From Cold Call To Powerful Partnership

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Very shortly radio listeners will start hearing presenters use the phrase “AirShr Now!” to save great radio moments including news, talk, offers and songs. It’s a milestone we’re extraordinarily excited about. In reflecting on the journey to arrive at this point, significant credit must be given to Grant Broadcasters, our first national broadcast partner, for the enthusiasm they have shared for our vision.

People are often surprised to learn that this partnership came from a ‘cold call’ email to Wendy Gee, a senior leader at Grant Broadcasters. Wendy and my relationship started with this email that I sent on 2 July 2014:

Hi Wendy, I write to introduce myself and AirShr. We have developed a Direct Response platform for radio advertising so that drivers can simply press a button and get back a notification with a phone number, URL, or any other call-to-action, when they hear a radio ad. In fact the platform can extend to ANY form of content and we can also use it to facilitate interactive radio programming, for example realtime polling.

We’re considering a regional launch in Wollongong and thought WaveFM may like to participate. In any case, it would be great to meet and discuss this trial in more detail, perhaps next week? Look forward to hearing from you.

Two days later Wendy responded and a series of conversations began which has ultimately resulted in WaveFM in Wollongong, part of the national Grant Broadcasters network, being the first radio station in the world to use AirShr.

There’s little doubt that partnerships play an essential role in the success of new ventures.

Our partnership with Grant Broadcasters is powerful for two reasons. First, the Grant Broadcasters team (from its owners to the IT, digital and WaveFM teams) realised AirShr’s potential from our earliest meetings and have leaned-in on product development. Second, we have collaborated on the market launch strategy that will underpin the formula that will support AirShr’s launch and adoption in multiple domestic and international markets. The latter point has been very useful in helping us thinking through our strategy to scale and Grant Broadcasters now have a way to extend their first-mover advantage into their other 26 markets.

This abbreviated recap of the partnership’s performance is positive but it omits an important, rarely discussed topic amongst entrepreneurs: How to structure a partnership agreement. As we moved to formalise our agreement with Grant Broadcasters, knowing there was a need for collaboration and shared risk, we struggled to find a plain English template that we could tweak to suit our needs. The reality was that we nor our prospective partner had ever entered into an arrangement like this before.

So we drafted an eight page document that captured the spirit of our discussions, the hypotheses we wanted to test and how we would manage issues, risks and upside as a partnership team. It includes these sections:

  1. Partners — the organisations and people operationally involved in the partnership
  2. Background — brief explanation of context and mission focus
  3. Shared Objectives — the ‘what’s in it for me’ for both organisations
  4. Key Target Dates — specific timing for partnership phases
  5. Targets and Measures — clear, specific, time bound and measurable metrics to help determine success
  6. Roles and Responsibilities — which organisation does what, when.
  7. Meetings — the meeting tempo that the partnership team agrees to maintain during the partnership
  8. Commercial Agreement — how both organisations propose to make money
  9. Communication and Information Sharing — defines how information confidentiality will be observed and external communications will be managed
  10. Conflict Resolution — the process to follow in the event that conflict arises
  11. Review and Evaluation — how both organisations will invest time in reviewing partnership performance
  12. Commitment — where all people who are operationally involved sign as a means of galvanising support for the partnership

Sweat the details of a new agreement so you and your partner have a comprehensive reference point during good and challenging times. It’s proved invaluable to our great partnership with Grant Broadcasters.

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I write about what I see building companies. Currently growing

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