“Should I bet on a strategic partner or build ourselves to accelerate the time to market?”
This was a challenge that was shared by one of the members of my weekly Mastermind for B2B SaaS CEOs.
“Two waves collide, bringing us a unique moment to grow market share. But to capture that opportunity, we must add a critical component to our current product. We’ve identified a potential partner that could deliver it, but the question is: shouldn’t we build this ourselves?”
What’s your dilemma? We asked
He answered: “On the positive side, partnering would save us time and money to develop the same technology. We’d also instantly get a partner to enter the market.
The downside: We’d lose equity for just a license, and we won’t get global exclusivity.”
What’s at stake? We continued
He answered, “I already have a buyer for the product, and a delay could cost us at least a few million dollars.”
Here’s the thing
Make or buy decisions are tricky for a reason. They’re never straightforward.
From my experience, the ground rule is:
If this is about functionality that grows or protects the defensible differentiation of your suite: Build. If it’s not core business: Partner.
These deals often get emotionally loaded for the wrong things. The negotiation process drags because visions and objectives are not aligned. And with that, valuable time and energy are lost.
So to avoid it, get back to the essence:
Is this about strengthening our core business or not? Just answering that will take the emotion out of the conversation and make it ‘just business’ again.
Question for you to reflect upon
Looking critically at your SaaS roadmap: what parts should you ideally partner for because they’re not growing defensible differentiation?
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