4 things that can help your startup achieve Gartner Cool Vendor recognition

Since 2004, being named a Gartner “Cool Vendor” is something every technology startup aspires to. As one of Gartner’s most popular programs, Cool Vendors shines a spotlight on new and emerging small companies. Startups will pore over guides about how to work with Gartner or look for insider secrets to becoming a Cool Vendor—doing anything they can to improve their chances of earning the coveted status. 

Fortunately for you, we have some tips and insights that can help. Merlin Ventures recently held an exclusive online event called “The Secrets of Gartner” that featured Zeevi Michel, a Venture Partner at Elaia. Michel, a former Head of Global Innovation and AI at Gartner, shared advice about both how to pursue Cool Vendor status and build a relationship with Gartner. We’ve summarized some of his main points below. 

  • Pick the right time and the right customers: Reach out to Gartner once your startup has a few paying customers that will vouch for you. These references should be willing to speak with Gartner analysts and must be passionate and excited about your products or services. 
  • C-Level engagement: At the beginning of the relationship, the CEO and CMO should attend every meeting with the Gartner analyst(s). Only the analysts can nominate startups as Cool Vendors, so building a great relationship with them from the beginning is very important. Make the analyst(s) feel engaged and influential, like they’re part of your company’s business development team. 
  • Find your match: Cool Vendors are selected across almost 100 different categories. If there isn’t a category that 100% fits your company, it’s better to try and gain recognition in any number of verticals that are most similar verticals to your business industry. 
  • Play the long game: Achieving Cool Vendor recognition can take 6-18 months, depending on the publishing cycle and when you made the first call. Just remember: Gartner is a long-term relationship, and it needs nurturing.