🛠️ Becoming a #platform is among top aspirations in SaaS. But what should be true to become another Slack, Shopify or HubSpot?
Companies need first to achieve scale, earn the right to be a platform, and think about customers and partners like a 2-sided market.
💎 Earn the right to be a platform
Sharrifah Lorenz, who led #partnerships in Asana, Loom and now Census had an insightful answer to my question: “Is Asana a platform or will it become a platform?”
💡 "The question is, should Asana be the hub of work? And how do integrations interact with a user's workflow? Some companies, I think Zoom is probably one of them, they just want to be a platform, because they want to be a platform. But I don't think video messaging or video communication is where people start their workflows.
I think Slack believes that all work starts within chat, and that makes sense. They've also proved that they are a platform. Possibly applications, like content creation tools, Notion is a great example, - I could see that being a platform.
Similarly, I can see Asana being a platform. Our view is just that all work starts at a project level.”
📈 The number one thing that actually creates momentum for a platform is you need to have a fairly large scale.
From our episode with Scott Brinker, VP of Platform #Ecosystem in HubSpot.
You need to have a large install base, because if you don't have a large install base, there just isn't an incentive for other companies to build things to that ecosystem. HubSpot has spent the first decade of its life very much building these really useful products that then lots of marketers adopted, they expanded that into sales and service.
Once it reached a certain scale, then it started to make sense to say, “okay, this is a large enough install base, that there should be incentive for other developers to either build or integrate products to it”.
And that's when [in 2017] HubSpot was ready to make that shift and say “let's start putting the pieces together from a technical level from a program level, to become a platform”.
👑 For a platform to succeed, both customers and partners should be winning.
You have to look at this as a two sided market.
First and foremost, you want to make sure that your customers - or as you have more and more partners, and integrators, your mutual joint customers - that the customers are winning. That you're solving for the joint customer need, because that is the engine that keeps these things growing.
🤝 But it's equally important to recognize that your partners, they're almost a kind of customer as well, too. You really need to care for them, you really need to be in the mindset of how do I make my partners successful?"
👇 For more insights - watch Key lessons from launching and leading partnerships in Asana, Loom, Census - with Sharrifah Lorenz
List of all insights of 2022 are here.
Image: HubSpot platform visualization (IR materials).