Putting the Product in Product-Led GTM

Product-Led Go-To-Market is a hot topic in the world of software today, and doubly so when it comes to open source software. Ultimately, getting Product-Led-GTM right comes down to getting the fundamentals of your product right, which means getting your bottoms-up value proposition, user/buyer upsell pipeline, and commercial vs. open team culture balance absolutely right. This can get tricky in practice and has its own nuances.



A few months ago, I gave a presentation at the first inaugural Open Core Summit (OCS) on "Putting the Product in Product-Led GTM", a deep-dive around how to optimize your product strategy, architecture, and teams for commercial open-source software with a bottoms-up adoption model. These insights came from experiences in both my past operator life as a product leader at Docker, VMware, and AWS, as well as my current investor life at Mayfield working with product-led GTM companies like Rancher, Hashicorp, and DEV Community.

In the spirit of the open-source world, I thought it might be helpful to share my learnings with the wider community. Note that while this was originally aimed at commercial open source software, the learnings are also applicable to closed-source infrastructure businesses that rely on a freemium model or community edition. As long as it's bottoms-up driven, it's fair game. So without further ado, here is the presentation:



Here's the tl;dr from the presentation:
  1. Build What Customers Actually Value
    • Build critical path software (so important to their workflows that customers can't afford NOT to pay for it)
    • Commercial value is derived from features based on peace of mind, collaboration, and performance
  2. Optimize Your Product to Reduce Friction
    1. Understand the user/buyer pipeline and sources of friction
    2. Build the architecture in a way that makes the upsell as easy as humanly possible
  3.  Create a Balanced Product Team Culture
    1. Don't just "bolt on" a commercial team on top of a community team
    2. Don't put a firewall between your community and commercial teams
I plan to deep dive on some of this material in future blog posts. And if you're building or thinking of building a bottoms-up driven business, always happy to get into the details =)

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