For Starters Season 2: New Host Anil Chawla Tackles Product-Market Fit

For Starters (sponsored once again by law firm Robinson Bradshaw) is back with a bang with a new host, Anil Chawla, the Founder and former CEO of ArchiveSocial—now Optimere—and a proud Greppy winner. The theme for Season 2 is how startups find product-market fit. Throughout the season, Chawla will be talking to multiple successful founders from the Triangle and beyond to get the inside scoop on how their startup went from an idea to a thriving business.

In this season premiere, Chawla sits down with James Avery, the founder of Durham-based adtech startup Kevel. (Avery has previously been a Download Q&A subject and a guest on our Exit Stories podcast.) From explaining his early beginnings as a paper boy to discussing how he was able to grow his own startup from the ground up, Avery gives the audience a front-row seat to learning about how his journey has shaped him.

Here are some show highlights:

  • Avery talks about how having faith in his product’s abilities helped him land his first big deal, even when his work wasn’t finalized: “I totally sold stuff that we did not have… I don’t know if that’s the right way to get to the market or whatever, but it definitely worked.” (21:55)
  • A key thing that Avery said he has learned is that you should be able to sell your product better than anyone else, including the people you hire: “One of the main things I learned is that as a founder, you’re actually the best salesperson for like the first three years, if not forever.” (25:50)
  • The first step of company maturity to Avery is to realize that the founder and engineers are not directly involved in the deals coming in, but instead the sales and marketing teams are able to handle this. He says, “I think that like there’s a level of scale you’ve hit when you don’t know about customers that have signed.” (41:05)
  • Avery advises to not rush the beginning process of finding product-market fit and to instead take your time growing your business: “I think that’s the biggest thing is that if I could go back and tell myself something, it would just be ‘Slow roll, slow roll growing the team.’ Grow it slower and wait for more customer and market feedback.” (44:40)

To hear more about how Avery found product-market fit at Kevel, listen to the full episode (and subscribe) below. And thanks again to our sponsor, Robinson Bradshaw!