GTM 51: A Dream to a Nightmare

GTM 51: A Dream to a Nightmare, and Now a Multi Million Dollar Company with James Isilay

James Isilay founded Cognism a B2B sales intelligence company together with Stjepan Buljat in 2015. James had previously worked as a quantitative trader and analyst and studied Information Systems Engineering. Cognism helps you identify your ideal customers globally, find others like them, and reach out when they are most likely to buy.

P.S. We’re officially running a GTMfund giveaway program! Share our media content (GTM podcast or GTM newsletter) on LinkedIn and Twitter, tag us, and you’ll be entered to win a pair of GTMfund Airpod Pros!

What you will learn

  • The power of networking as you build your career
  • The importance of making top tier hires when scaling your business
  • Scaling internationally is how you win in today’s market
  • Why SDR’s should be working in office


(3:05) James’ career journey that led him to become a founder(8:09) Factors that drew James into being a financial trader early on in his career

(14:55) James’ inflection point quitting his 9-5 to start Cognism

(18:12) James’ learnings from his early days building Cognism

(20:33) How James calibrated excellence across his team

(27:08) Cognism’s take on in office vs remote work

(31:28) Listener question: The “need to haves” on a go-to-market tech stack

(36:40) Hot take: every company should be expanding and building a sales capacity globally

(42:38) Value loops and ungated content is the way to succeed


Tools can make certain metrics better, but you need human intelligence to evolve it to the next level.

Treat each country like a startup when joining a different global market.

Links and Resources

James’ Linkedin:

Cognism’s Website:

The Diary of a First Time CMO book here.

The GTM Podcast

Don’t miss The .GTM Podcast dropping every Tuesday discussing true stories and experiences including trials and tribulations in the Go-To-Market world.

And…monthly bonus podcast episodes dropping the first Thursday of every month.

Before helping found GTMfund, Scott spent 4 years at Outreach as Director of Strategic Engagement. He was in charge of aligning key relationships with VCs, BoDs, ecosystem partners and community members to drive revenue and strategic initiatives across Outreach. Scott initially ran revenue/partnerships for Sales Hacker (which was acquired by Outreach in 2018). Prior to Sales Hacker, he led and built outbound Business Development teams at Payfirma and MediaValet. Scott also advises for a number of high growth start-ups and is the host/author of The GTM Podcast and The GTM Newsletter. At GTMfund, Scott leads all fundraising efforts and runs the media arm of the firm. He’s also responsible for assessing investments, team management, LP/community relationships and GTM support for founders.

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