At Amplify, we’ve been fortunate to partner with nearly one hundred early stage founding teams tackling some of the most challenging problems in developer tools, distributed systems, machine learning and cyber-security. Invariably, every company starts out with a similar goal in mind: how do we create a category or disrupt an incumbent and build something that stands the test of time. But of those, few become Datadog or Fastly. 

If there’s one lesson we’ve learned time and again, it’s that in today’s rapidly-evolving innovation economy engineering and technical know-how is necessary but far from sufficient in order to build a generational company. 

Once you have a technical breakthrough, then comes the hard part. How do we craft a sublime end-user experience? What’s our positioning and messaging so we can stand out in a noisy landscape? Should we open source it? If so, how do we grow our community and build a tribe? Sales?!

These are existential questions for early stage companies. Getting the answers right early on can dictate the path to IPO or underperformance.

In a venture world where capital is commoditizing, advice is not. Focus, domain expertise and actionable, hands-on help have been hallmarks of the Amplify ethos since the firm’s founding. We believe access to the builders who have been there and done that is the best source of leverage for the next generation of founders. 

So today, we’re incredibly excited to launch Built for Devs, a podcast series featuring the world’s most renowned entrepreneurs and operators in developer tools, infrastructure and distributed systems as they share lessons and offer insights to overcome some of the most challenging aspects of early-stage company building. 

Built for Devs is designed with early stage teams building for a developer or technical end-user audience in mind. As such, our aim is to provide tactical, actionable advice on topics ranging from product development, to community-building, to open source strategy and beyond.

With that, here’s what we have in store for Season 1…

  • Designing Products for Developers with Armon Dadgar, Co-Founder and CTO at HashiCorp
  • Is Open Source Right for You with Sarah Novotny, Microsoft Azure Office of the CTO
  • Marketing to Developers with Francesca Krihely, Director of Developer Experience at Snyk 
  • Demystifying Product Marketing with Jim Walker, Vice President of Product Marketing at Cockroach Labs
  • Much Ado about Open Source Licensing with Adam Jacob, Co-Founder and CEO at System Initiative

Listen on Spotify or Apple, and enjoy! Sign up for our newsletter Technical Domain to get more company-building advice delivered directly to your inbox.

Designing Products for Developers with Armon Dadgar, Co-Founder and CTO at HashiCorp

Armon and Lenny talk about best practices for product development when building for a developer audience, and he shares how Hashicorp builds new products, the importance of developer empathy and understanding of your end-users’ workflows, and where to begin when you just have an idea for a new tool or product.

Armon is one of the clearest product thinkers, and he and his co-founder Mitchell Hashimoto have made a multi-billion dollar business out of making complex technology approachable, if not delightful to use, for millions of developers and DevOps practitioners across the globe. 

Show Notes:

  • How to approach building a product while satisfying developer and technical end-user needs 
  • What are the metrics you should measure yourself during product development?
  • How to find the right workflow and start building the experience you want 
  • Trying to ease tensions during the product development process 
  • Looking at any products HashiCorp released that fell flat 
  • Thinking about the problems that are worth solving and evaluating return on investment 

Is Open Source Right for You with Sarah Novotny, Microsoft Azure Office of the CTO

Sarah and Lenny discuss open-source community-building and dive into topics including whether open source is appropriate for your business, techniques to build your community and strategies to monetize open source.

Sarah has long been an Open Source luminary, championing and helping build the communities behind technologies like Kubernetes, NGINX and MySQL. Sarah currently leads open source strategy at Microsoft, where she is part of the Azure Office of the CTO. Sarah sits on the Board of Directors of the Linux Foundation and previously led the Open Source Strategy at Google Cloud. 

Show Notes: 

  • An overview of what open-sourcing is and when it’s an appropriate strategy for companies 
  • How to capture value using open-sourcing strategies and what goes into building communities when utilizing such strategies
  • When to shift from organic open-source community-centric efforts to a more coherent, cohesive strategy. What demarcations should one look for? 
  • A look at the prevailing methodologies for capturing value around commercial open-sourcing. What are the trade-offs with each approach? 
  • How open-sourcing as a service works and the challenges that surround it 
  • Advising startups about programs and techniques they should use to get the most value out of open-sourcing 
  • Advice for anyone who is working on a commercial open source company

Marketing to Developers with Francesca Krihely, Director of Developer Experience at Snyk

Francesca and Lenny discuss open-source community-building and dive into topics including whether open source is appropriate for your business, techniques to build your community and strategies to monetize open source.

Francesca is the rare marketing polymath, having led early community efforts at MongoDB before stepping into growth and account-based marketing roles there. She is now the Director of Developer Experience and Growth at Snyk. 

Show Notes:

  • How to market to developers as opposed to a traditional enterprise audience 
  • Why building trust and simplifying developer workflows are critical in developer markering 
  • Looking at the roles and functions of developer relations
  • Further elaboration on developer relations functions as well as boosting adoption and communities 
  • Where should startups most invest their time regarding developer relations? 

Demystifying Product Marketing with Jim Walker, Vice President of Product Marketing at Cockroach Labs

In this discussion, Jim demystifies the role and responsibilities of product marketing, shares his framework for getting messaging right, describes how to approach messaging with the goal of category creation versus going after an incumbent, and what characteristics to look for in hiring a great product marketer.

Jim is Vice President of Product Marketing at Cockroach Labs. He is an expert in early-stage product marketing, shaping the messaging and positioning of generational developer brands including CoreOS and Hortonworks. 

Show Notes

  • What are the responsibilities of product marketing, why it’s important to get it right, and how to develop a strategy 
  • Communicating product marketing to users vs. communicating it to upper management 
  • Does the message change when you’re trying to create a new category for your product vs. going after a large incumbent in an existing market? 
  • Dealing with the tradeoff of being direct vs. aspiration with your messaging

Much Ado about Open Source Licensing with Adam Jacob, Co-Founder and CEO at The System Initiative

In the latest episode of Built For Devs, Lenny Pruss and Adam Jacob talk about about how to develop a successful open-source strategy as an early-stage company.  Listeners will hear Adam define open-source, provide reasons to pursue an open-source strategy versus a pure SaaS model, and discuss the critical role of trust in getting products to market, as well as the explicit and implicit tradeoffs between OSS and OSS-adjacent license types.

Adam is co-founder and CEO of System Initiative. He is a pioneer in DevOps and a leading voice for sustainable and free open source communities, having created Chef, the open source infrastructure automation platform, and co-founded the eponymous company Chef Software. 

Show Notes

  • Defining open-source. Is it a product development strategy? Or is it a distribution strategy? What is it? 
  • How has the role of open-source evolved over the years, especially with the advent of cloud computing? 
  • Looking at open-source distribution for products 
  • The success of being open-source vs. building as a SAS from day one 
  • Building a trust dynamic with open-sourcing
  • Looking at OSS licenses and exploring the tradeoffs between the most and least permissible types 
  • Inviting the right kind of competition using open-sourcing 
  • What licensing strategy should you take as a startup? 
  • Is it worth opting for foundation-led open-source?