Briq is an online booking and scheduling software which enables visitors to easily book multi-activity experiences at venues. Leisure is evolving and technology is key. With Briq, venues stay ahead of the game and can guarantee a seamless experience with a customized itinerary for an ultimate day out.
For this interview, we met with Jasper van Schaik, Product Manager Integrations at Briq Bookings. We talked about how does Product see the value in Partnerships, and how do they collaborate with the rest of the company to work towards the same goal.
So, without further ado…
Bond: Can you introduce yourself?
Jasper: My name is Jasper van Schaik and I am Product Manager Integrations at Briq Bookings. I studied Industrial Design Engineering in Delft and after graduating I started my career as a Project Manager for a Family Entertainment Center (FEC) in the Netherlands.
2 years ago I started at Briq Bookings, a multi activity scheduler that helps FECs to offer their products online. Our algorithm looks at the availability of all activities instead of just one, enabling up and cross selling of both capacity and non-capacity products. Briq increases the average order value for FECs and improves the experience for guests by instantly creating a personalized itinerary.
Bond: How did your role develop within Briq and what are you doing now?
Jasper: When I started at Briq 2 years ago, the team was very small. In the beginning I was helping our CTO with lots of things, like hosting meetings, managing delivery and much more. Over time our Dev team grew and I grew into my role as Product Manager Integrations.
In this role, I translate technology to business and vice versa. I see myself as the connector between commercial and dev, where I include all stakeholders to make sure everyone understands the commercial value versus the required resources to launch an integration.
Bond: How do Partnerships fit into your role at Briq?
Jasper: For Briq, integrations are crucial as we are an e-commerce tool and we need to deliver the bookings to operational tools used by our customers. This means we speak to a lot of partners, but also have to determine the commercial value against the effort to develop these integrations. and how usable this integration is for our current and future customers.
I am included in both the commercial meetings, where I can quickly determine if something is technically possible, and technical meetings, where I can explain the commercial value to our dev team if needed.
To bring some order in this process, we determined that we want to build integrations for 3 main reasons:
- Whole Product:
These integrations are built mainly for their functionality, where there is not always an active partnership but we know that this functionality will be valuable for our customers.
- Enabling Growth:
Integrations are often a start for partnerships that will give us access to a large pool of potential customers or will bring us an increased awareness of Briq in our market. In most cases being integrated with established names will also improve credibility and visibility.
- Third Party Enabling:
Enable third parties to build towards us and be listed on our marketplace. Extending our API, updating the API documentation and delivering the right support also takes resources which we need to take into account.
Bond: Why do you think Partnerships are important for a technology start-up?
Jasper: Start-ups always have limitations in terms of money, functionality, resources and/or contacts. Therefore I see Partnerships as a crucial element in achieving company objectives. Partnerships generate leads and new clients, gain visibility and grow awareness.
Partnerships are also a form of social proofing. I mean when Briq becomes an official partner of established brands like Lightspeed or Clubspeed, it increases the trust for prospects to start working with us.
And don’t forget that creating partnerships comes with important learnings. We have created partnerships that brought us a lot and some brought us less. But the most important is to create your place in the landscape by finding the right integrations.
Bond: How do you find the first right partners?
Jasper: We’ve done this proactively. It is great if a client provides input, but you can't always wait for input from others. That is why we use the Whole Product approach, where we as a team know and understand what kind of functionalities compliment our product.
Once you understand the gaps of your product, go out and find partners that could close this gap. Most often it’s cheaper and faster than doing it yourself and again, every partnership (should) bring commercial opportunities which is an added benefit.
Bond:What are the first steps you take when a new potential partner comes around?
Jasper: Mostly they come in via the commercial team, and we already have an idea of the commercial potential. In that case I always start with desk research. I Google them, see if I can get a demo account or sign up for a product demo. I want to know exactly what they do, which is hard to understand only from the website sometimes. I also always check out the integrations they have, to get an idea on their size and their place in the landscape.
