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Ecosystem Development with Aptitude 8 and Stripe on "Make Them Famous!" Podcast

Aptitude 8's CEO and Founder, Connor Jeffers, joins the podcast to discuss how solutions partners and integration service providers play a role in ecosystem development. 

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Speaker 1: (00:00)
Eight to 10 million professional services business and like whatever commissions we're getting are gonna be super low level line items for us that just don't matter

Speaker 2: (00:07)
In the new ecosystem of today, it's very complicated.

Speaker 1: (00:11)
H how can you create as much cross pollination as possible and inevitably that that sort of creates value,

Speaker 2: (00:17)
Recognizing that you're an ingredient in, in someone else's solution as opposed to trying to build that

Speaker 1: (00:22)
Solution that enables us to sort of go deeper with Stripe faster than we. And effectively that becomes free running

Speaker 3: (00:28)
To start sharing our solution. Welcome to Make Them Famous, the podcast about partner enablement.

Speaker 4: (00:34)
The only podcast uncover both how partner teams enabled their partners

Speaker 3: (00:39)
And how other department leaders enable their partner teams to achieve success.

Speaker 4: (00:44)
All right, welcome back to the pod partnerships people or CEOs or agencies, whoever you are. I think this episode will give you value. I don't know what you think about what's going on in partnerships right now, but it's definitely electric. There's a lot of opinions, a lot of growth, and a lot of new territory that we all need to explore and get better at together. What I want to talk about in today's episode is a little bit around go to market, a lot of it around ecosystems and dig into this very unique persona that we are going to talk to today. My guests are Tim Sao, head of partner programs at Stripe and Connor Jeffers, founder and c e o of Aptitude, eight and a eight Labs. I get to speak to these two at a very unique stage in both of their businesses. Aptitude Eight launched a eight labs recently to create products that bridge the technical gaps between two products or inside HubSpot, specifically on Operations Hub.

Speaker 4: (01:53)
Stripe has gone all in on their ecosystem development, a little about stripes size. For those of you who aren't familiar, they are 11 years old. They are financial infrastructure and they do about 640 billion in volume up 60% year over year. They support 500 million a p I calls per day 10,000 per second, and they have grown their partnerships team to over 100 people. The two are six months invested in their strong partnership at the time of this recording aptitude eight, being a solutions partner of Stripe, while their subsidiary a eight Labs, excuse me, is simultaneously an ecosystem partner of Stripe. Very unique. This is very cool stuff. I get super excited in this episode, but we're gonna dig into how Stripe won the commitment from Conor to become an early partner of theirs. What role do solution partners play in Stripes ecosystem? How Stripe buckets partner types, this unique type of partner, why they are also an I S V, the challenge for Tim and the team to sell the ecosystem play internally.

Speaker 4: (03:07)
What it means to enable a partner to build a product that solves a pain point versus building a feature that solves it. How Connor envisions the Stripe partnership to bring 30% of their gross revenue in the coming year. How Tim's partner program will enable Connor to hit that goal. And we end on some advice on certifications and how to ensure ROI of those certifications. This episode will be great for CEOs, CROs, solutions partners, agencies deciding whether or not to build a product, uh, anyone on the partnership team that's involved in ecosystem strategy. But first, please take three minutes to hear about three tools that will help you succeed in partnerships. Well, we could not make this podcast famous without help from our sponsors for sponsorship, we looked to three platforms that help you find activate, enable, and manage your partner program. These three tools may be the only tools that you'll need to effectively run partnership.

Speaker 4: (04:13)
The tools in question are reveal for account mapping and running, co-selling operations partner stack for scaling a multi-tiered commission centric program and partner hub for working closely day-to-day with MSPs. Managed service providers. Partner Stack probably needs no in no introduction, excuse me. They work with top tech companies like, unbalanced, Intercom and Webflow. And it's a company that we recommend when you are ready to scale your commission centric. Usually a multi-tiered partner program, check out partnerships, I'm sorry, partner Stack to scale partnerships revealed. Again, when you're ready to really get into the revenue operation of partnerships, that means that you wanna map accounts, see what the overlap is, see who I'm targeting that you're also targeting, see who I'm targeting that you're not targeting, and come up with a strategy to get those accounts into my pipeline, into your pipeline and to build that pie, that bigger and bigger pie together.

Speaker 4: (05:24)
Oftentimes you'll invite a partner to an account mapping solution that has a paywall too early, which is prohibitive for a lot of, uh, the target audiences that our partner programs are after. The digital agencies, uh, if you invite them to reveal, you can trust that they won't hit a paywall. There's 360 account mapping UI in Reveal for free and it Finally, partner Hub, again, it's a partner operations platform. Partnerships has a lot going on. Who's doing what at what stage in the partnership are the questions that many of my partner managers ask themselves. Partner Hub is here to solve for what are we doing with partnerships? Who's doing what, where are our partners? And if we need to find more, are we able to go and shop for more partners? Partner Hub answers all of those questions with yes, and it is free. It's free for top tech companies like Apollo audio wise, Smith Robots, recar, and it's free for digital agencies like Hawk Media, trellis, aptitude, a Creative Trends. A lot of these tech companies and agencies use Partner Hub to find in line with each other. M S P, managed service provider, digital agency, as well as SaaS tech companies. Just check it out, partner And again, thank you for listening. I'll let you get back to the show. All right guys, welcome to the show, what is going on with you and your role, and um, then we'll get into how this partnership started. Tim, let's start with

Speaker 2: (07:10)
You. Great to be here, Alex, and nice to see you Connor. Uh, so I name is Tim Sao. I lead the partner program at Stripe, uh, also known as Stripe Partner Ecosystem. I've been here for 18 months, um, and it's been a great experience so far to actually start a new partner ecosystem at Stripe. Uh, it's a rare kind of career experience to, uh, to build from fresh as opposed to inheriting, uh, uh, partner ecosystem and programs. So that's my role and glad to be here.

