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Ecosystem Leaders

Episode 149

June 16, 2022

#149 Glen Straub: Unlimited Partnerships for Success in Business

Glen Straub, VP of Business Development at Foursquare, joins Chip in this episode of Ecosystem Aces. Glen shares how his team at Foursquare crafted ...

Glen Straub, VP of Business Development at Foursquare, joins Chip in this episode of Ecosystem Aces. Glen shares how his team at Foursquare crafted the mastery of internal and external collaboration.

Foursquare is an independent location data platform that provides a way for companies to understand people, places, and the interactions between them. In the growing broader ecosystem, knowing user location directly relates to tapping into the story behind consumer behavior. Through Foursquare’s platform, companies have created better customer experiences and smarter business outcomes. Foursquare has been a household name in location experience on mobile apps and has taken the route of becoming the largest B2B location data and Product Solutions platform in the industry today. 

In this podcast, Glen discusses Foursquare’s collaboration culture including: 

  • Why partnerships matter to Foursquare
  • Building an ecosystem culture
  • How and why Foursquare builds trust
  • Partnership development strategies at Foursquare 

Why partnerships matter to Foursquare

Today, location services are a booming business, thanks to the explosion of in-map advertising and consumer data providers. And as reliance on location services increases, Foursquare acknowledges its growing responsibility to fuel the ecosystem with more location data to power experiences and products, as well as make meaningful business decisions. However in order to do that, Foursquare heavily relies on a massive partner network.

From a distribution and delivery standpoint, Foursquare pumps data and tools into an ecosystem where partners are already doing work. They could be running analytics, running marketing campaigns, creating data workloads, or building products. With Foursquare deploying audience segments for ad targeting, attribution solutions for ad measurement, and navigation products, it is responsible for a lot of the distribution channels, reseller co-marketing, and co-selling partnerships in the market.

“We have to create and develop end-to-end partnerships with the platforms and the entities that the customers who want to license our data are already working with,” Glen said. “Our goal is to be the location layer of the internet. And in order to be a layer, you have to be seamless, and there has to be the ability to port that technology very easily across the ecosystem.” Foursquare strives to be a platform accessible everywhere, and partnerships allow it to do so.

Furthermore, Foursquare often connects partnership networks with each other to expand its influence. Once it pushes solutions through distribution reseller channels, then ultimately, it sees a much greater scale development on that same product. In the ad space, for example, it works closely with the largest ad platforms that advertisers and marketers are leveraging to run their campaigns. Examples abound. This behavior extends to most of its partnerships, including cloud data marketplaces, customer data platforms, CDPs, CRM and personalization tools, and advanced TV platforms. 

So for Glen and his team, partnerships seem unlimited. “what's been interesting lately is starting to see how partnerships actually can be distribution channels to other partnerships,” he said. “It’s our job on the ecosystem side, to navigate that and really start to leverage some of our existing integrations to find maybe new niche partnerships that open up new markets for us, whether that be geographic markets, or sales, vertical markets."

Building an ecosystem culture

Contrary to popular belief, Glen believes that an ecosystem culture does not rely on executive leadership. “In the work that we do, it's not just about laying the pipes, but it's also figuring out how to run water through those pipes,” he said. 

Rather than C-level executives single-handedly determining the course of the company, Foursquare’s partnerships include the sales team that analyzes consumer demand, the product and engineering team that builds business cases and models, and the development team that works with partners. 

This integration method gives Foursquare the right amount of fluidity to continuously expand its partnership products. Though a partnership may start out with one product, Foursquare’s sales team manages to find new demand created from that product. Foursquare’s partnership with theTradedesk, for example, has generated five different solutions for one platform.

So an important part of building an ecosystem culture in your company is about bringing many stakeholders along and showcasing positive and successful results with partners.

How and why Foursquare built trust

Just like any partner-centric company, Foursquare also underscores the importance of fostering and building trust in partnerships. Glen addresses three different components of building trust.

The first is the most obvious, when it is driving partner growth. When partners create demand and revenue, trust is built organically. A great example is when Foursquare helped partners like Sirius XM and Pandora Radio bring 111 million visits to offline stores - a 53% increase in foot traffic. 

Second, Glen believes that trust is built through a partner-driven approach in both directions. Partners should be able to rely upon each others’ imperatives to work with confidentiality and drive for partner success. “Our entire business is based on making sure our products are activated through these partnerships,” he noted. “It's really important to help them understand that we need you just as much as you may need us.”

The last component is credibility. Foursquare put in a lot of effort to receive validation from industry organizations and the market. Last year its location technology was accredited by the MRC, a leading advertising industry trade. Such stamps of approval from third party officials create confidence and trust for approaching partners. 

Partnership development strategies at Foursquare

So how does Foursquare execute partnership development? According to Glen, it starts with divide-and-conquer.

At Foursquare each team is organized by subject matter expertise. Whether it be a partnerships category, a business development team, or a specific partner account, each category is allocated a distinct team with an expert leader. By working together for years, they eventually become a team of experts on a vertical. These expert teams communicate with other teams at the company, prioritizing tasks and creating integration strategies. 

This organizational structure has not only been effective internally but externally as well. Externally, Foursquare primarily focuses on customer feedback. It navigates through trends to predict and project revenue that would be associated with those trends, later figuring out where to focus its partnerships. This process requires knowledge of where to invest in existing solutions, existing partnerships, and new solutions; it cannot happen without the current organizational structure that allows customer meetings, communication, and integration. 

Wrapping up

Foursquare has over 550 partners. As impressive as the volume is, it is vital for Foursquare to be able to create success in all of them. Amid industry trends where location data is becoming more and more intriguing for making business decisions than ever before, Glen and his team persistently look for emerging trends, channels, and verticals to stay ahead of their competition. 

“We were cautious not to overdo it on the amount of partners, because you want to be successful in those partnerships as much as possible,” Glen concluded. “But I think it's really important to continue to do as Foursquare develops, making sure that we're part of the opening of new verticals or new markets.”

To learn more about Glen and what his team at Foursquare is working on, you can follow him on LinkedIn.


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