Tech startups come and go every day of the week and the sad thing is, if they had chosen wisely who to partner with many of those failed startups may have still been in business today.

Partnering with a big name can be a very good thing for a young tech company just getting off the ground, but if you don’t make the right match, you are probably doomed to failure from the very beginning.

Startups can, and do, benefit from partnering with known brands with a long history of success, but not all brands with history are the right match for you.

A tech startup looking to provide Cloud communications services, for example, would want to check out the company history of authorized Cisco dealers offering partner services.

Is it quite clear what they have to offer and do they have the tech support you need as a fledgling startup? Here is some of what you should know before signing on as a partner.

Defining a tech partnership

One of the most misunderstood catch-all phrases in the corporate world today is the term ‘partnership.’ There was a day, a simpler time in history, when partners were understood as being two or more entities who invested in a business, each gaining a share of the profits/losses directly proportionate to the amount of their investment.

Today the term takes on a much broader and more varied understanding and most of the time a partner is actually an affiliate marketer. Being an affiliate is a very good thing and can offer a huge number of benefits to you as a startup, but does the company offering to partner with you have what you need?

1. What services do they provide?

This is perhaps the most important thing to understand when seeking a company to partner with. As a startup your resources are probably limited.

As a tech startup you may not have the funds to provide a full time customer support service, for example, so does the brand you are going to be distributing offer reliable customer service 24/7 for their products? Make sure the company you partner with has the resources you are unable to provide at this time.

2. Are the lines of communication open?

When partnering with a known brand, you will undoubtedly have questions along the way. Even as a techie, there may be issues that arise as you begin selling and installing their products.

Do you have a reliable way to communicate with them and are they available to your calls and/or emails? Those managing an affiliate marketing team have a ‘best practices’ responsibility to keep the lines of communications open with their affiliates.

3. How quick is their response time?

When you, or a customer you’ve sold their products to, have a question, what is their response time? Do they get back to you immediately or are you finding that you are making several calls, leaving messages, emailing them and still waiting hours or days for a reply?

Response time in any hi-tech field is of vital importance. The longer they take to respond, the longer your customer may be without service – not at all good for your reputation by any stretch of the imagination.

4. Do they back warranties and guarantees?

Another issue you may have is in providing those manufacturer warranties. The truth is, some companies are more reliable than others. However, it is safe to say that a company that is an industry leader with a global presence probably got there by providing reliable service and backing any warranties they offer.

Although not always as there are exceptions to every rule, you can probably judge a manufacturer’s willingness to stand behind their products by the size of their corporation. In technology, size is a key indicator.

Corporate clauses and liabilities

Also, make sure you understand corporate clauses and liabilities. If you install faulty equipment that brings a whole system crashing down, who is liable? Are you as the affiliate reselling the products or is the corporation ultimately responsible for any damages resulting from faulty equipment?

A startup probably doesn’t have the same level of insurance as the big guys have and you certainly didn’t manufacture the product that caused the problem.

A corporate attorney would be the best person to read a corporate affiliate agreement to scrutinize the clauses and liabilities often in the fine print. Better to pay a few hundred dollars now than be left with a huge debt due to liability.

At the end of the day, there are some very big names in the world of technology that have a long history of providing innovative products and solutions.

It is important to know that the company you apply to partner with will offer the tech support you need on their products and will be available to you as and when you need them. Grow your tech startup by partnering with the best, but choose your affiliations carefully. Look before you leap.