Ep. 68:  Unleashing the Potential of Artificial Intelligence with Peter Voss, CEO of Aigo

Learn more about Aigo at:

Find Peter Voss on LinkedIn here:

JC: Welcome, everyone to another episode of The Future of Biz Tech. I’m your host, JC Granger. I have another fantastic guest with us on the show today. And listen, if you end up loving this episode, please show your love and appreciation by following this podcast, wherever you’re listening and you know, give it a five-star review, preferably some cool comments on it, because that is how techies like you and I find cool podcasts like this. Listen, today I have the absolute pleasure of interviewing Peter Voss, who is the CEO and Chief Scientist at Aigo, Peter, thank you so much for being on the show. Why don’t you tell everyone a little bit about yourself? And what does Aigo do?


Peter: Yes, great, thank you. So we do conversational AI or chatbots. And in particular, what we do is a chatbot with a brain. Now, as many of you may have noticed many of the chat bots out there are not very smart. So ours has an actual brain, it remembers what you said earlier, it can think about, you know, can reason about what you’re saying using context. So it’s much, much more useful because it has a brain.


JC: So who’s kind of your perfect client for this? I mean, this chatbots are used by so many different types of websites. Is this something that you see more on the E-commerce side? Do you see? You know, are you doing more enterprise-level tech companies like who you guys going after with this?


Peter: Yeah, so the perfect example is one of our clients is 1-800 flowers, in fact, a whole group of companies, which is Harry and David and popcorn factory, and so on, and they’re using it to provide a hyper-personalized service to their customers, where it remembers who you buy gifts for, on what occasions what kind of gifts and you know, it can, it can help you along with that. So that would be a perfect example. But our technology is industry-agnostic, it can be any industry. So you know, it could be banking, it could be medical it could be something like a diabetes coach, you know, somebody would help a person with diabetes to, you know, to optimize the eating and exercise and whatever, you know, insurance. So it can also be used as what we call a co-pilot to complex software. So, you know, a lot of software is complex that people don’t know all of the features of the software, or you need to go to do many menus or so to get to where you want to. So you can have Aigo as a co-pilot, where you can just tell it what you want, and it will then you know, get you the answers. So the technologies of conversational AI technology can be applied to anything, but our current focus is very much on, you know, customer service. So what typically you have humans doing, and often in a very frustrating way that you have to wait a long time and you know, all the limitations of that. So that’s what we focus on.


JC: So how does it learn? I mean, it doesn’t come out of the box ready to just understand everything about a company. So someone installs this Chatbot? What is the process where it starts getting smarter and smarter and understands how to answer does it start with a human first? And does it? Does it track what they’re saying? And then figure it out from there? Is there an error percentage where you have to watch it a little bit? You know, just kind of how does it get to be as smart as it is?


Peter: Yeah, it’s a very good question. And of course, many people now know about ChatGPT. And, you know, products like that these large language models, which are trained on massive, massive amounts of data, really everything on the internet, on Twitter, and so on, and so on. Now, the problem, when they get trained on stuff like that, they also get trained on a lot of not-so-high-quality data, let’s put it that, like that. So you have no, no control, or very little control over how they will behave. So our approach is the opposite –we make sure that all the knowledge that our chatbot has, has been curated, and you know, can pass legal review, review of your, you know, marketing department, your customer experience, people, and so on.


Peter: So we consult with a customer and say, What are your business rules? What are the products that you’re selling? What are training materials that you have for your call center operators, and things like, exactly, and we feed that into the system, but it’s all curated. So you know, it’s not you know, unfortunately, it’s not people think you can just press a button and say, Hey, all the information we have on our website, just suck it up. And, you know, no, it doesn’t work that way. Because our business rules our APIs, you know, you know, if you want to change your order, or you want to get a refund or something, there are lots and lots of business rules and you know, how it interacts with your back end services. So there is that integration required, but we start with a brain that already knows how to hold a conversation that knows about people and relationships and so on. So there’s a core common sense information and knowledge that it has that, you know, we put together over many years. And then you add a layer to that, which is customer-specific.


Peter: And in fact, there’s a third layer that is specific to each person. So it’s hyper-personalized to the individual. So you know, once you call in, for example, let’s say you have a problem with your router at home, you call in and you know, the first thing it might say is, well try rebooting it, you know, okay, now you call back 10 minutes later, and our system will remember and say, Okay, did that work? And it won’t ask you again, you know, have you tried rebooting your system, and so on? So it’s like talking, it’s like, you’re talking to the same person who remembers the conversation? You know.


JC: Sure. Okay, that’s interesting. Now, I’m gonna I want to step back for a second, I want to learn to have the audience on a little bit about yourself. Give us your background, How long have you been in the tech industry, I believe you coined the term artificial general intelligence. I’d like to hear about that. Because I mean, if you’re, if you’re an OG of tech, and I want to know and hear the background.


Peter: Yeah so I mean, I’ve been in technology, one, one form or another forever, I started as an electronics engineer, you know, working on industrial electronic systems, then I started my own electronics company, fell in love with software. My company turned into a software company, I then developed an ERP software system, basically a software system for big or small businesses, you know, to do their payroll, accounting, billing, and so on. And their company was very successful. We went from the garage to 400 people and did an IPO. So that was super exciting. It’s when I exited that company that I said, Well, how can you? I was very proud of myself, but still, the software is kind of dumb, you know, if the programmer didn’t think or something, it would just give you an error message or, you know, it wouldn’t, it didn’t have intelligence. So how can we have intelligence software, that’s really what consumed me for the last 25 years working on that. Took five years off just to study all the different aspects of intelligence, before starting my company. So in 2002, I got together with some other people, and three of us coined the term artificial general intelligence or AGI, which is not quite commonly used, you see quite a bit of that, which refers to human-level human-like intelligence in a computer, a computer that can think and learn and reason the way humans can.


JC: So what motivated you to? Are you a founder of Aigo? Or do they bring you in? I see, Okay, what motivated you to start the company? Like, what problem did you see? Like, well, you can kind of write your ticket with your background, right? So what was it specifically about chatbots? And AI that drew you to that, versus almost anything else you could do with AI?


Peter: Right? Well, I mean, artificial general intelligence is the holy grail it’s once we can have computers that can think and reason and learn at the level of humans. Imagine you train one of these AIs to be a cancer researcher, now, you can make a million copies of that, you now have a million cancer researchers chipping away 24/7 communicating with each other, no egos getting in the way, you know, focused on that problem. So how that can improve the human condition? Basically, to me, it’s, I mean, a, it’s a fascinatingly difficult problem to solve. So, you know, it’s challenging, but it also has such an enormous payoff, I think, for humanity, that I couldn’t think of wanting to work on anything else. Now, doing chatbots and customer service right now is a stepping stone towards that, you know, it’s to commercialize an early version of it, We’re still a long way from human-level intelligence, but we have a lot more intelligence and a conventional Chatbot. And we are, you know, working towards, in fact, I can talk about a project which we are about to start to accelerate this development. 


JC: Well, let’s start there. I do want to hear it. 


Peter: Okay. So, I, you know, I started my first AI company 20 years ago, and we’ve been alternating between R&D basically improving the intelligence of the system, initially building the prototypes and so on, and then getting better and better. And then we needed to commercialize this because our investors, you know, I had to bring other people in, I didn’t, I didn’t have that much money that I could just find it all myself. So we brought investors in and they wanted a commercial product. So we’ve focused on Call center automation. But that then came at the expense of R&D. So I ended up selling that company because, you know, all of my time was spent in, you know, upgrading our calls, our data center, and, you know, just working on commercial stuff, and not really on intelligence. So I sold that company and then went back to founding a new company, which has now turned into AIGA, where we spent another four years just on development to make it too general to develop the second generation of this core technology. And then we’ve now in a commercial phase, again, to commercialize footballs to get revenue to increase our, you know, the effort we can put into R&D, but also for the practical experience as a reality check, you know, to have real problems in the real world, that is not just an academic exercise but with the excitement about ChatGPT. And some of the benefits we can get from these systems, we have actually, we were just in the process of launching a major initiative, to focus again, to put to build a big, much bigger team, to focus on increasing the intelligence and to get to human-level intelligence much sooner. So that’s what I’m very excited about. Now, we’ve been working on that for the last few months, we are currently raising some more money for that initiative, and also building and expanding our team basically, to have a much more focused effort on intelligence itself.


JC: So I’m a marketing guy by trade. So I’m always curious, what are you guys doing to get the word out about it? I mean, you’re on the podcast, so that that’s one, are you guys running ads? Are you doing TV stuff? Are you doing emails? I mean, just what is kind of your guys’s general strategy for even people knowing that you exist?

Peter: Right? So our strategy is to go after large corporate clients. And, you know, it’s really about the credibility and connections. Now, actually, as a turned out, 1-800 flowers came to us not through connections, but by listening to a podcast that I was on. And they said, this rings a bell, we’ve tried three different chatbots, you know, we tried the best chatbot, the most well-known chatbots out there. And they just couldn’t provide the kind of personalized service that we require. And they listened to my podcast and said, okay, they contacted us. So that was very successful. So we, you know, we do spread words through podcasts. But otherwise, it’s really through working with partners, who already have connections with these large customers. So we have quite a large partner network that we that we’re working through, to get to get to clients.


JC: Where do you see this industry going? You know, normally asked this question. I say you know that five to 10 years, but I feel like when it comes to AI, that’s not even fathomable at this time. Because the exponential growth curve makes it probably impossible to ask a five-year out plan as much as maybe just one year, like, where do you see in one to two years, let’s say the whole industry? Let’s call it the Chatbot Specifically AI you know, you plus your competitors. I mean, people are going It’s an Arms Race, right? I mean, people are going to be trying to catch you up to right, but just do you see anything changing when it comes to let’s say, legislation? Right? There’s a lot of AI controls now that they’re going to start trying to put in, I think rationally so I hope they don’t overregulate it. But it can’t be unregulated. Given the implications of it. Do you see things like this going in any certain direction? Where do you see the future?


Peter: So at the moment, there’s, the focus is totally on these big data systems, these large language models like Chet GPT, and they are, I think, significantly, I mean, they are amazing, they’re the technology is amazing, you know if you can just tell it to write you a poem or to you know, come up with a political speech in the style of Shakespeare or a rapper, you know, whatever. And it can do quite an amazing job of that or writing some piece of code. The thing is always has to be a human in the loop, because they are quite unreliable, you know, they make up stuff. I mean, for example, I can ask you to tell me about this article that Peter Voss wrote about this. And I just make up something, something I never wrote. And we’ll come back and tell me about the article that I supposedly wrote, complete with references completely made up, you know, so there are significant problems with this approach, the statistical approach, it’s basically, you have this massive amount of data, but it’s completely uncurated and uncontrolled. And you have this fantastic, very plausible language generation system, that makes things sound plausible. But if you try to deploy this in enterprise in anything serious, like in front of a customer to, you know, handle the refund, or just to handle a sale or something like that, with all the business rules, and you know, that your legal department has to sign off, it’s just not the right technology for that. And I think companies are big companies are now rushing, everybody wants to implement ChatGPT or you know, a competitor of that, and I think they’re going to be very disappointed in what it can do. 


