The Key To Building Large-Scale Partnerships To Quickly Grow Your Customer-Base

Written by Allison Lee, Cofounder and CEO of Hemster

Hi HypeNation,

My name is Allison Lee, the founder and CEO of Hemster. We eliminate the most frustrating part of shopping - finding that perfect size - by plugging in our next gen tailoring services into your shopping journey.

Hemster’s Large-Scale Strategic Partnerships

Our company journey began when I saw an opportunity to data mine for individual shopper’s perfect fit data using upgraded tailoring services. That was the overarching mission of Hemster when I launched my first MVP in the summer of 2016.

Fast forward 3 years, we have now activated 3 main Large-Scale Partnerships to truly make Hemster services accessible across all customer touch points:

  1. Major mall operators like Westfield, Simon, GGP, Macerich and Taubman, which gives us access to 500+ Grade A mall locations (and close to 9,000 retail stores) nationwide to plug in Hemster.

  2. Luxury residential property groups like Greystar, Crescent Heights and Related to bring Hemster’s white-glove in-home services to more than 10,000 resident units across nation

  3. Other in-home services like Stylists, on-demand Laundry services, in-home concierge services (Hello Alfred).

As you can see, these strategic partnerships are crucial for Hemster’s growth: not only do they allow us to access and acquire targeted customers, but they also help us grow nationally with limited resources as a start-up.

When you are a young, small, unproven company, forming these Large-Scale Partnerships can often take months, if not years. It’s especially difficult for companies who are trying to disrupt a more traditional industry who are just now starting to embrace innovation. But don’t give up! Here are some learnings I want to share in hopes to help you jump start your partnerships.

2 Considerations BEFORE Contacting Potential Partners

I call these soul-searching steps—they’ll minimize detour and inefficient outreach as you understand more about your own company’s needs.

For Hemster,  it took me about a year to identify:

  1. Hemster’s target audience segments

  2. Resources you want, but cannot afford (or don’t want to pay for) at the current stage

After my beta test with 10 boutique stores in San Francisco, I learned that Hemster’s target audiences were: affluent professionals who buy garments at $150+ GMV and value their convenience over price and/or petite shoppers who need alterations no matter which size they purchase.

I also learned that for my target audience to actually convert, I needed to be marketed at a high-trafficked area with contextually relevant messaging. However, any OOH marketing starts at $10K+ a month, and paid digital media didn’t make much sense since we were primarily brick-and-mortar service. Also staffing for operations was going to be a huge issue since we were covering so many different stores with no physical presence.

Once you identify who you want and what you want, now you are ready to start ‘hunting’ for potential partners who can bring you both.

I dive deeper into Hemster’s strategy (and how it allowed us to grow without taking in outside capital for the first 3 years in business) in my conversation with Raj on Startup Hypeman’s Discover Your Inner Awesome Podcast.

I appreciate you listening to our story.

-Allison Lee

Rajiv NathanComment