KHOI | Blog

Unlocking Enterprise Sales: The Power of Permissionless Pilots

Tue, Oct 10, 2023 · 5 min read
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I recently learned about Permissionless Pilots - a new pattern that’s enabling startups to close big contracts, fast.

As we know, enterprise sales cycle is slow, and the faster your product can deliver that wow feeling to customers, the better. However, too many products take forever to deliver that moment, due to a long slog of sales calls, procurement, contract negotiation, and technical integration.

The catch-22

I’ll give you my data once I know it works on my data.

Enterprise software products generally require customer’s data to work. To get around this, demos use fake dummy data to simulate a theoretical user experience. It’s like watching someone else drive a car at the dealership. It’s a lot more exciting to test drive it yourself!

But most prospects don’t give away their employer’s data until they’re convinced it’ll be worth their while. Getting the green light to share company data with a 3rd party involves jumping through hoops.

How to create a permissionless pilot

The 3 basic steps to a permissionless pilot are:

  1. Get the public data. Eg: open-source repos, rental listings, YouTube videos, job postings, etc.
  2. Build a tool for it.
  3. Drive demand to that tool.

To help with idea generation, start by writing down all the public data sources relevant to your product. Next, ask yourself: What could my product do assuming it never got any proprietary customer data, but could ingest all those public data sources?

In terms of your answer, you’re aiming for a demo that does something cool. Cool is the adjective that tends to come to mind for builders when they picture it. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t have to be something customers would pay for.

Something cool is a good start.


Not every company is a candidate for permissionless pilots, but the steady proliferation of public data in the last 10 years means there are certainly untapped opportunities for more wow moment demos. Recent advances in ML techniques like computer vision, and natural language processing with LLMs allow us to structure vast amounts of unstructured data, creating additional permissionless pilot opportunities.

Apply permissionless pilots to your advantage!