Peter: Now, it’s fantastic for things like just FAQs, like internally in the company to find documents or stuff like it, as long as there’s a human in the loop to say, this doesn’t make sense, you know, or it’s a bit like search. When you do a Google search, you look through it and say, oh, yeah, this, this is what I’m looking for. So as far as that technology is concerned, I think companies are going to be quite disappointed in terms of what the limitations are in that. Now, on the other hand, it has proven that we already have enough hardware, that the hardware capabilities available today can do amazing things, you know, amazing language capabilities. But I think they need a different approach, and I’ve written extensively about that it’s what DARPA called the third wave of AI, the large language models are in the second wave. The third wave is building a system that’s inherently more like a mind. What’s more, you know, that specifically can think about thinking and knows what he’s talking about. So that requires a different approach. That’s the approach we’re using. And I think that’s very promising. And I think within a few years, we can have extremely powerful systems based on what’s called cognitive architecture, or the third wave of AI.


JC: You know, in my company, we do lead generation and appointment setting for enterprise-level B2B tech companies. And so I’ve thought about this AI side of it, you know, people say, well, is that going to take over those things? And as you said, My theory was that, at least for now, there are so many different angles that it has to understand because you’re right, when you start getting into a sales process, if it’s just informational things, that’s different, right? Because of things like that. But when you start getting into cognitive decision-making, and answers that can put a company at liability, right? Like if a sales chatbot said, oh, yeah, we can do it for that discount. All right, can’t, then you’re on the record of saying you can, right? So implications in that process. So you’re right, I think that’s something that’s going to be handled by humans for quite some time. But I do see that the AI can take a lot of the load off of it in other areas, right? When it comes informational side.


JC: Now one could even argue that maybe the first part of lead generation, just that quick conversation back and forth, where AI doesn’t have to answer too many questions as much as understand and learn how to take a question, address it, and promise that answer if they book a call. Right? So now I can train it to do that, I can train it to do that, but I can’t let it sell for us, right? For our clients, so yeah, I find that interesting. 


Peter: It depends, you know, it depends on how valuable your prospects are. And, you know, whether it’s just like a percentage game that you’re playing that, you know, that you can say, alright, with automation, we can hit a lot more people and you know, if we have 3% success, then that’s great, you know, we can just hit a lot more people, but if it’s about retaining an existing customer or having something high value, you know, where you just get one shot at talking to the customer, you know, through an introduction or something like that, you don’t want to do that. And, you know, something that I think it’s a misunderstanding that people believe that these chatbots can learn as they go along. They do not, they do not learn they’re called to, you know, GPT The G stands for generative, which means they make up stuff based on the knowledge that they have. The P and M means pre-trained So it’s a generative pre-trained transformer, Technology, transforming itself simply doesn’t,


JC: it’s not going to keep, you have to keep feeding it information, otherwise, it’s not going to just start,


Peter: It’s not, it’s not going to, it’s not going to get better, you have to then retrain the model. And that’s, that’s a nontrivial undertaking, because the way you train it is, you need to have very specific training data that you set up. And, you know, and there are all sorts of problems with that. One of them is that you can have catastrophically called catastrophic forgetting. So you can train a model that knows certain things, then you want to train it additional things, and it catastrophically forgets you had before. But it’s very unpredictable. So you don’t know that it forgot that necessarily, unless, you know, so they are huge problems. These systems do not just get better by being exposed to conversations. 


JC: Yeah, I heard a term the other day, I think it was knowledge drift or cognitive drift. It was one of those two, essentially because as of this date, we’re filming, ChatGPT, and its accuracy started falling off. And people thought that maybe it was open AI that was doing that on purpose. And then what they realized was that no, this is something that can just happen, Whereas it keeps thinking through information and giving feedback, it changes the way that it finds and processes information to give feedback. So it can be like the original version of how he was finding information and deciding that information is the most accurate, that evolved negatively, were through the process itself, because remember, this isn’t open AI open being the key word here. This is based on everyone doing what they’re doing. So there became this massive drift of its process naturally, which then made a bunch of things less accurate. Now, it can go back the other way. But your system is a closed circuit, right? It’s just for that company. So I don’t I don’t know that that would happen in a bad way. With anything like what you’re doing now. When you have everyone in on it. Yeah, it’s just it’s a really interesting phenomenon that they’re that they’re seeing right now.


Peter: Yeah. And that’s really, it’s inherent in that approach. You know, as I say, That’s what DARPA calls a second wave of AI, which is statistical big data systems. So they are statistical as opposed to cognitive, what you want you to want a system that can think about that can reason about what it’s doing that kind of knows what it’s saying, rather than just, you know, statistically coming up with plausible sentences.


JC: Yeah, all right, we’ll take a quick shift here. So I would love to know, because you have been doing this stuff for so long, and you are a veteran of the tech community. I want to know, what did you like, what was what were you like, as a kid when it comes to stuff? Like, what did you do? What did you dream of doing and being when you were a kid? And if this is it, that’s fantastic. It’s not like, how did you get there? Right. Like, some people like to be a firefighter, but like, now they own a SaaS company, right? So, like, what a Peter Voss want to do when he was a kid? And how does that transition to now? 


Peter: Well, I was always interested in technical things. You know, I had an electronics kit that an uncle gave me for a birthday. And so I built these electronic circuits, so that, you know, it was just an interest early on. And I remember, I must have been about 10 or 11, or something, I was thinking, surely we could organize all the world’s information was sort of, is what I guess would now be a skew code, you know? And so, that kind of thinking, you know, came quite natural to me that surely we should be able to sort of rationally arrange things and use rationality and reason, I mean, not explicitly. And then I was interested in philosophy.


Peter: So I started reading philosophy books, in terms of, you know, what is reality? How do we know anything? What is free will? You know, and what are the limits of knowledge and, and things like at an ethics, how do we know what’s right and wrong? So I’ve written quite a quite a bit about these things. If anybody’s interested, I have days on, under my name is easy to find. So I think I’ve always had that curiosity. But then I had to start working at 16. I didn’t finish high school. That was just problems with my family. And so I started working at a bank in a hamburger place at a motorcycle shop, you know, just whatever work I could get to, to feed myself. And then I got a job with a company that did electronics, which was really what I was interested in. I basically became an apprentice there and ended up being an electronics engineer, and then I started my own company. So you know, just my particular path of going there. I’ve always enjoyed learning by myself. So that’s never been a problem before.


JC: You know, there’s with AI, there is a lot of, I see it as kind of a minefield with a pot of gold at the other end, right? That the payoff is big. But there are a lot of places where it can go wrong along the way, what is the best piece of advice you can give the audience, for any company thinking about integrating AI, into their systems or processes in any way? Is there you know, something to maybe to, to, for them some advice for them to go and look at for what to do? And that may be something for them to be cautious of and avoid. What kind of advice can you give when it comes to bringing AI into your company? For people who are considering it? 


Peter: Well, obviously, if you say that it’s looking for conversational AI, they should talk to us. But, leaving that aside, in terms of just be done, don’t be caught up by the hype of it, you know, just use common sense stand back, and say, okay, you know, so many of the big companies have FOMO, basically, oh, we’ve got to do, we’ve got to do AI, you know, and then they blindly do like anything, and they talk, you know, spend a lot of money with consultants, who quite often aren’t giving good advice, you know, they don’t have to pay the price. If the system, you know, if the project doesn’t end up working. So, you know, just use common sense and ask hard questions, you know, where has this been implemented? Does it work? You know, how do we know that it’s going to work? What is it going to do? But there’s this big fear of missing out right now. And companies are being swept up by the hype. And then of course, the tech people in the company, want to play with this cutting-edge technology, but they’re not necessarily the right people to ask.


JC: I agree with that. Yeah. And I especially Yeah, get some people who are a little too eager to play with the new toy. Right? Shiny. Nobody’s looking at the safety instructions on the side of the box, you know what I mean? They’re just going all in? So yeah, I mean, I can have that idea that AI is gonna do a lot of great, it’s gonna cause a lot of problems, too. But just any disruptive technology is probably going to do both. Right? So it is gonna be very interesting next year to see kind of where they are, when it comes to like legislation to see like, what kind of regulations are they going to try to put on it? If there’s any kind of safety measures? There’s a lot of angles, it’d be interesting here.


Peter: But you know, the big companies just game, the regulation to their own, you know, to their benefit that, yes, a software, you know, the big software has to be licensed. But really what they’re doing is they’re putting out their competitors. They saying, Well, of course, our system is licensed because we are in charge of the licensing process, directly or indirectly, but we might drag our feet about licensing our competitor’s models, you know, because maybe they’re not safe. You know. So..


JC: The dog world in the tech industry, for sure.


Peter: Yeah. So I think just following on to what you just said, I think one thing that companies should be aware of the current technology, any application where you need a human in the loop, you know, where you need this quality, you need to be sure you’re doing the right thing. This technology is not ripe for that. Now, you know, so we were talking about FAQs, information systems, like if you have many employees, or hundreds of employees or 1000s of employees to have internal FAQs that can help people answer questions, you know, that are not critical if they’re not going to make decisions, you know, on based on that, but just gathering information. I think they’re extremely useful, you know, these natural language interfaces, but not anything critical in the company.


JC: Well, listen, this has been a fantastic interview, where can people find you, personally? And where would they find the company if they wanted to go check out the website, and things like that?


Peter: Yeah, they’re easy. Aigo.AI. A-I-G-O.AI and Peter@Aigo.AI


JC: Perfect. Listen, for everyone out there listening again, If you liked what you heard today, be sure to subscribe to this podcast, and give it that five-star rating, preferably with some writing behind it. So other techies like us can find and enjoy learning about all these amazing and helpful b2b software and technology on the market today. Peter, thank you so much for being a guest. We’ll talk after the show. I got some more questions on my own. Great, thank you. All right.

infinityadminEp. 68:  Unleashing the Potential of Artificial Intelligence with Peter Voss, CEO of Aigo

Ep. 67: Securing Your Digital Frontier: Exploring Cybersecurity with Richard Hollis, Founder & CEO of Risk Crew

Learn more about Risk Crew at:

Find Richard Hollis on LinkedIn here:

JC: Welcome, everybody to another episode of the Future of Biz Tech. I’m your host, JC Granger, I have another fantastic guest with me on the show today. Listen, if you end up liking this episode, please show your love and appreciation by following this podcast, wherever you’re listening and you know, give it that five-star review, preferably with some nice comments in there, right? Because that is how techies like you and I find really cool podcasts like this. And today I had the absolute pleasure of interviewing Richard Hollis, who’s the founder and CEO of Risk Crew. Richard, thank you so much for being on the show. Tell the audience a little bit about yourself. And what does Risk Crew do?

