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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 Marc Bernstein, CEO & Founder of Balto, a contact center solutions provider that’s raised $52 Million in funding. 

Most interesting points from our conversation:

  • Inspiration Behind Balto: Marc’s own struggles with applying coaching advice in sales calls led to the creation of Balto, aiming to bridge the gap between learning and doing in high-pressure customer interactions.
  • Unique Influences: Beyond typical entrepreneurial heroes like Elon Musk and Steve Jobs, Marc finds inspiration in the diverse talents and unfinished projects of Leonardo da Vinci, highlighting the strength found in a broad spectrum of interests and the occasional focus shift.
  • Navigating Through Tough Times: The global shift in the tech landscape in 2022 forced Balto to make significant operational changes, including reducing their workforce. This period, while challenging, taught the team valuable lessons in efficiency and focus.
  • The Lean Startup Approach: Balto’s early strategy was heavily influenced by Eric Ries’ The Lean Startup, leading to rapid product development and direct feedback collection from potential customers through a series of 82 demos, culminating in their first sale.
  • Understanding the Market: Marc’s dive into market research and the realization that contact centers experienced acute pain from inefficient communication and coaching processes shaped Balto’s target market and product development strategy.
  • Vision for the Future: Looking ahead, Marc envisions a world where AI’s capabilities extend beyond task automation to enhance human abilities, ensuring that people remain a critical component of the workforce in an AI-dominated future.



Embrace a Broad Spectrum of Interests:

Marc's admiration for Leonardo da Vinci underlines the importance of nurturing diverse interests, even those seemingly unrelated to your core business. This breadth of knowledge can inspire innovative solutions to complex problems, a lesson for B2B founders to explore interests beyond their niche for unexpected inspiration.

Adopt a Lean Startup Mentality:

Balto's initial strategy, influenced by Eric Ries' The Lean Startup, underscores the value of rapidly prototyping and seeking direct market feedback. B2B tech founders should prioritize creating a minimum viable product and use real customer interactions to refine their offerings.

Prepare for the Unpredictable:

The tectonic shifts in the tech landscape experienced by Balto in 2022 highlight the necessity of agility and resilience. Founders must be prepared to adapt their operations swiftly in response to external pressures, including reevaluating burn rates and operational efficiencies.

Cultivate Personal Connections in Fundraising:

Marc's fundraising experiences reveal that investors are seeking genuine connections rather than just another pitch. Founders should focus on building relationships with potential investors by asking insightful questions and showing genuine interest in their perspectives.

Leverage AI to Augment Human Abilities:

Looking forward, Marc's vision for Balto includes using AI not just for automation but to enhance human capabilities, suggesting a future where technology and humanity coexist beneficially. B2B founders should consider how their products can not only solve existing problems but also empower users to achieve more than they could independently.

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