Erika Childers 20 min

How StarTree Established the Foundation for Cloud GTM Success


Building a successful Cloud GTM motion requires setting a solid foundation. Get actionable tips and best practices for how to set up for success from day one in this session with Jen Murphy, VP of Channel & Alliances at StarTree. Find out what it takes to ensure you start on the right foot and navigate early-stage challenges.



0:00

Give it a minute or less.

0:06

People filter in.

0:07

[inaudible]

0:10

[inaudible]

0:18

[inaudible]

0:22

Great. Yeah, you can see it.

0:24

[inaudible]

0:31

All right, everybody.

0:33

Thank you for joining.

0:34

I'm Matt Coggin here, an enterprise account executive.

0:36

I've been working with Star Tree over the last six months or so,

0:40

and happy to have Jen on board to talk through how she's been able to build a

0:45

go-to-market strategy.

0:47

She's got a ton of industry experience and has a lot of great tivots about what

0:53

she's seen. Over the years and seen evolve over the years,

0:56

and I'll let her introduce herself and kick things off.

0:59

Fantastic.

1:01

And I will reshare my slide screen, but I seem to lose everybody as I do that.

1:06

It's a pleasure to be here.

1:07

Thank you, Mac, for hosting me.

1:09

I'm Jen Murphy, and as Mac said, I run channels and alliances here at Star Tree

1:16

And just a little bit about myself.

1:18

I've been in the industry for about 25 to 30 years.

1:22

We'll just leave it at that and have almost always been on the channel side.

1:27

But in the last 10 years, I've been very focused at building channel strategy

1:32

at startups.

1:33

Companies like Hortonworks and Cockroach Labs and HashiCorp.

1:38

And really, the last few years, a good portion of that has been a focus on

1:42

cloud go-to-market.

1:44

So today, we're going to talk a little bit about that.

1:48

We're going to talk about who Star Tree is, how we thought about defining the

1:52

ecosystem

1:53

that's going to be most beneficial to us as a company, our cloud strategy more

1:58

specifically,

2:00

how we got started, how we measure that, and then the outcomes.

2:05

And one thing I do want to call out is, as I said, I can't really see everybody

2:10

but Mac is monitoring.

2:12

And if you have any questions, don't feel like we need to stick with the slides

2:17

I'm more than happy to answer questions as we go.

2:21

How we doing, Mac?

2:22

Great.

2:23

Jen's got a bit of a call, too.

2:25

So bear with us.

2:27

We appreciate her jumping on through it.

2:30

Thank you, Mac.

2:31

Yes.

2:32

So I apologize if I have a little bit of a cough while we go, but I'll try and

2:34

avoid that.

2:36

So first, who is Star Tree?

2:39

So our executive team likes to call us the solution to the patient's economy.

2:45

So Star Tree is the enterprise version of Apache Pino, and it's a real-time

2:51

analytics application

2:52

for user-facing solutions.

2:56

I'll let you read the bullets, but I'll give you the information that helps you

2:59

really understand

3:00

who we are and what we do.

3:02

So the company and the technology were really founded out of LinkedIn.

3:06

I'll use who's viewed my profile, and that is the foundation for Apache Pino.

3:11

So essentially the initial iteration of the who's viewed my profile got to be

3:16

extremely

3:17

large and cumbersome and slow, and the user experience was horrible.

3:21

It was a thousand nodes.

3:23

There was multi-second response time when you were querying, and in order to

3:27

address that,

3:29

our founders created Pino to get that down to about 75 nodes in sub-second

3:35

response time.

3:37

So it's about getting information at your fingertips instantaneously or close

3:42

to that.

3:43

Another example that everybody is probably pretty familiar with is if you're

3:47

ordering food,

3:49

Dordash, Uber Eats, in the UK, just eats takeaway, and in India, Zomato,

3:56

all use Pino as part of their underlying solution.

4:00

So if you're looking, "I want to order some food, I want to understand who's

4:02

delivering,

4:04

and how long is it going to take?"

4:05

That's Pino under the covers.

4:08

So again, just a quick hit on Star Tree to help you understand where we're

4:12

coming from.

4:14

But I've been with the company a little over a year, and when I joined the

4:18

company,

4:19

one of the things that we had to do was really define what is our ecosystem

4:23

strategy,

4:24

what types of partners are important to us, and how do they help us as a

4:28

company.

4:29

So we're a startup.

4:31

We were founded in 2019, but really our enterprise sales effort has been across

4:36

the last two years,

4:37

and our partner effort, Info Force, has been the last year.

