AppDirect Has Acquired Builtfirst!

May 9, 2024
Builtfirst, a leading platform for B2B partner marketplaces, has been acquired by AppDirect, a global leader in subscription commerce. This partnership will enable Builtfirst to offer native transactions within its marketplaces, a highly requested feature and game-changing functionality.

A Note from Builtfirst’s co-founders Aaron Bailey and Michael Julve

Today we announce the exciting next chapter in the Builtfirst journey. Builtfirst has been acquired by AppDirect!

This has been in the works for a long time and we couldn’t be more excited to finally tell the world about it.

When we started Builtfirst in October 2020, one of the market trends we focused on was a shift in the way businesses bought and sold software. 

The shift was three-fold: 

  • Product-led-growth allowed businesses to acquire software without talking to a salesperson
  • More of the procurement/research process was happening outside of talking to the salesperson
  • Traditional sales methods like outbound (SDR cold emailing and cold calling) conversion rates were on the steep decline. Fundamentally, how SaaS and services were being discovered, bought, and sold was transforming.

Since the early 2000s, go-to-market methods have changed with every decade. The first shift was marketing automation, where the outsized market winners were companies like Marketo, Eloqua, and ExactTarget. The second shift, in the 2010s, was all about sales automation where companies like Outreach, Salesloft, and Gong, gained momentum. These market changes, while effective in creating value for companies over the previous two decades, increased the overall “noise” for the consumer. 

We sensed the third wave of go-to-market, where buyers relied on trusted sources to make buying decisions rather than cold calls and marketing emails. For instance, VC-backed startups rely on referrals from their VCs, digital communities, fellow founders, and current vendors to make buying decisions.

These referral networks of buyers, referrers, and sellers were being created organically. Our vision for Builtfirst was to become the infrastructure for these networks, to decrease friction, and make going to market through these partner ecosystems more accessible. What we ended up building was a new proprietary distribution channel for SaaS and services. We were building infrastructure for partner ecosystems of which 3rd party partner marketplaces were the frontend.

Our mission became building the largest ecosystem of partner marketplaces that every B2B company can go to market through.

We raised $3.75M at the end of 2021 and within a year we had scaled to hundreds of marketplaces listing thousands of relevant SaaS and service providers. 

We’re now the leading global solution for 3rd party partner marketplaces, with customers like Hubspot, Zendesk, Uncork Capital, and Novo Bank.

But something was missing. 

Every Builtfirst marketplace today operates as a referral network. This means there is no native way for buyers and sellers to transact within a listing. Natively offering transactions as an option on every Builtfirst marketplace is a holy grail feature that has eluded us. But why is it so important? First, it would drastically reduce the time to value for buyers. Second, it would make for a much faster sales cycle for the seller. Third, it would allow the marketplace owner (the distributor) to simply monetize their offerings by adding a take rate. And fourth, it’s always been our biggest customer request! We worked tirelessly to find a scalable way to offer this to customers. 

It was clear, AppDirect was the answer.

We met with the AppDirect team and as discussions progressed, a partnership became the obvious solution to meet all of our customers’ needs. Nick, AppDirect’s founder and CEO, and the team have been building the subscription commerce stack for over 10 years. Our collective teams' mission, vision, and values were an easy fit.

AppDirect's excellence in subscription commerce and commitment to a product-led growth strategy perfectly aligns with Builtfirst's expertise in white-labeled partner marketplace portals. This powerful partnership will bring features like monetization, more exclusive discounts, and wider distribution to all of our customers in 2024.

So what's next for Builtfirst? True monetization.

This will be split into two phases: Affiliate, which will enable referral revenue from marketplaces, and the holy grail—owning the purchasing flow which will be enabled through AppDirect.

What does this mean for you, our customers?

Same Builtfirst, better product, service, resourcing, and team! Expect zero interruptions to your current service and even faster shipping speed.

There is no reason to look elsewhere when building a partner marketplace. Together, AppDirect and Builtfirst are the number one subscription commerce and B2B partner marketplace solution on the market. 

Things will only get better from here!