Leveraging Partnerships for Marketing and Growth

Season 2 episode 4 | February 25, 2021

Leveraging Partnerships for Marketing and Growth

February 25, 2021

This week, we speak to Kali Norman of Spacecubed and talk about how strategic partnerships coupled with online delivery can benefit start ups as well as established businesses.
Audio Transcript

Bec: You’re listening to “Mash Pod.” Digital marketing that’s actionable, insightful, and understandable. No pitching, just takeaways.

Hey, everyone, it’s Bec Caldwell here, and welcome to another episode of the “Mash Pod.” And today we’re going to be talking about how you can’t just do it all yourself. And if you’re starting a new business, or even if you’re seasoned in business, partnerships, you know, more people are better than one in some cases. And today to talk more about that is one of the senior managers at Spacecubed, Kali Norman. Hello, Kali.

Kali: Hi, Bec. Thanks so much for having me on the show.

Bec: No problem. Thanks for taking time out of your day. So, explain to us… So, tell us a bit about Spacecubed, first of all.

Kali: Yeah, absolutely. Spacecubed is a co-working space brand that originated in Perth in WA, and we’ve been running for about 10 years now. It’s expanded a little bit beyond conventional space. We invest in startups, we consult for regional operators looking to set up their own. We deliver programs, including coding workshops, women, and we do a mix of those online and in-person, as well as operate our co-working spaces.

Bec: So, that sounds really amazing. So, not only can a start up have some office space to actually operate out of, they can actually get some support from other people in the industry and boost their knowledge in places they might be not so good at.

Kali: Yeah, absolutely. We have found that networks have grown as the ecosystem has grown in Perth, and coming into that community really allows you to tap into that and take advantage of it. Which is why we’re so excited about today’s topic on leveraging partnerships and networks because that’s definitely how we’ve achieved a lot of our growth over the years.

Bec: Yeah. So, do you have any examples, you don’t have to say quite names or business names, but do you have any examples of where that’s been, like, really, you know, beneficial for both parties?

Kali: Absolutely, absolutely. So, when we deliver some of our programs regionally is a really good example. All of the spaces that Spacecubed owns and operates are located in the Perth CBD. We do work with our regional partners who are looking to upskill and, I guess, bring a broader range of offerings to their communities. It’s really challenging for somebody to land in a new town and expect people to care or turn up to something that they run. It doesn’t really matter how many Facebook dollars you throw at it, if you’re an unrecognized brand, you really do struggle to get traction, and why should people trust you. And we found that by partnering with local chambers of commerce, which people would have known for a number of years, seem solid results from and have a positive relationship and a lot of regional towns across Western Australia. Using them as a partner to get our event in front of the right people, with the right recommendations has been an invaluable part of our methodology, and it’s worked successfully time and time again.

Bec: Yeah, that’s really interesting, I was gonna actually touch on regional startups, because with the lower population, it seems like it would be harder to get started. And as you say, if you’ve just arrived in a smaller town at a regional center to open your business, it’s a bit of that small-town suspicion, isn’t it? You honestly can’t just open up shop and expect people to welcome you with open arms.

Kali: Definitely. And I think as well, particularly, if you… Sometimes being associated as a brand from Perth or if you’re in another state, whichever your main capital city is for regional, can sometimes be seen as a positive and sometimes from a negative as well, really depending on their prior experience with people who’ve come into the region to deliver work. I mean, we ran one of our coding workshops and we taught over 30 women to code with a partial stack competency last year through COVID in areas that we’d never released a program before. And a lot of that was actually achieved through promotion with partners that we already had in those regions who had built those relationships prior. I think we’ve all seen that there is quite a lot of saturation in the online space, particularly when it comes to paid advertising. So, your dollars in some areas are getting you less than they used to, and people are seeing new brands so frequently. It can be really difficult to get that foothold if you’ve got a short time frame to get a result.

Bec: Yeah, for sure. So, those coding workshops, were those online-based, or did you do some in-person stuff as well?

Kali: Yeah, absolutely. We ran them through the COVID period last year, so that was all online. In a more normal operating environment, it would be a blend of online and offline.

Bec: Because we have a client here at Mash that does in-person and online training. And as you can imagine, the online training just went crazy last year. They were one of our clients that definitely kept us busy during 2020.

Kali: It’s amazing, actually. Some businesses went really gangbusters through that time, which is fantastic to see as well. And just wanted to have the opportunity to really explore how we can transition so many businesses into an online space that we probably hadn’t considered so much prior to being forced to. So, I think it’s opened up a lot of opportunities for people who’ve been able to make that switch.

Bec: Yeah, because I noticed a lot of… So, obviously, the hospitality scramble, if someone had a cafe or pub and they didn’t have an online presence, they instantly needed one, especially if they wanted to do takeaway or delivery. But things that I didn’t expect, to sort of stick to that same area, things like wine tastings or things that you would normally do a tour for, were suddenly shipping out little kits and doing online stuff. Mom and Dad businesses were, like, getting into e-commerce. So, I think it was just a really great way for people to get that little kick in the bum and get online.

Kali: Yeah, absolutely. Even speaking of my husband is a great example. He used to work through Southeast Asia, during in-person tastings for a specialist whiskey company. He was hosting them from the kitchen table, sending up as gift packs like you mentioned, which was actually fantastic. Because seeing that happen gave me a couple of ideas for some of our programs we had to transition online and actually resulted in us sending at-home packs for people as welcome packs to programs that we wouldn’t normally have done, just to supplement that experience that you would have had in person for when we did our online inductions and those getting-to-meet-you sessions on Zoom. We were able to recreate an element of what you would have had at home. And I think that being able to be responsive and take inspiration from different sectors and different brands when you are in a pinch is really helpful. Because you can get very much overloaded with the amount of decisions that you need to make, particularly as we all saw when something like COVID hits, you’re making so many changes so quickly. If you can borrow ideas from other industries, that can be really helpful.