Richard: Well, first of all, JC Thank you. Thank you for having me. Big fan of the podcast. Where do I start? So I’m a cybersecurity professional for over 25-30 years now, I’m a founder of a company called Risk Crew. We’re a sort of product-agnostic consultancy, located that has got a portfolio of cybersecurity risk management solutions. We were founded on the principle JC of the idea that cybersecurity is an oxymoron. There’s no such thing as a secure computer.


Richard: So what’s the game? the game is to identify, minimize and manage the threats to your risk appetite, the appetite that you have for doing business online. So we work with businesses to identify that risk appetite, how much could you lose in the event that you had a breach, define the strategy, and then work everything from their policies, their procedures, their strategies, and deliver things like code reviews of their critical applications, looking at the vendors, you know, the software, the hardware that they’re actually using for security vulnerabilities, duplicating how hackers would hack into their systems and giving them you know, cost-effective ways to remediate those vulnerabilities. So it’s a process organization, we believe that it that cybersecurity is a process, in fact, not a product. And so we come to the angle that the cybersecurity industry is a little behind is a little behind. Well, it’s always behind. But it’s probably just I love to talk about that. But that’s who I am. And that’s what we do. We’ve been in business for well over 10 years. And every year it gets bigger and bigger and bigger the cybersecurity threat landscape. So it’s a lot of fun, like an exciting time is a great time to be in my industry.


JC: Well, you know, the audience might understand this, too, based on what you said your company is. But we talked about before you’re kind of a unicorn for me right now. Because I typically interview C-level execs at like software companies, right like the product. And like you said your product is agnostic. Why I wanted to have you on specifically because, with the advent and not even having it, I would say just with the exponential increase of intelligence for AI, specifically. When I saw you come across my desk, so to speak, right, I thought I think we need to have a really big conversation about the thing that most people really aren’t thinking about. Right? And, you know, we talked about it, most people can’t wrap their heads around the concept of exponential, right? Because the brain really does have its limits, right when it starts imagining things. And so I want to hear your take on what kind of fears or hopes you have when it comes to how AI is going to affect cybersecurity. It’s a cat-and-mouse game, right? So you’re gonna have the bad actors using AI to try to, you know, fool a lot of systems on a very large scale. But we’ll also have the people using AI to try to catch them. So where do you see like, how do you see this playing out? And what are you seeing right now?


Richard: Okay, the best place to start there is to look at our past. Okay? New technology comes on the horizon. And the failure, our failure in cybersecurity has been to not understand the cybersecurity ramifications of new technology or new waves of technology as they come. So you know, the internet comes along, we forgot about security, security concepts, the idea of breaching systems, so suddenly Internet Security meant to the firewall and okay, then we go to WiFi, and then we go to the cloud. And then we go, you know, there’s always every three to five years, there’s a wave of technology comes. But here’s the problem. Cybersecurity is always a bolt-on to that technology. We do not build secure by design, nor do we consider it in any technology that comes on the horizon. So where I come from is a long history of “ah, we forgot security”. Technologies were cool with their increased productivity. It’s increased efficiency. But suddenly we forgot that that code, that code that that application runs on that software as a service runs, is insecure. And we lose data. And it’s so so we call it a bolt-on we have always been cybersecurity has always been a bolt-on to the technology industry. All right, so then, so this new so suddenly ai ai is probably a game changer. I felt that way in terms of the cybersecurity threat landscape when nation-states started to hack into our systems. There’s no way that small businesses or even large businesses could compete against a nation-state putting its resources into breaching your system. Alright, now suddenly, that kind of capability, you know, China, the NSA, in France, the UK of being able to look at a business and breach that system, that kind of and of power now is going to be available to any ying yang out there who can get his hands on a small AI. Alright, so AI comes along, and it changes the threat landscape considerably. It’ll be unrecognizable. It’s like, you know, you remember that? What was it Crocodile Dundee where they’re walking across the park with his girlfriend and some guy comes out and pulls a knife and says, “Give me your wallet”. And he just smiles. And he said, and she says, what didn’t you? Well, if he’s got a knife, and he said, No, that’s not a knife. This is a knife and pulls out that here’s, yeah, that’s what AI is to the cybersecurity threat landscape, it dwarfs anything in terms of a threat. Now we are extremely vulnerable JC right now because we’re still playing catch up. We’re still playing catch up on you know, anti-malware that doesn’t work. Firewalls that lead through traffic that they shouldn’t. So we have not, it’s not like we got a history of getting better. Cybersecurity to us has been a product. It’s been a product, we want to buy a product.


JC: We have a how-to then how do people How do companies or nations protect themselves with a bolt-on because seeing a bolt-on might have been fine with the speed and the speed of which the bad actors could act, right? They could only come up with new code every so often to try to come up with something they can only implement to so many systems in one shot, it gives you time, you get hit once and you’re like, Ah, okay, that hurt. Let’s patch that right? And that speed would go back and forth. But with AI, it gives a bad act or the ability to hit you everywhere all the time without stopping while also changing the method in real-time. How on earth do we possibly work with that with a bolt-on strategy?


Richard: You’re right in, which is why I’m extremely visible about the future of cybersecurity when the present and the past have always been a step behind. So along comes something like you said that’s always on everywhere at all times. But in there is also the powerful and it’ll shrink the attack time because when a typical hacker was looking at a system to break in, there was a reconnaissance time, he had to understand what kind of firewall his business app, what kind of antivirus can I get this what and do some reconnaissance to understand the vulnerabilities and then exploit those vulnerabilities. An AI tool will just look at the products and come and automatically print out a list of the vulnerabilities known with that product and automatically apply a tool. So it’s like a hyper, it’s a leap into hyperspace, for the attack time itself. And here’s the thing JC this is not new, you and I are talking about it when real AI attacks were happening at least a year and a half two years ago. You know what we’re talking about now because of chatGPT and Bard and these things that, you know, the consumers are talking about. Anybody working with AI and machine learning technology in us in cyberspace in a hacking space has had their tools set out and running for at least 18 months. So we’re a step behind yet again.


JC: Yeah, I think the scary thing that I was thinking about is, I kind of had this analogy in my head, I don’t know if you’ve watched a Game of Thrones, not sure if you’re Game of Thrones fan, but the dragon’s having the dragon egg was like this really prized thing because that dragon egg, although it’s small, and it can’t do anything right now. But if you keep that egg and it hatches, you have a dragon, it’s a baby one, but it’ll get bigger and bigger and bigger. And eventually, you have it. And what I see is that the problem with AI is that although the average person or even a hacker usually doesn’t have access to the most advanced hacking AI, they don’t need it, they just need the egg, right, they just need the base coding of a good AI system, because they will teach it and it will grow and will get better and smarter over time. And the problem is, eggs are really easy to come by now. And that’s the analogy that’s in my head. And that’s what kind of scares me is that even an average hacker doesn’t need to have the best system because there’s, there’s, it’s been hard for them to attain it right? Even in that world and that Blackhat world, you’re gonna have a lot of money, or you have to do the right people. And now you don’t need either one of those. Right? You’re gonna have a base foundation, a little bit of startup capital for your own server or cloud or whatnot. Right? And then just enough time to sit there and teach it things the way you mold it and then eventually within a few months you have a dragon like a big one. Right?


JC: And I think that is what kind of scares me about this because, you know, I think the only thing that might save us is if everyone can take everyone out right? It’s like a nuclear holocaust. Right? I think it becomes a what’s the term when no one fires nukes because everybody with.


Richard: Mutually Assured Destruction


JC: Yeah. Mutually Assured Destruction, right? Yeah. I think the only thing that might save us as a nation-state, for example, and companies is that if everyone had someone that could attack someone else and nobody does it because then everybody would do it and nobody wins, right? That’s the only thing that’s in my head. But that’s it’s very nihilistic. And I don’t like to be nihilistic. I want to be hopeful. So I guess my question to you is this, do you see the ability like, where do you see AI? As far as its ability to detect and defend against other AI? How are you guys at Risk Crew, or, or the industry in general, looking at aI had to harness it to be on your side?


Richard: We’re using it. Let’s go back to my analogy that we’re still behind. And we’re still behind in this AI. You’re right. There are dragon eggs out there. There are live dragons. And those dragons were programmed to, you know, not breathe fire, but you know, it’s, they’ll get worse with every generation. So you’re right. And remember, I said that we’re always a step behind, whether that’s technology or that the actors today. And we are programmed then to be reactive in our industry. All right. So it’s like they bring a knife, we bring up a gun, they bring a machine gun, we’ve got to bring a howitzer, uh, you know, we’ve got to it’s, it’s a natural escalation, you’re absolutely right to feel is a strategy of Mutually Assured Destruction, effective? And I tell you, it’s the only one that I know that works now. A, because one nation-states use it. You don’t attack a nation-state without getting and you know, what other industry uses it? You’ll be surprised to hear the online adult entertainment industry was, Oh, yes. Who has always embraced technology, and you want to, and there are a lot of people who don’t like what these people provide his content and for religious or moral purposes, and there are organized hacker groups that that take them out. But that’s a business that will turn around, identify where your attack is coming from, and take you off the face of the internet. All right, they get proactive, you know, us does that as a nation-state Israel does that. You know, they are proactive, and they in fact, have a rep have a history of coming up with the best security products because they’re proactive in nature.


Richard: They gave us the, we used to talk about intrusion prevention, assorted intrusion detection, they came up with intrusion prevention, if somebody starts scanning your firewall, identify and shut that down. So we have to get proactive. You’re absolutely right. And the only history of success we’ve had is in those pockets that understand that the internet is a war zone, and you better come well armed or you’re going to be a casualty of war. And yes, nation-states get that. And on a nation-state level, nation, state, and nation-state, we will achieve mutually assured destruction, but not when it comes to cyber, cyber-criminal gangs against small to medium businesses and banks who are using AI as enrolling in the big guns. You’re absolutely right. Anybody can have a dragon. Now, in terms of the best defensive strategy that we recommend is proactive, let’s start making our own dragons here. And you know, at the end of the day, the internet is not governed. There’s no right, there’s no wrong, there are a couple of federal agencies that just chase pedophiles. But technically, you can launch a denial of service attack on an IP that’s doing reconnaissance of your business, and with no repercussions whatsoever. And all you know, there are no international treaties that allow us to extradite hackers or hacker groups, no, anything goes on the internet. So we are moving to if we’re not proactive, we will be a casualty. So that’s what I see as AI. I see that we need to start using it not just for defensive purposes, because we’ll always be a step ahead. But take the next step and be and be offensive in nature and start to kill these dragons in their eggs. Before they’re, you know, they’re hatched, and they wreak havoc on our businesses.


JC: That’s a good point. You know, given the exponential nature and where this is probably headed. Do you see what is still somewhat of a small cybersecurity industry? Do you see it exploding out of necessity? Do you see it staying small, and just consolidating with mergers? Where do you see cybersecurity as an industry going, knowing that this wave is coming?


