I’ve seen a number of consumer startups trying to reach massive scale by doing deals with carriers or device manufacturers (cell phone manufacturers)
Some worked out nicely for the startups but most don’t.
I like consumer startups that are taking charge of their own destiny. They are not white labeling their product or brand. They are not licensing intellectual property. They are not comprimising the user experience to make the big “partner” happy. They are not indifferent to those decisions.
Instead they are 100% focused on the user (and developers) and establishing their brand and purpose.
Awhile back I wrote about a problem I encountered when I ported my phone number. I asked for a better way to communicate this info to my friends, family and business associates. I received about a dozen emails from startups going after this problem. Unfortunately most of them built a product and approach that assumed that a deal with carriers was better if not essential.
I’d like to think that the open web and open mobile platforms allow us to finally go direct to our users and figure this stuff out together.
Now there are times where partnership and distribution deals make sense. I like them if they add value to the network and don’t hide the consumer brand or force the startup to make unnatural choices.
But in the absence of those things, I say damn the torpedoes and take control over your destiny. Don’t outsource it.
(clarification: this post is about consumer applications. i’m not talking about infrastructure or technology licensing companies, etc).