This article is a part of a compelling series that will give you practical tips on how to grow a successful partner program. By leveraging the advice of the greatest minds in partnerships, you will learn how to effectively create, structure, and build a partner program that scales revenue. If you are a startup or SMB in the B2B tech industry, this series is for you.
For this article, we interviewed János Vrancsik, the Director of Partnerships at Bitrise. Founded in 2015 and headquartered in Budapest, Bitrise is an end-to-end mobile DevOps platform. It offers cloud-based, flexible, and scalable CI/CD (Continuous Integration and Delivery) that developers and mobile engineering teams can use to build, test, and deploy mobile applications.
The platform has over 350 integrations that allow developers to connect their existing processes and services. Bitrise has a growing client base of more than 6,000 mobile product organizations spread across the globe, including, WISE, N26, EPAM, and Philips Hue.
As the Director of Partnerships, János Vrancsik is in charge of building ecosystem partnerships at Bitrise. He joined the company two years ago and currently leads their Technical Partner Program as well as their Solutions Partner Program. From creating co-marketing initiative strategies and overseeing technical integration processes to driving customer engagement and ensuring integration feature adoption, János leads a diverse range of business development and ecosystem-building activities at Bitrise.
Read the following interview to discover how Bitrise has grown into a thriving partner program. Take advantage of the advice coming from János Vrancsik himself:
- 1. How and Why Bitrise Started Their Partner Programs
- 2. How Does Bitrise Design Go-To-Market Strategies With Integration Partners?
- 3. How Does Bitrise Manage Partners and Keep Them Engaged?
- 4. What KPIs Does Bitrise Measure to Track the Growth of Their Partner Program?
- 4.1. Influenced Revenue
- 4.2. Adoption of Integration
- 4.3. Number of Leads
- 4.4. Sourced Opportunities
- 5. What, According to János, are the Biggest Challenges of Building Partnerships?
- 5.1. Conveying the Relevance of Partnerships Within Your Organization
- 5.2. Ensuring Internal Alignment With Your Organization
- 6. Key Takeaways: János’s Advice for Building and Growing Partnerships
- 6.1. “Be strategic in how you approach partnerships.”
- 6.2. “Choose your partners wisely.”
- 6.3. “Don’t rush through the process. Give yourself some time.”
- 7. Make It Happen For You: How to Grow a Partner Program like Bitrise
- 8. Ready to Scale Your Partnership Revenue?
Table of contents
The journey of Bitrise into the world of partnerships started with technology partnerships and grew into solution partnerships as well. As a mobile app creation platform for developers, integrations have always been central to their growth and revenue strategy. At the same time, the company had several global consultancies using the Bitrise platform on a self-serve basis. Naturally, their focus was on these two already existing partner pools—technology alliances and solutions partners with global system integrators.
The first phase started two years ago when Bitrise built and launched a program for technology partners. As already mentioned, the company had a wide range of integrations on the platform, but maintaining them was becoming increasingly cumbersome. They believed building a tech partner program would give customers a smooth user experience and reduce the maintenance workload on their own engineering teams. From the business point of view, the primary goal of starting the program was to drive more integrations and users to generate leads for the sales organization.
The second phase of their partnership journey began when Bitrise realized the enormous potential to build a program focusing on the solution partner side of the business. Since they also had consultancy firms on their platform, they decided to pursue this channel first. These consultants were ideal opportunities because it was sure that they were already familiar with the platform and were already working with customers that would be interested in Bitrise. They just needed to make these partners more official and work on higher-level alignment.
Bitrise is currently in the process of building and growing the solution partner program, while the technology partner program is up and running. What’s more, the impact of the technology partner program has already started showing in their revenue. Says János:
“We keep a close eye on the influenced revenue from our integrations. When we started, it was low, but now it is usually between 15% to 20%. We can say without a doubt that the revenue we generate as a company is heavily being influenced by these integrations—a good portion of it comes from customers using our Verified Partner integrations.”
When it comes to designing go-to-marketing strategies, Bitrise takes an approach that combines standard practices with flexibility. In other words, they have a default playbook, but they tend to differentiate it based on the needs and resources of a specific partner, explains János.
Typically, for Bitrise’s go-to-market initiatives with their partners, they first formally announce the partnership. Then, they get the word out by publishing it in various content channels. For instance, they publish it on their blogs, post it on their social media channels, and include it in their monthly newsletter.
While these activities serve as a baseline for all partners, the company leaves enough room for flexibility. They often add more activities to the basket based on how engaged the partner is, how big the partner is, and how many resources they have on the go-to-market side. In such scenarios, Bitrise does webinars, white papers, PR announcements, and other marketing activities.
Likewise, the company is flexible about the go-to-market requirements from partners. They change from one partner to another provided that there is lead generation and value. Says János:
“Some companies cannot send out a newsletter to let every developer and user know about the partnership. For larger partners, the focus is on getting some content published on social media accounts, which millions of developers follow. This helps generate value and leads for us. With smaller partners, we may take a different strategy—for instance, in the past, we have co-hosted round table discussions and driven hundreds of leads together.”
