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Creating the Perfect Product Demo | Yoav Vilner from Walnut.io

Yoav Vilner was building one of the world’s first tech marketing companies in his 20’s, and he noticed something funny. His hundreds of clients poured truckloads of money to reach their targets. “But when the prospects actually moved on to see what the product is about,” Yoav says, “often stuff broke… like 90% of them failed.” Years after, he finally cracked it. 

Walnut.io was born and began to define a new category in tech. On this edition of UpTech Report, Yoav tells us how Walnut creates codeless and customized demos that never crash and are easy for sales teams to share with prospects and marketing teams to embed in materials.

More information: https://www.walnut.io/


Yoav Vilner is CEO at Walnut, the world’s first Sales Experience Platform. Prior to that, Yoav co-founded an anti-bullying startup, as well as one of the world’s first tech marketing companies with over 600 clients. Yoav was also named “Tech Marketer to Watch” by Forbes Magazine, has been mentoring startups in accelerators by Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, Amazon and the U.N, as well as writing for publications such as CNBC, Inc, Entrepreneur, TheNextWeb, FOX news and more.

Walnut helps sales and marketing teams become customer-centric. As the world’s first Sales Experience platform, it allows teams to create personalized, failure-free and efficient B2B demo processes, not relying on any back-end team such as R&D, product and design. 

Walnut helps fortune 500 and tech companies such as Adobe, NetApp and Varonis, and has recently raised a $6M seed round from top Silicon Valley investors.

DISCLAIMER: Below is an AI generated transcript. There could be a few typos but it should be at least 90% accurate. Watch video or listen to the podcast for the full experience!

Yoav Vilner 0:00
In my opinion, there’s room for probably five or six small, super amazing companies to try and solve this. And this is because b2b sales is a cross vertical problem. So everyone has that there’s millions of potential clients.

Alexander Ferguson 0:19
Welcome to UpTech Report. This is our applied tech series UpTech Report is sponsored by TeraLeap. Learn how to leverage the power of video at teraleap.io. Today, I’m very excited to be joined by my guest, Yoav Vilner who’s based in Tel Aviv, he’s the CEO and co founder at walnut. Walnut is a platform focused on creating customized interactive sales demos of your software without actually needing your software. Good to have you on this. I’m excited for our conversation today. Likewise, thanks for having me. So now digging in, like how we understand what was the problem you initially encountered and saw, they’re like, I gotta, I gotta build a solution for this.

Yoav Vilner 1:00
So my first company that I ever launched, I was 22. And it was the first and biggest tech marketing company in Tel Aviv. So I had like 600 startups as clients. And I just realized that no matter how much money they spent, and how much, you know, they poured so much, so much money into campaigns and contents and everything. But then when the prospects actually moved on to see what the product is about, often stuff broke, or, you know, the experience was bad for the prospect, and like 90% of them failed. And I just kept rolling this problem in my head for years. And together with my co founder, we cracked the, you know,

Alexander Ferguson 1:44
hence the name walnut. I like it. So you’re definitely not new to the tech space to tech startups. He said, he worked with 600 of them. And I said challenger, like, hey, you’re, you’re helping them get all these leads, but they’re not turning into sales? And that’s the problem. It’s like, you can’t you haven’t been able to help them there. Hence, why building building walnut? What, what would you say is kind of the, the change that you see is is it just being able to allow sales folks and marketing folks will have more control over that experience. So it’s, it’s outside of the product is that where the success is,

Yoav Vilner 2:23
um, you know, if you imagine, like, most of the b2b companies I’ve ever been involved with, or, you know, even even some, some companies that my friends run again, I just hear the stories, but the, you know, the sales team, they often have like the most important job, right? Like they need to bring in the money. And if they go on to r&d, they go to the CTO, if they go to product, if they go to design, if they go to anyone from the other teams, and they ask for something, we all know what they hear in return. So it’s usually fine, I’m busy, let’s do it in a month. But if the sales team has to do a demo, in two hours to someone from Microsoft, and you know, showcase, an ability that the product has, they can’t really wait a month for that. It’s a ton of friction. So they end up giving, like the same boring experiences to prospects, because they just couldn’t get a hand from the back end teams. So that’s that’s kind of why we decided that we think that the future of this whole experience that you’re showing prospects is the the independence of the sales team that they don’t have to rely on anyone else.

