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Conversation
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 Thibault Castagne, CEO and Co-Founder of Vianova, a mobility intelligence platform that has raised $8.8 million in funding.

  • The core problems Vianova aims to solve: reducing greenhouse gas emissions from transportation and improving road safety, with road fatalities increasing by 18% in the US over the past four years.
  • Vianova’s unique customer base, with two-thirds of revenue coming from government entities such as cities and municipalities, and one-third from enterprise clients like mobility operators, navigation systems, and infrastructure managers.
  • The challenges and opportunities of selling to cities, with long sales cycles but also a moat-like effect, and the importance of making it easy for them to say yes through pilots, POCs, and thought leadership content.
  • The journey to finding product-market fit through iterative work with early customers like the city of Paris and extensive face-to-face meetings with prospects across Europe.
  • The lessons learned from fundraising, including the time-consuming nature of the process, the need to delegate and create competition among investors, and the importance of branding and storytelling.
  • The critical role of human relationships and team building as the top priority for a CEO and founder.
  • The long-term vision of becoming the operating system for the mobility world, solving challenges like road safety, congestion, and traffic management by leveraging data from connected vehicles and IoT devices.

Actionable
Takeaways

Cultivate a Missionary Mindset:

Like Brian Chesky and other successful founders, prioritize being the first salesperson, staying close to customer feedback, and caring deeply about the problem you're solving. This authentic passion and commitment can be a powerful driver of growth and resilience.

Make It Easy to Say Yes:

When selling to large, complex organizations like cities, focus on reducing barriers to adoption by offering pilots, POCs, and thought leadership content that demonstrates your expertise and the value of your solution. Aim to minimize their perceived risk and workload in getting started.

Invest in Face-to-Face Relationship Building:

In the early stages of building a B2B startup, prioritize in-person meetings with prospects and customers to gather feedback, refine your messaging, and build trust and credibility. Like Thibault's couch-surfing approach, be willing to put in the time and travel to establish strong relationships.

Manage Fundraising Strategically:

Recognize that fundraising is a time-consuming process that requires careful planning and delegation to minimize disruption to the business. Focus on creating competition among investors, leveraging the power of social proof, and crafting a compelling brand story to generate excitement and momentum.

Prioritize People and Relationships:

As a founder and CEO, your top priority should be building and motivating an exceptional team to accomplish your mission. Invest in human relationships, both within your company and with external partners and customers, as the foundation for long-term success and impact.

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