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Highlights

 

Welcome to another episode of Category Visionaries, the show that explores the future of tech with innovative B2B founders. In today’s episode, we’re speaking with John Jahnke, CEO and Co-Founder of Tackle.io, a cloud go-to-market platform that has raised over $148 million in funding.

  • Tackle.io’s mission to enable software companies to go to market through cloud marketplaces, making it a business decision rather than a product and engineering problem.
  • The company’s impressive traction, with 550 customers, 100%+ year-over-year growth, and an expected $3 billion in transactions through the platform in the current year.
  • The evolution of the go-to-market landscape, with a growing emphasis on efficient distribution and the emergence of a new tech stack for digital selling.
  • The process of creating and defining the “Cloud Go-To-Market” category, starting with content creation, experimentation, and a pivotal virtual event in partnership with cloud providers.
  • The importance of delivering real value to customers and gaining traction before attempting to create a new category, recognizing that category creation can be a lengthy and challenging process.
  • The role of analyst relations in validating the Cloud Go-To-Market category, with Tackle.io creating its own “State of Cloud Marketplace” report to fill the initial information gap and subsequently engaging with analysts from Gartner and Forrester.
  • The critical importance of storytelling in fundraising and the value of John’s experience as a sales engineer in translating complex ideas into relatable narratives.
  • The challenges faced by Tackle.io in the past year, including navigating a restructuring process, transforming the leadership team to adapt to a changing market, and the stress of the SVB bank crisis.
  • The long-term vision of accelerating the migration of B2B software sales to the cloud, with a focus on making software selling as efficient as possible through innovations in product-led growth, usage-based pricing, and ecosystem development.

Actionable
Takeaways

Focus on Delivering Customer Value:

John emphasizes that the key to successful category creation is first and foremost delivering real value to customers. By focusing on solving genuine problems and providing a product that customers are willing to pay for, founders can lay the groundwork for defining a new category.

Leverage Content to Experiment and Educate:

Tackle.io used content creation as a way to introduce and refine the concept of Cloud Go-To-Market, experimenting with messaging and using a virtual event to formally launch the category in partnership with cloud providers. B2B founders should consider how they can use content to test ideas, educate the market, and build credibility around a new category.

Invest in Storytelling for Fundraising Success:

John attributes much of Tackle.io's fundraising success to the ability to craft a compelling narrative around the company's vision and expertise. Founders should recognize the power of storytelling in attracting investors and dedicate time to refining their pitch and translating complex ideas into relatable stories.

Adapt Leadership to Navigate Market Changes:

As Tackle.io faced a shifting market landscape, John had to make difficult decisions to restructure the team and bring in leaders with the right skills for the new phase of growth. Founders must be willing to honestly assess their leadership needs and make tough calls to ensure the company is well-positioned for success in different market conditions.

Anticipate and Plan for Existential Threats:

The SVB crisis underscored the importance of preparing for unexpected, existential challenges that are beyond a founder's control. While it may be impossible to predict every potential threat, founders should prioritize building resilience into their business model, diversifying key relationships (such as banking partners), and having contingency plans in place to navigate unforeseen crises.

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