Alexander Ferguson 3:28
It’s empowering, I think is one of the words you use empowering them to be able to take control part of some of the shift of sales. Energy is having to be so much more remote now. Yay. COVID used to be able to come to conferences and stuff which eventually will come back and it’s different being in person but having control on like, Can you speak to like what you see is the future of of sales, software sales going forward?

Yoav Vilner 3:55
Yeah. So you know, today, if you want to order a pizza, or, you know, whatever a guitar like I have in the back this way. You just go on your Google you Google for something, you choose the best product you can find, and it’s in your house in a few days, you didn’t even you didn’t even talk to anyone. But if you’re a b2b prospect, then you know you have to, you have to find some sort of a very generic experience some there. So you leave your information and you want to know what the product is about and an SDR contacts you. And then another SDR contacts you because they forgot to update HubSpot and say they already talked to you. And you have to explain your needs over and over again, while you still have no idea what the product is going to do for you. It’s a horrible experience. And from the company side, like the team leaders, they don’t know what’s happening in the demo process, right. So there’s a whole ton of friction that I think there’s like a new wave of companies that are trying to fix this process from all kinds of different angles. At walnut. We were lucky enough to be the first to claim it but I’m sure there’s going to be a lot a lot of companies doing that in the next Here’s,

Alexander Ferguson 5:01
I’m gonna ask him a hard question. I was like to come to competitors themselves and seeing differentiators because you said there’s a lot of ways to attack this problem. I feel like there’s another company reprise. Is that a another way? It’s like, how do you see your differentiation and your focus in compared to the market?

Yoav Vilner 5:18
Yeah. You know, I think that, I’ll start with like a bigger answer than that. Also, because, you know, they probably will see this episode, I don’t want to cause any arguments. I think that the company is right now they’re aiming for the space, I think that most of them and still it’s a very low amount of, of companies. First of all, they aim at the target audience a little bit differently. You know, if you start big, you start small, you start with the end user, when you start with the VP, I think not all companies right now are aiming to solve the same problem to the same type of persona. And then if it’s more of a product, lead growth outcome, if it’s more of just a huge customized solution that you’re giving the teams, I think, I think there’s, you know, I, in my, in my opinion, there’s room for probably five or six small, super amazing companies to try and solve this. And this is because b2b sales is a cross vertical problem. So everyone has that there’s millions of potential clients,

Alexander Ferguson 6:24
the opportunity is there. And if anything, competition can drive innovation even further, I think everyone agrees with that, without it without a doubt. For you, what are you most excited about the space and the product.

Yoav Vilner 6:37
So I’m excited about, you know, we get to actually build a category. So for me, it’s like, the third time in my life, there was not a lot of I’m gonna do it short. So I don’t sound like a you know, like I’m bragging about anything. But historically speaking, there was not a lot of talent market tech marketing industry, specifically where I’m from before this company that I launched, and I got to see what it means to build a category like to build something that creates a wave of hundreds of other companies. The feeling is great, like, you don’t get an actual, you know, you just see it happening in front of your eyes. And it’s not related to you anymore. But the feeling is really something special. The previous startup that I had was about saving kids from bullies and pedophiles on social media. So we kind of created this whole, we call it anti anti toxicity in the internet. And now with this whole demo experience, experience thing, I get to do it again. And you know, just feels great. You just you just love that

Alexander Ferguson 7:41
the space of starting something new that opportunity to do that. in you. Well, I’m excited to hear more about that journey. Stick around for part two of our interview on the founders journey to hear of starting the agency and absolutely, where wasn’t there in Tel Aviv and being able to grow that to where you are now. Coming back to to the to the product, you guys, it’s only been about a year since since you started. You’re kind of area that use cases as far as different product verticals, is it every software that effectively could either use the platform, there any ones that you’re you’ve been focusing on to start with.

