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Welcome to another episode of Category Visionaries — the show that explores GTM stories from tech’s most innovative B2B founders. In today’s episode, we’re speaking with Benjamin Wilms, CEO and Co-Founder of Steadybit, a chaos engineering platform that has raised $7.8 million in funding.

  • Benjamin began his career as a software developer, and despite his current role as CEO, he remains a developer at heart. His journey into chaos engineering started from a desire to share solutions to common problems in the developer community.
  • The transition from developer to startup founder for Benjamin was sparked by his passion for solving problems and sharing those solutions, leading to the founding of Steadybit. He credits a supportive culture at his former employer, which allowed him to explore chaos engineering.
  • Steadybit’s founding was fueled by Benjamin’s realization during a late project that only happy paths were being tested. His exploration into chaos engineering helped ensure the project’s survival upon its first release, showcasing the practical application of chaos engineering principles.
  • Steadybit’s approach to funding and growth was very product-driven. Benjamin shared a serendipitous call from an investor from Bolt Start, which led to significant seed funding based on the initial success and potential of Steadybit’s product.
  • The challenge of transitioning from a developer to a CEO was marked by the need to focus and make efficient decisions. Benjamin highlights the importance of learning from failures and trusting one’s instincts in decision-making.
  • Steadybit’s vision for the future focuses on making chaos engineering accessible and user-friendly, integrating with a wide array of tools used by engineers and SREs to ensure systems can withstand real-world challenges.

Actionable
Takeaways

Pursue Passion Projects Within Professional Frameworks:

Benjamin’s journey underscores the value of leveraging workplace policies that encourage innovation, such as the "plus one model" akin to Google's 20% time. Founders should consider implementing or advocating for similar policies within their organizations or their daily routines to foster an environment of continuous learning and innovation.

Embrace and Share Your Expertise:

Specializing in a niche area not only positions you as an expert but also opens opportunities for meaningful contributions to your community. Whether through public speaking, blogging, or open source projects, sharing your knowledge can lead to unexpected opportunities, including founding a company.

Validate Your Product Through Real-world Problems:

Steadybit was born from identifying a real problem (the lack of testing for "unhappy paths" in software development) and addressing it innovatively. For founders, actively seeking out and solving such real-world problems can serve as a solid foundation for a valuable product and company.

Leverage Initial Success for Funding and Growth:

Early achievements and validation of your product, even if modest, can be instrumental in securing funding. Benjamin's story illustrates how initial success and investor interest can propel your startup from an idea to a funded venture. Be prepared to share these successes and leverage them in discussions with potential investors.

Focus Is Key, But Be Adaptable:

The advice to focus but also learn from failures is particularly relevant for tech founders navigating the fast-paced and often unpredictable startup landscape. Dedication to a chosen path, combined with the flexibility to pivot based on feedback and lessons learned, can guide a startup through challenging early stages toward sustainable growth.

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