Vishal Gupta, CEO of PrimeShare (ex- Circle, MoneyLion, GS) on how to drive growth with partnerships
We are joined by Vishal Gupta, Co-founder & CEO at PrimeShare, a marketplace for a new class of high-ROI real estate investments: short term vacation rental properties. Vishal is a Fintech operator and entrepreneur with experience across business development, partnerships, and engineering. While at Circle, Vishal was responsible for building out the partner network for the USDC stablecoin, in collaboration with Coinbase. Vishal has also held similar roles at MoneyLion leading their payments strategy, and at Goldman Sachs building their listed options electronic trading business.
What you’ll learn from Vishal:
- The value of “product-led partnerships”
- How to productize partnerships for scalability
- When partnerships do and don’t make sense
CB: In outbound sales and marketing there’s a strong emphasis on repeatable process, which leads to scalability, and eventually profitability. Have you leveraged similar frameworks for partnership growth strategies?
VG: There are definitely similar frameworks that can be applied to partnerships, for example, I’m personally a big believer in product-led growth strategies. When working on USDC our growth strategy really started with the product. There were certain differentiators, like near-instant and free deposits and redemptions, which made it easy for potential partners to integrate USDC into their business and workflow. Our primary focus was to be as frictionless as possible, without that we would have just been another stablecoin backed by the US Dollar.
The second, and perhaps most important component of our strategy was basing USDC on a consortium model. This gave each partner a seat at the table and preemptively diffused what we believed would be a common objection to usage: trust. Giving everyone a voice made it much easier for all of our partners to trust the system and USDC.
Our goal was to build out the consortium with as many qualified participating members as possible. The two-prong approach worked, offering the easiest and most trusted way to push and pull dollars from traditional banking to the digital assets world. Circle and Coinbase made USDC a foundational product within each of their business lines but kept the focus on growing the consortium model to allow for expansion beyond our ecosystems. While revenue was on our mind, we believed our most important metric was to propagate USDC outside of our immediate network.
CB: Similar question, but more focused on the economics of partnerships. Is there a specific partnership structure you used based on this strategy that made it more scalable?
VG: It took some experimentation in the very early days to get it right, but the vision is always to get to a partnerships “program”. This leads to repeatability and scalability. Our first step was to start off with a few bespoke partnerships to get the ball rolling. After each deal, we would iterate and get a bit closer to productizing the USDC partnership program itself. We tried to learn as much as possible with every partnership and reapply those learnings to product iterations. For example, early on we learned that we needed to take ownership of the onboarding process and make it very lightweight for the potential partner because of resourcing issues on their end. Eventually, we learned the key KPIs that our partners wanted to drive for their customers, which enabled us to tailor everything in our deal-making process towards those specific metrics.
CB: In so many cases, partnerships don’t make sense and things fall through. At what point do you make the call to abandon a partnership?
VG: The initial push for USDC wasn’t without its struggles. Getting it to other exchanges outside of Poloniex and Coinbase was difficult. We had to work very closely with every potential exchange partner to figure out the right token pairs to launch with, then match those token pairs to the right market makers, and then make sure those market makers were providing a deep enough book of liquidity.
Partnerships, in general, are extremely difficult to get right. Both parties need to feel drawn to the partnership by some kind of economic arrangement that’s mutually beneficial. The whole has to be worth more than the sum of the parts. With USDC, we tried to engineer as much of that draw into the product and consortium model, and eventually, our partners’ customers started believing in our product. That’s when growth started moving up and to the right. We were in a way built for partnerships, where our competitors were not.
CB: You’ve got the partnership agreement inked and signed, now what? How do you make sure the partnership is actually operationalized?
VG: I get all of this squared away prior to signing the actual partnership agreement. It’s all about agreeing to proper measures of success and ensuring those measures line up with the economic guardrails of the partnership, “you make what you measure.”
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