Potent partnerships – the key to unlocking disruptive opportunities
Drawing on his approach with IP company Hammerforce, CEO Andy Coster talks about potent partnerships, and his philosophy on how these partnerships are the key to turning commercial opportunities with disruptive technology into reality.
Hammerforce thrives on being different; and it needs to be in order to succeed. We’re not a typical IP company which has some clever intellectual property and a transactional relationship with customers who say “Wow, that’s amazing. Can I buy it from you and put it into my product?”. We’re a company that knows our partners need much more from us than just the underlying IP to enable them to take our clever technology to market and “make a buck out of it”.
Selling a potential partner ‘the dream’ the disruption our globally patented technology can provide is the easy bit; making it happen is more difficult.
This is where Hammerforce differs from other IP licensing companies and becomes apparent when we intimately, but discreetly, help our partners. These large companies, who are not necessarily used to change, become disruptors in their industries using our technology through a licensing arrangement.
I’ve always had a philosophy that if you are serious about using technology to innovate, disrupt, and create value, you need much more than just the technology – otherwise you will only ever have the potential to disrupt. That is why every application of the technology needs to be tailored to the specific way the partner operates in their industry to optimise the commercial value for them.
“What this means for Hammerforce is that our people have meaningful interactions across the partners entire organisation; and the real key to success, I believe, is building this holistic capability in every member of the Hammerforce team. This then enables us to help our partners make the right decisions more quickly and accurately, thus reducing risk and time to market which ultimately means much higher returns sooner.”
At the heart of Hammerforce’s valve-actuation technology is a re-invention of air power mechanisms, or pneumatics, via a clever valve-actuation arrangement. The result is a range of benefits, any one of which make it very compelling as a power source, but combined gives it a strong advantage over competing solutions such as traditional pneumatic, hydraulic, combustion, battery, or electrical power options used in industrial devices.
It’s amazing technology but to take it ‘beyond potential’ it needs the Hammerforce team who can identify and evaluate opportunities with the partner – quickly adapting it to their needs by working closely with partner’s teams to customise the end solution.
Disruption requires speed and speed is about doing. But speed alone is not enough to guarantee a successful outcome. If you don’t combine acting quickly with the ability to think fast and strategically, you’re likely to just get to the wrong solution faster. This is where our partnership approach comes in.
“Using our technology as the enabler, we ‘get under the bonnet’ of the partner to understand the constraints and environment they work within, so that we can develop solutions together that make sense for them. It’s about taking a technology and transforming it into a tangible, practical solution that matches the opportunity which involves being conscious of all parts of the partners business. Hammerforce is more than your typical IP and licensing company and this is why we are unique.”
As we collaborate with our partners to bring to the Hammerforce technology to market, achieving success requires us to gain a deep understanding of the partner’s internal and external dynamics. You could compare our approach to the difference between an ATM machine and a financial advisor. Both give you the money you need, but one is very transactional, and the other a high level of engagement and development of a long-term strategy for making investments, managing money, and creating wealth.
“From our partners’ perspective, they get more than just ground-breaking technology. They have access to a team of systems-based solution providers who harness the best out of the technology and deliver real competitive advantage.”
While it might sound like I’m overstating our offering, it’s exactly what the Hammerforce team is capable of and it’s what sets us apart. We’re not a large team, but we’re global. The advantage of being small is that we’re incredibly nimble and fast; and the expertise and knowledge of each person allows us to focus on the entire project, not just the technological aspect of it.
“We take the technology and integrate engineering, design, and commerciality to quickly adapt it to the needs of different partners. Essentially, we transform our technology into a practical application that creates value, solves problems, disrupts industries, and generates commercial advantage across a wide range of industrial sectors. This approach works and it delivers benefits for our partners.”
We’ve successfully demonstrated that we fully understand the process our partner companies need to go through by undertaking from scratch, the commercialisation of our innovative nail gun, the Airbow Framer, that leverages the underlying core Hammerforce technology.
By utilising the team’s experience, and because of the nature of the people we have, we were able to quickly turn the technology into a tangible product and sell it commercially in the highly competitive, construction tool sector. Without the holistic skillset of the Hammerforce team, taking a patented design and turning it into a real-life application, at the speed required to achieve an advantage, simply wouldn’t have been possible. This was successful and won major global design awards, including a German Red Dot award. But more importantly it’s set us up to license the technology in the industry to a global partner and ensures we have those capabilities to help all of our future partners.
Right now, we’re working with a number of large global companies across different industries and in exactly the same way, we’re creating valuable commercial opportunities for them. This is extremely collaborative and multi-functional.
“Because we’re operating in conjunction with our partners, we’re moving at a far greater speed and achieving key milestones well ahead of target. We’re reducing the time and cost of getting a new product to market and we’re helping our partners create both significant disruption and set new standards within their own industries.
Many large companies have the capability to innovate and solve complex problems, but this is often focused on optimisation rather than revamping or developing a product that can completely disrupt their industry, at the speed that’s required to gain a competitive advantage. This is where Hammerforce comes in. By combining our expertise, knowledge, design, and application engineering skills with the company’s internal competencies, the collective capability to create fundamental change and value, exponentially increases.
“Trust is key to a successful partnership and this comes from a confidence that you’ll deliver on what you’ve promised.”
Ultimately you can’t sustain a partnership unless there’s mutual confidence. Right now, we’re demonstrating to those companies who like the technology and the way we work, that we’ll deliver what we said, ahead of time and at a higher standard than they thought they’d get. We’re consistently exceeding our partners’ expectations which builds a high level of confidence.
The interesting question is who we partner with, as not all companies will be suited to our collaborative approach, nor will they or their industries be ready to adopt the ground-breaking technology.
“As a company, we understand the difference we can make, so it’s about identifying potential partners in the sectors where our technology can create fundamental change and advantage; and who not only have a willingness to adopt new technology but have a partnership mindset.”
It’s also about looking for leaders who are visionary and who are prepared to take considered risk to leave a legacy for their company via the creation and delivery of a disruptive solution in their industry.
The companies and leaders who might be attracted to this technology will be clearly concerned with the long-term sustainability of their organisation. Better efficiency and performance, increased effectiveness, low environmental impact – all of these attributes of the technology will be better understood and valued by companies that are consciously attuned to the long-term. They’re also likely to be more open to innovation, and less precious about whether that innovation comes from inside their own organisation or not.
Our overall ambition is to work with industrial companies who are looking to seriously disrupt their industry and create sustainable change in their customer markets; but haven’t yet been able to access valuable commercial opportunities because they haven’t had our technology.
Innovating at a technical level is rooted in business, but we’re also adding in a commercially minded approach to the relationship. That’s the advantage Hammerforce brings to the table.