Scaling With Partnerships


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Partnership conceptOne of the ways SendGrid has been able to scale and reach its current size is by partnering with other amazing companies and organizations. Partnerships help SendGrid reach new customers, show them how email can help their business, and add value to their email program.

To understand how business partnerships are a key aspect in how SendGrid has scaled so far, we interviewed our own Laurence Trifon about the role partnerships have played in SendGrid’s scaling over the last 5 years.

First, tell us about your role at SendGrid.

My name is Laurence Trifon, I’m the Director of SendGrid’s Business Development (BD) group. SendGrid offers a variety of partnership types and solutions, but at their core, BD focuses primarily on two types of partnerships:

  • Distribution Partnerships – Making SendGrid easier to discover and manage.
  • Product Partnerships – Making the SendGrid user experience better.

Why does SendGrid embrace partnerships? What are the values they provide?

Email is a fundamental technology for virtually every website, mobile app, and business. Whether you’re a developer platform or a systems integrator, having an email solution to offer to your customers is important.

For our partners, working with SendGrid enhances their core offering, and helps them solve a need for their customers. On the flip side, our partners help SendGrid reach users that would otherwise be difficult or expensive for us to reach on our own – whether that’s enterprise developers, or users in specific geographies, or some other segment where our partners have more presence than we do today.

What’s an example of a problem we solved by partnering?

For corporate developers, one of the common hurdles for adopting cloud services, like SendGrid, is billing. If a new billing relationship has to be created with SendGrid, that means either procurement has to get involved – typically a long, arduous process – or the developer has to go outside of process and create a SendGrid account using a personal credit card and try to expense it later. That’s a lose-lose proposition.

Our partnerships with companies like Microsoft Azure solve this by allowing users to provision and pay for SendGrid through their existing Azure relationship. Integrated billing and account access allows developers to quickly and easily access SendGrid, while giving IT full visibility into their organization’s SendGrid usage.

Why have partnerships played a key role in our scaling?

In addition to helping us reach new users directly, our partnerships have also helped raise general awareness about SendGrid in the market. For example, we integrated as a Heroku add-on in 2009, shortly after launching SendGrid. That really put us on the map within the Ruby developer community. Other early partnerships with companies like SoftLayer and Rackspace also raised our profile significantly – we were no longer just a startup, but the company trusted by established players in the cloud space.

What’s an example of when partnering isn’t ideal?

The best partnership advice I ever received was from my CEO at a former company. He said: “People buy a lot of hamburgers, and people buy a lot of sweaters, but no one wants to buy a sweater at McDonalds.”

His point was that context is really important for partnerships. It’s not enough for your product and a partner’s product to appeal to the same audience; they have to make sense together at the point of purchase.

Why should other small companies consider using partnerships to help grow and get to the next stage of business?

Partnerships can be a great complement to your direct marketing and sales efforts. They can help you access new customer segments and new markets more effectively. In addition to those benefits, partnerships with other established companies in your space can also raise the awareness and credibility of your business.

Learn more about SendGrid’s Partner Programs here.


Warren is a Marketing Copywriter at SendGrid, specializing in email and content best practices.

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