Speaker 4: (07:39)
Yeah, that word ecosystem is popping up all over the place these days. , I don't know if it's, um, just the timing or if there's something in particular that's going on. Maybe, maybe something in the water, but all of a sudden the word ecosystem seems to be the hot word this year, at least this this last quarter. But Connor, um, you're deep into this now. I mean, we started working together I think a few years ago, um, when you were I think more on the implementation. Yes, you're doing a lot of different things, but I think you've went really deep into the platform partnerships and building out these, these awesome, you know, stacks for your clients and servicing those savvy implementation partner, I think is is a good word that we use to describe your agency. But let's, let's learn a little bit about you and what's going on for those who haven't heard one of our past episodes.

Speaker 1: (08:26)
For sure, for sure. Uh, I'm Connor Jeffers. I run, I run two kind of businesses and Partner Step is pretty key to to both. So one is Aptitude eight, uh, which is a professional services organization. Um, we're primarily a HubSpot partner though. One of the reasons that I'm excited to talk to you guys today is, is Stripe is a, uh, a newer addition to our sort of core set and sort of adding additional technology partners into the mix. Um, today we primarily work with implementation, customization, extensibility integration, um, for the HubSpot platform, and then usually any other tools that, that are attached to it. So our expertise doesn't kind of end at HubSpot, but we sort of look at kind of HubSpot as that, that hub. And then everything else is apo and if HubSpot's in your stack, uh, we can help you build really amazing customer experiences on top of that as, uh, sort of your c R M platform of choice.

Speaker 1: (09:12)
Um, and the secondary business is is eight labs, um, where we're building applications on top of HubSpot. So it's kind of a HubSpot app studio. Um, we have five live applications in the marketplace today. Uh, all sort of SaaS applications, uh, utilities, you install them in dear core HubSpot portal. Um, things like clone attack for, you know, easy automated cloning of records or associate to link records. And then our most recent application, uh, is called Zebra, uh, which is a really deep stripe HubSpot connector. So what Zebra does is it sort of syncs all of the Stripe data back into HubSpot, rebuilds the whole Stripe data model inside of HubSpot, and then lets you sort of use HubSpot on top of all that Stripe data. So creating subscriptions or transactions, modifying, updating, upgrading downgrading, doing anything that you might do if you are a subscription based business, all from within HubSpot. And then of course, reporting on that data and then leveraging it and sort of all that powerful HubSpot automation as well. Uh, and so both of those businesses are, are heavily partner focused where we're doing HubSpot and Stripe services. Uh, and then our, our products obviously are sort of an extension of, uh, other sites. So I do a lot in both the service provider, service partner type angle as well as the, uh, the technology partner side.

Speaker 4: (10:20)
I love it. Yeah. Couple of the things that you mentioned there, custom apps, I think this is one of the things that really differentiates Aptitude Date from a lot of HubSpot inbound agencies out there. Yes, HubSpot partner. But, um, the day-to-day and kind of what you guys, uh, what brings customers to you guys is that level of, Hey, you can build custom stuff for me inside of HubSpot, outside of HubSpot, connect my other applications. Yes. And support all of that, not just do one thing and, and, and let you go. Um, very valuable as a partner, uh, to the whole ecosystem. So Stripe, um, you're in this world now, this ecosystem world. You've got service providers, you've got application builders, um, trying to bring them all together in this nice harmonious partner program that you have now, Tim or are working to have. Uh, but let's talk about where it's at and what the word ecosystem really means to Stripe, and then we'll kind of merge the two as we, as we get more into this.

Speaker 2: (11:21)
Happy to expand on that. So, um, you're right, ecosystem is such a hot button now. It's probably a mix between, uh, I think a recognition that it is leverage of growth without necessarily investing in your own, um, uh, p and l for, you know, headcount for your own sales team. So that's one element of it. And interestingly, um, Stripe had this realization and, uh, one was enterprise, another one was building out SaaS and banking as a service. And then the third piece, and my pillar or leg of the stool is ecosystem. Uh, at the time we had a strong, um, I'll call it list of integrations. We had a community, uh, that had developed extensions based on our, um, core connect product, but we didn't really have a thriving partner ecosystem that was robust across the different types. And so, uh, so at that time, the decision was made, let's, let's build up that part of the business.

Speaker 2: (12:21)
Let's create a formal, uh, division of the company called, um, go to market partners. Uh, and, uh, and so, uh, Dorothy Copeland, my boss was brought in from Mike Clayville. Mike Clayville, um, is our chief revenue officer came from x, uh, X A W S and Dorothy's X A W X X I B M, uh, where I had the pleasure of working with her. And, and she built out a professional team, including me, people like me that have had, um, ecosystem experience their whole career. So I've been in channel in one flavor or another, uh, whether it's marketing or sales or programs, um, for my entire 20 plus years of, of working. So, um, so the rest of my peers are all this type of professional that have been an ecosystem we set out to then build a program, build a partner capacity across all the geographies that we work in.

Speaker 2: (13:15)
Um, and so for me and the program, this meant, um, we, we really started kind of like April or May of 2021, and we launched earlier this year in April. Um, uh, the partner ecosystem. And what that means is that it's really the, the, the rails or the infrastructure which partners engage with Stripe. It includes the benefits that we provide. It includes the different types of partners that they can gear in, the resources, the benefits, financial incentives, um, as well as digital surfaces, like a partner portal, partner directory, website, other things that partners rely on. Meanwhile, I have peers out there that work with, uh, great partners like Connor that are on the ground with partner development managers driving business together, joint business planning, building integrations, building consulting businesses, um, and then, you know, joint pursuit of customers like going after hubs, HubSpot customers together.