Secondly, I will ask for their API documentation. If we already have a use-case, I will dive into the API docs and try to confirm the use case we have. I work out a visual scheme and test my findings with my team. Note that I can only do the above if the API docs are of good quality. If not, I go back to the commercial team and tell them to create a solid commercial plan before we spend resources only investigating.
Sometimes we don’t have a use case, for example when the partner is a fast growing company that we want to be associated with. The commercial part is the first thing we set up. When this is clear and interesting for both parties, we try to work out an integration where we have the 1+1=3 effect. Once both partners have this feeling, we will try to find a use case to test this and build the integration for this client.
Bond: How do you determine if a partner is worth the investment in time and resources?
Jasper: First of all, it’s key to understand where the integration fits in the Customer Journey: is it in the booking process or is it after the booking has been made? That’s how we know how important this integration is for our clients and to define the use case.
Secondly, we always weigh impact vs effort. Effort is money and time from our side. Impact is what you consider as a good metric as a company. For Briq this is growth possibilities. Do we get access to potential clients and does this partner provide marketing opportunities that help us define our place in the landscape? For other companies this could be another metric.
Although we try to standardize this process, I do not have a hard formula for this, and in practice it’s often a different and unique process per partner.
Bond: What is the decision making process to choose between commercially interesting partners and partners that help you to deliver a better product (Whole Product)?
Jasper: Currently, impact is the most important. Partnerships should help us move forward as a company, so we need to decide which integrations will help us achieve our KPIs.
In practice we see that partners with the most potential new clients have high impact and will help us to achieve our goals. But we want to balance the effort in building commercially driven and product driven integrations, because we also have a responsibility to our customers to deliver the best possible product. So we reserve time and resources to work on both.
Bond: What pitfalls in previous partnerships have you experienced that you are able to avoid now?
Jasper: Just getting started without a plan or clear use case was our biggest pitfall so far. The effort to make an integration partnership successful is quite high, not only technically, but also commercially. To make sure we know what we are getting into, we have developed a checklist to make sure that we understand at all times if an integration is moving in the right direction.
Some things just need to be clear before you start, even when they are needed in a later stage of the process. Examples are good API documentation, test accounts or a sandbox and the qualitative support from the partner during the process. Without this, we will not start.
What I also learned is that I need to align with our partners what we will build before we start. I do this now by creating visual overviews of the integration, which we share with the partner beforehand, so I know we are aligned from the beginning.
Bond: How did you optimize the Partner Journey over time? Can you share any improvements and why it is better now?
Jasper: We learned quite a few things over time and have made the proper adjustments. Our Third Party Enabling approach enables us to treat partners like clients. We continuously improve our Public API and our documentation, so that our partners understand what they can do and where they need to be for what. We have also increased our support effort for partners.
A while ago we improved our sandbox, created more structure so partners can test and build themselves and this will create a better flow in the integration process.
But we also try to be there before they start building, for example by organizing demos. When I organize a demo for our partners, I really want to explain everything about Briq, because tech or sales people do not alway understand our product. Communication is key.
Bond: What have partnerships brought Briq so far from your perspective?
Jasper: Generally speaking, partners have brought Briq an increased awareness, recognition and a place in the ecosystem.
For the product itself it brings more functionality and value for our clients, in a shorter time span as we need to build it ourselves.
And commercially it brings us new clients and it opens markets. We have partnerships that have brought us a lot of new clients, and we also experienced that without the help of local partners it's nearly impossible to get a foot on the ground in new markets.
Bond: Do you have any tips for developers or product people who are Interested in partnerships?
Jasper: Firstly, people in my role need to have a curious character and check out different companies who could be interesting. Reserve the time to ask for demos, join webinars and stay on top of the technical trends in your industry.
Secondly, make sure you understand the customer journey of your product and the different phases, so you understand where certain integrations would fit in. If you have this clear, you can start to reach out to partners who you think would add value in that specific part of the journey.
Thirdly, promote the value of working together internally and understand the importance of both commercial and technical. Push interactions between commercial and devs directly to avoid people working in silos and make them feel they are all working towards the same goals.
More information about Briq: http://www.briqbookings.com
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