Creating a New Product Category with Todd Olson, the CEO of Pendo

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Every company wants to grow their market. But in order to expand into another region, one corner of the market has to be secured first. Only from this position of utility and stability can a business secure other territories. Todd Olson, the CEO of Pendo, explains his strategy.

Main Takeaways

  • Creating a New Product Market: Many companies disrupt a current market. It’s another category altogether to create a new product market. Although it’s a great problem to have with a ton of upside, one area of focus must be on educating prospective buyers. Of course, having an effective product that’s easy to implement is the best pitch. Pendo was able to provide its software product to businesses easily and without involving developers. This helped give Pendo a foot in the door to prove what it could do.
  • Strategizing for Future Growth: Pendo’s plans for growth are educative. One side of the approach is to continue to sell current products to new markets; both nationally and internationally. The other side is to develop new products that will further benefit existing customers. Furthermore, it’s intriguing how Pendo’s product has moved from SaaS B2B clients to other arenas as those individuals who’ve used the product have moved into different industries and brought Pendo with them.
  • Representing Raleigh: Finding and retaining top talent is a concern for many businesses today. Pendo has an interesting angle because it is located in Raleigh, North Carolina. In Raleigh, there’s natural beauty, a low cost of living, and also access to the talent coming out of many of the colleges and universities in the region. Although Pendo is based in Raleigh, it has offices in New York and San Francisco to utilize the talent in those areas as well.

For a more in-depth look at this episode, check out the article below.

Article Notes

Every company wants to grow their market. But in order to expand into another region, one corner of the market has to be secured first. Only from this position of utility and stability can a business secure other territories. Todd Olson, the CEO of Pendo, explains his strategy.

“We were very B2B focused; very B2B SaaS specifically in the early days,” Olson said. “I think the words I use internally at the company is we need to nail our beachhead. And then we used that next beachhead to go into other areas and other markets. So we were very focused in the early days, but then we started getting pulled into these areas. And one of the reasons we got pulled is that we were selling to product managers and a product manager could go from a SaaS company to a bank. And they used us at the SaaS company, and [then they were] like, ‘Hey, why can’t I use you at my X Y Z large organization?’ And we’re like, ‘Okay, we’ll sell to you.’ It became one of those things where we sort of organically [began] getting pulled in this direction, because product managers starting getting hired by traditional businesses. Traditional businesses figured out that they needed to become more digital and so they started hiring digital product managers to take them down to that journey. And those product managers pulled us into that space.”

On this episode of IT Visionaries, Olson described the process of creating a new product category, educating buyers, and then, ultimately, expanding into new markets. He also shared a little bit about attracting talent and the benefit of having Pendo’s HQ in Raleigh. 

Olson broke down Pendo’s work in basic terms.

“We are very simply software that makes software better,” Olson said. “And we do that by installing ourselves into those software applications, capturing analytics on how people are using that so that people can leverage that data to make it better and combine that with the ability to create a more engaging experience in product.” 

Essentially, Pendo is a software that attaches to other systems, takes in the corresponding data, and returns informed insights that can be used to support positive user experiences. The particularly intriguing part is that Pendo ended up creating a new product category and then had to figure out how to sell it.

“There’s different kinds of companies out there in the world and some startups, they disrupt existing categories,“ Olson said. “We are creating a category from scratch and so…we have to educate people. Honestly, the person who buys us isn’t used to buying things. So we need to help teach them how to buy things and that’s everything from how to get through procurement to how to help them with budgeting. That’s part of what we do. It makes it more interesting and more fun.” 

In terms of future growth, Olson has a straightforward, two-fold plan.

“I want to sell what we’ve got to more people and then I want more things to sell to the customers we already have,” Olson said. 

Pendo may have created a new product category and had to educate buyers accordingly, but it is well positioned for growth as digital experiences gain more prominence whether out of convenience or necessity.

“The world’s going more digital and I think Pendo is at the heart of companies trying to go more digital,” Olson said. “You could be a bank, you could be an insurance company, [or] you could be a healthcare company; most of your interactions with your customers or users [are] going online. And Pendo, you can think of it as kind of like that assistant that’s helping make sure those online interactions are at just the same quality of the in-person ones.” 

To hear more about how Pendo is helping transform user experiences in new digital markets, check out the full episode of IT Visionaries

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Episode 340