Richard: Well, I don’t see the industry from the outside. I see it from the inside, I’m inside it and it seems pretty big here. And there are 20 leaders, there are 20 industry leaders out there with big names that own the predominantly the large part of the market. Okay. And you know, my concern is that the products these industry leaders put out are not fit for purpose. They’re not working and there’s they’re making a lot of money. So in terms of yes, there’s an explosion and but for me, I think there’s an explosion. I think the growth needs to be a nonproduct. A product vendor’s products right now are part of the problem. They’re not part of the solution. products right now cybersecurity products are the most popular venue for hackers to come in because they’re trusted products that yeah, so and they’re not built any they’re not built securely, these big names, putting out firewalls and these things that we’re using in Sims, there, it’s not like they’re been designed securely and have secure code, they have same vulnerabilities than any software as a service that GitHub or Salesforce or the anybody else is putting their information assets in. But their cybersecurity products, so they’re trusted, they’re trusted by name, which makes them even more overlooked. You know, we want to put in a firewall by so and so check a box and say, That’s it, we’re secure. And we overlook that anyway.


Richard: So my issue or where I see the most growth is needed, is in an AI strategy is in formulating a strategy to keep businesses inside the risk appetite, and keep them alive on the Warfield. And you know, but the products the things that we’re struggling with right now. Look at ransomware it’s the best idea. Ransomware is what it’s malware? Do you know anybody that doesn’t have anti-malware on their device? Do you know anybody and yet we don’t talk about it? Businesses are getting ransomware and they’re being put out of business? And nobody asks, Well, geez, you know, ransomware is malware, we got real running now where our malware is no good. That’s the problem.


Richard: People get ransomware because the malware is terrible. It malware is not it’s up, it’s running signatures that were designed 510 years ago. So you know, seriously, it’s odd. That’s, that’s the greatest example, how we’re always late, you know, our hair’s on fire about ransomware. And we don’t even bring up the fact that hey, maybe we get maybe our malware is poor. And that’s why we’re getting this ransomware. Same idea, when I’m looking at is that we need to take it beyond product, we need to take it and AI is going to push us there because AI will make a product obsolete. As far as I’m concerned, there won’t be there won’t be a defendable network out there against an AI attack. So we got to start using gray matter. And we have to start using strategy. And I think the best thinkers out there in our industry are going to be an explosion in that. But until then, we’re going to see in the next six months, we’re going to see a wave of breaches. And you’re going to see product vendors shift and try to say, Okay, you just need our new AI-driven firewall and start to use AI in the title of their product, or AI, are our machine learning anti-malware solution. And they’re going to stretch and stretch and stretch that product is, you know, to point it toward the AI problem. But it will be as ineffective as it’s been against malware and denial of service attacks and all these other attacks that we’ve had over the last 20 years. So I’m not optimistic that our vendors are going to get smart because JC you know what they need, they need r&d time, you know, they come out with a new firewall, that’s because they did r&d For the last five years. And they’re going to make money on that firewall. So they’re going to keep it on the market for the next two years, even though it’s no longer fit for purpose of what but the attacks and the threats out there, you got to get a return on your investment. So until there’s money to be made real money, ours, our vendors are going to take products and leave them on the market until they get a return on them.


JC: So with all that, then what is Risk Crew doing as a consultancy firm, to help your clients right? Like, you know, this is all doom and gloom, and it kind of should be a little bit but then the question is, you know, where’s the light at the end of that tunnel? You know, how is Risk Crew? What are you guys telling your clients? You know, like, well, how are you guys trying to help this massive problem?


Richard: Well, we’re trying to, you know, how, you know, if you’ve been in therapy, JC but you go to a therapist, and because you want to hear the truth, you want to lay out and say, Hey, I’m using this, I’m using that I’m still getting breached, alright, it’s more


JC: I’m more of a heavy bag with boxing, gloves, therapy, whatever, we’re, whatever you had very few problems I couldn’t solve in 15 minutes on a heavy bag. But I understand your analogy.


Richard: You gotta go to somebody to your priest, your therapist, your guru, your you know, your rabbi, you got to sit down. And you got to say, All right, you know, I can’t get my head around cybersecurity. So what Risk Crew does is start with the strategy. What are you trying to protect, while trying to protect what’s going to happen to you if you fail, and come up with a risk out, help you define your risk appetite for your business for us, that’s where one, how much it’s like going into Vegas, how much you’re going to put in your pocket before you walk out, you know, and you lose it and you realize I can’t lose any more than that. So we’ll help you define that risk appetite for your business. How much you could possibly and then we’re to you to identify all the threats that you’re looking at, in the way that you do business today that exceed that risk appetite, you know, a threat that would come in and put you out of business to give you that but that that risk appetite, you have to understand how much you can’t take to know how much you need to apply to that fight so and 99.9% of businesses don’t understand. It’s like that Clint Eastwood adage.


Richard: You know, a man’s got to know his limitations. Businesses don’t understand the limitations when it comes to cybersecurity. So I’d like to think that the first thing we do is give them strategy, give them, show them their limitations, this breach would put you out of business and say, that’s fine. If you want to accept that risk, then go on, and help them realize and stay within their risk appetite. By doing this, the basics, as I said, we preach the gospel of process over product, IT strategy, and every attack. Hackers have three attack vectors, people processes, and technology. And but the whole industry is focused on technology buying that piece of technology that will secure your business and they neglect, and they neglect the other two proven attack vectors through people like social engineering, or process for interrupting business continuity and disaster recovery, things like this. So it’s, it’s just, that’s what we try to do is open up their vision and say, Listen, what about these other two attack vectors? What about your people? What about your processes, your business processes that are just as vulnerable to disruption or cybercrime? So that’s what we do. And we do them by knowledge transfer, we do them by, like I said, policy agnostic consulting, where we go in and do things like risk assessments and policies and, and education and awareness training, and then looking at products and doing security assessments of products to make sure they fit for purpose, and they work. And that there are no vulnerabilities in the code, doing code reviews and fixing that, and making sure that everything’s running as optimal. But the key thing I’d like to think is, is a strategy, showing a business, what they can’t take, and just saying, if that’s it, then fine. Welcome to welcome to the club. Welcome to Vegas, you know, but you know, it just takes one bad roll, and you could lose it all. And as long as you know that, then we feel our job is done. But to go back to your first question, the future doesn’t look bright. There’s a big storm cloud on the horizon called AI. And I’m not particularly pantheist about the future because of the past and the present. So I’m, I am looking for a new voice. I’m looking for the next generation who’s going to come up and start to address and look at cybersecurity as a process, not a product I’m hoping that for us a company like Risk Crew is the answer or is the best foot forward toward AI-driven attack.


JC: You don’t do you see, you know, like how Apple with their iPhone, started taking some things more native built into the device? So for example, up to read a QR code in the past, you had to download an app that could read QR codes, and then that app, you would open it up, QR code will go to something which didn’t take very well, because most people don’t want to have an app on their phone just to do a thing. And they want to open an app. And I was thinking myself, I’m like, Why doesn’t Apple just make this native to the camera? And eventually, they did. And so what I’m curious is, you know, you talk about how the cybersecurity industry like the product part of the industry is, there are their steps behind and even, and they’re going to keep products on the industry to get their ROI. Do you see a possibility of a Blockbuster Entertainment moment? And by that what I mean is, Blockbuster should have been Netflix, right? They had all the material, all the rights, they saw that the cloud existed, if they could have been Netflix, and they didn’t they didn’t they weren’t and then they fought it and then they died. And I’m wondering, do you see a possibility of cybersecurity products being an industry that dies because the platform, not platforms but device manufacturers start integrating like what you said an AI, but that involves the entire everything in that device and all the files in it, right? So for example, what if Apple launched an AI that was native to the iPhone, anything within the boundaries of that phone? It covered all of it and in real-time, right as in, it was an egg. It was a dragon egg that sat there and got smarter and smarter. So this way in real-time, if it sees certain things coming through it not only knows how to defend it but learns from that one in case it doesn’t. And it gets to take the collective knowledge of all the phones and everything right like do you see I guess, manufacturers or product or device companies may be overtaking cybersecurity product companies the way that Netflix overtook Blockbuster?


Richard: That’s a great JC that’s a really good analogy and be a recommendation in terms of going forward. I love the way that you said I saw this barcode but then eventually they did. And when you said that I said yeah. Eventually, when they made their money off the first iPhone, you know the next incarnation and the next incarnation comes, you know what I’ve come to see my industry, you know the least say about the pharmaceutical industry. He, you know, makes a lot of money off of treating the symptoms


JC: There’s not a lot of money in the cure. There’s very little money in Cure.


Richard: Exactly! If there was, if you could take a pill and never take a common cut, you have a cold again. And so there is so much money on treating the symptoms of cybersecurity problems. All right, and this is where the only thing that’s going to get a vendor to change his way is that he’s going to make money on it. So you’re right. But you also mentioned a big player, if Apple moves in and suddenly gives us an AI smart, defensive machine that we’re using, first of all, that’s going to come way down the line after you and I and many, many businesses have, you know, if anybody’s still standing, great, we can have apples, but the problem there is, they’re all going to be proprietary. Because if you’re you know, then you’ve got Apple over here, you got Microsoft over here. 


JC: Well, who’s gonna care? I mean, why? I mean, I guess my point is, if they listen, they’ve always been a black box, right? And that’s fine. If you’re the user, right? And that’s just phones. What about, what about laptops? Right? I guess my point is that if they were to start with phones, right, and then they say, and people say, Well, what’s proprietary, we can’t see it, okay? I don’t, I’m a consumer, I don’t need to see it, I just need to buy the product. So I know it’s safe. It’s providing that it is, know what I’m saying you’ve got a great yeah, and, and they don’t need to make the money like McAfee or Norton Antivirus has to because those are products, they only make the money on that. They don’t, they probably wouldn’t mind investing the money because then more people just buy their devices, they make the money on the devices on the cloud subscriptions, and things like that. Sometimes it takes an industry that actually doesn’t care, like doesn’t really, I should say, on the full profits, it can be a loss leader for them if they’re making up for people buying their devices, and subscribing to their cloud subscriptions, things like that. So that’s why when I say Apple, I mean, Google could be part of that as well, you know, or Samsung, for example, right? That’s why I think they’re most likely to come in because they don’t actually rely on the revenue from a standard subscription model, that the cybersecurity companies that are keeping products out there on purpose to make their money back because they’re not innovating as fast. Apple would have every reason to innovate every single day because more people will keep buying their devices and their cloud stuff.


Richard: You’re absolutely right, from an end-user perspective, you know, a B to C environment, that would be a huge leap forward. The problem in a business or b2b environment is not everybody has an Apple, you know, an iPhone, this or you know, shares the same technology. So businesses will invest in one technology. So the business would have to invest in Apple, and give them all to their users, which, okay, that.


