With Dwight Merriman, Co-founder & Chairman of MongoDB
Last Wednesday at Work-Bench, we kicked off our Enterprise Founders Upfront event series with Dwight Merriman, New York City enterprise tech legend and Co-founder & Chairman of MongoDB. In an interview with Jon Lehr, our Venture Director, Dwight shared his insights on everything from growing a developer community, to MongoDB's unique go-to-market strategy, to his thoughts on NYC's growing enterprise technology community. We've posted the video in its entirety below, but here were three points that we loved:
1. Build something great
Regardless of what you're doing, you need a core group of people that are excited by your product or service. While MongoDB has a leading developer community and a full time team built around this function, in the early days all of their developers had to be evangelists. They were essentially telling a group of people, "here is something, download it, you've never heard of it, it's kind of early stage," but you should use it anyway. The only way to overcome this challenge was ultimately building a great product their core audience was truly excited about. As Dwight said, "if you want something to propagate without a lot of sales and marketing, for some audience it has to be great. If it's good I'll use it, but I won't tell my friends about. If it's great, I'll use it and tell my friends about it."
2. Don't be incremental
A recurring theme throughout the interview - and what might very well be the secret for building three billion dollar plus companies - was "don't be incremental." In response to three questions, Dwight touched upon the same piece of advice of avoiding incremental improvements. If you're a founder looking for opportunities to start a company, make sure it is truly disruptive, solves an existing pain point, and improves upon the current solution by an order of magnitude. Instead of thinking 'how do I improve this product 10%?,' he advised founders to think 'how do I improve this product 10x?' As Dwight recommended, you "should push harder," and "be more audacious." Along these lines, it was interesting to hear Dwight say "you can force creativity and innovation" - citing the idea that if you're locked in a room for 12 hours and told to come up with 10 ideas, eventually you will.
3. New York City enterprise tech is at an inflection point
Lastly, we were excited to hear Dwight's thoughts on New York City's emerging enterprise technology ecosystem, and we were thrilled to hear him say, "I think a lot of the enterprise tech startups in New York are in this building." Further responding to where he would want to see the ecosystem in 5 years, he commented: "I think we need office space, and places to work. I think [Work-Bench] is great. It puts an emphasis on it. We've seen tremendous progress in general with what we might think of as entrepreneurial ventures or startups whatever the space is. The amount of stuff out there, compared to DoubleClick days, is just so much more… people are moving here, there are a lot of great things happening. It will happen, it will percolate, the seeds are planted." We couldn't agree more, and we couldn't be more excited to be driving the future of enterprise technology here at Work-Bench in NYC.
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