Going to Market When No Market Exists | Summary and Q&A

October 26, 2018
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Going to Market When No Market Exists


Learnings and insights for technical founders on navigating market category creation and go-to-market strategies in the Enterprise space.

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Questions & Answers

Q: How does market category creation differ from entering an existing market?

Market category creation involves introducing a new concept where customers are not familiar with the problem or solution. In contrast, entering an existing market involves offering improvements or innovations to products or services that customers already understand.

Q: Why is pricing a crucial decision in market category creation?

Pricing directly affects the company's valuation, as all contribution margin is determined by the price at which the product is sold. Setting the price too low can cannibalize future market potential, while setting it too high may deter customers.

Q: How does go-to-market strategy differ in market category creation scenarios?

Market research, pricing analysis, and comparative analysis, common in mature markets, do not apply in market category creation scenarios. Direct sales and educational sales approaches are often necessary as customers have little understanding of the new concept.

Q: What are some challenges faced by technical founders in market category creation?

Technical founders often believe in the intrinsic value of their product and assume customers will recognize its worth. However, until a go-to-market strategy is implemented, the product's value remains unknown, and customers need to be educated about it.


In this video, the speaker shares their experience as a technical founder in a market category creation scenario. They discuss the importance of go-to-market strategies, pricing, and sales in driving the valuation and success of a company. The speaker emphasizes the challenges and considerations involved in market category creation, the value of creating a compelling story, the significance of attracting developers, and the differences between early market and mature market sales.

Questions & Answers

Q: What is the importance of go-to-market strategies in the enterprise space?

In the enterprise space, go-to-market strategies are just as important as the technology itself. The value of a company in the enterprise space is mostly determined by its go-to-market efforts, as sales and marketing activities drive revenue and margins. While R&D costs become fixed or sub-linear over time, sales costs directly impact revenue and valuation. Therefore, it is crucial to focus on developing effective go-to-market strategies to ensure the success and value of a company.

Q: How do you know if you're in a market category creation situation?

In a market category creation situation, the customers do not understand the technical concepts or even realize they have a problem that needs solving. It can be challenging to sell a product or solution in this scenario because the customers need to be educated about the problem and the value of the solution. If you find yourself having difficult customer conversations where they don't fully grasp your offering or the problem it solves, then you are likely in a market category creation situation.

Q: How important is pricing in determining the valuation of a company?

Pricing is one of the most critical decisions that impact the valuation of a company, particularly in the enterprise space. The contribution margin, which is the difference between the selling price and the cost of sales, directly affects the valuation of a company. If the price is set too low, it can cannibalize future market opportunities, making it challenging to increase prices later. Therefore, setting the right price is crucial for driving revenue, margins, and ultimately the valuation of a company.

Q: How do you set the right price in a market category creation situation where no market exists?

Setting the right price in a market category creation situation can be complex since there is no existing market or established pricing benchmarks. It is essential to work backward and consider the sales model that will support the product and its pricing. Different sales models require different pricing strategies, and it's crucial to find the right balance that will drive sales and market penetration. Experimentation is necessary but should be done cautiously, as it can be challenging to raise prices if they are set too low initially.

Q: How does marketing play a role in market category creation?

Marketing is a crucial aspect of market category creation as it helps establish the company's story, promote the product, and enable sales. There are three main components of marketing: product marketing, demand generation, and branding. Product marketing focuses on defining the company's story and enabling the sales team to effectively communicate the value proposition. Demand generation involves creating awareness and generating leads, often through targeted marketing channels. Branding, although not discussed in detail, is an essential aspect of marketing for building a strong company image and identity.

Q: How can startups attract developers and why is it important?

Startups can attract developers, who are increasingly influential in enterprise purchasing decisions, by focusing on strategies such as open-source projects, hackathons, or freemium offerings. While it is not clear whether these methods directly correlate with success, having a developer community can provide valuable market feedback and influence within organizations. Developers have different buying behaviors and preferences, being more technically focused and less concerned about traditional sales and marketing efforts. Startups should consider engaging developers as they can play a significant role in driving market adoption and success.

Q: What is the significance of early market sales and how do they differ from mature market sales?

Early market sales require a different approach compared to mature market sales. In early market situations, customers are often not familiar with the product or solution, requiring a more technical and educational sales approach. Sales reps must be able to qualify leads aggressively, focus on building relationships, and be knowledgeable about the technology. On the other hand, mature market sales are more focused on relationship and commercial discussions since customers already understand the product and the competitive landscape. Understanding the differences between early market and mature market sales is important in hiring the right salespeople and tailoring the sales approach accordingly.

Q: How can startups navigate the challenge of limited resources in early sales?

Startups often face resource limitations, particularly in the early stages. However, entrepreneurs can leverage their unique expertise and story as a form of currency to attract customers and build trust. By focusing on the high-order value proposition and refining their story, entrepreneurs can effectively communicate the value of their product, even without a fully developed solution. Additionally, startups should be cautious of burning internal resources by taking on excessive professional services engagements. While it is sometimes necessary, striking a balance between professional services and product development is crucial to best utilize limited resources.

Q: Is it advisable to engage channel partners early in the sales process?

Channel partners, such as resellers or VARs (value-added resellers), generally work well in mature markets where there is already a demand for the product or solution. However, in market category creation situations, where customers need to be educated and the market is not well-defined, engaging channel partners early on can be ineffective. The channel typically requires an existing market and trained partners, which might not be available in the early stages. Startups are advised to focus on direct sales initially and strategize on channel partnerships once the market matures.

Q: What is the main takeaway from this video?

The main takeaway is that go-to-market strategies, pricing decisions, and sales efforts are critical factors that impact the valuation and success of a company, particularly in market category creation scenarios. Entrepreneurs should invest time in understanding these aspects and developing effective strategies before cementing their pricing and go-to-market approaches. Additionally, having a compelling story and attracting developers can greatly influence the market adoption and growth of a startup. Finally, understanding the differences between early market and mature market sales is crucial in hiring the right sales team and tailoring the sales approach to the specific market conditions.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • The speaker shares their background as a technical founder and the challenges they faced in navigating the business and marketing side of market category creation.

  • Market category creation involves introducing a new concept or product that customers aren't familiar with, making it difficult to sell without educating them on the problem and value it solves.

  • The value of a company in the Enterprise space heavily relies on go-to-market strategies, with go-to-market being as important as the technology itself.

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