JC: Well it would not take a long time. But that was IBM’s strategy. Remember, that’s how they got through on the enterprise level, b2b, and corporate side, convincing companies to completely transition over to their, to their systems. And I mean, Apple, although will take a while. I mean, their position very well to do the same thing. If they wanted to do that they could knock out IBM and Microsoft within five years, if they started today, in my opinion. 


Richard: If they move it correctly. Also, it could be a Blackberry in my industry, Blackberry was a no, no. And I had a Blackberry and I loved the BlackBerry and, you know, encrypted calls you did me why? Yeah. But but but there’s, so it’s got to be a smart move. It’s got to be by three or four major players. And that’s a move that would absolutely protect the end consumer users, you and I, my mother, and my father, my sister, my brother, that would make us in a safer place. Yes. But I go back to this, but first of all, remember, we talked about nation states? And if you think Apple is free from the nation-state, you know, intrusions. Yeah, so suddenly, then nation-states own the cybersecurity landscape, which is, I guess, you know, keeps out the riffraff and only keeps the professionals from getting into our devices. Okay, fine, it would, it would eliminate a big problem. But businesses are so much they have so much hybrid technology, you know, so many different types of hardware and software, and software as a service. And so many people from so many locations using different, you know, hard, we have moved technology has moved us, you know, from to such a hybrid use of technology that I don’t see a universal, you know, even if it was Apple, even if it was Microsoft, I don’t see a universal adaptation that would take us out of harm’s way. 


JC: There shouldn’t be, you don’t want to have you can’t have our eggs in one basket either way, but I do see maybe two to three players tops reaching that point, you think Apple has a company worth that is higher than about 90% of most country’s GDP. So if any company didn’t have the resources on that level to combat nation-states, it’s Apple, right? And that’s why I just think, you know, I could see an IBM, Apple, Microsoft, you know, competing, maybe Google in their kind of thing, but I just, I’m just curious. I wonder if this becomes the Netflix blockbuster thing where like, yeah, Blockbuster should have been Netflix. And you know, Norton Antivirus should end up being the thing, but I don’t think they will. I think their business model the way you’re explaining is going to die and not a slow death. I think it’s going to die at a very exponential AI death, unfortunately.


Richard: I’m not wishing for that. Because I think here’s the problem. I think that the time it’ll take for the product cybersecurity industry to go down will be faster than it will take anyone else to pick up the slack, including Apple or anyone else there, even if they switch to this real-time device AI prevention model, which I think is a cool idea. Right? I’m biased because I just had the idea. But even if that were to happen, that would take longer to implement. We’d have a massive gap, I think in the middle. And I think that is very scary. From even just the consumer side, people think that you know, that nation-states are targeting the governments in the US and they used to, but now they’re realizing they can cause more havoc by going after 1000 private companies, you know, what happens if you take WordPress, for example, is the most attacked? system on the planet, right? Because it’s open source. So that which is good and bad, right? And now most companies have their website on WordPress. Also, usually, the bigger companies have things in there to help protect it, right? They’re not easy targets. I mean, if anyone really, really wants to get to you, if they target you specifically, they could probably get in at some point. But that’s not it’s kind of how muggers, work muggers don’t go attack a guy who looks like he plays or that fights for the UFC, they’re gonna attack someone who looks like they can’t really defend themselves, right? It’s an it’s a cognitive opportunity. And that is like 90% of most attacks. So when you start seeing a nation-state, a bad actor, a nation-state, they can go out to the government. But that’s not the easy target.


Richard: You know what is easy to target? The 10 million small businesses in America that are all working off of a WordPress site with the same login URL, the Ford slash admin with the same username for admin, you know, whatever. And then all they got to do that’s three, that’s two out of three parts down right there, you put an AI in there just a run through standard passwords, you could hit fight with, you could hit 400,000 small businesses and take the websites down tomorrow. That is massive. And they’re all easy targets and AI makes it to where you don’t have to put in the labor for it right? You don’t have to take time or labor, you just have your dragon egg that goes in there and starts wreaking havoc and blowing fire all over the landscape. And that’s just that’s the thing that keeps me up at night because I’m a tech nerd, right? Like, that’s the stuff I think about.


Richard: Watch it, that’s the hoo-ha behind Instagram in China. Did you know, Wired Magazine did a great piece about a year and a half ago that they noticed that China was quietly buying up? And within two years, they bought 37% of the encrypted VPN market. So almost 40% of the VPNs out there in use by companies are in fact, Chinese owned Chinese national-owned, that is.


JC: That’s diabolical. It is that like white furry cat genius, right? Dr. Evil style.


Richard: And these are big names. And the other thing I wanted to remind you as JC is, is our vendors, you know the names that you mentioned, the big guys, the leaders, the people we’re supposed to look up to, for in these dark times of AI clouds forming on the horizon. They don’t know what to do look at take, you know, the top 20 cybersecurity vendors, all of them, all of them have been hacked in the last 12 months. So they don’t know any deep dark secrets. And I’m assuming they’re using their own product. But every single one of these big guys has been hacked. And they’re struggling with the same problems we are, you know, we and we get we follow them like they’re shepherds, but they’re just as lost as we are. They’re just sheep just like us. And we go to them for answers. And we buy stuff and they’re getting their systems are getting hacked, just like us. So I don’t look to them for sighted AI leadership? Well, of course, they are. But that’s what we tell our vendors who are our current customers, we’re about to make a big expenditure, we say stop, go to Google, type in that vendor and see if they’ve been hacked in the last 12 months, then pick up the phone call your sales rep and say excuse me, don’t you use your own product, the board I’m about to buy and make a huge six-figure investment and because either it doesn’t work, or is this something you’re not telling me. But this is absent this kind of accountability, this kind of connecting the dots in our industry. And anyway, my point is, I don’t expect I don’t expect any of the big cybersecurity names to be leaders in AI security, because they got two minutes and investment in the present and the past. But then like you said the most, the most optimistic view would be that the top five to 10 technology leaders like Apple and Google get in the game and proactively start protecting end consumers you know, which would be better than nothing but doesn’t leave us free of nation state. And the Instagram thing still doesn’t sink in on us that we don’t understand what’s at stake, how valuable our data is. And you know, shame on us because at the end of the day, JC you know what the frustration you hear in my voice is that I’ve been doing this for my whole lifetime, my whole professional life. And I go to a business and they don’t. And they see it as protecting ones and zeros. You know, this cybersecurity is about protecting computer data. That’s ones and zeros. No, this is data about people’s lives. This is data about someone’s mother and father, your kids, your blood type your, you know, your race, your religion, your it is very sensitive data to us. And yet we don’t give it two thoughts. It’s just ones and zeros when it’s online. And the sad fact is, in the last, I think, seven years, we have lost over 21 billion personnel records. That’s almost three times the number of people walking on the planet walking around on the face of this planet. It’s how can we lose more than that? And yet we do look at these breaches. Yahoo. 3 billion, Yahoo still got 3 billion users Good. Good for them. billion records? Not us. Yeah, three, good point. Good point. But, these breaches are staggering. And it’s all it’s a poor reflection, that we’re not getting the job done. And, you know, the leaders that we look to to get the job done, are struggling with it ourselves. I’m, I’m not optimistic. And I don’t want to leave you on a pessimistic note. And I think you’re right to think this is going to take some leadership, somebody’s got to step up and point the way. But until then, we’re in for a rough ride.


JC: Yeah, you know, this is one of those topics I could talk for hours about we don’t have hours. So I’m gonna wrap it up here with us here. And you know, normally for the audience, I, I always asked that question, you know, for being The Future of Biz Tech, but this entire conversation was the future, right? Everything about what we talked about was looking at the future of this. Listen, I’m so glad you were able to come on. And for anyone else listening out there. Again, if you liked what you heard today, be sure to subscribe to this podcast, and give it a five-star rating, preferably with some of that cool comments behind it. So other techies like us can find it and enjoy learning about all the amazing and helpful b2b software and consultancies, like Richard’s out there, Richard, where can people find you specifically if they want to reach out? And then also, where can they find Risk Crew if they want to sit down and have a real sober conversation about ways that they can help themselves?


Richard: Well, I’m on LinkedIn, and you know, when I want to be found, that’s where they find me. Otherwise, take a look at Risk Crew, it’s just, all one word. And you get an idea. Also, there’s a lot of what we’ve been talking about. We do a lot of, you know, white papers and things that positioning and strategy and things to think about when you’re putting together a security strategy for your business. So it’s all there. And it’s all along the lines of what we’ve been talking tonight. JC thanks. I really enjoyed it. Thanks again for the opportunity. Love your podcast. Keep up the good work. Keep up the fight.

infinityadminEp. 67: Securing Your Digital Frontier: Exploring Cybersecurity with Richard Hollis, Founder & CEO of Risk Crew

Ep. 66: Culture in the Cloud: Revolutionizing Connection with Airspeed – Doug Camplejohn, CEO of Airspeed

Learn more about Airspeed at:
Find Doug Camplejohn on LinkedIn here:

JC: Welcome, everybody to another episode of the Future of Biz Tech. I’m your host, JC Granger. And I have another fantastic guest on the show with us today. And listen, if you end up loving this episode, please show your love and appreciation by following this podcast wherever you’re listening, and be sure to give it a five-star review, preferably with some nice comments behind it. Because that is how other techies like you and I find cool podcasts like this. And today I had the absolute pleasure of interviewing the CEO and founder of Airspeed Doug Campbeljohn. Doug, so great to have you on. Tell us a little bit about yourself. And what is it that you guys do?

Doug: Thanks for having us. JC? Yeah, so Airspeed is a relatively new company. We just announced our seed funding, we are on a mission to help employees feel more connected and celebrated. And the way that we’re going about doing that initially is through the family of Slack apps that we’ve just released five to the Slack App Store that all around how do you capture these moments of culture that became have always been an issue, but became much more exacerbated during the times of COVID? So everything from how do you introduce yourself to your team? How do you celebrate wins with recognition? How do you make sure you’re not missing any birthdays or working anniversaries? How do you make meeting a little bit more fun than beginning maybe through an icebreaker? And finally, have you seen where everybody is in your company on a map? Super helpful if you’re traveling location, and want to go meet up with some of your colleagues.

JC: So who would be kind of your perfect client? Obviously, being a Slack app? You know, anyone who uses Slack, could use this, but where do you find it? Like what industries do you find are gravitating more toward your product than others?

Doug: Yeah, so it’s it’s super early days, we literally just had our last Slack app approved about four weeks ago.

JC: Okay, that it’s that early then, okay.

Doug: Already we’ve got close to 1000 customers who are on who have downloaded the apps and implemented them, we’ve got over 40,000 users on the platform already in just a very short period of time. But we’re seeing a wide range. It’s everything from 10-15 person companies through divisions of large companies, we’ve got some great logos on our website like Adidas, Meridian, and ADP, and folks like that. 

JC: Oh we were on there, too. Yeah, yeah.