4:41

So defining the companies that we want to work with and understanding how they

4:45

're going to help us

4:46

grow our brand and our customer base was extremely important.

4:50

I look at partnerships in buckets.

4:53

Anybody who has spent time with me has heard me talk about the barn buckets a

4:57

lot.

4:58

So one bucket is technology partnerships, which is extremely important to us,

5:03

because we need a data source.

5:05

A lot of our customers are using streaming data through Kafka,

5:09

and we've got a strong partnership with Confluent.

5:12

The value of that is it's a joint message.

5:16

It's a joint solution.

5:20

A company that's public, a company that's larger, helps validate our brand,

5:24

helps us get access to customers, and do co-marketing,

5:28

and ultimately ecosystem access once we have successes.

5:32

I'm going to skip down to system integrators, because we'll save the meat for

5:37

the last.

5:38

So system integrators are another area that is extremely important for us,

5:42

because it's a solution.

5:44

And I think we all look at our technology as a solution of some sort.

5:48

But even if we provide services directly,

5:52

system integrators know their customers better.

5:54

They have their eyes and ears on the ground in places we will never be.

5:58

And they can help position the solution.

6:01

They can help identify ways to get through a sales cycle more quickly,

6:06

to assist us with contracts and other things.

6:09

So that's something that we're focusing on in year two.

6:13

So really the cornerstone of our approach was cloud marketplaces.

6:17

So we run on all three clouds, and I'll talk about that in a second.

6:21

But identifying cloud marketplaces as a cornerstone, because as a startup,

6:26

and even as a large enterprise, the value of the ease of purchase,

6:31

leveraging the committed budget, getting access to customers through ACE and Co

6:36

-Cell,

6:37

or ACE's AWS solution, but any of the deal registration systems on the market

6:41

places

6:42

is extremely important.

6:44

And there's funding across all marketplaces to help you drive your brand

6:50

and to help you reach out to customers in a way that you just can't do on your

6:54

own.

6:55

So I'm going to pause there for a second, and Mack, are there any questions or

6:58

comments so far?

7:00

How did you guys land on which cloud you guys wanted to start with first?

7:04

Excellent.

7:06

So let me go to the next slide.

7:09

So really it was for us specifically, and I'll kind of get to the end message

7:16

and then go back and look at the boxes here.

7:19

Most of our customers run on AWS right now.

7:23

And it's a factor of who our customers are, their profile and their maturity.

7:28

But we're now beginning to see Microsoft and Google customers coming to us as

7:33

well.

7:34

So we landed on AWS because of that. About 80% of our customers were running on

7:40

AWS.

7:41

But really in the process of making that defined answer, we had to go through

7:47

another process

7:48

which was how do we look at this strategy, right?

7:51

So we know where we want to go, but is the company behind it?

7:56

Do we have the executive team aligned on cloud marketplace is now part of our

8:00

company goals?

8:02

It is something that we talk about. It's something that we review with the

8:05

board on a regular basis.

8:07

Who is the executive sponsor for this partnership?

8:11

And do all of my leaders of every group within the company agree to participate

8:16

in QBRs with this partner

8:18

or these partners as we begin to expand.

8:20

And the importance there is when you successfully implement any channel

8:25

strategy,

8:26

it touches every aspect of the company.

8:29

And when you get into the clouds, even more so because you've got core

8:33

technology factors that are coming into play there.

8:36

So you need engineering, you need sales, you need operations, and you need

8:40

finance behind you.

8:42

And marketing goes without saying in my book.

8:45

So getting executive alignment was the first step.

8:49

Once we said, all right, we're going to go with AWS.

8:52

And if you don't know, if you have customers across all three, how do you

8:56

choose that starting point?

8:58

Are you going to go with one or are you going to go with multiple?

9:01

Do you want to just public listing or do you want to transactable listing?

9:05

And then how do you list?

9:07

So we chose one because, and I think starting with one is an important factor

9:13

for most companies because you can focus

9:15

because you can understand what the requirements are.

9:18

You can take your lessons and then when you're ready to expand to another cloud

9:21

and add another marketplace,

9:24

you can just take those and go and it'll make it a lot easier the second time.

9:29

Transactable listings and private offers are important to us, so that was kind

9:32

of an easy checkbox to talk through.

9:35

And then the how will we list is really where a tackle comes in.

9:39

So I'm a multiple time customer of tackle through a couple different companies.

9:44

And the consideration that we made the first time I became a customer was build

9:50

or buy.

