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Boring categories → exciting businesses

8 months ago 5 mins read
Adam Schoenfeld
Adam Schoenfeld


1.) For PLG practitioners. Please consider taking this year’s PLG survey.

I’ll be working with Kyle Poyar (OpenView, Growth Unhinged), Sandy Mangat (Pocus), and Leah Tharin (Productea with Leah) to analyze the results.

I’m excited to dig into the data and would greatly appreciate your input.


2.) For HubSpot CRM users. I’d be honored if you check out Keyplay for HubSpot.

🧡🎯 I’m super proud of this one.

If you’re doing account-based anything, you need the right accounts.

HubSpot CRM users have been neglected by overly complex, expensive ABM platforms for too long!



I love shiny new objects.

Like many tech marketers and GTM leaders, I’m naturally attracted to businesses that create new categories, follow hot trends, or participate in flashy segments.

But I noticed something interesting about this year’s Cloud 100 winners...

Boring categories dominate.

No surprise to see AI rising fast, but the other categories at the top of the list piqued my interest just as much.

Of course, I’m tagging them as “boring” to be pithy, but looking at the top 100 list, I noticed two things that I'd like to explore more with some examples...

**1.) Most SaaS companies succeed by entering large, existing categories.**

It’s rare to see true category creators.

Lemkin made this point about public SaaS companies awhile back, showing that 70% of SaaS IPOs are new versions of an existing thing.

Klaviyo, the first notable SaaS IPO in forever, is a great example of this dynamic.

Impressive story with ~$600M ARR, nearly 60% y/y growth, and profitable.

But by no means a category creator in marketing automation.

[Nearly 30 years of entrants.

Each wave has produced billion-dollar exits](


Klaviyo entered late and built one of the largest businesses.

They aren't alone in the new wave -- Iterable and Braze have also grown to impressive heights in a short time with different focus areas.

All of these marketing automation platforms are doing similar things at the core (email, audience data management, campaigns, automation workflows).

But the category seems almost bottomless for new solutions taking new angles.

**2.) Many of the “new” categories are born from big, old sectors.**

Entrepreneurs keep finding new ways to approach security, back-office, data, and vertical problems.

Security Compliance Automation is a good example. Here we see a rising need around SOC 2 and compliance automation from companies of all sizes.

An exciting group of SaaS companies have been built around this problem -- most of them less than 5 years old:

I dove into security as marketing a few weeks ago (by crawling security pages). The tailwind for these vendors is clear.

18% of SaaS firms now prominently feature security pages on their websites.

This rises to 26% for those with Enterprise offerings, 21% for all Fintech, and 29% for Fintech with Enterprise solutions.

It looks like this category will support multiple billion-dollar companies.

These compliance automation players are just one example from the vast and ever-expanding security space.

Within Keyplay, we have identified thousands of US-based SaaS companies playing in security & compliance.

BTW, the industry categorization we've built helps you find niches like this for your ABM strategy.

I'm considering digging deeper into all the different parts of the security space, so I asked ChatGPT to break it down.

Here's what it came back with:

Prompt: What are all the sub-categories of SaaS/cloud products for Security & Compliance?

Return as table where each row is one of the top level categories.

Columns: Categories, Example Sub Categories, Example Companies.

For example companies, don't include giant conglomerate tech companies like IBM and Microsoft.

Instead focus on the more pure play cloud/SaaS players.

I'm sure ChatGPT's market mapping is not perfect, but it does a good job showing how this big ole category has become vast and varied.

**Wrap Up**

While the allure of the new and shiny is ever-present in the tech world, there's undeniable value in the tried and true.

I’d bet there's still a lot of room to innovate in "boring" categories.

There are surprisingly large opportunities in refining, reimagining, and redefining what already exists.

Whether you're diving into a well-established category or carving out a new niche, there's always an opportunity to make a mark.

*What other examples fit this narrative?*

I’d love to study your favorites.

Reply or join the conversation on LinkedIn.




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