Doug: Uber’s on there. And these are, you know, as you said, the first criteria is you’re a slot you use Slack. Second it criteria is that you care about culture. And so the way that we’ve designed it is that you don’t, this doesn’t have to be a top-down HR decision. This can be any person, it could be an administrator or a manager. It could be somebody in HR, who just says, Hey, I just want to get to know my team better. Typically, we’ll install it into a channel just for their team. And it grows from there. 

JC: So what kind of motivated you to start this? I mean, were you at another company before? And you found that it was just really hard to connect with people? I mean, just what was that kind of like villain origin story, if you will, right? Yeah,

Doug: I mean, the origin story is all about COVID. So my last company got acquired by LinkedIn, as well, flip top, we were doing machine learning for sales and marketing, got acquired, and I ran the Sales Navigator division, which was at a time about a $250 million business for LinkedIn, and now over a billion dollars of their business. And I got recruited away to go be the general manager of Sales Cloud for Salesforce. And that was an interesting gig. And my first day was the first of February 2020 weeks later, the world looked like this. And yeah, zoom. And on the one hand, I loved it, I never want to go back to an office five days a week, never again, I love the flexibility of remote work, we still as a company get together at least once a quarter and put everybody in a plane somewhere fun. I love the ability to mix both. But the thing I didn’t like was not feeling connected to the people that I was working with, especially because you know, hadn’t met everybody. And it was relatively new to the environment. So we did all the same shit that everybody else did. We did you know, zoom, happy hours, we did Zoom cooking classes, we had lots of all-hands meetings, we set up Slack channels for fun things. And that in the process, I kind of realized there’s no system of record for culture inside companies. It’s all these ephemeral things. It’s sitting in a Google Drive folder. That’s all hands on deck. It’s sitting in Slack channels that are like a continuously running river where things just wash downstream. And the idea of getting to know somebody beyond their LinkedIn profile became harder when you’re not in the office and seeing everybody face to face. So how do you create these tools that help facilitate a lot of that interaction, and that’s really where Airspeed came from?

JC: So where does go? We talked a little bit before this about AI. Where does AI come in for this particular model that you’re doing?

Doug: Yeah, I’m, you know, so I’ve been in tech for a long time. Over 30 years. I’m more excited about what AI can do than anything I’ve seen in my lifetime. And I think that what is so exciting is the ability to interact with a lot of these systems on a very, you know, using human language. And to not be able to say I have to know how to operate a certain menu or user interface or make that stuff happen. And also to be able to really humanize a lot of the interactions. And it’s not a replacement. I think the Microsoft branding of Copilot, for example, is brilliant, because it’s saying, Hey, this is an assistant, this is an augmentation of who you are as a human.

Doug: But we’ll give you a couple of just simple examples for our administration system. We started building the classic “have a whole bunch of reports and dashboards of”, you know, how do you figure out how many users you are and what apps are being used and all that kind of stuff. And when you know, ChatGPT came out. And we just kind of took a step back and said, How does this going to affect us? We said that’s dead, right? You know, like, I think companies like Tableau and others are going to see a whole new guard is going to come in because all we’re going to have is a simple little chat box. It says what do you want to know? And you know that today is sitting on all of our data. So we can tell you, Hey, what are the most interesting, you know, who are we, as a team, like describe us from what you know, or you know, who’s got work anniversaries coming up this month in my team, or who is what’s the most unusual interest, you know, we have in the company.

Doug: So there’s just a bunch of stuff where you can kind of query the system that way in an interesting way. The other one is just, goofy and fun. Like we have you writing these birthday cards, for example, or work anniversary cards, you could say, Hey, I know that JC loves beer and skiing, right? Write me a funny greeting card message, or write me something in the style of a pirate, you know, and just like things that are just bringing a lot of creativity and levity and boosting what you get, as opposed to what we all see in Facebook, you know, happy birthday, happy birthday, happy birthday. So I think there’s a number of ways that these are going to affect, what we can go do, and ultimately give us a lot more insight as to who we are as a team and as a company. 

JC: So your, your program your your software, in the plugins into Slack and whatnot, it has a culture side to it, there’s an AI side to it. I have a question, too, is, is any part of your system? Does it help with preventing things from going wrong, so to speak, like so for example, I’ve seen things that pop up on like Instagram, and Meta released a version of this not too long ago, where if you were going to type something, and it thought that that might be inappropriate, or it flagged a word, it would say, “Hey, are you sure you want to send this?” when you have a software that’s culturally based, and you got people just kind of, you know, free gaming on the, on the keyboard? Are there any protections in place for the user, like, just say, Hey, listen, you’re about to put this on the record, you know, and our system has decided that maybe given the culture of this particular company, maybe these types of words or types of things may not be appropriate? Is that something you’re either doing or that you plan on doing?

Doug: I guess, something that’s interesting for the roadmap, I mean, you know, Slack is a great example that has none of those controls. And obviously, it’s just a big channel where lots of people are communicating in those ways. But I can imagine a lot more of that kind of smart system and say, Hey, you sure you want to compose it this way? Or we’re certainly being able to flag stuff automatically and not wait for user intervention? To flag something? To have AI help with that?

JC: That’s interesting. Yep. Cool. I was just curious because I started seeing a little bit of that. And, you know, it’s kind of like, you know, helping people get out of their own way in advance can, you know, nobody wants an issue. So if it’s pretty, you know, preventive maintenance is always always better, right? Um, so you guys are new. And you’re here, you’re on this podcast, and I know you’re doing PR. What other I’m a marketing guy by trade. I’ve always asked the marketing question, what other types of marketing and ways are you guys getting yourself out there? So people even know about Airspeed? Then stuff like this? Yeah. So we

Doug: we really want to kind of build our blog into a great resource for people who are kind of at the forefront of remote and hybrid work. So we are, we’ve conducted an interview series with a number of leaders about how they are handling the issues of remote work. And I think, you know, I’ll keep going. But one thing to just point out there that I think has been interesting is an observation when my last company was acquired by LinkedIn, we went from a, you know, just under 30 person company to suddenly 10,000 plus employees. And it’s a bit of a culture shock. And I think the biggest aha for me in the first few months was realizing how deliberate you had to be in cascading communications. So I would watch Jeff Weiner the CEO, roll out things to his executive team, then roll it out to the top 250 leaders in the company, then roll it out. To the entire company in all hands, and then repeat, rinse, and lather that stuff with a lot of deliberation. And I think we’ve taken culture for granted in the past and just said, Hey, you know, we’re going to get people together, and we’re going to do some fun activities, and it’s just going to organically happen.

Doug: And I think it’s always been an issue because we’ve always had remote sales offices or remote development offices, or even people on different floors of the same building or different buildings. But now more than ever, we have to be as deliberate about cascading culture as to what we do in terms of cascading communications. And so the blog is one way where we’ve gone and surveyed about 1600, leaders, and executives into individual contributors, and publish the results of that in the paper about how are, how are people wrestling with the issues of remote work. And we’ve talked about continuing the series on the blog, and really just want to start highlighting people who are great culture champions inside their companies, and what are the hacks that they’re doing. So that’s going to be a big megaphone for us, obviously, coming from LinkedIn, we’re big fans of LinkedIn advertising. And so we’ve been playing around with that, and love all the kind of information that we see out of that, and have been very pleasantly surprised. And the tests that we’ve run, they’re in terms of super high click-through rates and super high kind of conversions into downloads. And then, you know, things like this and kind of getting the word out. I think, for a lot of folks in the Slack app store, they just published in the Slack App Store, and then just kind of watched downloads happen. And we’re trying to be a little bit more deliberate than that.

JC: I saw you had a feature on there, there was a Maps feature that you can look like you can look at the US or probably another country and then see where everyone’s at. Just out of curiosity, if you can, do you guys get any feedback? Are you finding that people, especially big companies with a lot of employees? Do you find that people are actually looking and seeking out other people within the company that lives close to them with their own kind of one-to-one meetups, even if they’re not in the same department? Like is there any it was too new to have that kind of data back? Or I’m just curious.

Doug: So anecdotally, yes, you know, so we’ve got examples of customers who have said, I love this approach. By the way, one HR department said, Hey, listen, we’re going to go create a kind of a face-to-face budget, right? And so we’re going to allocate, if you got more than 10, people within call it a 50-mile radius, we’re going to allocate X dollars per month or per quarter for you guys to go get together for a beer or pizza or go, you know, to an event or something like that. And the way that they’re doing that is the Maps application that we have. So you can basically zoom in just like you would in Google Maps, Zillow, whatever like that down to a specific region and say, Oh, here’s all the people that are part of this. Let me go create a new channel for them. These are the New York peeps are the San Francisco Bay Area, folks. And so that’s a way that they’re kind of creating an understanding of this without having to do huge slicing and dicing in their HR database.

Doug: The other thing I find is it’s super powerful. I mean, this was always the case for me, Salesforce, or LinkedIn and previous companies is, I’d be jumping on a plane to go visit a customer, let’s say, I’m going to Boston, I don’t even know like what folks are in my group or outside my group in that area. How do I go zoom down that area and say, I’m going to be there between Tuesday and Thursday? Anybody wants to go grab dinner, anybody wants to go grab a beer and be able to do that. So we kind of take you out of Slack into this, you know, very rich web map experience. And then you can kind of zoom in on what you want. And then you can miss going back and messaging folks directly in Slack to go make that face-to-face happen.

JC: How are you guys monetizing up? This? Is it per download? Proceed, just as of right now anyway, and I know, you know, Podcasts can age, right? So we’ll I’ll say to the listeners, if you’re listening to this a year later, it could be totally different. But as of now, as a startup, how are you planning to monetize off of this?

Doug: So right now it’s free, we’re in the early access period. So everything’s free, the way we will eventually monetize is to have multiple tiers. So there’ll be a free forever tier. So if you’re, you know, a 25-person company, you’re probably still gonna just be able to use all of your speed apps for free. The next tier up will be, you know, a modest per-user fee, sometimes sub $5 per user per month. And that will allow you to do all kinds of customization. So you know, we call our work anniversaries, this, you know, we want to be able to modify the messages that are going out, having more storage for media, things like that. And then the final tears, we’re doing all the HR and system integrations. So you can just kind of plug into the workday, plug in the bamboo HR, or whatever you’re using, and automatically sync this stuff with your hierarchy. And that’ll be a slightly higher tier.

JC: Very cool. Well, in the aspect and in the spirit of the Future of Biz Tech title, this podcast. Let’s talk about the future a little bit. So the first question is, where do you see this industry going? Right? I mean, you know, Slack apps with AI, right? Because you know, you guys are picking a particular lane in it. There are all sorts of things that can be done with this idea. Where do you see that and, maybe also specifically, just one Remote engagement, I guess would be the overall term for it in the next five or 10 years. I mean, and then that might be two, honestly, with AI, we should probably say the next five to 10 months of how far out and you know why said years at this point, but where do you see the future of you plus your competitors and other people in the space when it comes to that.

