How RapidSOS used creative tactics to build partnerships and a BD engine at scale

How RapidSOS used creative tactics to build partnerships and a BD engine at scale

The apparent inability of forming alliances and carrying out company development is one of the most difficult parts of running a startup. Large corporations are sclerotic and bureaucratic, taking eons in terms of startup years to make decisions that are minor for them but might be life or death for a startup. 

Every startup must eventually break past those obstacles, and to do so, they may need to form a number of partnerships. After that, there is RapidSOS. With a two-sided business built on connections with dozens, if not hundreds, of organizations on both sides of the coin, it needed to master partnership development early and often as it developed its data platform to improve emergency 911 calls. 

We have already covered the company’s founding story and business in parts one and two of this EC-1, so now I would want to focus on the secret sauce: how a scrappy group of startup founders was able to break past the barriers that threatened relationships at some of the world’s top tech firms.

As we will see, the secret is a set of inventive strategies that the corporation utilized to attach as many stakeholders as possible to its business. We will look at what these relationships are and how they built before looking at how RapidSOS worked with 911 software vendors. We will also look at how it trained call takers at public safety answering points (PSAPs), collaborated with customers, and developed an advisory board and an industry-wide program on health profiles to establish itself as a market thought leader.

“Partnership” is a notoriously and purposefully ambiguous term used frequently in startup circles. Simply explained, it refers to a business connection that brings two organizations together to work on a similar project and usually formalized by a contract or statement of work. Unlike a simple sale, in which one company provides a product and possibly customer support in exchange for a fee, partnerships are much broader and strategic, encompassing everything from cross-promotion and channel marketing to engineering assistance, venture capital, exclusivity commitments, and more.