Featured Network Partners: Microsoft BizSpark

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Featured Network Partner

Company: BATTEN
Interviewee: Kirsten Ward, Founder

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 come from?

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: kirsten@battenllc.com or via phone: +1 206.331.3813.