A story about winning in a crowded market by focusing on being different (not better)

An interview with Ashley Friedlein, CEO of Guild

A story about winning in a crowded market by focusing on being different (not better) An interview with Ashley Friedlein, CEO of Guild

Product InnovationThis podcast interview focuses on product innovation that has the power to get all of us closer to professionals we value. My guest is Ashley Friedlein, CEO and Founder of Guild

Ashley is one of the most influential and connected figures in digital and marketing. As one of the 100+ recommendations for him on LinkedIn reads, “If Ashley doesn’t know it – it ain’t worth knowing.”

He’s the author of two best-selling books on digital. A columnist, commentator and blogger, he speaks worldwide on digital and marketing trends and best practice.

Ashley is involved in a number of digital businesses and ventures as investor, adviser, mentor and operationally. 

He believes the world deserves a new kind of digital communications platform and hence founded Guild, a messaging platform for professional groups, networks and communities.. The purpose behind the company is bring people together for professional good. It’s a technology business, but it cares most about human behaviours and the power of connecting people to collaborate and do good things together.

And that inspired me, and hence I invited Ashley to my podcast. We explore how technology can help in creating more meaningful connections around professional use cases, and how there’s room for new players, even in a market that densely populated. Asley shares his wisdom around where he puts his focus in building a remarkable software business, what it takes to grow by word-of-mouth and create virality. We also dig into the potential pitfalls to avoid in growing your start-up, especially when venture capital steps in.

Here are some of his quotes:

Obviously we want and we’ll need growth. We want quality and value more than quantity. We don’t need massive volumes of usage to drive an ad funded revenue model, because ours isn’t an ad funded revenue model. But we, if we’re going up against the WhatsApp and LinkedIn and things, ultimately we do need to get engagement, even habits. There is a network effect thing that the more people are on Guild, in many ways, the more valuable it becomes. And if your contacts or professional contacts and your most valued professional contacts are all on Guild, that builds massive defensibility against other competitors or future competitors.

We experienced that the other way around, like when you’re going up against WhatsApp and stuff, it can be hard cause some people say ‘Yes, I’m just used to using that and yes, yours is better, but I still can’t be bothered to switch.’

So you know, we do need the growth but I need to try and not sacrifice quality at the same time. So, what we’re trying to achieve I call various things but intimacy at scale.

During this interview, you will learn four things:

  1. How you can create remarkable products by not only solving a specific problem – but also cater to a human need or desire
  2. Different insights how to think about creating a viral effect with your product
  3. Why big impact is often created by being relentlessly focused on the adding incremental improvements all the time
  4. How to go about spending (VC) money in a phase where you haven’t reached product market fit yet

For more information about the guest from this week:

Next steps:

  1. Subscribe to my weekly musing on how to become a remarkable software business.
  2. Or subscribe to the Value Inspiration Podcast on your favorite channel
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