Impact and Startups: Tips and Tricks for Successful Business Partnerships

Impact and Startups: Tips and Tricks for Successful Business Partnerships

by Startup Montréal
23 May 2024

Partnerships in an impact startup aim to create shared value that goes beyond a simple financial engagement. Fauve Doucet, president and co-founder of Partage Club, a sharing app for neighbors, and Louis St-Pierre, co-founder and COO of Ora Medical, a company that developed a new walking aid for children with mobility disorders, shared their tips on increasing sales through business partnerships. By combining their strengths with the right partners, these entrepreneurs have boosted their sales and generated tangible benefits for all their stakeholders.

1. Properly Prepare for a Meeting with a Business Partner

When approaching a new partner, it’s essential to clearly define the vision, mission, and objectives of your company, the impact it aims to have, and the perceived added value for potential clients. Making a list of actors heading in the same direction as your company to generate change can be a good starting point. “This is how we see the potential complementarity with other members of the ecosystem. Don’t be afraid to knock on different doors, as there’s often more openness than you think,” explains Fauve Doucet.

The president of Partage Club also suggests taking the time “to understand the motivations of the partners” and quickly putting the expectations of both sides in writing to have a clear compass for the direction to take. Putting it in writing in a simple email can already bring out nuances that are not always present or explicit in a conversation. Doing this sooner rather than later avoids reaching a partnership agreement with elements that might have been misinterpreted.

Preparing and making the effort to understand a potential partner confirms if the aspirations of both parties are aligned in terms of values and general directions. This confirms that “it makes sense to work together,” says the co-founder of Ora Medical.

Preparing to find the right potential partner may also mean researching regulations, cultural differences, and specific market requirements if a partner is abroad, and even “visiting the team on the ground when possible,” suggests Louis St-Pierre.

2. Always Maintain Good Relationships

The anecdotes shared by the entrepreneurs confirm that often, good partners are not always found where you expect. Fauve Doucet’s story is no exception: “Our partnership [at Partage Club] with Communauto came from a potential investor who did not invest in the project but connected us with the president of this company, with whom we clicked for a collaboration. So, never underestimate who you talk to and where a good partnership can come from,” highlights the entrepreneur, a proponent of the sharing economy.

3. Clearly Establish Roles and Responsibilities within the Business Partnership

When moving forward with a partnership, don’t forget to consider the crucial question: “Who does what?”

“Ensuring that each person’s roles and responsibilities align with market needs is important,” shares the entrepreneur behind Ora Medical. The partnership that this company created with Orthopediatrics is a testament to this. “We handled distribution and our expertise in Canada while they opened international doors for us. They provided manpower and capabilities we didn’t have, and vice versa. With clear playing fields aligned with our needs and expertise, the partnership could only be win-win,” he adds.

To ensure roles and responsibilities between partners are clearly defined, the tool suggested by the co-founder of Partage Club is the RACI. This approach identifies who is responsible, accountable, consulted, and informed within each project, hence the acronym RACI. For Fauve, this project management tool was very useful in dividing roles and tasks between Partage Club and Communauto.

4. Measure the Success and Progress of a Partnership

As the COO of Ora Medical points out, the main indicators of a successful business partnership are related to sales. However, it’s essential to define specific indicators common to both partners since it is on these aspects that the companies will want to focus their efforts.

For her part, Fauve Doucet suggests proposing different scenarios for each chosen indicator: “I always prepare indicators with three different scenarios – pessimistic, realistic, and optimistic.” This approach used at Partage Club provides context to the figures and suggests better management of expectations on both sides. The entrepreneur specifies that beyond numerical analysis, it is necessary to conduct a complete feedback session with a partner after a working phase. A partnership renewal should not be taken for granted, as contexts change, and everyone must have the space to remain honest and transparent in a functioning partnership. “When there is trust, there is sharing,” concludes the sharing expert.

The tips and tricks of these two founders were shared as part of our Startup Reflex Impact campaign, an initiative presented by Startup Montréal in collaboration with the Quebec government. It is an interesting way to delve deeper into concepts around impact to extend the effects of our Impact Week.