Speaker 2: (14:15)
So we have that happening all over the world, um, in the geographies that we operate in. Uh, it's, uh, the, the, the programs straight partner ecosystem has been live since April, and it's been, um, fantastic. We've seen great pickup, uh, of new partners come in. Our, um, prior partners have, uh, evolved into this program and taken advantage of a lot of the benefits and new resources that are, um, available to them. But I think it's, you know, a share a challenge that kind of, um, we've had along the way is that Stripe has always been a direct motion and many, I I would imagine many of your audience have come from a legacy of a direct sales motion and not necessarily been in ecosystem yet. And so selling that proposition, that was no easy ride, the whole proposition really had to come together as a full go-to-market package. Um, and so, you know, happy to talk more about that, but that was a, a key, uh, learning through the way and challenge that we overcame and, and really g was able to bring everyone on board with us to be successful.

Speaker 4: (15:17)
Oh, I love it. I love it. Yeah, I've got a couple things out of that that I want to get deeper into. We'll go back to Connor for a sec, but keep this in mind. Tim, um, agencies building apps within Stripes infrastructure versus apps building integrations. I think when you say the word ecosystem, everybody kinda has a different, you know, a different definition in their head, a different vision, a different persona in their head. Um, but now we're in this world where it's not just, Hey, let's convince this app over here to build an integration with us, or let's build an integration and then go to market with that bigger, uh, bigger company, bigger app, uh, bigger market, but let's bring service providers that can actually build middleware and um, and, and connect us and, and, and then we can co-sell into that bigger ecosystem.

Speaker 4: (16:03)
But with Conner Aptitude eight and their new products that they're bringing to the table, that's not a new world. I mean, it's been happening in Salesforce, Atlassian has a big ecosystem play like this, but I don't think it's talked about enough. I don't think it's, uh, I don't think there's a real strategy out there for this. Um, and it's, it's very new in that sense. But Connor, let's talk to you about the mentality here that you guys have been in where you're hiring engineers, you're building product, you still are a service provider, still are an agency, but you're definitely bridging that gap in a, in a pretty unique way, I think. So, um, the question around that is, is really just what is the Stripe partnership and why is it sort of this unique animal for you, and what are some of the business questions that you guys have to answer and some of the things that you have to think about while you're going into this? Not service provider, but we have this product and then we build services on top of our product with Stripe as a partner. Lot, lot to think about, lots of very sure, sure, sure, sure.

Speaker 1: (17:06)
So the, the very sort of like brief history, and then I'll talk about sort of like how we think about it with Stripe and HubSpot and, and sort of where we fit in here. So, um, is, I, I had played a bunch in the Salesforce ecosystem and I, I always felt like I got there too late. Uh, and there are a lot of people who'd built really incredible companies and and done really, really well in that universe. Um, and I, when I sort of saw HubSpot and increasing where, sort of where I'm seeing Stripe is, um, there's these companies that are, are coming into this space and this ecosystem play is becoming a part and parcel to their go-to-market strategy. And I think as a technology organization, you hit a size where you simply can't be everything to everyone, but you sort of need to continually expand, uh, that TAM and continue to needing to be able to sell into it.

Speaker 1: (17:47)
And so the best way to do that, uh, is to actually have this network of folks around you that are building either use case specific or industry specific or functionality specific, uh, solutions in combination with the core platform and the core product. And so that's where I think you see like the app fires or, uh, the folks in like bold in in the Shopify universe. And that's where we really are trying to position a labs. And, and what we're doing there is really saying that we recognize strategically HubSpot or Stripe or really any other technology provider can only solve for so many use cases. And the correct positioning for them is, let's become a platform and let's build tooling that other people can actually build solutions on top of. And so for us, that kind of does two things. One, they're creating a market and they're creating demand for something by the nature of them existing that their out of the box feature set can't necessarily solve for.

Speaker 1: (18:41)
And so we don't have to go and do a whole bunch of demand agenda, prove that there's someone who wants this because Stripe or HubSpot, whatever other Goliath in the room is creating that for us. Um, and the secondary piece is they end up doing, so it's somewhat similar to what Tim was saying on how the services provider ecosystem goes and allows you to, without putting it on your p n l, create demand and capture some of that market, um, very similar in sort of that app provider world where by selling HubSpot plus Zebra or Stripe plus Zebra, Stripe sellers can sell things at a higher clip and get faster activation because Zebra helps them do that. And similarly, on the HubSpot side, there's people who have payments use cases and complex Stripe infrastructure, and they need to tie that into their course c R M platform.

Speaker 1: (19:26)
And they can't do that either. And so what we can do is actually with those products, enable sellers to sell more effectively, which inevitably means they end up bringing us into those and we're capturing customers without necessarily having to spend on, uh, that acquisition channel. And so I think those two things become really, really harmonious. And when we think about sort of the flywheel and the strategy attached to that is how can we make working with us, uh, accelerate what Stripe sellers and and HubSpot sellers are able to do, and how can we make working with them, uh, open up new TAM and new opportunity for them to capture? And that's how we sort of both go faster together.

Speaker 4: (20:02)
Okay. Okay. Okay. , um, no, this is, it is super interesting because I'm, I'm dealing with this now, so my head's a little bit in this, but it's a situation where, okay, well, there are features that Stripe can build and connections that Stripe can build. Of course you guys have resources, very big company. And then there is the, the case of enabling an Aptitude eight to build it and maybe aptitude eight, which probably happened, um, thought of this product before anyone at thought of it, maybe, uh, they heard a pain point and they decided to capitalize it maybe. But there are internal conversations at Stripe, probably, I'm guessing, and other companies where they're like, this is a product we could build, but you know, why not enable an agency service partner just to partner in general to build that bridge? And, uh, then we work together to go to market and, and bring it there. So I wanna talk any comments you have on what Connor just said, but then that part of the discussion I think is super interesting. So I do wanna talk about that real quick. Go ahead, Tim.

