Such a direct sales model is viable for companies to generate feedback on a new product and to establish whether the product meets the needs of users. But it’s also important that a product aimed at a broad consumer audience quickly grab market share to prevent others from copying the concept, said Bob Barker, managing partner of 20/20 Outlook LLC, an Austin-based consulting firm.
“Partnerships are a waste of time.”
It’s hard to find a CEO who doesn’t regret having pulled the trigger on at least one failed partnership. While strategic relationships hold the promise of growth, they are potentially dangerous. At the least, a failed partnership derails resources that could drive organic growth; at its worst, it delays entry into new markets and wreaks havoc with revenue plans.
On the other hand, many companies have leveraged well-executed partnerships that accelerate growth, leading to levels of success otherwise impossible. The best are what I term “self-fueling”: A self-fueling partnership is structured so that positive results for the first party drives it to act in ways that increase positive results for the second party, and vice versa.
Kickstarter is developing into a wise approach for companies seeking a small amount of startup capital quickly. More importantly, it provides startups with badly needed suggestions from early adopters with a vested interest, said Bob Barker, president of 20/20 Outlook LLC, an Austin-based consulting firm. “It’s a way to ensure that you get a high level of participation in alpha and beta testing,” he said. “It increases their commitment to the testing.”
“I think approaching Dell this way is neither efficient nor effective,” said Bob Barker, president of 20/20 Outlook LLC, an Austin-based consulting firm. “The chances of this approach developing into a serious [business relationship] — it’s certainly not an approach I would take.”
Regardless of the factors, Dell’s move into software and services is expected to lessen their affects in the future and dampen fluctuations in quarterly earnings in coming years, said tech veteran Bob Barker, president of 20/20 Outlook LLC, an Austin-based consulting firm.
“I expect they’ll see less volatility in their numbers and more predictability,” he said. “They’re moving to a more mature model of a company.”
If the market is fragmented, the nearly $40 million should enable Kinnser to consider a merger-and-acquisition strategy as part of its growth plan, said tech veteran Bob Barker, president of 20/20 Outlook LLC, an Austin-based consulting firm. “It would be important to evaluate the trade off of organic growth versus acquisitions,” he said.
Such third-party developer arrangements with larger software vendors are typically win-win business situations. The niche products complement the use of the larger product while giving the smaller developer access to millions of prospective customers, said technology veteran Bob Barker, president of 20/20 Outlook LLC, an Austin-based consulting firm. “What Intuit gets out of it is an ecosystem that locks in their product,” he said. “It makes their solution even better without costing them any money.”
Bazaarvoice has raised $23.6 million in venture capital since its founding. Bob Barker, president of 20/20 Outlook LLC, an Austin-based consulting firm, said the company is a strong IPO candidate largely due to its experienced management team led by CEO Brett Hurt. “Brett’s done a great job of building the company that continues to re-invent itself,” Barker said.
“Austin,” says technology consultant Bob Barker while taking a visitor around the nearby hills, “may have more Ph.Ds driving taxis than any city in the country.” Austin’s famed population of big and small technology companies has suffered layoffs. “But,” said Mr. Barker, “no one wants to leave.” They stay, plugging into Austin’s numerous business-support networks. In Austin you discover a primary reason beneath Texas’ success: It’s about competition plus collaboration. It seems everyone in Texas high-tech knows everyone, and if they can help each other, they will.
Technology veteran Bob Barker, president of 20/20 Outlook LLC, an Austin-based consulting firm, said it takes plenty of operational experience to identify potential acquisition targets and then integrate them with the existing business. “The challenge is the same as any merger or acquisition,” he said, “getting cultures and business models to work together effectively.”