Upstarts! and Strategic Partnerships
Upstarts! are moving targets and one goal of this blog is to chronicle what’s new among the people in the book as well as in the broader world of young entrepreneurs. As I’ve mentioned many times, one of my favorite characteristics of GenY entrepreneurs is their knack for leveraging all kinds of collaboration to grow their companies. For instance, this generation is particularly skilled at creating strategic partnerships. I think of Tom Szaky of TerraCycle and the game-changing partnership he forged with big packaged goods companies like Kraft to “upcycle” their used packaging into useful items like tote bags and shower curtains. Or consider the streetwear apparel company, The Hundreds, and their new partnership with Disney to give the Lost Boys an urban makeover. And just recently, I spoke to Jordan Goldman, the 26-year-old founder of Unigo.com, who told me that he’s just landed a very sweet deal with The Wall Street Journal to create a new online brand called WSJ on Campus.
Unigo is a website that provides prospective college students and their parents with detailed student-generated content on over 300 colleges and universities, and expanded coverage of 2,000 or so. The company is just a year old, but it’s already among the top websites of its kind. Goldman attributes that partly to a very high level of student engagement. “At the universities that we cover in detail we get 5-10% of the student bodies contributing content to our site,” he says. Clearly, that appealed to WSJ, which will draw on staff and resources from its Classroom Edition to provide WSJ on Campus (accessible through Unigo.com) with college-related content written by WSJ staff. The Unigo spin, says Goldman, is that “for every article you find on WSJ on Campus, you’ll have three perspectives: the WSJ reporters, students weighing in on the same topic, and an expert in the education space weighing in.” The newly launched brand is already rich with content and videos that address subjects like how to write your college essay, choosing a major, buying textbooks online, and landing a job after graduation.
Goldman has been working on the partnership deal for several months. “You’d think that a company like The Wall Street Journal wouldn’t want to work with a start up, but they were really open to it, so that was great,” he says. I’m not as surprised as Goldman claims to be, though. Unigo is not only an entrée into the hard-to-reach GenY market for WSJ; it also gives the paper an additional online presence at a time when all print media companies are suffering. Unigo and WSJ will share the ad revenue from the site, although Goldman won’t share the details. He also expects the partnership to evolve in other ways (events, possibly), soon to be revealed.
So what do you think? Are you surprised that a 26-year-old CEO could manage to negotiate a strategic partnership with a major media company? Is your company involved with strategic partnerships that are helping you grow, conquer new markets, or serves existing customers in more meaningful ways? Tell me about it!