Speaker 2: (21:00)
Yeah, 100%. I think Connor's, uh, comments were brilliant and spot onto the what a new ecosystem is. So prior ecosystems are all about resale kind of traditional, your, your vendors in the center, and, you know, everyone's the spoke of that in the new ecosystem of today. It's very complicated and it's about value creation for the customer, but done through many, many ways. And so it's Stripe as an example. We recognize that, and in fact, uh, over 40% of our businesses, uh, are, um, payments platforms or companies that embed payments, but they only sell their own product. They care about their product. We are an element of what they do. The more they sell, the more we, uh, get. So that's a, a fundamental model of Stripe. And so I think that's what you're hearing from Connor. We also recognize that some want to develop on Stripes platform.

Speaker 2: (21:56)
So we've, in fact, this LA last, this year, earlier this year in May, we launched Stripe apps, and that is the ability to have native apps inside of Stripes payment product. So that's one choice that you can have too. So you can choose depending on what the customer, what your business model is to develop your own, develop your own platform, develop your, uh, services business around it, or to build it onto Stripe or just use Stripe as a service and product. I mean, there's so many ways that you can do it. Um, and, uh, you know, broadly, we, we just wanna make sure that we are flexible to the needs of partners and customers. And even that line is blurred quite a lot where you have a customer like a Ford that, you know, goes out and has the motions of a partner when they're trying to enable dealers and trying to enable, you know, their ecosystem with a company like Stripe. So it's a very complicated, but I think, uh, interesting world when it comes to ecosystems today,

Speaker 4: (22:53)
I think that's a, uh, very big decision for a company that's, you know, not where Stripe is obviously, but you're in that world where, you know, you have that hub, you know, that hub opportunity almost, where you could either continue kind of building features and building a bigger product, or you could build this platform, this Operation Hub is what HubSpot has. You guys have your, your app marketplace and the ability for other people, third parties to build inside, and you, you can't do both, and you have to prioritize. And we're seeing the fruits of that with all these giant app ecosystems that are just controlling the market. Now, HubSpot is the newest one, Stripe, you guys are on your way there, of course. So Connor and the team and other teams in Connor's position kind of have to decide how deep they want to go into this world.

Speaker 4: (23:38)
Connor has AA labs now, so they're very much committed, um, to working inside these ecosystems as a developer and a solutions architect and still supporting and servicing on top of HubSpot as well as the products that they build and, uh, merge between the two. So the idea there and the thought process is, okay, well, you know, how, how much of this do we want to do? What is the cost and the benefit of all of this, and how much can the service provider really bring to the table when it comes to building and supporting products inside of our ecosystem versus another third party integration? And the two of us, the two tech companies work together to build whatever that feature is to connect deeper with each other. So in this service provider realm, you have aptitude date, you've got a eight Labs, some of the financial implications of what you're doing as an agency, uh, when a platform partner comes to you.

Speaker 4: (24:33)
So let's say Jira saw what you're doing with Tim and Stripe, they saw a eight labs and they come to your inbox with some opportunity to build on top of Atlassian, or maybe, I don't know, Zendesk or one of these others. They want you to do what you did with Stripe, uh, with them. What are some of the things you think about, what are some of the, um, focuses that you have to make sure are in place? And then of course there is an incentive there that pulled you into this ecosystem. What was that and what made you guys decide to go down this road with Stripe?

Speaker 1: (25:04)
Yeah, I mean, I think that the, so I think that one of the key pieces, especially as people start to look at, uh, services, provider partners and other pieces, like you only have so much focus and so much attention. I think everyone sort of says like, come and do this thing with us now. Uh, and I I think that relationship certainly takes some time, but I think the other piece is like really understanding what that opportunity set is, right? So for us, um, Stripe's huge, Stripe has tons and tons and tons of customers. Um, Stripe is adding new customers all of the time. Uh, and Tim didn't share, like in the, in the notes for this, the, the volume of Stripe is just like outrageous, uh, in scale. And I, and I think that the, the piece for us when we look at somebody like a Stripe is Stripe reached out to us and said, Hey, you, you guys are, uh, really successful in the hub sub ecosystem.

Speaker 1: (25:53)
We're launching this partner program, we're trying to expand into it, and let's figure this out. And by the time that they had reached out to us, and they've made significant investments even since then, but what they're coming with is we have the educational resources, uh, in place to help you guys get up to speed and know this. Uh, and we, you already have developers, you've already worked with Stripe, use it internally. We'll, we'll help you understand how to sort of position this on the services side. Um, we have some go-to market function, uh, at, at the base level and in the form of like M D F funds and in more, more large scale levels of actually joint go-to market and sort of helping with Crossbeam and support and some of those elements, right? And being able to have that go to market piece. Um, and then the last function is we we're really sort of committed to this as a strategy. And Stripes made huge investments, like I, Tim can say the number, but I, Caitlin told me recently, uh, she came back from the Stripe event, like the growth of Stripes partner team, uh, in the last two years, uh, is like zero to how many people is it now, Tim?

Speaker 2: (26:49)
Yeah, we have 111 today. That's

Speaker 1: (26:51)
Crazy. That's so many people. And I'm saying it needs to be at that number. But the point is, is that Stripe as an organization that said, we are going to invest in partnerships and here are all the ways that we're going to do that, and here's what that investment looks like. And so for us, we look at that and say, this isn't a company hired a partner person, and they're gonna try to do something, and that's gonna fizzle out in 12 months and like not gonna go anywhere. And our relationship ends with them. It, it's really, we are building a relationship and an investment into Stripe is the technology partner, and Stripe isn't going anywhere. Their investment here isn't going anywhere, and it's only going to deepen and, and expand. And, and when we look at sort of like we're at to point our attention and our time and our focus, um, I think that investment signal is the biggest driver that says this isn't gonna end with the one relationship.

