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iThemes & Crowd Favorite partner in new product development

Posted 5 years ago by Karim Marucchi

One of the many things I have in common with our incoming CTO, Chris Lema, is we’ve both been serving Enterprise clients for over 20 years. While my focus has been primarily on the services side, Chris’ expertise comes from a products background.  As we have spent the last year or more collaborating, discussing and sometimes debating growth strategies, the baseline theme was always the passion for our target market and finding the best way to serve it.

So when we spoke about Products, we were diligent in pursuing the best solution. For us, “best” meant looking beyond the upcoming releases of our products from both Crowd Favorite and the team that joined us from Pixel Jar. As Chris was quick to remind me, “best” might mean alternatives and offered three ways to accelerate new product development.

The first is through acquisitions

Distilled down to its basics, you acquire a company (its assets) that includes a product you want, and the result is that you’re now in the product business.

There are many upsides to this approach, including the speed at which you can (re) enter a market and the predictability of support costs (since product support has historically been managed already and the data is available for review).

The downside of this approach is that many corporate acquisitions or mergers end up not fulfilling their promise. Rarely is this because the product is bad or wrong. More often than not, it’s because there are many more dynamics that come with an acquisition than simply its assets. You end up dealing with politics, staff challenges, alignment issues and more.

Another is through talent acquisition

This idea is similar because you still buy a company for its assets, only this time it’s not for its products. Instead you’re hiring a team of staff—staff that can work together and know how to build products. The upside again is speed and existing management (if you acquire an entire team).

One of the potential downsides, however, is the disappointment that comes when product people are detached from their products (which they treat as their own babies), and assigned to a new product that doesn’t instill the same level of passion as the previous one did.

The third is counter-intuitive

Nevertheless, it can be a powerful approach to accelerating new product development. It revolves around partnership and segmentation.

Gregory Pollack described it best:

The whole idea behind partnership brand marketing is to find customers where your company and brand do not compete: It not only provides your brand with additional credibility in aligning with another company but also opens up distribution channels, allows you to reach and market to customers that may not be aware or thinking of your brand, and—most important—it captures the attention of new potential buyers who may not have your brand top of mind. (Emphasis my own)

There’s no doubt this approach has marketing benefits, but it can also have a huge benefit in new product development.  And that is the focus of this announcement.

Taking iThemes products into the enterprise market

The benefit of a joint venture in partnership brand marketing is that we at Crowd Favorite don’t need to start from scratch. While iThemes benefits from greater exposure and access to markets it’s not spent much time in, we get the benefit of shaping the product roadmap without needing to start coding a completely different product.

Take, for example, the iThemes Sync product. It’s an excellent solution for remote management of several WordPress sites a customer might need to control. Even though it’s a recent player among several existing solutions, the code is solid and extensible.

Having worked with Fortune 500 companies for years, we are very aware of the enhancement of key features Sync needs to play in the Enterprise space. Through a partnership we can collaborate on adding those features for an “Enterprise” version of the product that we’ll introduce into a segment of the market.

When companies collaborate instead of compete, especially when they’re in different market segments, the partnership has a clear way of paying off for each.

Of course Sync isn’t the only product Crowd Favorite is excited about. It’s simply one example.

This is more than a distribution partnership

For this joint venture, we will be establishing an advisory board that would hold key executives from both companies, consisting of myself, Cory Miller, Chris Lema, Matt Danner and Alex King. The goal will be to develop product roadmaps for our target market.

The result of this partnership is an even greater alignment fueled by the African proverb widely quoted by both Miller and Lema – “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” 

About Crowd Favorite

Crowd Favorite is the premiere partner for Fortune 500 companies building solutions using WordPress. With offices across the globe, it brings specialists in design, development, and engineering to complex problems that require solutions that scale.

About iThemes

One of the oldest commercial companies in the WordPress ecosystem, iThemes is known not only for themes but also for some of the most popular WordPress plugins like BackupBuddy, iThemes Security Pro, Sync and Exchange.

Who is Crowd Favorite?

Crowd Favorite builds high-end digital solutions for medium- and enterprise-level companies around the world, with particular expertise in digital design, web development, mobile development, and systems integration. Past clients include Walmart, Sony, Yahoo, Miramax, National Geographic, Nike, BMW, Microsoft, and many others.