9:51

And because I focus in startups, the build is a hard one because you have to

9:56

carve out engineering resources.

9:58

You have to ensure that everybody is behind it and maintaining it.

10:01

Whereas if you leverage someone like tackle, it's a single pane of glass.

10:06

They're leveraging the APIs and there's very minimal engagement from the

10:10

engineering team required,

10:11

which allows them to focus on ensuring the product.

10:14

So that's how we chose our starting point and the process that we went through.

10:19

And then now we've got alignment, we've got a starting point.

10:22

How do we actually get going?

10:24

You know, really we wanted to build a plan where we could amplify the

10:27

partnership.

10:29

What's the program that we want to participate in with AWS?

10:33

How does that program enable us to engage with their teams?

10:37

And then what marketing opportunities are available to us?

10:41

And what we did internally was map that out based on what we knew.

10:46

So, and I'll talk about it a bit in the next slide.

10:49

Once we were able to implement, we had some thoughts already down on paper and

10:54

we just began to drive that with AWS in our partner team.

10:59

And then finally, the most important thing is, you know, internally all roads

11:03

have to lead to a marketplace when you make this decision.

11:06

You have to have compensation alignment, you have to have marketing plans where

11:10

they actually carve out activities with the partners.

11:13

And there's a constant focus on CoSIL.

11:16

So that's how we defined our strategy.

11:19

That's the internal process that we went through and how we have kind of set

11:23

the foundation for the organization as we continue to go through these

11:27

partnerships.

11:29

Does that make sense to everybody?

11:32

Mack, I'm kind of asking you because I can't see anybody.

11:36

I think that was a lot of sentiment that was coming out of the sessions

11:41

yesterday were around the challenges that they might find with executive

11:45

alignment or where to start and how to start.

11:49

What one of these did you find the most challenging?

11:52

And then which one potentially took the longest for you to overcome?

11:56

Maybe not the most challenging but just time consuming so that people can kind

12:00

of know that they're doing the right things.

12:03

It just takes longer.

12:04

Yeah, I think one of the biggest things is ensuring that finance is aligned.

12:09

And I had told Mack this story, when I joined Star Tree, my first day was our

12:13

sales kick off and my second day I had to give a strategy presentation.

12:18

But that first day our head of finance presented and he actually talked about

12:23

the importance of marketplaces from his lens and I had never even discussed it

12:27

with him.

12:28

So I was extremely fortunate that he was bought in but I do think that finance

12:32

has to understand the value that we get as a company.

12:36

You know, getting access to those committed funds when a company has made a

12:40

commitment to one of the cloud vendors, the ease of paperwork, the single pane

12:45

of glass that we get by working with tackle and tracking everything.

12:50

Once they understand that and you have finance behind, it's a little easier to

12:55

line everyone else up to it.

12:57

Does that make sense?

12:59

Great. Yeah, I think the finance piece is sometimes overlooked and it's if you

13:04

can get to that access early and find the benefit and find the value there, it

13:09

could probably make the conversations internally a lot easier.

13:12

Exactly.

13:13

It's the first domino to fall, right?

13:15

Once they are aligned and once they're supportive, comp plans fall into place,

13:20

you know, they understand that they need to build in the very minimal margins

13:23

that the cloud marketplace has take for transaction fees now.

13:26

And it just makes it much more simple.

13:31

So once we had our strategy in place, it was really around how do we get

13:35

started.

13:36

And I mentioned focus, right?

13:38

So a single cloud, I do think it's important.

13:40

I think it's important because your team is getting up to speed.

13:44

It allows you to get specific proof points that you take back to the

13:48

organization and then you can say, all right, we're going to just replicate

13:52

this across the other platforms once we get there.

13:55

Choosing a program is extremely important, especially when AWS is your choice.

14:02

AWS is very programmatic focused and I always, not in a negative way, I always

14:08

talk about it as checkboxes because if you check the boxes, you move forward.

14:13

And we were very fortunate and we're invited to be part of the Global Startup

14:18

Program, which caused us to actually really force delivering against

14:23

requirements quickly because Global Startup is a phenomenal program, but you

14:28

have to deliver pretty quickly.

14:31

So that's how we made it happen.

14:35

I can go into a lot of detail if it's beneficial to folks, but I think there

14:38

might be some things on the next slide that's a little more interesting.

14:42

The investment that we made, so partnership development, where there are people

14:48

from every team in our company that are tied into this partnership, we have

14:53

done executive briefings with AWS, both in Seattle and at our offices.

