Think like a category designer.
A new category is built around a problem no one knew they had, or a problem no one knew they could solve. A great category creates a great company and product.
Category Design is a way to identify a unique problem and show the market you have the solution. That’s how you stand out as different. Category Design is an important part of a company’s overall strategy. It is a C-level process that can make an enormous difference in a company’s valuation, its position against competitors, the perception of analysts, and the mindset of customers.
Kevin Maney is a bestselling author and award-winning columnist. He has been writing about technology for 30 years, has interviewed most of the tech pioneers you can name, and brings broad and deep context to Category Design conversations. He is co-author of the book “Play Bigger,” and has been an A-list writer and thinker about technology for 25 years.
Winning today isn’t about beating the competition at the old game. It’s about inventing a whole new game—defining a new market category, developing it, and dominating it over time. You can’t build a legendary company without building a legendary category. If you think that having the best product is all it takes to win, you’re going to lose.
In this farsighted, pioneering guide, authors Al Ramadan, Dave Peterson, Christopher Lochhead, and Kevin Maney rely on data analysis and interviews to understand the inner workings of “category kings”—companies such as Amazon, Salesforce, Uber, and IKEA—that give us new ways of living, thinking or doing business, often solving problems we didn’t know we had.
“Time Intelligence caught on with us very quickly,” says Replicon CEO and co-founder Raj Narayanswamy. “We collect time and apply meaning to it.”
Raj Narayanswamy | Replicon
Case Study | Replicon
In 2017, we got involved with a twenty-year-old software company called Replicon, based in Silicon Valley and Calgary, Canada. Replicon billed itself as “Time management for your entire workforce.” It had about 200 employees and was doing well enough, but it was a second-tier player in a crowded category of time-tracking software.
Other companies, such as Kronos, were setting the agenda for the category. Replicon didn’t much excite the press or analysts. It was just a solid enterprise software company that mostly flew under the radar.
“The category design process helped us dramatically sharpen and improve our category and direction,” Resnick says. “It forced us to align the entire company behind that category. It helped us find our go-to-market strategy, and align marketing and sales.”
Assaf Resnick | BigPanda
Case Study | BigPanda
Quite often, a well-funded, well-run technology company does a great job building and selling what it was founded to build and sell -- and then a few years later gets to a place where it goes, “What next? Where do we go now?”
BigPanda, based in Silicon Valley, was one of those companies. BigPanda was founded in 2012 by Assaf Resnick and Elik Eizenberg, and had raised more than $51 million in funding from top-tier investors including Sequoia Capital, Mayfield, and Battery Ventures. Its web site pitched the company as an “alert correlation platform.” Its products collected and sorted incoming alerts within data centers. The space had become crowded with competitors, and not all that exciting.