"If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." – Isaac Newton
Startups face the same problems all the time. How to validate their product and foster rapid growth to show investors why they are worth the risk. Powerful shoulders are needed to support up and coming ideas, and steadfast dedication is required to turn them into an MVP. But one thing always remains constant – once you’ve surpassed the beginning stages, having a strong network of connections will give your product the best chance at long-term success.
The best strategy whether it's for product testing and development, sales or investing is to find the right partners. Watts Battery – one of GSD’s future unicorns, has successfully garnered interest from municipalities, corporations and military contractors – all thanks to following 5 key principles when looking for and engaging partnerships.
Know That Corporations Need YOU
Remember – corporations and their accelerators need you as much as you need them. Corporate innovation is slow, and multi-nationals know this. This is why they have begun taking their accelerators outside the corporate structure, to give them creative space. Some of the larger examples are AT&T’s Aspire, Google’s Launchpad and IBM’s Alpha Zone. Even innovation leaders like Google realize they need to move faster – they love to work with new startups via their accelerators because it means if they fail – the failure will not be on the parent company’s balance sheet. And if they succeed with an integration or partnership, you may not only gain a partner but an investor down the line.
Working direct is also a possibility – and in this case working directly with business development teams is better than going in from the top. You will receive less pushback and will have someone inside the company directly on your side, pushing your case because it makes their product look better. Nurture the relationships. Initially – they are what will drive you to stardom. Using this strategy, Watts Battery was able to partner with Fortune 1000 companies, major retail chains and stadiums. This proved invaluable as it allowed the company to get a clear understanding of what US partners need, how the process works and most importantly get recognition.
Research The Problem
If you create a problem, instead of solving one this typically results in having a product with an unclear use case built around it. Which is why you should always look for an urgent problem to solve. Successful corporations know their problems really well. After all, their main product is built around it. You have to know their problem inside out. For Watts the case was clear cut – it was providing uninterrupted power and easy to use solar energy storage for homes, businesses and consumers on the go. However what was even more important was understanding how country-specific market conditions and local industry would be able to accept and understand what we have built. To that end, our team researched the solar battery and storage market and it became clear that one of the best ways to enter the US was via partnerships with Solar providers, not just major and large-scale customers. Watts Battery is a product that appeals to the “green” segment of the economy – a growing consumer base. This meant that cross marketing and a package sale would be a very powerful strategy. Moreover, both Solar and Solar Batteries – storage units attached to solar receive significant tax breaks or supplement payments on both state and federal levels.
Governments Are A Force of Good – If You Can Make them Look Better
While in many cases, governments are bureaucratic, remember that public money flows to public benefit and flows there fast if you can help ratings. If you show a government grant review board that your startup can make them look better – it’s a done deal. There are loads of grants – from local, to federal and even international. The EU is a big player for companies looking for funding. The US government has federal and state level grants. If your startup can show how it can improve the lives of people on a large scale – you are already eligible. Plus the obvious upside – most grants don’t have to be repaid, and once you have completed a government pilot – corporations and funds will both consider you a potential unicorn. Because you have proven yourself to be an in-demand product for a very well-funded client. At Watts, we did this very successfully by applying to national and international institutions.
Working with the department of transportation has been a huge multiplier for Watts Battery because government contracts bring revenue and are a tremendous source of validation that attracts more customers, explains COO Derek Distenfield
How Can You Help Them Grow, Make or Save Them Money?
A partnership should be a win-win. When approaching someone that will benefit you, you have to have a clear picture of how you will either make them money, save them money, help them grow, or improve what they already have. It is not rocket science, but does take some out of the box thinking. At Watts Battery, we quickly realized that a lot of households will be looking to save money by going solar. Statistics showed that the market is expected to reach $393,594 million by 2023, registering a CAGR of 17.4% from 2017 to 2023.
COVID was a big factor in this and we knew that partnering with major Solar providers was the right next step. Many were going after the Tesla Wall market, because the savings offered, coupled with solar credits meant households were looking at considerable savings on electricity – in particular if solar and/or Watts Battery was charging during off peak and used during peak times.
“We are excited to be offering a product that ticks so many boxes. Providing a solution that can connect to solar in 15 minutes and provide a fully self sustainable and reliable power supply is a breakthrough for many markets,” comments Gary Fowler, President and Co-founder of Watts Battery.
For travelers, millennials, families and even event organizers - Watts Battery is a great solution that can fit seamlessly with any lifestyle or need, including camping in the outdoors. These stackable batteries can connect to solar, charge during off peak hours and be ready to provide power for a building as large as a mansion while simultaneously driving costs down. Worried about a power outage? Have Watts Battery charged up in case of an emergency power outage.