Every startup wants to ‘get it right’ with their first product. But getting it right has three critical components:

  1. The right strategic partners
  2. The right target market
  3. The right product

This is the case study of how one successful startup, BlueArc Corporation, got all three right.

BlueArc’s founders knew that they needed input from strategic partners to validate their technical vision and help guide product development. Located in the UK, they had little access to the industry leaders and decision makers who could provide this guidance.

Tactics introduced BlueArc to decision makers at 20 companies including:

  • Sun
  • IBM
  • HP
  • SGI
  • Quantum
  • Cisco
  • Amdahl
  • StorageTech
  • Hitachi

In the words of Dr. Geoff Barrall, founder and CTO of BlueArc,

“For a startup company, establishing relationships with the other players in the industry, both the partners who can help you bring the product to market, and the people who can help you shape the product, is very important. Startups don’t have these relationships. Sometimes in the latter stages they can attract senior executives who can bring them, but in the earlier stages they definitely don’t.

“Having a company like Tactics to make those introductions, and get us the people who counted at these companies, was very important.”

BlueArc knew that their high performance network storage systems would appeal to a wide range of industry segments. But they needed to know where to focus first:

  • Which market was in the most pain?
  • Which market would purchase most quickly?
  • Which market viewed the product as a MUST HAVE, versus NICE TO HAVE?

Tactics identified senior decision makers at companies in each market segment, and interviewed them to understand their pain and purchasing behavior. It soon became clear that although other markets understood the problem, the enterprise storage market was in the most pain. BlueArc chose to focus its first products on this market.

According to Dr. Barrall:

“I think Tactics can add a lot of benefit at the point that you’ve got a concept, maybe you’ve got some very early prototypes, but you are looking for a fit for that technology in the marketplace. I think Tactics can tell you whether that technology is going to be a fit; if it’s going to be a fit, where it’s going to be a fit; and also how to reach the place where it’s going to be a fit. They can help you identify your target market, your target customers, and maybe modifications you need to make to the system in order to fit into those markets.

“Certainly if I was starting a new company today with a new technology, I would be very interested in talking to Tactics to help me make that fit very early on in the design cycle.”

BlueArc had specific product questions it needed answered early in their development cycle, including:

  • Unix or Windows?
  • CIFS/SMB or NFS protocol?
  • Where in the enterprise did the product provide the most benefit?

Tactics interviewed senior technologists in the target market to get the answers BlueArc needed to deliver the right product.  In the words of Dr. Geoff Barrall, founder and CTO of BlueArc,

“For a startup, if the product ends up going down the wrong track for any reason, that’s a terrible tragedy. It’s caused really by the fact that you only have a limited amount of funding. Not only that, but you only have a limited amount of time to bring a new idea to market.

Running out of cash and running out of time are the two critical things you have to look out for. Anything that can avoid you taking the wrong track early on is very, very important, because once you are a certain way down a track, it is very difficult to change lanes. A company like Tactics can help make sure you are on the right track at an early stage.”