How Startups Sell More Product Using a Trojan Horse Approach

A step-by-step guide to building a product that’s enterprise-viral

Joe Procopio

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I’m willing to bet that there’s at least one software app that you use regularly for work that got on your radar because someone you know was already using it.

The most obvious culprit is Zoom, which became the de facto means of remote communication during the pandemic lockdown. Even though GoToMeeting and Webex were already the industry standard for company web conferencing and Microsoft’s Teams and Google’s Meet had begun their evolution from personal video chat to business tool, Zoom became as ubiquitous to video meetings as Google was to search.

But there are a host of other apps in that category. Slack and Trello are two of the more high-profile examples of products that invaded the enterprise like a trojan horse: A single person brings a free version to a small team, that team connects to other teams, then suddenly the company is buying 1,000 seats.

There’s a little bit of lightning-in-a-bottle luck to this organic and viral means of infiltrating a large enterprise customer. But there’s also a massive amount of strategy, including in the design of the product itself.

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Joe Procopio

I'm a multi-exit, multi-failure entrepreneur. NLG pioneer. Building TeachingStartup.com & GROWERS. Write at Inc.com and BuiltIn.com. More at joeprocopio.com