Episode 14: Brendan Kamm and David Cherrie

In our 14th episode, Gil talks about category creation with two founders in the personalized gift-giving and employee engagement categories.

Panelists for this episode include:

  • Brendan Kamm, CEO, Thnks and one of the creators of the personalized gift-giving category
  • David Cherrie, CEO, Arcade, and one of the innovators behind the employee engagement category

Or watch the video

Tune in to learn how to implement customer feedback, validate your newly created category, and find your ideal customer profile.

Takeaway 1. Customer feedback is a great tool for defining your category

The best way to carve out a new category is not by waiting for external validation, but by figuring out what your customers want and then building something they love.

Sometimes you’ll get lucky enough that an investor or analyst will endorse your idea before you even launch.

But in most cases, your customers will be the ones deciding your product’s direction.

That’s what happened with David Cherrie and his team at Arcade.

They built out their category by asking potential users if they were already spending money on sales contests.

This made it easier to then educate them about how Arcade was a more innovative solution to an existing problem.

If you recall from previous episodes of category creator, this is known as anchoring strategy.

It works because your market is more likely to understand what you do if you can compare it to something that they already understand or use.

Takeaway 2. Internal metrics can help you measure category creation

However you look at it, category creation requires you to continually educate your market about what makes your company special.

It’s a long journey with many unpredictable detours.

So how can you tell when you’re on the right path?

One of the suggestions offered in this episode is to use internal metrics to help you figure out how you’re doing.

Think of these as your personal north star metrics.

They can be qualitative, quantitative, or both.

For example, one of the metrics that Brendan Kemm looked at during the early days of Thnks was the different ways that people used the product after signing up.

Initially, the product was almost exclusively used by large enterprise clients.

But he was surprised to discover that SMBs and even individual real estate agents, insurance agents were using the platform in many interesting ways.

This discovery provided all the confirmation he needed to know that his team was headed in the right direction.

If you’re a startup CEO, these types of early indications of success can be enough to keep you motivated.

Just make sure you pick an internal metric that indicates:

  • Your customers are actively using your product
  • Your reaching people within your target market
  • People are referring your product through word of mouth

You’re a lot more likely to stick with your idea when you can see that you’re on the path to building something great.

Takeaway 3. Using your own product leads to new insights about your category

Besides looking at customer feedback, using your own product is another powerful category creation strategy.

It allows you to get a first-hand experience of how your product works in your customer’s eyes.

This can lead to new insights that you just wouldn’t get by relying on customer feedback alone.

At Metadata, for example, we’re big on using our product internally.

It wasn’t always like this though.

In the early days of the company, we tried using Metadata but quickly discovered that we were not the right customer for ourselves.

That was until we had the budget, right tech stack, and creative capacity to execute campaigns on the platform.

Once we ticked all these boxes of our ideal customer profile, we found Metadata to be an amazing tool and we’ve been using it internally ever since.

If you’re looking for more insights into using your own product, customer feedback, and internal metrics, be sure to listen to this podcast episode.


Brendan explains why you shouldn’t measure success by the money you raise or the valuation of your company.

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