47 episodes

Every overnight success in the world of software happens after years of hard work finding product-market fit. The Unusual Ventures Startup Field Guide is a podcast for early-stage software leaders and aspiring founders looking for help going from 0 to 1. Featuring great conversations between venture capitalist Sandhya Hegde and successful startup founders, you will learn about hiring, product research, go-to-market, fundraising, and more.

Startup Field Guide by Unusual Ventures: The Product Market Fit Podcast Sandhya Hegde, Unusual Ventures

    • Business
    • 5.0 • 27 Ratings

Every overnight success in the world of software happens after years of hard work finding product-market fit. The Unusual Ventures Startup Field Guide is a podcast for early-stage software leaders and aspiring founders looking for help going from 0 to 1. Featuring great conversations between venture capitalist Sandhya Hegde and successful startup founders, you will learn about hiring, product research, go-to-market, fundraising, and more.

    Monte Carlo CEO Barr Moses on data reliability

    Monte Carlo CEO Barr Moses on data reliability

    Monte Carlo is an end-to-end data observability platform that monitors pipelines for missing or inaccurate data. Last valued at $1.6B, Monte Carlo has over 150 customers, including data teams at companies such as CNN, JetBlue, Hubspot, PepsiCo, and Toast. 

    In this episode, Sandhya Hegde chats with Barr Moses, co-founder and CEO of Monte Carlo. 

    Join us as we discuss:

    00:00 Preview —Early feedback from a potential customer

    1:37 Why Barr and Lior decided to focus on data observability

    6:28 Profile of Monte Carlo’s early adopters

    12:27 Common pain points among early adopters

    16:05 How Monte Carlo narrowed in on their ICP

    21: 33 Early product feedback and surprises

    26:27 Monte Carlo’s current go-to-market strategy

    31:22 How AI will impact the data ecosystem

    35:57 Advice for founder building data platforms

    Sandhya Hegde is a General Partner at Unusual Ventures, leading investments in modern SaaS companies with a focus on AI. Previously an early executive at Amplitude, Sandhya is a product-led growth (PLG) coach and mentor. She can be reached at sandhya@unusual.vc.

    Barr Moses is the founder and CEO of Monte Carlo

    Unusual Ventures is a seed-stage venture capital firm designed from the ground up to give a distinct advantage to founders building the next generation of software companies. Unusual has invested in category-defining companies like Webflow, Arctic Wolf Networks, Carta, Robinhood, and Harness. Learn more about us at https://www.unusual.vc/.

    • 39 min
    Perplexity CTO Denis Yarats on AI-powered search

    Perplexity CTO Denis Yarats on AI-powered search

    Perplexity is an AI-powered search engine that answers user questions. Founded in 2022 and valued at over $1B, Perplexity recently crossed 10M monthly active users and is growing fast.

    In this episode, Sandhya Hegde chats with Denis Yarats, co-founder and CTO of Perplexity.

    Join us as we discuss:

    00:00 Reactions to Perplexity’s prototype in 2022

    1:33 How Arvind and Denis started working together

    4:04 Building a text-to-SQL tool initially

    6:34 Launch of ChatGPT and pivot to general search

    9:46 Focusing on user data, and not on the foundation model

    14:43 Perplexity’s early adopters

    16:42 Early customer feedback

    18:44 Perplexity’s core technical competencies

    22:44 Subscription pricing and future gross margins

    25:12 Perplexity’s hardware partnerships 

    29:49 Future product vision 

    32:50 Advice for founders in the AI space

    Sandhya Hegde is a General Partner at Unusual Ventures, leading investments in modern SaaS companies with a focus on AI. Previously an early executive at Amplitude, Sandhya is a product-led growth (PLG) coach and mentor. She can be reached at sandhya@unusual.vc.

    Denis Yarats is the CTO and co-founder of Perplexity.

    Unusual Ventures is a seed-stage venture capital firm designed from the ground up to give a distinct advantage to founders building the next generation of software companies. Unusual has invested in category-defining companies like Webflow, Arctic Wolf Networks, Carta, Robinhood, and Harness. Learn more about us at https://www.unusual.vc/.