A non-negotiable requirement that Bitrise has is that partners must maintain their integrations from a technical perspective. If a bug report or a feature request is coming from a mutual customer, they need to attend to it promptly. If they fail to do it, they will lose their status as a Verified Partner.
Bitrise has a small team that handles partners once they are on board. Whether it be a technology partner or a solutions partner, the first step is to educate them about the capabilities of the platform, the opportunities it provides, and how they can work together for growth and revenue generation. In János’s words:
“It is essential to help partners understand the product, make the most of it, and implement and sell Bitrise for their clients. For technology partners, it is about helping them understand how Bitrise works and how they can build the integration. For solution partners, we teach them strategic ways to sell Bitrise and how to help their customers implement it.”
Since Bitrise’s partnerships team is quite small, they need the support of their sales, product, and marketing team members to help manage and support partners.
“Partnerships sit between product and marketing and sales as a function, so internal alignment is crucial for partner programs. Since our product is quite technical, I sometimes cannot answer deeper development-related questions. So, I involve our product and engineering teams who are well-positioned to answer these kinds of questions. Likewise, for co-marketing and go-to-market campaigns, we work closely with our sales and marketing teams. This allows us to tap into other teams’ resources and grow in an efficient and lean manner as a partnership organization”
Since Bitrise has both technology and solution partnership programs, they use different KPIs to measure and track the effectiveness of each. Here are some of the most important ones:
Integration partnerships are often hard to quantify. Hence, partner-influenced revenue is a critical KPI Bitrise uses to measure the effectiveness of integration partners. By tracking the revenue initiated or accelerated by their integration partnerships, the company assesses the effectiveness of partners and their integrations.
Not all integrations are equally popular with customers—some integrations may be widely popular and adopted, and others might not catch on. Thus, the adoption of integrations becomes a critical KPI to measure. By tracking how many teams, developers, and users are accessing a specific integration, Bitrise evaluates whether it is something that their customers need.
This is a KPI the company uses for co-marketing campaigns. The number of leads generated through a partner indicates the effectiveness of the co-marketing strategy and says a thing or two about whether it has reached the right audience.
Typically, partner-sourced revenue is an important KPI to measure for solution partnerships. However, it is a tricky metric to generate since Bitrise has a small partner team but a robust and sophisticated direct sales team focusing on different parts of the sales cycle. The partner team acts more like a door opener delivering opportunities in collaboration with partners. Thus, the company measures both the number of partner-sourced opportunities and how many of those opportunities actually close.
As someone who has been working in the partnership space for many years, János identifies some recurring challenges that all companies should be aware of when building partnerships.
An enormous challenge is to make other teams in the organization understand the relevance of partnerships. Often, other teams underestimate or neglect the importance of partnerships because it is not like more of the classic business activities like sales or marketing. However, any company building a partnership program should continuously put effort into enabling the other teams to understand the benefits of partnerships and how to work better with the partnerships team.
Establishing the relevance of partnerships is not enough—one must also ensure internal alignment within your organization, including product, marketing, and sales teams. Often, it is a challenge considering that in many organizations, a partnerships department is not a well-established function. A good partner manager, according to János, should be able to connect with every kind of person in your organization. They should get along well with C-level personnel as well as product managers and developers and understand how they think and what their lingo is.
“Partnerships are great growth levers, but they can also become like a bottomless well—you might end up putting a lot of money and resources into them without getting any results. Integrations are a great example of that. You may have a great integration, but it does not necessarily mean that people will want to use it or that you will immediately drive revenue or growth. You must be strategic in how you approach and build partnerships.”
“When you start building partnerships, you might want to work with the biggest names in your industry. While partnering with market giants is a great opportunity, you must keep one thing in mind: the bigger an organization is, the harder it gets to navigate it. It may feel counterintuitive to go for smaller partners, but many times, they have the willingness and the velocity to go over and beyond. Contrary to what people think, small organizations often prove to be more fruitful than industry giants in terms of revenue.”
“In partnerships, you do not have the option to fast-forward. You must focus your efforts based on the maturity of your partner program. Getting started with one integration will not magically solve all your growth problems. You must give it some time—at least a few quarters—to build the partnership engine. Be patient because it will pay off.”
If you want to grow a partner program like Bitrise, it is essential that you have the proper tools to structure, automate, and scale your program.
A Partner Relation Management (PRM) platform allows you to:
Organize your program with tiers
Coordinate training, onboarding, and certification processes
Build a knowledge base to provide instant answers
Collaborate with partners on a shared pipeline
Get full visibility over partner activity
Measure partner performance
Track commission and payouts
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What is Bitrise?
Bitrise is a mobile DevOps platform built around industry-leading mobile CI/CD and DevOps tooling.
What does Bitrise do?
Bitrise offers more than 300 steps and integrations to easily connect the processes and services you use in your mobile development workflows.
How do you join Bitrise’s partner program?
You can join Bitrise’s partner program by accessing their website and clicking on their “Technology Partner Program” page in their footer menu.
How do you build a partner program like Bitrise?
Many companies can build a partner program like Bitrise. With the proper tools and methods, you can build a strong technology partnership program.
Where can you get more information on building a partner program?
To learn more about how to build a partner program, visit Kiflo’s resource page to discover all the best tips and tricks to partnerships.