Don’t become Ahab!

Where your startup’s success is based on a low-cost, high value subscription service, it’s all about partnering.

MiFile is such a service.  Given that it isn’t a name that is recognised by anyone, it inevitably takes time to build any brand recognition, let alone loyalty.  As such, you look for opportunities to work with partners who you can lean on for brand endorsement, whilst ensuring you offer a first class solution to compliment anything they are offering.

I recently had a chance to connect with a large multi-national healthcare/ insurance provider.  This came via the best type of introduction, a personal referral.  Pitching how the MiFile service works was initially done by email, and after a couple of days the response came back that they thought it was a bit too close to what they offered themselves, but they were happy to review any further information.

I put together a proposal, outlining how we could complement their offering and take them into a whole new customer base.  The proposal was fun to write and it flowed very naturally – practically writing itself.  By the end I was fairly convinced that it was almost a sure thing.  I had found my Whale, what could possibly go wrong.

As I use an application called SideKick, which tells you when your emails are being opened, I could see that the email was getting a lot of attention.  In the first 36 hours it was opened about 20 times, on mobile devices, desktops and across two different continents.

A waiting period followed, as I knew it would take a while for them to have their own internal discussions.  About 5 days later, I sent the follow-up email asking for a meeting.

It was with some real surprise and genuine disappointment that I heard back from them that they really liked the service, but were not going to go ahead with me.  Essentially it came down to a difference in expectation of the value of entering a new demographic – my very bullish views, against their more tempered experience.

I’m very happy to have gone through the experience, but the crushing feeling I felt after being so certain I’d work with this large company was very disappointing.  I guess when it’s your baby, it stings so much more in business when you don’t land the deal that you know can change everything.

Anyway, sharpen that harpoon, get in the boat, and go find another Whale!


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