    • 35 min
    Everlaw CEO AJ Shankar on how AI is accelerating legal tech

    Everlaw CEO AJ Shankar on how AI is accelerating legal tech

    Everlaw is a legal tech company started in 2011 that helps law firms and corporations run what’s called “e-discovery”— essentially a process of investigating often massive piles of documents to find the key pieces of evidence, the smoking gun, and then to construct a narrative from it. Last valued at over $2B, Everlaw has over 1,000 customers over the world.  

    In this episode, Sandhya Hegde chats with AJ Shankar, CEO and founder of Everlaw.

    Join us as we discuss: 

    00:00: The vision for Everlaw 

    0:36 Introduction to Everlaw

    1:45 AJ Shankar's Journey to Starting Everlaw

    4:43 The Vision and Early Years of Everlaw

    6:41 Challenges in Fundraising and Building the Early Team

    9:56 Understanding Customer Needs and Building Authenticity

    11:38 Product Development and Technical Skills

    16:22 Impact of Everlaw on the Legal Industry

    20:36 Fundraising Challenges and Success

    23:59 Adoption of Generative AI and its Implications

    29:30 The Future of Everlaw and the Legal Industry

    35:51 AJ Shankar's Evolution as a Founder and CEO

    Sandhya Hegde is a General Partner at Unusual Ventures, leading investments in modern SaaS companies with a focus on AI. Previously an early executive at Amplitude, Sandhya is a product-led growth (PLG) coach and mentor. She can be reached at sandhya@unusual.vc.

    AJ Shankar is the CEO and founder of Everlaw.

    Unusual Ventures is a seed-stage venture capital firm designed from the ground up to give a distinct advantage to founders building the next generation of software companies. Unusual has invested in category-defining companies like Webflow, Arctic Wolf Networks, Carta, Robinhood, and Harness. Learn more about us at https://www.unusual.vc/.

    • 39 min
    Deepgram's CEO Scott Stephenson on Speech AI

    Deepgram's CEO Scott Stephenson on Speech AI

    Deepgram is a voice AI company that has built an incredible reputation in the market for the quality of its speech recognition. Last valued at over $250M, Deepgram has over 500 customers, including NASA, Spotify, and Twilio. 

    In this episode, Sandhya Hegde chats with Scott Stephenson, CEO and co-founder of Deepgram.

    Join us as we discuss: 

    00:00 Preview: Fully contextualized speech-to-speech is the future

    01:07 Scott's background in particle physics and starting Deepgram

    7:18 Scott's first years as a founder

    13:17 How the Deepgram team gathered early customer feedback

    17:38 Early use cases and product feedback

    22:58 How conversational AI will impact the customer support industry

    26:54 Specialized hardware in the AI Industry

    30:34 How additional hardware specialization will impact Deepgram

    32:14 Deepgram's product vision

    36:46 Advice for Founders starting an AI company

    Sandhya Hegde is a General Partner at Unusual Ventures, leading investments in modern SaaS companies with a focus on AI. Previously an early executive at Amplitude, Sandhya is a product-led growth (PLG) coach and mentor. She can be reached at sandhya@unusual.vc.

    Scott Stephenson is the CEO and co-founder of Deepgram.

    Unusual Ventures is a seed-stage venture capital firm designed from the ground up to give a distinct advantage to founders building the next generation of software companies. Unusual has invested in category-defining companies like Webflow, Arctic Wolf Networks, Carta, Robinhood, and Harness. Learn more about us at https://www.unusual.vc/.

    • 41 min
    Material Security's CEO Abhishek Agrawal on securing enterprise workspaces

    Material Security's CEO Abhishek Agrawal on securing enterprise workspaces

    Material Security is an email security company that protects an organization's users and data particularly across Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace. Last valued at $1.1B, Material has over 100 enterprise customers, including Doordash, Lyft, and Fox. 

