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Conversation
Highlights

Welcome to another episode of Category Visionaries — the show that explores GTM stories from the tech’s most innovative B2B founders. In today’s episode, we’re speaking with Bob van Luijt, CEO and Co-Founder of Weaviate, a cloud native real-time vector database that has raised over $67 Million in funding.

Here are the most interesting points from our conversation:

  • Early Beginnings: Bob’s foray into technology began with the internet’s arrival at his home, leading to his first business in web development before turning 20, showcasing his entrepreneurial spirit from a young age.
  • Transition to AI: Bob’s career took a significant turn towards AI and machine learning around 2014-2015, culminating in the creation of Weaviate, driven by his fascination with vector embeddings and their potential for improving search and recommendation systems.
  • Weaviate’s Origin: Initially an open-source project, Weaviate evolved into a business in 2019. The venture into AI and machine learning infrastructure was fueled by the realization of the immense potential in creating an AI-native database.
  • Marketing Strategy: Bob emphasizes the importance of a bottom-up marketing approach for B2B companies targeting developers, focusing on assisting developers in achieving success with Weaviate’s technology rather than pushing the product itself.
  • Future Vision: Looking ahead, Bob envisions Weaviate as an AI-native platform, emphasizing the shift towards AI-native infrastructure in software development and the goal of empowering developers to create AI-native applications seamlessly.
  • Lessons in Fundraising: Bob’s journey in fundraising revealed the importance of organic relationship building with investors, underscoring that genuine connections and a shared vision can lead to successful funding rounds without excessive friction.

Actionable
Takeaways

Embrace Open Source Early:

Bob's journey with Weaviate began as an open-source project before transitioning into a scalable business. This approach can build a community and validate your technology, offering insights and traction that can be leveraged when scaling.

Focus on Developer Success:

Bob emphasizes the importance of helping developers succeed using your technology rather than just promoting the product. Create detailed documentation, tutorials, and community support to empower developers to build with your tool.

Cultivate a Kind Culture:

Weaviate's culture of kindness and support has been key to its growth. For your startup, consider embedding kindness and support into your core values to attract like-minded talent and foster a positive work environment.

Invest in Marketing That Educates:

Adopt a marketing strategy that educates your target audience about the potential and practical application of your technology. Use content that ranges from broad awareness to in-depth tutorials, ensuring you cover all stages of the customer journey.

Build Strategic Relationships Early:

Long before formal fundraising, Bob was cultivating relationships with potential investors and partners, focusing on organic growth and mutual understanding. This approach can lead to more meaningful partnerships and investments down the line.

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