Listen Here

| |



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 Ian Coe, CEO & Co-Founder at Tonic, a synthetic data platform that has raised $45 Million in funding. 

 Here are the most interesting points from our conversation:

  • Origin Story of Tonic: Ian shares how Tonic was born out of challenges encountered at Palantir regarding sensitive data handling, leading to early versions of synthetic data solutions.
  • Initial Focus on Developers: The decision to focus initially on developers was strategic, aiming to address immediate data challenges within software development through synthetic data, without diving into more complex data science applications.
  • Early Product Development: Ian recalls the early days of shaping Tonic, focusing on creating value with incremental wins and leveraging personal networks to validate their solutions.
  • Synthetic Data Definition and Use: Discussing the blurred lines between data masking and synthetic data, Ian explains how Tonic navigates these complexities by focusing on customer needs rather than strict definitions.
  • Marketing and Community Engagement: Ian emphasizes the importance of honest, direct communication and producing high-quality content that resonates with technically inclined audiences.
  • Growth and Customer Success: Tonic’s journey from initial product validation to securing high-profile customers like the NHL and eBay showcases their effectiveness and adaptability in solving real-world data challenges.



Leverage Industry Experience to Identify Pain Points:

Ian's experience at Palantir revealed critical gaps in data management, which directly influenced the foundation of Tonic. For founders, closely examining past roles and challenges can unearth valuable insights into unmet needs and potential business opportunities.

Start with a Focused Niche:

Initially targeting developers allowed Tonic to address specific, immediate problems, establishing a strong foothold before expanding into broader markets. Founders should consider beginning with a well-defined target audience to refine their product and achieve early success.

Iterative Product Development:

Tonic’s strategy of starting with what would be immediately useful and then rapidly iterating based on feedback is a practical approach for any tech startup. This method allows for quicker adaptation and better alignment with market needs.

Define the Product in Terms of Customer Problems:

Rather than getting bogged down by industry jargon or rigid definitions, focus on how the product solves specific customer problems. This approach helps in creating more relevant and appealing product offerings.

Content Marketing Should Educate and Engage:

Ian points out that producing content that is genuinely useful and informative attracts a more engaged and loyal audience. For B2B founders, investing in high-quality content that educates and adds value can effectively draw in and retain a technical audience.

Recommended Founder

Idan Shchori

CEO of Datorios

Idan Shchori, CEO of Datorios: More Than $23 Million Raised to Build the Perfect Data Orchestration Environment to Run ETL Code

Nicholas Freund

Co-founder & CEO, of

Nicholas Freund, CEO of Workstream: $7 Million Raised to Build the Data Knowledge Management Category

Dan DeMers

CEO of Cinchy

Dan DeMers, CEO of Cinchy: Over $24 Million Raised to Build a Data Collaboration Platform That Makes Data Integration Obsolete

Creating the Data Privacy Management Category with DataGrail

CEO and Co-Founder of DataGrail

Creating the Data Privacy Management Category with DataGrail’s Daniel Barber

Eduardo Silva

CEO of Calyptia

Eduardo Silva, CEO of Calyptia: $5 Million Build the Future of Data Observation

Nicolas Hourcard

CEO and Founder of QuestDB

Nicolas Hourcard, CEO & Founder of QuestDB: $15 Million Raised to Build the Leading Open-Source Time Series Database

Ryan Janssen

CEO and Co-Founder of Zenlytic

Ryan Janssen, CEO and Co-Founder of Zenlytic: $5.4 Million Raised for AI-Assisted Business Intelligence to Drive Better Decisions

Logan Havern

CEO and Founder of DataLogz

Logan Havern, CEO & Founder of DataLogz: $8 Million Raised to Build the BI Ops Category

Jorge Penalva

CEO of

Jorge Penalva, CEO of $40 Million+ Raised to Build the Customer Experience Operations Category

Ethan Aaron

Founder, CEO of Portable

Ethan Aaron, CEO of Portable: $3 Million Raised to Build a Cloud ETL Tool That Supports the Long Tail of Business Applications

Jean Le Bouthillier

CEO of Qohash

Jean Le Bouthillier, CEO of Qohash: $20 Million Raised to Build the Future of Data Security

Ajay Kulkarni

Co-Founder/CEO of Timescale

Ajay Kulkarni, CEO of Timescale: $180 Million Raised to Redefine the Database Category

Saket Saurabh

Co-founder & CEO of Nexla

Saket Saurabh, CEO of Nexla: $15 Million Raised to Build the Future of Data Operations

Michel Tricot

Co-Founder & CEO of Airbyte

Michel Tricot, CEO of Airbyte: $181 Million Raised to Build the Future of Data Integration

Sarah Nagy

CEO of Seek AI

Sarah Nagy, CEO of Seek AI: $7.5 Million Raised to Modernize Business Analytics with Generative AI-Powered Database Queries

Vinoth Chandar

CEO and Founder of Onehouse

Vinoth Chandar, CEO and Founder of Onehouse: $33 Million Raised to Bring Order to Data Lakehouses

Yardin Shaked

CEO of Varos

Yardin Shaked, CEO, and Co-Founder at Varos: $4M Raised to Revolutionize Competitive Analytics and Break Data Silos

Barr Moses

Co-Founder & CEO of Monte Carlo

Barr Moses, Co-Founder & CEO of Monte Carlo: $230 Million Raised to Build the Data Observability Category

Sean Knapp

Founder & CEO of Ascend

Sean Knapp, Founder & CEO of Ascend: $50 Million to Power the Future of Data Engineering

Ethan Ruby

CEO and Co-Founder of SaaSGrid

Ethan Ruby, CEO and Co-Founder of SaaSGrid: $3M Raised to Become the Standard For SaaS Metrics

Kaycee Lai

CEO and Founder of Promethium

Kaycee Lai, CEO and Founder of Promethium: $34.5 Million Raised to Make Building Data Products Easy

Eric Olden

CEO and Founder of Strata Identity

Eric Olden, CEO and Founder of Strata Identity: $42 Million Raised to Build the Identity Orchestration Category