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Highlights

 

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 Vinoth Chandar, CEO and founder of Onehouse, a cloud-native data lakehouse solution that has raised $33 million in funding.

Key topics discussed in this episode:

  • Vinoth’s background as a database and distributed systems engineer, including stints at Oracle, LinkedIn, Uber (where he built the world’s first data lakehouse), and Confluent before founding Onehouse.
  • How Onehouse is building a faster, better, and cheaper cloud data infrastructure by leveraging the open-source Apache Hudi project that Vinoth started at Uber.
  • The core value proposition of data lakehouses in combining the best of data warehouses and data lakes, enabling faster data processing and decoupling of data storage from query engines.
  • Onehouse’s go-to-market journey, from leveraging the Apache Hudi community for early traction to narrowing down the ideal customer profile and refining the product-market fit.
  • The challenges of rising above the noise in a crowded data infrastructure market and the importance of developer advocacy and community-building in establishing credibility.
  • Vinoth’s lessons learned in transitioning from a technical practitioner to a founder/CEO, including managing chaos, embracing humility, and rapidly iterating based on market feedback.

Actionable
Takeaways

Leverage Open-Source Adoption for Early GTM Traction:

Onehouse's go-to-market journey highlights the power of building an open-source community before launching a commercial product. By nurturing the Apache Hudi project at Uber and beyond, Vinoth created a built-in base of engaged users and advocates. Founders pursuing an open-core model should invest early in fostering a vibrant community around their open-source technology to generate momentum and credibility for the enterprise offering.

Refine the Ideal Customer Profile Through Rapid Experimentation:

Despite strong in-bound interest, Onehouse still had to narrow down its ideal customer profile to focus its GTM efforts. Vinoth's team started with seven target personas and whittled it down to three through a process of rapid experimentation and customer discovery. Founders should resist the temptation to boil the ocean and instead quickly test hypotheses around customer segments to identify the most promising beachhead.

Establish Authority Through Developer Advocacy and Education:

In a crowded market with large incumbents, Onehouse differentiated itself by prioritizing developer advocacy and community education over traditional marketing. By consistently delivering high-quality technical content that helped data practitioners understand the benefits of the lakehouse architecture, the team built trust and awareness. Founders in complex technology spaces should anchor their marketing strategy around genuinely educating the market and earning mindshare.

Embrace Humility and Adaptability in Non-Engineering Domains:

As a highly accomplished engineer, Vinoth had to consciously adopt a beginner's mindset when tackling go-to-market challenges. He advises technical founders to embrace humility and be willing to rapidly course-correct when navigating unfamiliar domains like sales and marketing. Shedding the expectation of being the expert and leaning into continuous learning is critical for successfully expanding one's leadership repertoire.

Align with Investors Who Believe in Your Vision and Convictions:

Onehouse's fundraising journey involved navigating drama and FOMO induced by large competitors. Vinoth's key learning was to deeply internalize the company's unique value proposition and target investors who bought into the vision and were willing to bet on the team's convictions. Founders should focus on crafting a compelling, data-driven narrative around their startup's unfair advantages and partner with VCs who genuinely share their worldview.

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