The Startup Playbook

Connecting you to the best entrepreneurs, investors and resources from around the world

Ep147 – Wendell Keuneman (General Partner – Tidal Ventures) on building your product principles

My guest for Ep147 of The Startup Playbook Podcast was the General Partner of Tidal Ventures, Wendell Keuneman.

Prior to Tidal, Wendell had over 20 years of deep operational experience including seeing 3 companies grow and scale from startups to successful exits.

He was the Co-founder & CTO of Carbon Twelve (acquired by Broadsoft), CTO of Inference (acquired by Five9s) and as the Head of Product of Atlassian’s Confluence product, with the company IPOing in 2015 and with a current market cap of $59B.

He is now the General Partner at Tidal Ventures, a $30M seed stage investor into product-led companies and founders.

In this interview we discussed:

  • Lessons from taking 3 companies from startups to successful exits
  • How to develop product principles for your startup
  • Models for effective product management
  • How to find value adding investors
  • & much more!


  • 2.04 – Introduction to Wendell and his background 
  • 3.17 – Basketball principles that Wendell has used to inform in his startup journey
  • 5.29 – How Wendell started coding as a hobby and the journey he took to pursuing it further  
  • 7.21 – How Wendell navigated starting a business with family pressure and support
  • 10.28 – Wendells’ journey starting Carbon12 
  • 12.34 – Starting a second company following first company success 
  • 15.51 – How Wendell started working for Atlassian after seeing a sign in their office window and interviewing on the spot 
  • 18.53 – Early days of Atlassian and their focus on product 
  • 20.11 – The similarities between successful products across all Wendells’ past ventures 
  • 21.59 – Importance of establishing product principles 
  • 24.17 – How early stage founders should begin defining their product principles 
  • 27.53 – Revisiting product principles as a company grows and changes
  • 29.46 – Getting buy in from team members on new or changing product principles 
  • 32.28 –  Frameworks founders can implement to support growth in their business
  • 35.50 – The three questions Wendell asked himself to make the move from Atlassian
  • 41.04 – Ensuring values are applied in an additive way rather than being weaponised 
  • 42.58 – What support should founders expect from their VC’s 
  • 46.02 – The theme’s Tidal prioritises when reviewing startup opportunities
  • 47.47 – How founders can determine the best VC to work with when presented with different options 
  • 52.13 – Wendell’s superpower to be able to sort through content to find the most important information for his portfolio partners
  • 55.16 –  Delivering information and advice in a way that is most appropriate to the founder 
  • 56.35 – Where you can find Wendell and get involved with Tidal Ventures

Links Mentioned 

Wendells’ Links:

People Mentioned:

Companies Mentioned:

Special Thanks:

Special thanks to Matt Barnett and Craig Cowdrey for their help with research for this interview ?

Feedback/connect/say hello:
@RohitBhargava7 (Twitter)
/rohbhargava (LinkedIn)
@rohit_bhargava (Instagram)
My Youtube Channel


Music: Joakim Karud – Dreams

Other channels:

Don’t have iTunes? The podcast is also available on SpotifySoundcloud & Stitcher Audio Player.

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