziwalla has 70% retention and captures 60% of their customers’ spend!

Dylan - Growth engineer. Dylan has helped spearhead revenue and user growth at Casetext (USV, Susa Ventures, and YC Continuity-backed co that’s raised $40M+) and Quizlet (Series C co that’s raised $62M raised and valued at $1B+). He recently worked on onboarding experiments for Quizlet’s 60+ million monthly active users.

Want intros to anyone here? Lmk and I’ll connect you!

Part-Time Opportunities 👀

Want to make some extra $$$ and work on interesting projects? Our new Awesome People job board is filled with awesome flexible roles. They’re perfect for full-time freelancers and moonlighters! We’ve collected some of the highlight roles here 👇

Marketing & Growth

  • Freelance Marketing & Social Media Manager for Aether - Aether is making diamonds out of thin air. They’re an Awesome People Ventures port co 😉. Apply here!

  • Part-Time Content & Social Media Manager for Better Ventures - Better Ventures backs mission-driven founders to build a more sustainable and equitable economy. FWIW, I love collaborating with them. Apply here!

  • Engineer Growth Hacker for The Beans The Beans is automating personal finance for the American middle class. I’ve known Melissa, the CEO, for ages and she’s a real gem. Backed by Precursor, Relay, and Swing Ventures. Apply here!

Community

  • Interim Head of Community for Scout - Scout inspires empathy and connection through content, community, and screenshare-based social experiences. Zack, the founder (and friend), used to run product at Loom. Backed by Unusual Ventures, the CEO of Loom, and awesome angels. Apply here!

Engineering 

  • Freelance Full-Stack Engineer for Upfront Ventures - Upfront Ventures invests early in world-changing cos. This is a good opportunity to work with a VC firm! Apply here!

  • Engineering Advisor for Momentum Momentum helps build recurring donation infrastructure for nonprofits. Backed by On Deck, Elizabeth Yin, and Mark Cuban. Apply here!

  • Freelance UI/UX Developer for Core to Coeur Core to Coeur is a marketplace democratizing access to wellness and self-care. Backed by Coast to Crest and Angels. Apply here!

Interested in sharing a role with our network? Fill out our free part-time talent request form here ✨

❤️ ❤️ ❤️