I recently interviewed Kirsten Ward, Founder of BATTEN,
a consulting firm helping BizSpark Startups succeed
with routes-to-market (RTM) strategies and introductions
within Microsoft’s partner ecosystem. Kirsten is an
industry leader in designing RTM strategies engineered
for rapid revenue growth on a national and global level.
She and her firm of industry executives are providing
successful RTM consulting services to companies ranging
from early stage Startups to large ecosystem firms,
such as Microsoft. Prior to founding BATTEN, Kirsten
worked in Strategic Relations at Microsoft and has spent
the last twenty years in corporate development, executive
sales management, and global channel strategy working
for Microsoft, Altiris, Netscape, Novell, and WordPerfect.
Q: Tell us about BATTEN.
BATTEN connects Startups with Microsoft’s partner
ecosystem. We design RTM strategies for technology companies
around the globe. Our methodology, Routes-To-Market
by Design™, defines revenue acceleration strategies,
customer segmentation, profiles partners who already
work with these customers, and introduces the Startup
to a unique set of “Trusted Advisors” that integrate
the Startup’s technology with their customer base. It’s
a one-to-many strategy that works extremely well in
accelerating customer acquisition.
Q. What is unique about working with Startups in
the BizSpark program?
The BizSpark program combined with the strength of
the Microsoft Ecosystem is unique in the industry. It
creates a rich environment to match new technologies
with partner’s existing business practices and provides
end customers with improved technology solutions. There
are partners in every geography willing to provide feedback
and look at solution integration possibilities to expand
their current line of business practice(s).
Q: When is the right stage for a Startup to think
about a Routes-to-Market Strategy?
Interestingly, it can be as early as the company’s
solution begins to generate revenue. If a solution has
merit to a customer segment, it can have merit for the
partner channel serving that segment. In the first phase
of our RTM projects, BATTEN designs tri-directional
value propositions between the Startup and partners,
and their mutual customers. These value propositions
create a working value chain that serves as the foundation
for the Startup’s partner strategy and outlines clearly
for the partner what’s in it for them. A company executing
the right RTM strategy, extends their customer reach
faster and further than a direct only sales model.
Q: Where does your passion for mentoring Startups
I’ve been there. I know the myriad of challenges
Startups face. Business development can sometimes take
a back seat to quality software development. The help
we received as a Startup on the business development
end was incredibly impactful. Navigating how to work
with Microsoft and negotiating introductions to the
right partners, done well, has an extremely positive
impact in accelerating the Startup’s compounded annual
growth rate, market reach and penetration. At BATTEN
we know how to design RTM models and purposefully recruit
partners who produce explosive growth. I want the BizSpark
Startups to benefit from the process – which is entirely
repeatable by the way.
Q: Ok maybe a little of the subject, but is there
really still a need for a Channel in the Cloud?
We get this question a lot, although less often now
than two years ago. We’ve been researching and working
with the evolution of the cloud ecosystem for 4+ years.
And the answer is an unequivocal Yes!
Many said the cloud would kill the channel. They
were wrong. In every technology transition some partners
aren’t able to transition and fail – we refer to this
as the “bankruptcy gap”. At the same time, new partners
with new business models and new offerings perfectly
geared to meet the customer’s needs with cloud technologies
appear. While still other channel partners simply adapt
and provide a hybrid approach. The question is which
partners provide the best model for your business needs?
And who will survive and be the winners in this evolution?
The channel is still needed in the Cloud, especially
if you are a Startup providing solutions for business
customers. While cloud computing simplifies delivery
and implementation processes; it doesn’t fully automate
business sales, customer acquisition and customization
processes. In cloud computing, acquisition of business
customers is just as challenging today for cloud Startups
as it is for on-premises technology providers.
Businesses have existing investments and need to
carefully manage transition to cloud technologies. Many
customers will have hybrid solutions for some time and
will continue to look to trusted advisors to guide their
solution selection, integration and migration processes.
The business models and value propositions for cloud
integrators have evolved (and continue to evolve) quickly.
At BATTEN, we understand the developing cloud ecosystems.
We help clients define the best RTM in the cloud and
introduce Startups to partners and aggregation points
that accelerate customer acquisition.
You can reach me at BATTEN via email:
or via phone: +1 206.331.3813.