Speaker 4: (27:42)
So good. So good Connor. Um, okay. So, um, let's, we, we wanna talk about co-marketing and the actual function of what you guys are putting out there, here. Um, just to kind of summarize that, I mean, the incentive for you to, uh, take resources out of Aptitude eight and put it into building out on top of Stripe, um, it was largely the investment that Stripe was showing on the partnership side is what I heard. You just saw all the signals we're pointing to this is going to be a, uh, very, uh, very strong relationship. You're going to have a lot of support from Stripe, and they're putting so much resource into this operation and this partner team and the partner function, um, that you wanted to be in, that you wanted to ride that wave with them, right? Um, so teams out there, of course, if you're looking to do more of this, you, you've gotta bring more to the table than just, Hey, we've got this many users and this much going on and, and, and a few pages of API documentation.

Speaker 4: (28:45)
Um, so Tim, uh, let's talk about this. So you've got aptitude eight up to speed. So, uh, the timeline there, I'd like to hear a little bit about that. But then you guys are in this function now where you've gotta build product, you've got use cases and case studies, you've got mutual customers and you're going to market. What does going to market mean and what is the timeline and what are some of the things that you have to put in there and, uh, some of the key words that we like to hear? And, um, let's talk about that for a minute.

Speaker 2: (29:13)
Yeah. Let me share broadly, uh, some of the experience of, um, of bringing Stripe partner ecosystem to market, working with our partners like Connor and others, uh, around the world. It's interesting to hear that we are, um, perceived as a very large company because we, we have grown very quickly, but I come from I B m and a lot of the folks of my peers come from these large enterprises, you know, and so we're like, you know, strokes pretty small. We grew from actually 3000 people, um, when I joined 18 months ago to now 8,000 people, which is incredible. Like I've never been at such a fast growth company ever in my career. Um, and so as part of that, what we've had to, what we've found, um, as it pertains to the ecosystem, we've had to ask everyone that we engage with, it's kind of slow down before we can speed up.

Speaker 2: (30:06)
And meaning that for so many at Stripe, they don't have a partner background. They don't know much about go to market with partners. So like, what is co-marketing? You gotta explain that to a lot of folks here. What is co-selling? How do you do co-selling? Oh gosh, am I gonna, you know, are you taking deal away from me? Uh, why are you letting a third party into my deal? So those types of cultural, uh, uh, things are barriers to how much engagement we can have and how much activation of ecosystem we have internally. Um, and so those, those are unique characteristics of many SaaS companies that are, you know, let's say relatively within 10 years of, of being born. Um, and us included. So, uh, while we have brought in a lot of folks with enterprise experience, so much of our cohort here from engineering to sales to support, you name it, to marketing, have been more of a direct motion.

Speaker 2: (31:01)
And so, um, we've had to instill a lot of enablement internally. A lot of programs that just meet up with, with partner, uh, a lot of programs of like, these are partners that do these things very well in your geography. Um, a lot of coaching on, well, what happens to a specific deal? Let's take a few use case deals through the cycle and show how you're actually gonna benefit. And you should talk about services very early in the deal cycle. It's not gonna harm your deal. You're gonna only ensure customer success as opposed to the perception that, oh gosh, I'm gonna add this much more dollars into the deal and put things at risk. Um, so a lot of that is cultural change that, that we have had to lead the company through. Um, so that's, that's kind of selling internally. And then the other piece, uh, like going back to what I was saying about finding those allies and having to pitch, um, pitch ecosystem and what we're doing, everything from tooling, uh, internally, like for, for the, the portal and then linkage to our Salesforce c r m, um, sales cloud to, uh, to, you know, the data that we have around different types of partner business, um, all of that in, in involves investments of time and money and people from other cross-functional folks.

Speaker 2: (32:16)
And so we've had to sell that internally. And what I found is, um, you know, bringing them along the ride is fundamental. And how do you do that? We, we did that first by putting forward a stakeholder map, um, which I think is a fantastic tool. I really recommend it to anyone. Um, in a complex environment where you have a lot of people that you depend on, which is pretty much everyone, including you both , we'd all depend on others. Um, we had a steering committee. We also had very consistent, um, communications that went broadly across these stakeholders. So we brought them in the journey with us, we brought them on the boat with us, um, and then celebrating the milestones. I'd say I probably didn't do that enough, um, to celebrate the milestones along the way. Um, you know, other than our big launch, uh, and, and kind of some things going toward there.

Speaker 2: (33:05)
So those are just some tips that I would recommend, um, in terms of building the journey in terms of go to market, like the specific things that we, we've rooted ourselves in a cycle of you wanna build with Stripe, market with Stripe, sell with Stripe, and then ongoing engagement. So that cycle is, is where we've rooted a lot of the programs that we offer. So for build as an example, we have solution blueprints and toolkits that we offer, um, for services companies. We have integration guides and a lot of documentation around that. We have, we have teams out there on the ground that are working with partners, you know, uh, Connor mentioned earlier, but he's working with our teams. And that's one of the unique differentiators of where we are right now, is that we have scaled up very quickly. And so for a lot of those partners, like an aptitude date that engage with us that we think are high value, that we see a lot of potential, we will spend time with you.

Speaker 2: (33:59)
Um, but we also have a lot of self-service elements for those that are in the longer tail that may not be ready for the scale and investments that like Connor has to forward on his side. You know, we have a lot of, um, automated, uh, capabilities in the program to help them, uh, to help that cohort get to the same level of success. Uh, and then when you talk about like marketing and selling, we have all sorts of toolkits and campaigns in a box that we offer across our different product types, um, and enabling different types of use cases out there. Um, and then we offer financial incentives. You know, like I'm in the business of creating pipeline and sales through partners. That's the bottom line. And the more pipeline I can get, the more successful we will be and the more that we can, you know, just keep adding to this engine.

