Category Design Resources

Think like a category designer. 

Introduction to Category Design

Category Design is strategy and a methodology built around the goal of creating a new category of business.

A new category is built around a problem no one knew they had, or a problem no one knew they could solve. A great category creates a great company and product.

Category Design is a way to identify a unique problem and show the market you have the solution. That’s how you stand out as different. Category Creation is an important part of a company’s overall strategy. It is a C-level process that can make an enormous difference in a company’s valuation, its position against competitors, the perception of analysts, and the mindset of customers.

Play Bigger Book

A groundbreaking discipline called Category Design is revealed in the book Play Bigger—How Pirates, Dreamers, and Innovators Create and Dominate Markets, Co-Authored by CDA partner, Kevin Maney.

Kevin Maney is a bestselling author and award-winning columnist. He has been writing about technology for 30 years, has interviewed most of the tech pioneers you can name, and brings broad and deep context to Category Design conversations. He is co-author of the book “Play Bigger,” and has been an A-list writer and thinker about technology for 25 years.

Winning today isn’t about beating the competition at the old game. It’s about inventing a whole new game—defining a new market category, developing it, and dominating it over time. You can’t build a legendary company without building a legendary category. If you think that having the best product is all it takes to win, you’re going to lose.

In this farsighted, pioneering guide, authors Al Ramadan, Dave Peterson, Christopher Lochhead, and Kevin Maney rely on data analysis and interviews to understand the inner workings of “category kings”— companies such as Amazon, Salesforce, Uber, and IKEA — that give us new ways of living, thinking or doing business, often solving problems we didn’t know we had.

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Case Studies


taskrabbit logo rip


“Maybe a fresh perspective helped. The packaging, structure of the concept – we wouldn’t have gotten so far if not for an external force making us think longer term.”

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CEO Stacy Brown-Philpot | TaskRabbit
Co-founder Brian Leonard | TaskRabbit

How category design mobilizes employees and helps the board - a case study


More than a decade ago, TaskRabbit identified and built a new category that might be called on-demand personal helpers. In fact, as the gig economy emerged in the late-2000s, TaskRabbit made itself into the king of its category. The company had a great run for nearly a decade, and in 2017 got acquired by IKEA. (The deal makes sense when you realize that a lot of TaskRabbit’s business was from people who needed help assembling IKEA furniture.)

By 2018, TaskRabbit was king of a category that was maturing, and had a new parent ready to invest in taking the company to a new stage.






Time Intelligence caught on with us very quickly,” says Replicon CEO and co-founder Raj Narayanswamy. “We collect time and apply meaning to it.”

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Raj Narayanswamy | Replicon


How category creation can win new attention for an old company – a case study

When we got involved with a twenty-year-old software company called Replicon, based in Silicon Valley and Calgary, they billed themselves as “Time management for your entire workforce.” It had about 200 employees and was doing well enough, but it was a second-tier player in a crowded category of time-tracking software.

Other companies, such as Kronos, were setting the agenda for the category. Replicon didn’t much excite the press or analysts. It was just a solid enterprise software company that mostly flew under the radar.






The category design process helped us dramatically sharpen and improve our category and direction,” Resnick says. “It forced us to align the entire company behind that category. It helped us find our go-to-market strategy, and align marketing and sales.”

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Assaf Resnick | BigPanda


How category design drives decisions and alignment – case study

Quite often, a well-funded, well-run technology company does a great job building and selling what it was founded to build and sell -- and then a few years later gets to a place where it goes, “What next? Where do we go now?”

BigPanda, based in Silicon Valley, was one of those companies. BigPanda was founded in 2012 by Assaf Resnick and Elik Eizenberg, and had raised more than $51 million in funding from top-tier investors including Sequoia Capital, Mayfield, and Battery Ventures. Its web site pitched the company as an “alert correlation platform.” Its products collected and sorted incoming alerts within data centers. The space had become crowded with competitors, and not all that exciting.