Marat Stary: GetPartnered

Marat Stary has done just about everything. From consulting to media, tech and beyond, he’s seen a lot. Like many company founders, his business idea (and current success) had a lot to do with what he experienced firsthand while working with larger companies.

GetPartnered solves a really interesting problem for large companies with lots of partners. Typically, companies will quite rightly focus on providing their customers with a great experience.  Even small businesses will use a CRM (Customer Relationship Management software) to manage those critical relationships.

However, for many organizations, a big portion of their revenue comes from channel partners, not just direct customers. The partner experience is often very poor in comparison, and the process for onboarding and managing them often very manual.  This makes it hard for account managers to tell which partners are the most valuable, and to nurture those relationships effectively.  That’s where GetPartnered comes in.

Marat’s learned a few things along the way, including:

  1. Scratch your own itch to find a real need. 

    It’s common knowledge that 90% of startups fail. Usually, that failure has something to do with not solving a big enough problem, or fixing something that didn’t actually need to be fixed.Turns out, the best way to know you’re solving a real problem is to experience the struggle yourself. What’s more, if you’ve experienced the frustration of dealing with an inefficiency or internal company issue first hand, you know just how much a company would be willing to pay to solve it. If it’s painful enough that a big company would jump at the chance to overcome it, you’re off to a great start.

  2. Build based on observed user behavior. 

    Our product loses effectiveness every time someone has to leave our platform to do a part of his or her job. But many times, figuring out which features to include so that our users remain happily in the software is not so easy.Rather than just guessing at what people will use and then building it, we take a different approach. We closely observe our users as they go about their daily process and track each point at which they leave the platform. When enough people are doing something “outside” our platform, we try to create a feature that loops that process in.

    Recently, for example, we realized that people were keeping separate lists to “rate” how much revenue a partner brought them. Now, you can do that directly within GetPartnered.

  3. Avoid the customization trap 

    When you work with large, established businesses, it goes with the territory that they also have large, established processes. So it’s tough to sell someone on software that would completely reroute their methods – even if it would save them money over the long-term. On the flip side, we don’t have the resources to build a custom solution for every client.To get past this, we aim to create a “general experience” that still leaves room for a high level of customization. We realized that many of our customers were using SalesForce, for example, so we now integrate heavily with their API and can easily incorporate the workflows that an account manager is already using. This way, we’re only building one piece of software, but everyone gets the individualized experience they require.

Great insights! Thanks, Marat. I know the startup life can be a rollercoaster, so I asked him one more thing: “What keeps you up at night?” Marat chuckled and said, “Well, we’re a bootstrapped company — we haven’t taken big investor money. That makes competing against the big guys challenging.  We need to be innovative not just in our product, but in the way we market.”