Speaker 2: (34:53)
And so as a result, one of the top things that we look for, uh, are deal registrations inside of the portal. We have a new business incentive that, uh, that that provides compensation for partners to do that we don't resell. Um, we're an a p I business, so reselling is not in our d n a and I don't foresee it being in our d n a um, anytime soon. We're creating the value, uh, and and working with partners to do that, like we talked about earlier. And then ongoing engagement is the other piece of just programs of everything from events that are local events where we come out and have a session together, either bringing partners together or having individual partners. Uh, we will do that with customers as well to then, you know, engagement with us on roadmaps and other things, um, are all things that are part of the, the s p E that we put forward.

Speaker 2: (35:42)
And I think those elements are all go to market for me. They're kind of basics, but for me also, it's a learning journey that we've started upon and we will continue to pivot and, and think about what's really needed as these relationships that are, that we talked about earlier are complex. And we have companies like Connor that's developing a platform but also doing services. And you know, you have all sorts of complexities like that that we wanna make sure we are, uh, able to help all partners depending on, you know, no matter what flavor you're going to market with.

Speaker 4: (36:12)
I love it, Tim. Okay. So a lot to unpack there. Uh, but just to, I think, I don't wanna go deeper into co-marketing cause we talked way too much about co-marketing, but there was a post on LinkedIn yesterday, I think I was just reading the comments. Someone was talking about what co-marketing is and the comments. Some people were saying, oh, it's when you market two partners to get them into your programs. Someone else said, no, no, no. It's when you, you know, give them assets to sell your product. Okay man. But, you know, it's, it's, it's not well understood. To your point, Tim, I don't wanna beat a dead horse. Go back in episodes. We talk about co-marketing a lot. What I do wanna talk about, uh, Connor, is you have to make the decision to go into this, uh, relationship. It's gonna take a lot of resources time.

Speaker 4: (36:55)
And as a business owner, you have to obviously look at ROI of the relationship and it becomes more imperative and more, more risky when you're building product around that because now you're breaking off and you're, you're starting to make strategic decisions on how this new a eight Labs impacts the revenue operations, rev ops, um, services that you guys are selling at Aptitude eight. And I, I've been in your shoes, man, it's, it's very tough to sit there and and say, okay, well how does this impact the service side? And how do they work together? And how do we make sure that this isn't going to take us down a road that turns into a dead end. So Stripe is at the table, you guys are making some decisions, you're gonna have to hire, you're gonna have to brand, you're gonna have to co-market, you're going to have to bring people into this and, um, you've gotta make it all worthwhile. So, uh, what are some of the things that you think about, what are some of the, the key aspects of this relationship that you had to make sure the box was checked before you went deeper into it? And then just talk, talk us through the mentality of what it's like building this new service. Sorry, the product side,

Speaker 1: (38:07)
I, what's really interesting, so, so, uh, if you're, I think one of the big things is like, we're not an agency. We're very much a technical consulting firm. And so we already have the development and the, and the product capabilities and all of that's already in-house. If you are a services agency or an organization and you're thinking about building product, I would like really stop, uh, and slow down and, and think about like, is that the business that you know and are good and are, are want to be in? And they're radically different businesses. And, and for us, we don't have like a product arm. There are two completely separate companies with two completely separate PNLs and two completely separate business models that it happens to make a lot of sense for somebody with a high degree of expertise on both of those to run both cuz they help each other.

Speaker 1: (38:50)
But ultimately we think about Aptitude eight as just like the first and biggest partner to eight Labs is, is honestly the way that we think about it. Um, versus how does Eight Labs serve Aptitude Eight's needs is is not really the way that we look at it at all. And I think that that's reflected in our relationship with both Stripe and HubSpot on that side, right? Like, so Aptitude eight is a services provider to Stripe. We have Stripe certified developers and architects, and we come in and we do Stripe services for folks on top of Stripe. Um, zebra, which is an eight Labs product is a Stripe ecosystem application. Uh, and those are two completely different relationships that sort of roll up into the same partner team and the, and they're sort of involved in the same thing, but ultimately they're two different approaches. And I think that Eight Labs is a, a SaaS technology business that loses money, handover fist, uh, and aid services is a profitable services organization that's sort of rapidly scaling off of that.

Speaker 1: (39:47)
And I think they're very, very, very different business models that approach it in different ways. But I think that there is a benefit to, if you are looking to go be a technology provider in some of these ecosystems, working with and connecting with some of the services providers. And I think if you're a service provider, finding other technology partners works. I mean, we see it with Labs where we have other HubSpot partners that are building entire services streams on top of Zebra and they're starting to learn about Stripe and it'll probably end up being an acquisition channel for Stripe Partners. Um, cuz it ends up just being a way that people get exposure and, and cross pollination. And I think that's really the name of the game is how can you create as much cross pollination as possible and inevitably that that sort of creates value.

Speaker 4: (40:28)
Oh, I love it. And uh, Tim, um, what I wanna hear from you now is, is you're looking at these audiences, sorry, these personas really, and you're building out your program and you're trying to bucket personas and you're looking at Connor's agency and you're talking to them. Maybe you've already decided to reach out. Um, but how do you define agencies like Connor's and what are some of the questions and discussions that you guys have internally about the fact that Connor does have a product side and a product department that are building on top of Stripe? Uh, of course that's valuable for you, but there have to be some, some reasons to say no to maybe other agencies that could look like Connors on paper. But just what are some of the things that you look at when you're bucketing these different personas and what are the personas for you?

Speaker 2: (41:16)
Yeah, um, so I guess I, I make a distinction between personas, which is like an individual. So, uh, an alliance manager, a uh, sales engineer, a solutions architect, you know, a developer. Those are personas to me. And actually we do address those, uh, and, and have journeys for them, but we also have partner types and partner

Speaker 4: (41:34)
Types. That's a better definition.