Doug: So for us, like as an entry point, Slack is not the end destination. So ultimately, as I said, we want to create what we call this kind of operating system for culture, kind of a system of record of all these events. And so I think, you know, you’ll see us having interfaces and going through different platforms, having full web and mobile capabilities, all of that in the future. But I do think that what’s interesting for the Future of BizTech is, you know, I was, I had this very interesting timing, where I was at Salesforce when the Slack acquisition was announced. And so before I left, Salesforce, I spent a decent amount of time kind of thinking about Slack and how it would impact not only Sales Cloud, but Salesforce in general, and spend a lot of time with Mark and others there. And I think one of the things that Slack is a really interesting playground for testing these things out is it is a messaging user interface. And I think one of the things that Stewart got, right, was, you know, for the past, you know, two, three decades, 2-3-4 decades, we’ve had this forms over database kind of model of the world. So all CRMs are like filling a bunch of fields in a browser or on a piece of desktop software and writing back to some server or some server in the cloud. And I think what Slack did is say, not only is this just a way for you and me to message each other as we would in, you know, iMessage or WeChat, but it’s actually a user interface to your applications.

Doug: So very simple, you know, free ChatGPT, just imagine you got Slack. And you want to say, hey, like, how big is the Boeing deal that’s closing at the end of this quarter, I shouldn’t have to log in to Salesforce. To do that, I just go into Slack. And Scott is connecting to a bot. It’s fetching information and feeding it back to me. Now, suddenly, fast forward that and say, now I can go apply the LLMs, you know, apply these large language models. And now I can start to do some really interesting what-if stuff, right? So what is my biggest whitespace? Opportunity, right? You know, what are the customers that are at the highest risk of churning this quarter? What are the customers and I’m obviously talking in the sales context here, not SP per se, but I think this applies to every single vertical, you can imagine, I think the user interface is going to look like Slack, it’s going to look like a chat window you type stuff into, which is what chat GPT has shown us and borrowed and others now. And it’s going to be able to pull information not just from a single system, but from multiple systems across the organization. So you know, to give you a glimpse of where we’re going, you know, right now I can go query as I mentioned, all the data that we’re collecting. Now, you suddenly add-in, you know, Slack integration, you add in Google Calendar, Gmail integration, you add in hrs, you know, HR system integration, now, you can start to do some pretty interesting things like, hey, you know, just looking across my company, what are the teams that are actually like, seemed to be working really well together in the teams that might have some disconnects? Or, you know, where do I think I might have attrition risk, or, like a lot of these kinds of larger questions you might ask, are going to be where I think a lot of this tech goes.

JC: That’s interesting. Let me ask you this, given that you’re in this kind of new space, with everything you’re doing is relatively new if you think about not just the company, but just the concepts that you’re following. Who are the people in the industry or outside of it, that you find yourself following the most for inspiration? Technologically, business-wise, whatever. I’m, I’m curious who, you know, people follow you probably, given your expertise. So who do you follow? 

Doug: Yeah, I mean, I’ve been fortunate to have some great mentors along the way. You know, I mean, way back when in a company called Epiphany, there’s a guy named Steve Blank, who kind of invented the lean startup movement. You know, more recently great pleasure working with folks like Reed Hoffman, Ryan Rhodes Lansky, and Jeff Weiner, at LinkedIn. And then obviously folks like Brett Taylor and Marc Benioff at Salesforce. So, you know, I pay a lot of attention if you haven’t listened, for example, that reads a set of posts, blogs, and podcasts around AI, especially given his gray locks investment in that space is one of our investors, just for full disclosure, but it’s fascinating to see where the future of that is going to go. And I think even reading or writing a book in conjunction with chat GPT or interviewing chat GPT and having the responses converted in a text to speech and you having you listening and going like, I have to remind myself this isn’t a person he’s talking to. This is just text that was generated by an LLM that is being read back by the computer.

JC: It’s gonna get really great real soon. 

Doug: Yes, it gets real fast. And so I would say, you know, listening to the job of a CEO is pretty straightforward. Someone wants to describe it as MVP, but doesn’t stand for most valuable player stands for money vision, and people. And I would say probably in reverse order is the most important part. So I spent a chunk of my time focusing on you know, do we have the right people on the bus? And are those people, you know, clear as to what they’re doing? And are we building kind of like the, you know, the legendary, you know, Lakers or Chicago Bulls kind of class team, I spend time obviously making sure that we have plenty of money in the bank, we’re not going to run out the most of my time these days is saying, what’s the vision? And how is that going to continue to expand? And I’m a big believer and being kind of, you know, firm on the end state, but loose on the details of how you get there. So our vision from day one has been a mission has been how do we help employees feel more connected and celebrated? But I’m spending a, in order to an amount of time digging into, you know, ChatGPT and Bard and all the AI stuff. And we’re spending time as a team even going through these thought exercises of how we can go leverage this in an interesting way. Because my assumption is all of the existing players are going to add chalky, petite-like functionality as a sidebar to their products. So what are really the opportunities for startups to really disrupt the old guard? And that’s where we are.

JC: So last question, my audience likes to kind of have the inside scoop, right? They want to be the first to hear things, is there anything on your roadmap that’s coming out soon, that you might be able to give us a little preview on something cool coming out?

Doug: So I think the thing depends on when this airs again, but we have a sixth app that is about to drop called Coffee Talk. And coffee talk is about applicable as you get to, you know, mid-size or larger companies. It’s how you get to know the people inside the company. And then that might just be, hey, I want to just meet other people on my team. Like when I was running a Sales Navigator team that was hundreds of people, obviously, lots of people I didn’t have face-to-face meetings with, and where it might be, hey, listen, I just want to meet people who are outside that team. I want to meet people in different geographies, I want to get to know more folks inside of the company and build my network. And where we see this even in a lot of communities, like a lot of women and technology, Slack communities, a lot of business development, sales, communities, etc. are using some of the Airspeed apps right now, there’s a product out there called donut what’s been doing this for a little while in Slack, which is achieved great success. And I give them a tip of the hat.

Doug: But I think that it’s not particularly intelligent. It just kind of randomly matches you to people in a channel that you join. So we’re actually leveraging AI to ask you two questions. What kind of people do you want to meet? And what do you want to talk about? And based on the answers to that, and the people who have joined the channel, we’re making smart matching decisions, almost like a dating app, here are three candidates, who do you want to go meet with? And then not only do we do that, but we kind of also have a better version of Calendly to actually facilitate that where rather than just saying connect your calendar and find a slot, we just say, what are some good times for you, or just connect your calendar and we’ll take care of it. So you can just say, Friday afternoons are generally pretty good for me. And we take it from there. So we match the right people, we tell you some interesting things you might want to talk about. And we actually find a time for you to me.

JC: I like that. That’s cool. I’m glad we got to get a little preview of what’s dropping next there. Listen, how can people reach you in particular, they may be some higher-end deals or the company itself online or in other ways.

Doug: So we’re at  I’m just the letter So feel free to email me directly. Or come to the website we’ve got we’ve got chat and we can connect you to whatever function you want, whether it’s we have customer support, support folks, and customer success, folks, I can kind of handhold you through the whole getting onboarding process to any kind of partnerships from sales and marketing. 

JC: Awesome. Listen, for everyone out there listening again. If you liked what you heard today, be sure to subscribe to this podcast and give it a five-star rating, some cool writing behind it, so that techies like us can find it and enjoy learning about all these amazing and helpful b2b software on the market today. Doug, thank you so much for being on the show. And I look forward to checking out your apps. I use Slack too.

Doug: All right. Thanks, JC thanks for having me.

infinityadminEp. 66: Culture in the Cloud: Revolutionizing Connection with Airspeed – Doug Camplejohn, CEO of Airspeed

Ep. 65: Bringing Company Culture into a Virtual Office Environment – Brett Martin, Founder & CEO of Kumospace

Learn more about Kumospace at:
Find Brett Martin on LinkedIn here:

JC: Welcome, everyone to another episode of The Future of Biz Tech. I’m your host, JC Grainger, I have another fantastic guest with us on the show today. And listen, if you end up loving this episode, please show your love and appreciation, go follow the podcast, wherever you’re listening to it, show that love, and give a five-star review and some nice comments. Because that is how other techies like you and I find pretty cool podcasts like this, although I am a little biased. Today I had the absolute pleasure of interviewing Brett Martin, the founder, and president of Kumopace. Brett, thank you so much for joining us today. Tell the audience a bit about yourself. And what is it that Kumopace does?

Brett: JC thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to be here and excited to get connected with your audience. So Kumopace builds virtual offices, where teams show up to remote and distribute teams, they show up to work every day. So what that means is basically you know, instead of sitting in your apartment alone working from home on Zoom, wondering what the rest of your team is doing. In Kumopace, you sign in my office, we have 30 people that start trickling in around 10 am. And then you can see throughout the day, your whole team working, having different conversations, giving presentations, having external meetings, you can just tap people on the shoulder. If you need some help getting unblocked, you can play a game of chess, if you will, time to unwind. Just sounds like a real office place to connect and get work done.

JC: Yeah, see now it’s so the honestly, you guys can’t see this right now. But it’s something you really have to see. This is probably one of the more unique software’s I’ve experienced in a long time. And it’s my job to know these things like so I go through a lot. Kumo space is really cool, it kind of reminded me almost of playing an old-school Nintendo game, like Zelda. Remember Zelda, like, man, we are aging ourselves. Okay, for all of you, not Boomer or Gen Z, or Gen X, or whatever people listening, you know, this 2d kind of video style games are, you’re kind of navigating around this, you know, top-down view, kind of, you know, board, right. And I thought that was really interesting of yours. And I remember when I was scrolling through it, it was like, there was a conference room over here to the left. And then I could have there were other meeting rooms was like a coffee area, but like, I can kind of move my little avatar essentially, where I want it. And there’ll be other people there get, I mean, talk about how did you come up with this idea? And then how are, how have people, how have people responded to it, because it’s such a unique play on this remote work, but somehow, quote, unquote, in an office idea?

Brett: 100%. I mean, some people might say, Kumospace, video chat meets video games. And you know, as you said, your video is your avatar. So you’re not a cartoon you are, you are yourself and then you are in our office, but it’s virtual. And so you know, you can close the door to your office, have a private conversation with someone, or you can, you know, wander around and have an all-hands meeting and see everyone there at the same time. We came up with it. It’s a pandemic baby. You know,  my other job is I run charge ventures to New York-based precede venture capital fund, we used to throw a monthly networking event. And I would get all the old farts like myself and we would come together and have some wine cheese shared deals. And when the pandemic kit, people said, well, you know, you should bring that online. And I said, Well, I don’t really want to give a zoom PowerPoint presentation to 50 of my friends every month, there’s not really a good video, chit-chat platform to have multiple conversations in the same virtual place, at the same time. And I shared that with my co-founder, Yang Mao, who’s an old friend of mine, we built three companies together. And two weeks later, he came back with a prototype. And we were like, wow, there’s something here. So that’s the origin story. And people do use it for tons of things. You know, we focus on the virtual office use case, our users use it six hours a day, and we have 10s of 1000s of teams in their millions of users, but people do use it for other things. We’ve had weddings and conversations. We’ve had funerals and Kuhmo space, we’ve had graduations and Kumopace. And so, you know, the platform is used for a lot of things. However, we focus on the office use case.

