Uncomplicate – How to build a thriving partner ecosystem

Uncomplicate by Freshworks brings you crisp and insightful videos which will focus on answering one tactical question around sales & marketing, support & collaboration, employee engagement, and growth. 

Marketplace partners are pivotal to every SaaS company’s growth. One can never build a product that satisfies every want and need of a customer. Companies rely heavily on system integrators (SI) and integration partners. 

But the process of finding the right partners isn’t easy. How does one go about discovering which partners to integrate with? How to deliver maximum value to each partner? How to ensure stickiness of your integration partners?

To answer these questions and more, we got Cody Jones, director of partnerships at Zapier, to take us through the nuts and bolts of partnerships. For the uninitiated, Zapier helps you connect web apps thereby making work simple and seamless.


It won’t be wrong to say that Zapier thrives on partnerships. They have connected more than 1500 apps together, and they’re just getting started!  

What are you targeting?

As with any function, it’s pivotal to be focussed on what your business needs are, and what you need to achieve that goal. It helps answer questions like who could be your ‘perfect’ partner, and what the attributes of a good partner are, among others. Do you want agency partners, software partners, or maybe a reseller? It is important to know the who behind the why

Talking about this further, Jones says,“Go figure out what you want to do, or what the perfect partnership looks like. And then go index the world of partners and potential partners. That gives you a really good prioritised list of who to get on your platform – because you’re going to have to do a lot of that to get the ecosystem rolling.”  

If you’re someone operating in a crowded market, it really gets easier for you. 

“So, if you see a bigger competitor who has more established channels and networks, they might have done a lot of the research for you,”says Jones.

The first takeaway is to do your research on what your ideal partner will look like, and then start hunting. And this only gets easier if you are part of a market that has an established player. 

Relationships need not be complicated

While having a robust integration/partner ecosystem is great, how can you ensure platform stickiness? According to Jones, the answer lies in making each partner feel valued and wanted. 

While that is true, with so many SaaS companies to serve and a few thousand apps to integrate, how does Zapier manage relationships? How do you really cater to different types of partners?

Segregation always helps. 

Cody Jones

“We’ve aligned all of our resources and our partner programmes to enable the long tail partners who are maybe lower in the index with really beautiful self serve tools. And partners who are on the higher end in our platinum and gold levels, we dedicate actual human resources to do quite a bit of interesting work with them.”says Jones, about how Zapier goes about it. 

So, the main takeaway here is to again assess what are the things that will make a partner important for your ecosystem. It could be revenue for some, it could be the customer count they have, or it could be the robustness of the tool. But it’s important to understand the north star that will help you differentiate a good partner from a great one. 

At Zapier, two factors are dominant. “How fast are you growing on the Zapier platform? And how clean is your integration? So, what is the health of your integration measured through feature requests and bugs?”said Jones. 

Segregating your partners will ensure that both of you draw enough value out of each other. 

Building partnerships is a tough game, but these tips will help you get the ball rolling. Let us know how you go about building your partnerships in the comments section below!  

This blogpost was co-written by Vignesh Jeyaraman. The blog was edited by Vinithra Madhavan Menon.