Speaker 2: (41:36)
The highest level I bucket those, uh, or program, but Stripe buckets, those into technology partners, um, which Connor is consulting partners, which Connor is, and then embedded payments partners. And, um, and these categories then have subgroups ranging from like, I'm an individual accountant firm to, I'm a payment, uh, consulting person, uh, or company, um, to, I, I'm an I S V I make software to, I, I'm a lab, so I do services, you name it. So going back to this notion of a complex business model and different ways that companies are coming together by themselves and together partner to partner to go jointly pursue customers, um, we recognize that's happening while we have these three cohorts of partner types that we, um, organize against, um, and each one have specific, uh, programs and benefits and requirements, um, one of the things that we're, we absolutely recognize is that folks converge and we need to adopt and make sure that we are providing a program that can adopt to the, the multi multilayered business model.

Speaker 2: (42:50)
Um, and so that's, that's on our roadmap. We're not there yet on that. We have a long way to go on that. And what we are learning are, well, what are these patterns that we're seeing a lot of, and and a lot are, you know, a consulting company that decides they want to make their own IP and go resell it in some way. Um, it could be a platform, it could be an app, it could be, uh, software, whatever it is, uh, repeatable solution. But that's one flavor that, that we know exists. Um, similarly, you have software providers out there that want to spin up services of some sort. So you have, you have that as well. I mean, there, there's a lot of different patterns that we are seeing and we're trying to be data driven so that, you know, at certain intervals of the program, we'll revisit our partner types and say, where do we need to really double down for our programs to then bring that pattern to life? So if it's a consulting firm that has a product or IP that they are going out and and selling, um, as a product, maybe that's a pattern that we need to create a better program around and enable through a, a number of mechanisms, you know, through that lifecycle build, market sell, um, engage, like I talked about. So that's kind of where we're at, we're, we have a long way to go, but we're also, uh, hugely a growth mindset where we want to observe and, and gear into where we see momentum.

Speaker 4: (44:14)
Mm. Okay. So I want to go back to Connor for two seconds here and talk real quickly about the enablement aspect of support and then where this is headed. So you guys have been partners for how long now? Connor? Like

Speaker 1: (44:31)
Six months,

Speaker 4: (44:32)

Speaker 1: (44:32)
Months, six months. Some, some something, some something less than a year, but not like four months long enough, but not, not ancient.

Speaker 4: (44:39)
Okay. And did you have product built on top of the Stripe, uh, Stripe product, , api, whatever you wanna call it, but did you have a product built before that partnership or?

Speaker 1: (44:50)
So we, when we came on as a, as a Stripe partner, we sort of had decided to go deep on, so we were already building, zebra was on our list of stuff, uh, pre-strike relationship, uh, and then I think the Stripe partnership and seeing and hearing sort of their investment level and they, they were doing sort of moved it to the top of our, our development queue versus we decided to do it b based on, uh, Stripe itself.

Speaker 4: (45:12)
Okay. And how much of the Stripe partnership is bleeding into Aptitude? Eight and, and I mean on the p and l of Aptitude eight, you know,

Speaker 1: (45:22)
50? Yeah, I mean, I, we are, we're looking at, so, uh, we will, we're looking to do eight to 10 million in revenue next year. Um, and we'd like to see Stripe 30 to 40% of that next year possible. Um, so like, we're, we're pretty committed to expanding the Stripe relationship and Hubot services is like 90 to 95%, uh, of our revenue for this year. Um, so we're really looking for Stripe to be, uh, big, big major partner, major player for us next year.

Speaker 4: (45:47)
Two to 3 million is what this partnership could mean to your organization, both a Labs and Aptitude eight as a whole.

Speaker 1: (45:56)
Yeah, that's just on the services side, so I sort take product completely out of it. Um, and yeah, I, I'm looking at that just sort of like Stripe value added technical services for

Speaker 4: (46:05)
Sure. Okay. And then, uh, there's the words like commission and then, you know, what, what incentives are Stripe really bringing in the table that enable you to do more, sell more? What are those top to bottom?

Speaker 1: (46:16)
I think Tim talked a little about this a little bit. Like I think there is some sort of a new business incentive or something right now we, we don't really even consider or think about that, right? I mean, we're, we're operating a eight to 10 million professional services business and like whatever commissions we're getting are gonna be super low level line items for us that just don't matter. Um, the thing that we really value and care about with Stripe is, you know, we the with they did a big in-person event in New York. We got to spend time with people on the solutions architecture team and the partner team. And not only do we have sort of access to those people in a digital virtual way of like, Hey, we're working on this project, can we chat with somebody and, and sort of get some support here?

Speaker 1: (46:51)
Um, but also that that relationship building goes a really long way. It ends up being somebody as like, Hey, we, we spend some time at at Seaport and I'd love to, you know, reach out to you. We're working on this deal. And I think that that's really one of the highest value pieces. Um, and I think attached to that is, I, I think the thing that we really value about Stripes investment into the education and the certification piece is like, and I think this is an actually a lot of contrary to the HubSpot universe, right? Like HubSpot's education content is very surface level. Um, and, and Stripes investment and I think this comes from being a developer product sort of at its core, um, is extremely in depth. The certification process has a lot up to it and they have a lot of support on talk to us as you are going through all of these pieces. And for us, that gives us a level of, uh, education access that we just don't have in other places. Um, and I think that that enables us to sort of go deeper with Stripe faster than we otherwise would.

Speaker 4: (47:46)
Okay. And one more thing on that. So the education and the certification, how much of it is just focused on the product and a p i and how much is focused on selling, supporting, building a business on top of, uh, that p i?

Speaker 1: (48:01)
Yeah, I think there's certainly both. I don't know where the percentages land, I don't know if it's half and half, but like both of those are absolutely checked off. There's both the technical piece as well as the, here's here's who you should think about, sort of like the go to market and the sales motion and some of what that looks like for us. It's funny cuz I think that part, uh, we're like, oh yeah, this makes sense, like we do this, uh, for, for other places. But I think having both of those certainly matters, especially if you're coming from, you know, we're a dev shop and, and that motion is a little bit more foreign to us versus the technical piece, which is maybe a little bit more instantly known.