Yoav Vilner 8:15
I’ll start with an anecdote. You know, when the founders have gone, which is probably the most successful company right now in the space, when they’ve raised their round a. And VCs, were asking them, who’s your, you know, what’s your target audience? And they just said, Every company in the US. And when VCs asked, Are you sure? They said, All right, the US and Canada? So I think that, you know, like I mentioned before, I think that it’s not a problem that you can actually narrow, you know, let’s take one space. I don’t know cyber companies, I come from Tel Aviv originally, every every other person here on the street probably has a cyber startup. But they still wouldn’t, you know, narrow myself to one vertical, just because I think that the core of the problem is not related to your industry. I think the core of the problem is looking in a very vertical way what which type of product, which type of dashboard, which set of features in which story, you’ll tell him to do a specific use case of a specific client. If you can do that in a scalable way, then you can do it for a cyber company, just as you would for I don’t know, consumer companies. And

Alexander Ferguson 9:26
now for you the product itself, what’s the business model, typical SAS platform based on the use cases? Is it users how is it built?

Yoav Vilner 9:38
Yeah, so we chose we first of all have monthly licenses as a pricing model, but we only take yearly contracts. And the reason that we’re you know, a little bit harsh on that is because we started with a waiting lists of hundreds of companies. So we kinda, you know, as opposed to a You know, any other startup even that I had in the past where I had to, like start pushing and fighting for the first clients that we have the privilege that we have with, you know, pioneering this, this thing is that we get to drip them inside in the pace that we see. Right? So,

Alexander Ferguson 10:17
right, it’s still a waitlist right now that folks can kind of get on and then you’re letting them in as they come.

Yoav Vilner 10:23
So we shifted from waitlist to an actual signup. And now we have a double a double digit number of actual paint lines. So we’re not in the process of like design partnerships or pilots anymore. We have some pretty, you know, overwhelming companies that I wouldn’t imagine work with us in such an early stage. Again,

Alexander Ferguson 10:47
super fun. And Can any of you can speak to as far as the current clients that are using you use cases of how they’re using it right now?

Yoav Vilner 10:56
Yeah, so probably mostly the stuff that was written about us. So Adobe, is, you know, one of the best clients that we have. And there was also i’m not sure when this will be on so I’m not sure if I’m gonna say it, but we’re gonna announce something that Adobe has done together with us, which is super interesting. And Voronezh, it’s a $4 billion cyber enterprise, that we’re, we’ve been embedded so deep that I think we’re, you know, without thought anyway, yeah, and some, some smaller startups and by small that could even be like 100 200 people on the team are also using us. And, you know, it’s really interesting to see that the bigger the company is, so it’s probably not going to be someone so. So you know, it’s like a VP or a head of in the enterprises is not going to sit and you know, customize the experience, he has people to do it for him. But the smaller the startup gets, it’s really interesting to see, like the VP just sitting down all day, creating new storylines, which is how we were filled with the templates of the demos. And when we asked them, can we do it for you? or something? Do you need to do you need a hand because you’re probably busy, so they’re just so deep inside doing it? So, you know, it’s really interesting to see how the product plays out.

Alexander Ferguson 12:15
You’re saying that they enjoy doing it or like you ask them, but they say no, or they do ask for help?

Yoav Vilner 12:21
No, they want to do it on their own. Like they love what they’re doing. They love being independent, not having to ask for favors from any other back end team member. So you know, they’re like, I’m going to do it, you know, just just give me the product will be fine.

Alexander Ferguson 12:35
Can you just give me very briefly share about the stack itself, how it’s used the technology itself?

Yoav Vilner 12:44
Yes, what happens now is the sales team, they would, they would first log on to the actual dashboard. So if you take Adobe, for instance, so one of their products, you know, it’s based, most of their products are based on a dashboard, like any other b2b companies. So they would create a storyline on the walnut platform. And they would call it you know, Alex, for instance, because they want to show demo to you. And when they head back to their actual product, they would highlight the pages that they want to turn into this new animal, which is this new product demo, it’s not a video, it’s not a screenshot, it’s not a mock up. And if let’s say they chose five pages out of possible, hundreds, these pages would replicate to our cloud environment, which you can then customize and create the flows just like how you would edit a website on Wix, you get an editor and you start customizing the flows. And the next step would be getting the insights, what’s going on in the process, which is something nobody knows these days. And the other thing is, you can share the knowledge with your team members. So you know, that storyline worked perfectly for client number 315. And everyone stopped using it.

