Episode 33: Edward Chiu and Dominique Levin

In our 33rd episode, Olivier talks category creation with two B2B leaders from the customer success platform and go-to-market consulting categories.

Panelists for this episode include:

  • Edward Chiu, CEO of Catalyst Software and leader behind the Customer Success Platform category
  • Dominique Levin, CEO of Winning by Design and leader behind the go-to-market consulting category

You’ll walk away from this episode with an understanding of how to create communities and build out your go-to-market strategy.

Takeaway 1. Creating a market is not the same as winning a market

One of the most counterintuitive facts about category creation is that being first is not always a guarantee of success. You can find many examples of startups that created a category and were later overtaken by a newer competitor. These startups were successful at the start but lost to competitors because they couldn’t compete on brand positioning.

A strong brand is often the difference between success and failure in category creation. Without it, your only leverage is product innovation. That innovation could provide defensibility in the short run. But it can’t stand up to a competitor with a similar or better product innovation plus a strong brand in the long run. By focusing on both brand and product, you increase your chances of winning a category you haven’t created.

Your brand is essentially the story you tell to your target market. People have to buy into that story before they trust you enough to buy from you. That’s what it all comes down to – the better you can communicate that story, the more defensible your position will be. And one of the best ways to solidify your product and brand is through community building.

Takeaway 2. Building a community is the best way to create defensibility

Creating a community can be an extremely effective strategy for category creation when done right. The main benefit of having a community is that it allows people in your ICP to compare notes and connect with other likeminded people. Members can learn about best practices in the field share insights and resources around various problems.

Your community is also an excellent source for crowdsourcing content, organizing events, and building relationships. The last point is what makes communities effective. Through community relationships, people within communities get a sense of shared experience. That leads to a greater sense of connectedness towards a common mission.

As a brand, the goal is to make sure that the shared mission of your community aligns with your strategic narrative. That correlation between what members care about and what your brand offers leads to increased word of mouth and organic growth for your brand. It takes time to build a highly engaged community, and that’s why it’s essential to prioritize community building as soon as you’ve figured out your go-to-market strategy.

Takeaway 3. You need to put as much engineering and design into your go-to-market as you put into your product

Product-led growth is often seen as the most profitable path to growth for many startups. So it makes sense why the majority of founders put more effort into product-led growth than their go-to-market strategy. The problem with doing this is that it can lead to a situation where you cannot compete based on equally important factors such as your brand, sales process, and partner program.

A go-to-market strategy is also critical when you plan to launch a new product to the market. It increases the probability of your product succeeding and reduces the risk of wasted time and resources. Remember that no matter how great your product is, you still need a go-to-market strategy to get people to understand why it’s great.

It’s also important to understand that a go-to-market strategy isn’t something that is started and completed in a short time. Just like engineering and design, it requires continual adjustment and iteration as you grow. As you collect more data on your audience and campaigns, you’ll have more ideas into what you can do to improve your strategy. Act on those ideas consistently, and you will win eventually.

For more insights on creating your go-to-market strategy and building communities, listen to this episode of B2B category creators.


Edward explains why hiring employees based on skillset is the wrong way of building a company.

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