Wondering what it’s like to work at Wakelet? We caught up with our Head of Partnerships, Misbah Gedal, to find out more about his role and his work with our partners
1. How did you become Head of Partnerships at Wakelet?
‘I joined the Wakelet team very early on! Contrary to popular belief, I don’t come from a Partnerships or Tech background – I actually started in law. I studied law in Liverpool, did my post-graduate course in Manchester, and then worked across Europe and North Africa for a few years before I returned to Manchester looking for something new. After finding out about Jamil and what he was doing with Wakelet, I immediately knew this was something I wanted to be part of. I started off managing the Wakelet Community, then I lead the Marketing team for a while, before finally becoming Head of Partnerships. This was largely down to how much I enjoyed speaking to and dealing with different organizations, people and businesses within our space. The rest, as they say, is history!’
2. What are essential skills for someone working in partnerships?
‘Observational skills are very important! You need to be aware of a number of things that are going on at the same time and have a good understanding of your community and the values and aims of other companies. You also need to learn to adapt. Each partnership requires a different approach, and some might take up more time and resource than others. It’s important to adapt to these differences in relationship management, timescales, and company culture.’
3. How do partnerships support a start-up?
‘Partnerships are a great way to help grow your start-up and engage your community. By integrating with other platforms, you open up your product to different demographics and markets and learn a lot about them in the process. At Wakelet, we make sure that all our partnerships benefit everyone involved and the community comes first. If a partnership won’t improve things for your community, don’t do it. Companies can sometimes make the mistake of partnering with other businesses just because of the exposure they may receive, but that’s not the right approach to have. Start with what your users and your community want and need and work from there.
‘Our partnership with Flipgrid is a great example. We knew that educators were using Flipgrid to amplify student voice and engage students in the classroom. We also knew that educators were using Wakelet to create collections of content to improve learning, digital storytelling skills, and more. After speaking with the community, we realized that teachers were looking for a way to combine the two and embed Flipgrid videos into Wakelet collections. This formed the first stage of our ongoing partnership with Flipgrid.
‘Partnerships can help support a start-up but it’s the way they support the community that really matters. And partnerships can be varied – you can partner with schools, museums, and even individuals. Powerful relationships can be built without the need for formal agreements – if you connect with the team and it would benefit your community, just go for it!’
4. What’s been your most memorable moment at Wakelet?
‘ISTE 2019, without a doubt. Traveling to Philadelphia with the team and being able to speak to so many amazing educators has been the highlight of my Wakelet journey so far. From a Partnerships perspective, it was great to finally meet the companies we’ve been working with for so long and create lasting memories with their teams. For me, it was both awe-inspiring and humbling to see Wakelet being recognized constantly. It was beautiful to feel that our work on the platform was being appreciated and acknowledged by real-life educators.
‘Working on an online platform is great, but it can often mean that you miss out on that human connection. Getting to share physical space with our community and ambassadors was incredible and sharing the stage with Flipgrid at Flipgrid Live was amazing too – the energy from the crowd was unreal!’
5. What challenges have you faced?
‘Fully understanding the needs of our community is always challenging – but that’s why we spend so much time on it. I’ve had hundreds of calls with educators all over the world to find out more about their experiences and what they need from the platform. This can often mean working across different time zones, which was a challenge to get used to at first but is always worth it.
‘Our conversations with educators are very varied and it can be tough to distill feedback in a way that can be easily communicated to the rest of the team. Over time, we’ve developed ways of working that ensure every piece of feedback is recorded and categorized before it is prioritized within the development roadmap.
‘In the end, growing any online platform is a challenge in itself – that’s just the nature of business!’
6. What does your day-to-day role entail?
‘Research is an important part of leading partnerships at Wakelet. We don’t want to partner with others for the sake of it. We need to understand how any partnership will help the community – that needs to be the end goal of any new partnership or integration.
‘Managing relationships also takes time. This usually involves the planning, coordination, and release of new integrations, along with overseeing collaborative blog and social media posts. I’m always on the lookout for other companies that could benefit the Wakelet community, reaching out to them and exploring the ways we could work together.
‘Of course, at a start-up, everyone has to do ‘a bit of everything’. I often write blog posts, speak at events, and work with our video producer Marcus to create promotional videos.’
7. What advice would you give to someone looking to work in partnerships?
‘Keep an open mind about the companies you want to partner with. Look at companies of all sizes and focus on how you can grow your community and share ideas. Be informal. There’s often no need for official partnership agreements – it’s better to build relationships with other teams and find out where you share common ground. Getting on well with the partners you’re working with makes life so much easier!
‘It’s important to be confident and work on skills like public speaking, tone of voice, and being able to work under pressure. Organization is key. I find this quite challenging naturally so I’ve had to learn ways to record updates, news and ideas on potential partnerships to share and discuss with the team. Record keeping is very valuable, especially when you’re speaking with multiple partners daily.
‘Lastly, have fun! Don’t be too results-driven at the start; make connections to find out what companies are like and to share ideas. As you relationship with that person or organization grows, you can then introduce more defined outcomes or goals.’
8. How do you use Wakelet?
‘Day-to-day I use Wakelet to organize everything! I save and organize news articles, tweets, videos and more about a particular area of the business I’m working on. This makes it so much easier to share ideas with the team and look back at things that have gone well or things we could have improved. Personally, I use Wakelet to curate music playlists and to plan vacations – it’s a great way to put together an easy-to-view itinerary that you can share with your fellow travelers!’
Follow Misbah on Twitter @MisbahGedal