20VC: Why Being First Does Not Matter, Why Defensibility on Day 1 Does Not Exist, Three Core Elements To Move into Enterprise Effectively and What Makes Truly Great Product Marketing Today with Des Traynor, Co-Founder @ Intercom


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Des Traynor is a Co-founder and the Chief Strategy Officer of Intercom, the modern customer communications platform that unifies every aspect of the customer journey. To date, Intercom has raised over $238M from some of the best including Index, ICONIQ, Kleiner, GV, and Bessemer. As for Des, before co-founding Intercom, he was a UX consultant, a university lecturer in computer science, and also a Ph.D. researcher. Des is also a prolific angel investor with a portfolio including the likes of Stripe, Algolia, Notion, Miro, and many more.

In Today's Episode We Discuss:

1.) Origins of Intercom:

  • How did Des make his way into the world of startups and come to co-found Intercom?
  • When did they realize they really had something with Intercom and had to focus on it?
  • What does Des know now that he wishes he had known at the start of Intercom?

2. Two of the Biggest Myths in Startups: Being First and Defensibility

  • Why does Des believe that being the first does not matter? Why is it not an advantage?
  • Why does Des believe that no company has defensibility on day 1? How does Des believe defensibility is built?
  • What does Des mean when he says, when investing in companies he looks for a "long road to the starting line"?

3.) Product 101: A Masterclass on Product:

  • How does Des answer the question of when to release a second product?
  • How should the second product be resourced? MVP and lean or full budget and committed?
  • What are the biggest mistakes people make when releasing a second product? What mistakes have Des and Intercom made when releasing new products?
  • How does Des advise founders on when to stop working on a product? How do you know when it is not working?
  • How does Des determine between a feature and a product both when building and when investing?

4.) Moving to Enterprise:

  • What does Des believe are the three core things all companies need to scale into the enterprise effectively? Which should they do first? Which is most challenging?
  • How does Des advise founders on when is the right time to move into the enterprise?
  • How does the product need to change to meet enterprise needs and requirements?

5.) The Makings of Great Product Marketing:

  • What does Des believe makes truly great product marketing? Who does it well today?
  • How does your product marketing need to change as you scale from SMB to enterprise?
  • If product marketing to both an end user and a separate buyer, which persona should one prioritise their messaging towards?
  • How does Des advise founders on product marketing when they have a horizontal product with a very broad customer base?

6.) Angel Investing 101: From Stripe to Miro to Notion:

  • Why does Des believe it is beneficial for operators to also be investing?
  • What are the biggest lessons Des has learned from angel investing?
  • How does Des approach both market sizing and outcome scenario planning today?
  • How price sensitive is Des today? How has that changed over time?

Item's Mentioned in Today's Episode with Des Traynor:

Des' Favourite Book: How Will You Measure Your Life by Clayton Christensen

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