Speaker 4: (48:32)
I ask, um, sometimes that question gets some awkward responses where it's, yeah, you know, it's, it's, uh, 100% just focused on developing on top of the product. Um, but with Stripe, and we're going through this now, Tim, I don't know if you knew this, but we're integrating with Stripe Connect as we speak. Um, we'll put both, uh, developers that are focused on that side of it through, um, some level of training, maybe a certification later, not quite yet. But, um, the big thing is, yeah, we want to be more involved in the Stripe ecosystem as partner hub and, um, how, what is the return on that if we do get deeper into just the certification, the program itself, um, what is the r o ROI on that? And a big part of that is, you know, we want to get business out of the Stripe e ecosystem. Yes, being there is step one, but there's 50 steps after that and that's what your team is there to enable and support and make sure that I see that carrot, that giant carrot of I'm gonna build this, but it's not just to have a place there and have that functionality, it's to get that bigger carrot. So anything on that, what Connor said, articulating that, that, um, that carrot for partners, potential partners?

Speaker 2: (49:48)
Yeah, I think that's right. Uh, look, we provide the, um, in the training and certification we do absolutely do technical as well as, you know, the business side of it. So it, it is both parts. Um, but ultimately it's up to the partner to take that information, that knowledge and activate it in their business as an individual as well, uh, you know, to take that certification. And, and what does that mean? Is that just a credential that you put on your resume or do you really bring that to life with your customers and knowledge and have true Eminence domain eminence around that and be proud of that? So, um, so yeah, we are, uh, very much gung ho on, uh, ramping up our training and certifications. We, um, are in fact rolling out a new, um, associate level certification for payments professionals, which is an easy to achieve, uh, item as opposed to, you know, a typical developer path, which is, you know, dozens and dozens of hours. This is, this is just a few. So things like that are, are what we are listening to, feedback on pivoting and, and making it easier for partners to do that.

Speaker 4: (50:48)
That's a whole other episode in itself. We could do another 50 minutes on certification stuff. I posted a poll on LinkedIn asking how valuable certifications were to service providers, the r roi, and honestly, the results were bad. It was, uh, very low. R o ROI is what most service providers say about certifications in general. And I think part of that is, and I asked in the comments and yes, they, uh, certain people agreed is the certification is really superficial product a p i, nothing else, no business, uh, acumen around the ecosystem that you're getting into. Uh, I think that's what most certifications don't do enough of. So it's good to hear that you guys are doing that and, uh, you're enabling agencies not just to complete the bill, but what do you do next? Um, okay, so let's get into final thoughts. Um, Connor, if you're talking to the potential ecosystem plays like Stripes, the, you know, the stripe of five years ago, maybe the CEOs, uh, or, or product teams out there that are looking to enable service providers to build on top of their product, any words of advice that you wanna reiterate or Sure on?

Speaker 1: (52:02)
Uh, I'll give the one. I just give HubSpot leadership all the time. Uh, but I think that, I think that, uh, Tim, Tim and Stripe do this really, really well. I think other people are, are getting there, which is, um,

Speaker 1: (52:13)
You can go wide, uh, and you have to enable the services providers as well as the technology ecosystem to be able to go deep. Um, and that that is a level of technical customization and sophistication and having the APIs and having the level of depth that someone can really expand upon the core product in a, in a big significant way, but also have the go-to-market motion that enables for somebody to come in and wrap a solution and wrap a service around your core product. Um, and what that ends up doing, uh, and like Salesforce, I think is the, the canonical example of this, but like 60% of Salesforce's revenue, they don't sell, they don't service, they don't do anything for it. Like partners go and sell it, they service it, they capture it, they provide it. And that's really the angle. And the only reason that people are able to do that is because Salesforce focuses on how can we allow for people to go really, really deep on our product and how can we allow for people to build solutions on top of our product? And then other people sort of, you become a commodity that's included in someone else's solution and effectively that becomes free revenue for you. Um, so I think that's, that's really the strategy to focus on and, uh, that excites people like us because ultimately makes our job easier.

Speaker 4: (53:20)
Mm-hmm. , Tim, final words on what Connor just mentioned, advice to the other partner teams out there that are looking to do more of what Stripe is doing?

Speaker 2: (53:29)
Yeah, I think if you have a growth mindset, that's probably the foundational level of what I would, uh, advise. But you're, you're driving a movement. So for those that are professionals, uh, like me building out partner ecosystems at your companies, you're driving a, a movement of cultural change. Um, and, uh, and you have to recognize that. So it takes a lot of just the, the, um, block and tackling of communications, of running projects, of, of things that you would just sometimes take for granted. Um, I, I'd say that's one just piece of advice. Another p piece of advice is, you know, know when to start, uh, know where to start in terms of, um, don't try to take on too much, but declare where you think you will have success. And you know, like there's this whole notion of like recognizing that you're an ingredient in, in someone else's solution as opposed to trying to build that solution. And so, uh, that's that fundamental aspect of why should you even build an ecosystem. So it's being carried out there. I'd rather be carried out there by a thousand people than to build one thing by myself. Um, and then just have fun doing it. This is the best part of it. It's great meeting great people like yourselves.

Speaker 4: (54:39)
I love that analogy, the ingredient analogy. Very, very thought provoking. Um, cool. Yeah. Uh, well you guys, I congratulate you on the success, Connor. You're doing some amazing things, Tim. You've got a huge team and, um, lots to do and get done. So I'm sure we're going to see a lot from Stripe and the partner program that you guys are developing. I'm super excited to be involved as, as, as small as it is, but, um, you know, we, we we're very excited to be involved as well. So thank you guys. Thanks for taking the time, everyone. I hope you enjoyed this. Reach out to Connor or Tim if you think you need something, either of these two. Thank you guys. Thanks.

Speaker 2: (55:20)

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