Investment Note

Putting personality back into brand partnerships: why we invested in Partnar

Written by Tom Smalley on behalf of the Skalata Investment Team
“We realised we were scaling our existing businesses, mainly through partnerships. It's a really strong strategy and a cost effective way to acquire new customers. But it's often overlooked.”
Ryan Elliott

Ryan and Jamie are all about connection.

Friends of a decade who met in the fitness industry, the Partnar founders figured out early on that it’s who you know, not what you know - or what you have in the bank.

In Ryan’s words:

“In startups, because all your money has generally been invested into the product, you don't really have much to invest into marketing and advertising. So we always leveraged partnerships”.

Having cut their teeth in building platforms for the fitness, health, and retail spaces, Ryan and Jamie have created the “matchmaker for business partnerships”, where brands are brought together on the basis of shared demographics and psychographics, and can work together to boost engagement, drive revenue, and up their follower or subscriber counts.

But even more key to Partnar’s growing success is its basis on first-party data. 

Apple’s changes to iOS and Google’s phasing out of cookies are rapidly devaluing third-party data. With users free to opt out of targeted advertising, paid ads become a much less effective marketing strategy.

Partnar uses only proprietary data collected with the permission of their users. When brands can’t easily deliver ads to their chosen audience, brand partnerships are an increasingly valuable and reliable way to reach new customers in their target demographic.

And now that collabs have never been cooler, we think it’s a match for Partnar and the market.

The inspiration

No matter how skilled they are, marketing executives can spend months getting in touch with brands (often getting nowhere in the end).

Chasing big wins and securing brand partnerships can make or break businesses. It’s time spent chasing them that’s the problem, as well as a new obstacle: the rising cost of advertising.

Facebook ads, LinkedIn campaigns, pay-per-click - it’s hyper-saturated and more expensive every month.

Businesses are also paying more for much less engagement.

iOS 14.5 recently introduced changes that have hurt advertisers' ability to attribute sales across Meta platforms. With users now able to opt out of app tracking, advertisers can’t target, exclude, or personalise towards users as easily as before. The data that is tracked is no longer reliable.

In a double blow for paid advertising, Google has announced it will be phasing out cookies (files that identify you to brands as you browse) in Chrome by 2024. 

As ad-blocking tech and regulation grows and people tire of constant (and sneaky) advertising, the future of traditional digital marketing methods is unsure.

The eureka moment for Partnar came when Jamie called Ryan and said:

“I'm sick of doing all this outreach. Some are getting back to me, some aren’t. Surely there's one place I could post a campaign or a brief about the partnership that I want and have people come to me.”

The only thing close seemed to be affiliate software, which limits the market to online-only businesses.

Both founders had wound up their individual businesses around the same time. Jamie was working as a CMO at a Queensland skincare company in Queensland and Ryan was working at a Gold Coast startup.

Both realised they were building business for their respective employers through partnerships. Both knew how strong a strategy it could be for scaling.

Partnar helps businesses reach new customers by partnering and collaborating with other brands who share the same target market.

The product

Many of the brands that Partnar works with are looking for contra deals or mutually beneficial partnerships.

An ethical womens’ fitness clothing brand, for example, might have a demographic of women between 35 and 55. Their customer might have a psychographic caring about wellness, sustainability, and health.

A brand can log this info into Partnar and the algorithm will match them with brands that share both the demographics and the psychographics. Partnar might pair that fitness brand not with direct competitors, but with brands who align in values, such as an ethical skincare brand or supplement company.

Brands can then cross-promote each other via email, social media collaboration, and strategies like giveaways and brand activation.

Not only are brands acquiring new customers and new leads through the partnership, but they're able to nurture the customers they already have - enhancing their experience, broadening their horizons, and targeting them with products and services that are relevant and meaningful.

It's about understanding lifestyles, blending communities, and in Ryan’s words, forging “value-driven partnerships”.

The potential

The founders see Partnar translating best across ecommerce and SaaS.

“In ecommerce, there are so many valuable assets you can leverage for partnerships. They've usually got a social following, an email list, a customer base, even closed Facebook groups and communities. But they've also got orders going out every week where they can insert fliers and samples from other businesses.”

“SaaS is always quite savvy in terms of technology, and they're always looking for tech partnerships, integrations and channel partnerships. So it's easy to match those partners up as well.” 

Partnar already has BeforePay on their client roster, as well as the billion-dollar food biz HelloFresh (the model works seamlessly with experience-based direct-to-consumer brands) and Naked Wines.

BeforePay and HelloFresh are an example of a “really cool creative partnership” leveraged by Partnar.

HelloFresh’s biggest asset is ecommerce deliveries, making around 130,000 deliveries a week, whereas BeforePay is a software product with their biggest asset being an email database. BeforePay will insert promotional flyers into HelloFresh’s ecommerce deliveries, and HelloFresh will get access to 650,000 emails.

It’s simple, but it works.

In their successful pairing of Pelvi and Terrakai Skin, Terrakai saw a 164% increase in revenue and a 78% increase in traffic. Pelvi increased their subscriber count by 9%.

When Instyle Solar aligned with evee over brand values such as sustainability and green technology, they were able to launch an email campaign that resulted in a $30,000 profit for Instyle Solar.

Skalata is excited about the future of this simple but elegant SaaS solution.

We’ll be working closely with the founders to build the number of brands on the platform, track engagement, grow the team, and pursue Ryan and Jamie’s overarching vision of making brand partnerships approachable and accessible to all.

Inspired by Partnar's story?