Bec: And I guess that’s where the partnership thing comes in, too. If you’re offering things online, and normally you would need an in-person partner or sponsor and things like that, it becomes so much easier to spread that around if you’re doing it online as opposed to in-person.

Kali: Oh, I absolutely agree with you. Yeah, it’s really key to be able to have those relationships in place where you can leverage that support, particularly if you’re running on a small team. And it’s been in fashion for a while now to run a lean team, particularly in the startup sector. And so your partnerships are really we can bring in that extra knowledge and accessibility. Like I mentioned that we did previously, regionally, instead of needing to develop our own networks within a community, we were able to effectively borrow somebody else’s to achieve our goals. And you’re so right, that can be done in so many different ways.

Bec: And I suppose when you do run a startup incubator, it just opens the world up view of it, too. It doesn’t have to be the people under your roof or even in your business district that you can borrow from?

Kali: Absolutely. We’ve been fortunate enough to get partnerships with people like AWS, so Amazon Web Services, who provide startup packages of AWS credits to our members to the value of, I think it’s like $5,000 U.S per year, per business.

Bec: Wow.

Kali: So, they choose to pick that up. So, partnerships can bring you back a lot for your business, depending on when you operate. From a marketing perspective, we have really felt that it’s allowed us to expand our reach without having to put as much time into market penetration in certain areas as we would have had to if we were coming in as a completely code brand. The verification of our partners and their approval helps speed up that process for us.

Bec: Yeah. So, that reputation that you’re borrowing from everyone helps prop open the door for you.

Kali: Absolutely, absolutely. And that’s been really key to our ability to expand.

Bec: Yeah. So, take me through… Sorry to put you on the spot, and it doesn’t have to be, like, super step by step. Like, if I wanted to start a business and I came to you at Spacecubed, walk me through what I would experience, how would I get started.

Kali: Absolutely. So, one of the first things that you would do is you’d meet with one of our community managers. So they operate out of each of our spaces and a really entrenched in the local community there, the ups, the downs, and the challenges. And then I guess we would go through the process of working out what kind of business you are and what you really need. Different businesses need different level of support, as I’m sure you can appreciate, Bec, in all the different companies that you meet and you hope day to day in your job as well. There really are a range of different ways as well to solve a number of issues. Place like Spacecubed runs a whole variety of things to support a business that’s getting off the ground, and it may be that it’s as simple as needing mentoring in a particular area, possibly coming along to one of our courses that run both six-week and six-month versions of accelerating your business. And that takes you through the whole gamut, product development, your customer journey, mapping, looking at raising funds, if that’s appropriate for your business as well.

And then as well, it may be just as easy as referring you to a number of meetups, if it’s a very specialized area that you need help in. Things like machine learning and AI, peer-to-peer learning is really strong, particularly in the community that we’re seeing in Perth. And sometimes it’s actually better to learn from other people who are pushing the envelope and working at the cutting edge of those. And those are some really supportive environments. So, we take you through a range of options, some that we provide and some which are just honed within the community but run by people who are really key specialists in the field. Probably the largest thing that we do offer is connections through to getting seed funding and raising through our Plus Eight accelerator for businesses that are really looking to accelerate their growth and expand usually through to Asia or the U.S. That’s a really strong program. As a part of that, we actually, well, normally take them over to America, and we want you to do Singapore as well last year to help expand that growth. So, there’s a whole range of services that we do offer, depending on what the individual requires.

Bec: Wow. So, that goes from the basics of, you know, let me introduce you to someone to let’s go all in and take over the world. That’s really cool.

Kali: Thanks so much. We’re lucky that we’ve had a few really great successes from it. But, yeah, we’ve really, really learned over the years that it is definitely different horses for different causes.

Bec: Yeah. Well, I remember because I used to be in the Mash Perth office and visiting Spacecubed, I think it was one of the first co-working spaces in Perth at the time when it first started. So, it was a real pioneer kind of business.

Kali: Yes, it was. It was incredibly fortunate that our founder Brodie had the vision to realize the direction that the, I guess, community was going in. He had already tried to start a founder business himself, and through that process have come in contact with a number of other business founders and just realized that they all had the shared pain points. And he’d seen co-working operating in Europe and thought that’s exactly what we need. So, that’s how this space started. And I think it’s a strength of coming from community that it is supplying to has really allowed that business to flourish. Because particularly, early on in the business’s journey, all of the highs had come out of that space as well. So, they really understood what other people were going through.

Bec: Cool. That sounds really amazing how… It sounds like everyone at Spacecubed is really committed to helping businesses get off the ground. And that’s what partnerships are all for. We can’t do it alone. Thanks so much for coming on the show this week.

Kali: Thank you so much for having me, Bec. It’s been an absolute pleasure.

Bec: No worries. And I whenever I’m allowed back into WA, I will see you soon.

Kali: If you’re ever allowed, we’d love to have you. See you then.

Bec: Thanks. Okay, guys, thanks for tuning in to another week of “Mash Pod.” Don’t forget to subscribe to our podcast where you get your podcasts and any questions or tips or suggestions on an episode, email us at info@mashmedia.com.au. Thanks a lot. See you next week.


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