When companies collaborate, there's a certain magic that happens.

Kansas City entrepreneurs have learned that partnerships among each other can foster employee engagement, drive creative solutions, and it strengthens all entities involved.

"The capability of technology is changing so fast that it's essentially impossible or maybe even narcissistic to think that one entity or one group of people can have all the best answers and the best solutions to the emerging challenges that are coming up today," Velociti COO Deryk Powell said. "Smart entrepreneurs and smart businesses are always looking to: how do we build an ecosystem of partners that we can work with? How do we stay true to the things that we do really well and then look for others to be able to augment or complement what those services or products are?"

Riverside-based Velociti, a global provider of enterprise technology solutions, has partnered with multiple companies in the past. Its latest partnership is with Kansas City-based Tesseract Ventures, which develops next-generation technologies such as robots and smart spaces to help companies and government agencies become smarter and more efficient.  

Getting further together

Part of Tesseract's strategy is partnering with the right companies to help it scale and grow, Tesseract founder and CEO John Boucard said.

"We complement each other," he said of Velociti. "It accelerates a couple of key things that are important to us operationally."

Through Velociti, Tesseract gains an expanded sales force, valuable customer service for clients, and a place to showcase and refine its technology.

"It really force-multiplies the opportunity," Boucard said.

Teaming up with others enhances the end product and is especially valuable to the growing number of customers looking for an all-stop shop, Powell said.

It also offers "an amazing growth opportunity," said Melissa Vincent, who's worked at startups and now is executive director of entrepreneurial fellowship organization Pipeline. Entrepreneurs have limited resources, but with other companies, they can get further together, she said.

"It's almost like doubling your team without having to take on any additional financial resources. You're able to cross-sell in a lot of ways," Vincent said. "I've seen that work with a number of Pipeline companies, and I've seen that work outside."

A 'dramatic' difference

"The breadth and the creativity of our thinking changes dramatically when we work with other companies and compare ideas," Powell said. "We have different perspectives; we may be looking at the same problem, but we're coming at it from a different direction. I notice the engagement and energy level when we wrap up a meeting with a new partner. Everything changes amongst our team.

"The more you experience unique perspectives and other things that will challenge you, you'll grow and evolve to see the world differently. ... We engage in a lot of (potential partnership) conversations that are purely exploratory because at a minimum we're going to learn."

The power of coming together became evident with a client that needed a better system for tracking and managing tens of thousands of parked vehicles nationwide. The client initially was working disparately with multiple companies: hardware providers, a software provider and with Velociti as a custom solution provider to handle the design, deployment and monitoring of the overall solution.

When they were treated as three separate entities, the project wasn't going well. It was akin to playing the childhood game "telephone," in which key aspects get lost in translation, he said. When the companies came together in the same room, everything changed. Months-long technology problems were resolved during a 30-minute meeting.

Qualities to look for in partnerships

The No. 1 aspect Powell looks for in partnerships is culture. He wants to work with companies that are open-minded and natural problem solvers. They're not just a widget maker, he said.

For Velociti, Tesseract tackles an elusive aspect for clients by offering an Internet of Things platform that's able to track and manage people and assets. It leads to better real-time and future decisions in industries such as construction.

Tesseract takes a similar approach to Velociti and looks for strategic partners with integrity and a good working chemistry. They trust one another, they're passionate about what they're working on and exude patience when navigating new things. A company could have stellar sales people and technology, but if the cultures don't align, a partnership won't work, Boucard said.

"The enthusiasm for things that may seem mundane to some is important to us," Powell said. "An example of that is we get excited about how do we take technology and shave literal seconds off of tasks for someone? How do we reduce shrinkage by literal decimal points? ... You look at all these things in the aggregate, and it's a big deal if you do it a couple billion times over the course of a year for a company. It's transformational. The guys at Tesseract get that. They get excited about the same thing."

Originally appeared in Kansas City Business Journal. Written by Leslie Collins, KCBJ Staff Writer. March 30, 2022.