Alexander Ferguson 13:56
So it’s both easy to them to go on their website, be able to choose the pages they want, build that experience, but then also track our people experiencing it so that they can modify and improve it after exactly what feature are you most excited about that you guys are either it’s out there right now or you’re working on it right? To to be released?

Yoav Vilner 14:17
Yeah, so one of the most anticipated feature that we’ve released. And it’s more full, it’s interesting, because it’s more for CMOS than VP sales. But it’s the option to actually embed the product and experience in your landing pages, your websites, and you can create like annotations to walk you through the product. And if you come to think about it, you know, when we see a landing page of some SAS product, we don’t know, you usually see like, you know, the same generic pictures or a boring banner or something and you have to leave your email you don’t even know the product is doing. If you’ve played with the product demo and then converted to the next phase, you’re like 1,000% more likely to convert eventually. So CMOS We’re getting a lot of value from that right now.

Alexander Ferguson 15:03
What can you speak to as far as this remote sales versus traditional sales? and probably a lot of salespeople may not even like what this future in holds because they like the interpersonal communications, but what can you speak to that what you see is, or even advice that you can share of remote sales versus traditional.

Yoav Vilner 15:24
I think that everything is remote right now, as far as I’m concerned, like, I think that actual physical sales right now or, you know, a mistake, or someone forgot that it could have been remote. I think that, you know, even if you’re not using any of the platforms that we mentioned, like you should probably aim for, for a couple of things. First of all, realize that two prospects are not alike. And everything that happened so far in the past decades was showing the same product to everyone. That does not make sense anymore. So you have to try and provide a better experience. And, and second tip is don’t, don’t take the risk of giving a live demo each and every time because things break, they break all the time. You know, Bill Gates broke windows 98, on that stage, and Bill Gates broke, I think it was connected to the Wi Fi or something in an apple conference. And Elon Musk was, you know, bragging about the bulletproof car, and then it broke. So it’s gonna happen to you. So don’t count on the live product to show your demos because one failed demo is equal another lost customer.

Alexander Ferguson 16:35
Now don’t count on on technology, because it will, it will show you what it really thinks in the worst time. I love it. So it kind of closing just thoughts here of of where you guys are headed. What can you share as far as your roadmap and what you’re excited about going forward?

Yoav Vilner 16:52
I think, you know, I just think that the opportunity to build this category is just beyond you know, we’re having so much fun, like it’s hard work and you know, it’s intense, no slave, blah, blah, blah. And, but we first of all have like amazing backgrounds, like people that, you know, I’ve admired for years, whether the founder and CEO of Wix to VP sales at GitHub, to an effects to, you know, Ronnie Conway, tofo Conway, people that are, they have seen so many startup launched, and they have seen what makes them succeed. And now we’re very lucky enough that they were the first believers in what we’re doing. The team members that we have, you know, each one has like a 10 or 15 years experience in what they do. I wasn’t even shocked that some of them joined us when we just started off. So if you have everything set up, right, like the vision, the team, the backers, everything, just kind of where I would just hope I would just, you know, keep fingers crossed that we can just continue doing what we’re doing right now.

Alexander Ferguson 17:50
I love it. For those that want to learn more, go over to walnut.io and you’ll be able to sign up for for their products. Thank you so much. Good to have you on in here, this journey. Stick around. for part two, though, we’re gonna hear more about the journey that he’s been on and how he got to where he is today. So we’ll see you on the next episode of UpTech Report. That concludes the audio version of this episode. To see the original and more visit our UpTech Report YouTube channel. If you know a tech company, we should interview you can nominate them at Uptechreport.com. Or if you just prefer to listen, make sure you’re subscribed to this series on Apple podcasts, Spotify or your favorite podcasting app.

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