Startup Field Guide
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Episode 
5

How Arctic Wolf found product-market fit: Brian NeSmith on getting to the tipping point

While some startups experiment and pivot their way into product-market fit, others have founders with a unique insight that needs persistence. After a rough 6 year start as a company between 2012-2018, Arctic Wolf hit a tipping point driven by market awareness. In the past 4 years, the growth rate of the business has been phenomenal. Founder Brian NeSmith joins us to discuss his conviction to keep going and how he kept his talented team together even when results weren't what they expected. Brian NeSmith is a cybersecurity industry veteran, having led three successful companies - the latest of which is Arctic Wolf Networks. Last valued at over $6BN, Arctic Wolf is the leader in the cybersecurity category known as MDR - Managed Detection and Response, provided as a service. In this episode, Sandhya is joined by co-host John Vrionis, her partner and founder of Unusual Ventures. John led the first venture investment in Arctic Wolf, a $7.5M round by Lightspeed when Brian first started the company. Join us as we discuss: - The origin story of Arctic Wolf and why John backed Brian - Brian’s framework for evaluating market demand and product-market fit - Brian's approach to fundraising in 2017-18, when the 150+ investors he pitched were concerned by AWN’s story as well as a market crash, and how John supported Brian during this time How Brian handled tough board conversations when times were hard, and what John saw Brian do well as a CEO managing the board - Brian's advice for founders on quitting or pivoting away from an idea. To learn some of the skills Brian and John discussed, explore the Field Guide modules on: - Raising a Seed or Series A round - Managing a Series A board meeting CEO/Founder prioritization - Leading through uncertainty

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