14:59

We have the team aligned on a broad map from a product perspective, our account

15:04

executive who owns us as a customer works very closely with our partner

15:08

development manager.

15:10

And I think that's essential as well.

15:13

We also have essays aligned with us at AWS that work pretty closely together.

15:20

So that development and ensuring that you've got resources on both sides that

15:25

are talking consistently.

15:28

I always like to tell my team that you should be daily, weekly, working with

15:33

your peers, monthly, working with their leadership and quarterly, working with

15:36

the executives.

15:37

And thinking about that cadence and thinking about the activities that align to

15:42

that really help you deliver against it.

15:46

Marketing is important for us, so it does change how you view marketing once

15:51

you incorporate these partners, because you get to leverage their brand, but

15:57

they don't always really push you to amplify your brand.

16:04

So you've got to find ways to take advantage of that.

16:07

We do things like joint case studies that AWS is helping to develop and promote

16:13

on our behalf.

16:15

So figuring out what marketing activities are good for you and taking advantage

16:20

of that.

16:21

And then again, the executive engagement.

16:24

Then we drive over to the compensation, but this is really more about how do

16:28

you engage your sellers than it is about comp, although comp is the end game

16:32

here.

16:33

So training sellers, and we'll talk a little bit about enablement in the next

16:38

slide, but making sure your sellers understand what the value of the market

16:43

places is.

16:44

Excuse me.

16:46

And also, how do they talk to their customers about that value?

16:51

How do they talk them through?

16:53

Do you have a marketplace commitment?

16:56

Do you buy through the marketplace?

16:58

Can we take this that way?

17:00

Excuse me, just one second.

17:03

I apologize.

17:04

No, it's okay.

17:05

I think one of the interesting things that's about this process for you is that

17:08

you've been able to replicate it across Microsoft and Google now and you're

17:12

expanding in those areas.

17:14

So it was once you got there at groundswell in there for one, and people knew

17:19

what their roles were.

17:21

It's very easy to go and execute in the second and third cloud and then allow

17:25

you to potentially increase your revenue through those places.

17:29

And then the last point that I'll kind of hit on here because it's something

17:32

that I've done at a couple companies now, and it is a tremendously effective

17:37

tool for our sellers.

17:39

We actually have spiffed our sellers for doing nothing more than creating a

17:43

private offer and closing a deal through a private offer.

17:48

Excuse me.

17:50

So, for, and it's not something that's ongoing.

17:54

We did it for a quarter and we tripled the number of private offers that we

17:59

executed in that quarter.

18:01

So it's just to kind of build that muscle memory for them and make sure that

18:06

they understand the process.

18:09

And once they do it a couple times, it becomes, they understand how easy it is,

18:13

and it becomes part of their go to market strategy.

18:16

So we got about a minute and a half, Jen left. I want to quickly talk about

18:21

your outcomes.

18:23

Sure.

18:24

We'll just have to skip over what you measured, but I think the needle in

18:27

pieces really interesting to some people.

18:29

So, you just suck on touch on that for two seconds.

18:32

Yep. So, basically, we look at metrics on a quarterly basis.

18:36

We execute against all these and we adjust as we go.

18:40

And the able that being one that, excuse me, I apologize.

18:46

An able man is one where I have actual MBOs tied to my team to drive internal

18:52

and external enablement sessions on a quarterly basis.

18:56

Because our sellers and our partner sellers need to hear it a lot of times in

19:02

order to be able to incorporate it.

19:04

And I will kind of flip to outcomes because one of the key outcomes that we all

19:08

strive for here is source leads from these partners.

19:13

And because we've done those enablement sessions, we have gotten source leads.

19:18

And one in our last quarter was brought to us by AWS.

19:22

It closed within a month and it was a six figure deal, which for a first deal

19:28

for us was a somewhat shortened cycle and a pretty solid opportunity.

19:33

Great.

19:34

Great outcome.

19:35

We have 15 seconds left or so.

19:37

You want to just give maybe one piece of advice that you've learned over the

19:41

last years.

19:42

We'll see how many years.

19:44

Absolutely.

19:45

So, I would say it's about internal alignment, understanding where you want to

19:48

go, what you want to get out of it and making sure your leadership team is

19:53

behind you.

19:54

And continuing to adjust your measurements as you go forward.

19:59

Great.

20:00

Thank you for joining.

20:01

Thank you and thank you everyone.

20:04

Thank you.

20:05

[ Silence ]

X

This is a test comment.

X

This is a longer test comment to see how this looks if the person decides to ramble a bit. So they're rambling and rambling and then they even lorem ipsum.


author