“Be careful who you surround yourself with”: a tech founder’s advice on finding partners you can trust

Finding reliable partners is the key to a startup’s success, such as: Nicco Global founder and CEO Richelle Nicols has discovered.

Figuring out who you should be doing business with in the beginning is filled with emotion and the knowledge that cluttering it up will put your startup at risk.

It’s a feeling Richelle Nicols knows all too well.

“People, relationships and trust are so important when you start a business, especially since you often take almost everything for a bucket of chicken,” Richelle said during the recent Startup Daily From Idea to Unicorn event series. “You are often very desperate, so you have to be careful who you surround yourself with, because you are somewhat vulnerable to some degree, especially in the beginning.”

Learn to trust your intuition

Richelle is a strong believer in the “trust your gut” school of business. So much so, she wishes you could trust your intuition more. “It’s just so smart, it’s so intelligent. We have this guidance that says ‘yes, go down that alley’ or ‘yes, go meet this person’, or ‘hmm, maybe check this or check that’. There’s nothing more intelligent than that – I wish that was developed a lot more because it complements everything else in [our] hard skills too.”

In short, Nicco is a business platform that provides businesses with advanced consumer engagement solutions, streamlined in one app. With the ability to combine payments, data and cloud solutions, the app enables businesses to better understand buyer behavior and create personalized customer experiences.

Despite an initial positive response from a potential partner, Richelle believes that trust should be built a little more slowly.

“It’s something you have to wait and see and see what it looks like in the seasons,” she told Startup Daily after the event. “It requires that you don’t commit too much or give too much and basically step in.”

This was her approach when she first started working with a cloud solutions provider Ingram Micro† She was looking for a cloud partner who could bundle end-to-end solutions — with hardware, software, and managed services that work together seamlessly — to save her time and resources and help her market from the get-go for large enterprises. She also wanted to be able to scale quickly through a global cloud partner and had a strong sense that Ingram Micro would be a great fit for Nicco Global.

The Startup Daily From Idea to Unicorn panel: Symon Thurlow of Parallo, Richelle Nicols of Nicco Global and Peter Brocklebank of BeingIconic. Image: Roberto Damante

Partner that fits your vision

“I was working a little bit backwards from the end goal of where I wanted to go. I knew I had a solution that I would like to sell to enterprises around the world,” said Richelle. “Ingram Micro, with their cloud marketplaces and CloudBlue, have the “Ability to expose you to a lot of different customers in over 47 countries. They have go-to-market strategies. So it made perfect sense to me to partner with someone like Ingram Micro.”

The relationship has developed over time and during that time Richelle believes that what is best for her business has always been at the heart of the relationship. “Through that time, through the conversations and the meetings and going to their top, you really get a strong sense that they’re trying to figure out what’s best for you. Helping you meet people and connect the dots to help your business go where you want it to go.”

Importantly to Richelle, the massive global cloud service provider never made her feel like she was too small to worry about. Instead, they allowed her to focus on her product and business and helped her discover how to innovate and grow.

Getting access to the resources brought to the table by a major cloud partner was hugely appealing: their technology, marketing, sales, and distribution teams.

“That is my view of [Nicco Global] being a scale-up to enterprises from day one,” added Richelle. “Because if I’m a startup and I’m selling to large companies, that’s not going to work. That’s not going to work unless at the table you have [a global provider like] Ingram Micro says ‘we plug into this product, we support this product’. That was always the idea, versus begging, borrowing or stealing for a seat at the table… it’s a huge validator.”

Develop trust in your business partnerships

Trust between partners takes time to develop, but here are a few tips from Richelle’s experience that can help you speed up the process.

Go with your feeling

“I know it sounds a bit woo-woo, but you feel good talking to someone, or you feel something else,” Richelle said. “I had to learn to listen to that. It doesn’t mean they aren’t reliable, but it does mean you should research more, ask questions.”

Be reliable yourself

It goes without saying that if you want to find reliable partners, you have to be a reliable player yourself. That means doing what you said you would do when you said you would and acting in accordance with your company values.

Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable

Business relationships are human relationships, and trust comes from putting yourself out there. Always admit when you’ve made a mistake or think you need to change direction. In addition, don’t be afraid to share the ambitions you have for your startup from the start.

Share your relationships

Introduce your partner to people who are a good fit with their vision. Richelle is impressed by the way Ingram Micro introduces her to a potential new customer and actually participates in the introductory meeting between the two companies. Advocacy builds conviction.

take your time

“Sometimes when you’re a startup, you take it all on and I think the most important thing I’ve learned is often that you take your time,” Richelle said.

That means: first work out your business plan and vision and work back from there. Find a partner who can grow with you every step of the way.

For more information about Ingram Micro, go to au.ingrammicro.com
Watch Richelle Nicols’s From Idea to Unicorn session here:

This article is brought to you by Startup Daily in association with Ingram Micro.


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