Going to Market When No Market Exists


watch time: 28 minutes

Too often, If a technical founder creates a widget, their de facto stance is that it has intrinsic value that is obvious to all — that people will not only understand what’s so cool and important about that widget, but also the dollar value attached to it. The reality is: No matter how cool this widget is, until you go through go to market, it doesn’t exist.

a16z general partner Martin Casado (who was part of the a16z portfolio) went from a PhD to co-founder of Nicira, which was acquired by VMWare, and would eventually run up to a $1B business and even “greater potential strategic opportunity”. In this deck, presented at one of our company building events, Casado shares lessons learned for going to market when you’re trying to CREATE, not just enter an existing, market category: From the how, when, and what of pricing (hint: do NOT set the price too early or too low!); marketing to early markets (especially given the rise of the developer as buyer); and finally, what kind of sales motion you need and when to deploy it.

But in many ways, says Casado, this is a deck about his failures. From a technical background, building a company can be very non-intuitive. This is not a block-and-tackle business school lecture (which tend to look only backwards, and to focus mature markets) — it’s about how do you get your “magic beans”, this amazing thing you’ve created, to market, to market. Not just into the market, but how to get the market to understand, and value the magic. For technical founders starting on your own journey with your own magic beans, this is the roadmap you’ll need.