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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 Ryan Janssen, CEO and Co-founder of Zenlytic, a BI tool for commerce brands that has raised $5.4 million in funding. Zenlytic leverages cutting-edge AI to offer instant, reliable analytics insights, acting like an always-on data analyst for its users.

  • Ryan’s Diverse Background: Transitioning from engineering to an MBA, then venturing into data science, Ryan embodies a fusion of technical and business acumen, culminating in the foundation of Zenlytic alongside his co-founder, Paul.
  • Venture Capital Insights: Ryan’s stint in venture capital ingrained in him the importance of resilience, a quality he deems crucial for navigating the volatile journey of a startup.
  • The Birth of Zenlytic: Witnessing firsthand the advancements in AI and the ubiquity of data, Ryan and his co-founder seized the opportunity to improve business intelligence through more accessible and sophisticated tools.
  • Addressing a Real Need: Zenlytic addresses the gap left by traditional BI tools through AI-powered analytics, catering to businesses inundated with data but lacking effective tools to harness its full potential.
  • Market Positioning and Vision: Zenlytic aims to be the next evolutionary step in BI, building upon the advancements of predecessors like Tableau and Looker by integrating a natural language interface for data analysis.
  • Engagement and Growth: Demonstrating high user engagement and significant ARR growth, Zenlytic is rapidly becoming a key player in the BI space, driven by its innovative approach to data analytics.


Prioritize Engagement Metrics for Early-Stage Success:

Ryan mentions measuring success through engagement as a seed-stage business. For founders, focusing on how actively users engage with your product can provide more immediate and actionable insights than other early metrics, guiding product development more effectively.

Integration Over Innovation for Differentiation:

Zenlytic differentiates by integrating existing technologies (LLMs) deeply with a semantic layer for BI, rather than solely innovating on the surface. Founders should consider how deep integration of technologies can create a more reliable and distinctive offering than merely adding new features.

Open Product Demos as a Trust-Building Tool:

Given the skepticism around new technologies, especially AI, Ryan emphasizes the importance of demonstrating product capabilities directly to potential users. Making your product as accessible as possible for demos can help overcome doubts and build trust in your solution.

Address the Limitations of Your Technology Upfront:

Acknowledging and planning for the limitations of your technology, as Zenlytic does with AI's potential for inaccuracies, can prevent overpromising and underdelivering. Transparently communicating these limitations to your users can foster trust and set realistic expectations.

Capitalize on Shifts Within Established Markets:

Zenlytic identified a vacuum left by acquisitions in the BI space as an opportunity. For founders, staying alert to shifts within established markets—such as major players pivoting or integrating vertically—can reveal underserved segments or needs ripe for innovation.

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