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The world’s fastest-growing B2B startup

The world's fastest-growing B2B startup has some important lessons for all founders

Otto Pohl

Mar 26, 2024

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What is the fastest-growing B2B startup in history, and what does it have to teach you?

The cloud security service Wiz launched in late 2020. Within 18 months they had $100m Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR)—that’s faster than many other explosively successful B2B startups, including Deel, Slack, Twilio, and Shopify.

Three factors helped drive their success:

1.     Detailed understanding of their customer pain points, which led to

2.     Clear and simple language explaining their value prop. Then they

3.     Leveraged their product to create news that attracted more customers.

Let’s look at each.

Understand your customers

Three of the four Wiz founders (Assaf Rappaport, Roy Reznik, and Ami Luttwak) had previously founded the cloud security company Adallom in 2012, which they sold to Microsoft in 2015 for $320m. They then worked in senior leadership positions in the Microsoft Cloud Security group. Obviously that created a lot of advantages. But the key is they spent their time carefully seeing exactly what the market needed and what Microsoft couldn’t or wouldn’t provide.

What “allowed us to reach product/market fit with lightning speed,” Wiz CEO Rappaport wrote shortly after the Wiz launch, was “the ability to deeply understand the acute pain, the place where other solutions didn’t succeed.”

“When you meet with customers,” he continued, “you’re not coming to convince them; rather, you’re there to learn from them. If you’re the one who spoke for more than a quarter of the meeting, it wasn’t a good conversation. Customers have problems that you didn’t even know existed, and the way to discover them is with question marks, not exclamation marks.”

Is this how you approach customer interviews?

Describe your product clearly

Despite their clear understanding of the marketplace need, their messaging was lackluster when they launched in late 2020. “Cloud Security Done Right,” was the best they could do for their home page headline. By January 2021 they had changed that to “Know your cloud better than your devs,” which is even weaker. But by the end of the year they had upgraded to “Secure everything you can build and run in the cloud,” which is a simple but clear description of their key benefit.

One of the key distinctions of the product is that it is agentless, which enables faster and more complete security coverage, albeit potentially at the expense of some tools and capabilities. Competitors like Palo Alto Networks and Crowdstrike are agent-based systems. While the Wiz messaging downplayed it at first, as the company saw the speed with which they could scan a customer’s network, they featured language about being agentless on their website and in every interview the leadership team gave.

Perhaps most importantly, Wiz entered a market led by complicated and complex services and offered something clear and simple. Look at the Crowdstrike and Palo Alto Networks websites. They are barnacled with auto-rotating carousels, Gartner graphs, and massive drop down menus—At PAN I counted 147 menu items across 6 dropdowns and 13 submenus. Crowdstrike has north of 60. Even as Wiz has grown, they’ve kept it to 24.

Cybersecurity is a complex field. What Wiz was able to do was provide a simpler, faster approach, which they reflected in their language (which they updated regularly as they learned).

Let your product generate news

A competitor told me how impressed he was with Wiz for leveraging their product to generate free media coverage. A combination of deep cybersecurity experience and a growing number of clients put the company in the position to uncover some previously unreported attacks and weaknesses. To see this dynamic at work, Google “OMIGOD wiz” to see how one of the discovery of vulnerabilities in the Azure OMI software agent created endless amounts of free news coverage. Coverage that was precisely relevant to their target audience. Even if your service doesn’t directly create newsworthy findings, think about what sort of research you could do or commission that would generate broad interest in your target market.

 

How is it all working out for Wiz? They recently reported $350m ARR and they’re rumored to be raising an $800m round at a company valuation higher than the $10B. Not bad for a company less than 4 years old!

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Otto Pohl is a communications consultant who helps startups tell their story better. He works with deep tech, health tech, and climate tech leaders looking to create profound impact with customers, partners, and investors. He has taught entrepreneurial storytelling at USC Annenberg and at accelerators across the country.

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