    In this episode, Sandhya Hegde and Wei Lien Dang chat with Abhishek Agrawal, CEO and co-founder of Material Security.



    Join us as we discuss: 

    00:00 Preview: Seeking validation for a B2B product

    1:36 Founding Material Security

    5:31 Identifying the Gap in Existing Solutions

    10:00 Validating the Thesis 

    12:41 Product Vision and Initial MVP

    19:56 Go-to-Market Strategy for the First Million in ARR

    25:40 Product Vision and Impact of AI

    31:50 Advice for Founders Starting Companies in 2024



    Sandhya Hegde is a General Partner at Unusual Ventures, leading investments in modern SaaS companies with a focus on AI. Previously an early executive at Amplitude, Sandhya is a product-led growth (PLG) coach and mentor. She can be reached at sandhya@unusual.vc.



    Wei Lien Dang is a General Partner at Unusual Ventures and leads investments in infrastructure software, security, and developer tool.  Wei was a co-founder of Stackrox, a cloud-native security company prior to its acquisition by Red Hat. He can be reached at wei@unusual.vc



    Abhishek Agrawal is the co-founder and CEO of Material Security

    Unusual Ventures is a seed-stage venture capital firm designed from the ground up to give a distinct advantage to founders building the next generation of software companies. Unusual has invested in category-defining companies like Webflow, Arctic Wolf Networks, Carta, Robinhood, and Harness. Learn more about us at https://www.unusual.vc/.

    • 38 min
    Hightouch's CEO Kashish Gupta on activating data for personalization

    Hightouch's CEO Kashish Gupta on activating data for personalization

    Hightouch is a composable customer data platform. It helps companies collect and sync user data into ad platforms, CRMs, email tools etc. Last valued at over $600M, Hightouch has over 600 customers, including the NBA, Spotify, Plaid, Calendly, and more.

    In this episode, Sandhya Hegde chats with Kashish Gupta, co-CEO and co-founder of Hightouch. 

    Join us as we discuss: 

    00:00 Switching personas to find product-market fit

    1:44 Evolution of the Data Integration Space

    2:42 The Concept of Reverse ETL

    5:41 The Origin Story of Hightouch

    8:01 Exploring Different Business Ideas

    12:06 Early Design Partners and Product Strategy

    14:46 Transition from Founder Selling to Hiring Sales Team

    16:48 Go-to-Market Motion and Marketing Strategy

    18:39 Hightouch's Product Vision and Future Direction

    22:55 Challenges in the Market and Building User Certainty

    27:01 Co-CEO Arrangement and Founder Team Dynamic

    31:04 Advice for Aspiring Founders in 2024

    Sandhya Hegde is a General Partner at Unusual Ventures, leading investments in modern SaaS companies with a focus on AI. Previously an early executive at Amplitude, Sandhya is a product-led growth (PLG) coach and mentor. She can be reached at sandhya@unusual.vc and 

    Twitter 

    LinkedIn 

    Kashish Gupta is the co-CEO and co-founder of HightouchUnusual Ventures is a seed-stage venture capital firm designed from the ground up to give a distinct advantage to founders building the next generation of software companies. Unusual has invested in category-defining companies like Webflow, Arctic Wolf Networks, Carta, Robinhood, and Harness. Learn more about us at https://www.unusual.vc/.

    • 34 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
27 Ratings

27 Ratings

Alonmower ,

Great peak behind the veil of what it takes to find PMF

Rare to find startup focused content with this level of value per minute spent listening!

FirstTimeFounder ,

Helps Founders Learn to find Product Market Fit

This is an amazing resource for founders. Interviews with the tech ecosystem’s best founders diving deeply into those decisions they made in the early years on the journey to product market fit. There are so many lessons learned that are now made available to the next generation of founders. Well done!

Priscilla Haven ,

Fantastic content for early stage founders

This is worth your time if you’re a founder building a startup. From understanding the struggles, the excellent questions Sandhya brings up, and hearing the journey about how founders find product market fit, this is gold!

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