JC: So how customizable is it? Right? Like I get I know, it’s hard for people to kind of see. So in using your most graphic terms, essentially, how can someone make the most space, their own space? What are the options they have? And how do they sell that as a transition for their people?

Brett: Well, so that’s like, if you think about the core problems that Kumospace solves, right, it’s three things. We solve connections, and you know, the problem is isolation and miscommunication. We saw collaboration, right? The ability to allocate aligned and work and then we also saw sort of visibility and support the ability to know where your team is and be able to help them and provide support and get support when you need it. And so, you know, it’s a different way of working like people are, you know, it’s actually a lot of the same things that people are used to in the office. So, you know, it’s actually like we’ve done remote work, we use Zoom and Slack, we got a lot done, but we know something’s missing, right?

Brett: We were, you know, building, we were sort of draining down social equity that we’ve created from yours. You particularly saw that in the first time, you know, young employees, right, young employees were really left out to dry, they’re kind of like stunted a couple of years because they haven’t learned, you know, social skills. They haven’t learned the soft skills of collaborative people, they’ve been sitting at their desks by themselves. And so we saw the cracks emerging. And you know, we’re trying to show people, Hey, there’s a new way of working right, you don’t have to commute. You don’t have to pay, you know, millions of dollars for expensive rent, but you still can get that same connection, that same human interaction, that same collaboration, and that same, you know, ability to, like know, awareness and presence around your team, you just do it virtually instead of in a physical office. So it’s a new way of working. But we think it’s pretty effective and so do some of our customers.

JC: So you said it’s not an avatar, you said, it’s a video. So am I to understand that, let’s say the little square that is you are not just a static picture, but a live feed from your cam is almost like, almost like you’re constantly in some sort of web meeting? Is that how it works?

Brett: Yeah, so you know, Zoom is episodic, it’s for scheduled meetings, right? Like we’ve had this meeting scheduled on the calendar for a month, we emailed about it, we set a time, we maybe use Calendly, and set aside an hour. Kumospace is persistent. It’s always on. It’s like Slack in that sense. And it’s for just the way work works in an office. It’s ad hoc, right? You tap someone on the shoulder, you say, Hey, check this out. What do you think about this? Or, hey, I need some help on this, or, Oh, I just kind of listened in on a meeting if I want to, or drop in and say, Hey, marketing team, this is engineering here. Just want to let you know those things you asked for last week, they’re gonna be done on Tuesdays at work. Yes, okay, cool. I’m out. I don’t have to spend 20 minutes scheduling, I don’t have to sit there and stare at you for an hour, if I don’t need to, I can get you now, I increase iteration speed, I actually have less meeting. And so you know, you can have your video on you can have video off. Both worked for us, you know, but the idea is that it’s more persistent. It’s always on. It’s synchronous interactions. It’s lower friction and self-expression. You know, like in a zoom, I see you got a really nice background, you got some whiteboards, this looks like it’s a picture, you know, of your office that you know, you’re working in front of, you tried to add a little character here, right. And we’re trying to do the same thing, except for it’s fully customizable. So if you came to our Kumospace office, I’m a big surfer. I’m in Costa Rica right now. In my virtual office, I’ve got sand and I’ve got the ocean, I’ve got a beach chair, I’ve got a beach umbrella, and the sound of ocean waves. And that’s my way of bringing a little of my personality. People mess with me. They’re always bringing in penguins, ghosts and bats, and things in my office. And you know, I don’t know who left them kind of like putting a whoopee cushion in someone’s chair. Other people have, you know, a DJ booth, or, you know, a castle, or they kind of make their office throne. And it’s a way of showing off your personality, because that’s a big part of building culture is letting people express themselves and also kind of assimilate to a broader company culture.

JC: Yeah, so I can definitely see how the culture part comes in here. And that’s something that’s really hard for companies right now, to kind of assimilate with when they have a remote. Because there’s no such thing as a remote culture –technically speaking, I feel like you’ve kind of tried to solve that problem, which is interesting. What about so that culture part we get? What about from, let’s say, a more corporate bottom line standpoint, where they say, let’s say accountability, do you find and are there any stats you have? Or just feedback? Where companies do you feel like they’re getting that they’re that the remote workers are more accountable? And here’s why I’m framing this question this way. Obviously, with Elon Musk, for example, taking over Twitter, his big thing, he’s a big proponent, and very on one extreme end of the get back in the office, practically live there, full accountability, things like that. And again, regardless of where anyone falls on that opinion, isn’t really the question as much as since it’s in people’s minds, especially in larger corporations. They want to be able to attract better talent by allowing remote, but they also understand that there’s a certain level of accountability and work ethic that goes with being a little more present in real-time. Your system, which I find very interesting, could be a hybrid that allows that, but my question is, what kind of feedback or what kind of stats have you come across that have.. has it helped any accountability for the companies that have used it when they’re coming from that standpoint of like, we got to make sure people We’re really working.

Brett: I mean, it’s funny, you’re framing this very diplomatically. And

JC: I’m riding the fence a little bit on it…

Brett: I really appreciate that. We could talk about, and we get talking about the return to the office or working from home. We say work from anywhere. I mean, fundamentally, we believe that anything that can be done over the internet will be done over the internet, and started with websites, then we started selling things over the internet and doing e-commerce. Now you can buy a car and a house over the internet, you can get married over the internet, and you can sign contracts, right? And so we think a lot of work ultimately is going to be done over the internet, we don’t see any reason not to, for all the advantages you just described, it’s cheaper to get talent from all over the world who don’t have to commute for multiple hours a day. Does that mean that we don’t think that some Face time or in person interaction is valuable? Of course it is. We have quarterly offsites build relationships, close deals, there’s great reasons to be in person sometimes. But I think the way we had it before it was flipped, right? People will say, Oh, you’re in the office five days a week, and then you have one week of vacation was like, No, we think you know, you’re mostly remote doing work. And then you are a special occasions, you come together in person. So I think a lot of the return to office stuff is honestly anxiety about managers who don’t know how to manage remotely and don’t know the right tools to do it. And people that have really expensive offices that you know, want to find some use for them. And it’s an excuse if you want to cut 90% of your headcount. Oh, saying you have to go back to the office is a great way to scare people away.

JC: Okay, I can see that. So let me ask you..

Brett: No no, after you.

JC: If you’re still continuing on that, then I want to hear it..

Brett: Oh, yeah, I just you know, and so what I think is that, to your point, you can have the what people love what people truly care about is flexibility. Right? People love flexibility, they want to be able to get their work done and live their life, whether that’s living in Costa Rica and surfing every morning, or it’s actually just spending some more time with your kids, right. And so, you know, we’ve shown that remote work is incredibly productive. But what’s missing is all that software stuff, it is the visibility, knowing where your team is, knowing what they’re working on, not just to keep track of them, but also so that you can help them if you see they need help, you can get in there, you can mentor younger people, if you see someone doing something wrong, you can stop them halfway through and say, Hey, wait, this is actually how to do it. You don’t have to wait till the end of month, you know, to manage my outputs, you can actually get in there and help them upfront. And so we think that you can get most of those benefits in a hybrid virtual situation, you know, and at a 10th of the cost.

JC: That’s awesome. Now, like I said, I got to play around with it before and it was pretty interesting fact, I think, now I’ve had this conversation, I’ll probably go and play a little bit more after this. But how are you getting the word out there for it? I mean, I’m a marketing guy by trade. So what kind of marketing? Are you doing PR, right? We know that you’re on this show, you said you have another one later. So you got the PR part down? What about digital marketing of any kind? What, are you guys investing a lot into content or paid ads? Or outbound or inbound? I mean, just what is it that helps drive that engine for awareness?

Brett: Yeah, I mean, we’re pretty lucky in the sense that we have a viral product, like you have to, you know, there’s the single player mode in Kumopace and is for connecting people, you could, you could create a virtual castle for yourself, but it wouldn’t be very interesting. So people are inviting people to Kumospace, you know, bringing their friends, if they get value out of it, they share it, so that we’re lucky in that sense. But the second place where we get the word out is, you know, content marketing, people are like, trying to figure it out, this is not a big problem, right? Everyone’s heard about remote work. And we’re trying to figure out how to manage remote teams, how to keep up morale, how to build culture, how to instill accountability, for teams that are distributed all over the world, right. And so we’ve spent a lot of time putting together our thought, you know, we have the little we’re fortunate to have the experience of working with, you know, 1000s of remote teams, learning their best practices, you know, bringing them together, distilling them and then sharing them with the product community. So, you know, check out our blog, we got a lot of great stuff there about how to run a remote team. And then finally, you know, it’s about finding the influencers, you know, like yourself who have an audience who people respect and trust and look to for answers and, and get in touch with you and you know, hopefully you see the value in the product and share with your flock.

JC: It’s not a bad strategy. That’s good. Let’s talk and again I don’t want to focus on specific price points. The reason being is you know, this podcast can age you can come up with a whole thing later someone’s listening to it a year from now we don’t want to be locked in but my question is, do you have price points that are for small like by person businesses? Or is this more enterprise level where it usually only works for, you know, 100? and above? Where do you guys typically fall when it comes to who you’re going after? Like, who’s your perfect client for this?

Brett: Yeah I mean, look, our sort of perfect client or, you know, series, the ABC companies that are, you know, they want to grow fast, they know that they need to collaborate in real-time there and things are changing, they, you know, they’re not just like a big company that’s trying to offshore and put someone in a box and have them a cog in a wheel. No, like, you need synchronous communication wet, to connect and move quickly and deal with ambiguity and changes, right. So small, you know, medium-sized, fast-growing startups, that’s our bread and butter, people that run, you know, contact centers, though, there are people that are Digital Agency Marketing, you know, if you run a digital agency, you got a lot of new clients, you got to get aligned around a new project really quickly. Anything like that works really well. And, yeah, I mean, those are that like anyone that’s trying to run a move fast. And while running a remote team, that’s our ideal customer.

JC: Do you typically charge like per seat? Or do you charge like per company is like a flat monthly rate? 

Brett: Oh, yeah, in terms of pricing, you know, it’s just, it’s $10 per month per seat, a dollars if you know, book annually. It’s not expensive for the gift of an office, if you compare it to, you know, physical office, and you know, you can replace your Zoom, you can replace your Google meets, and, you know, someday you’re going to be able to replace their Slack. So we think it’s going to be, you know, a ton of value, you know, for folks, and we have teams as small as five, using it, you can actually sign up, get your Office for free. You know, you can get the free version have 10 people in there no problem. And you know, we’re happy if you have a larger team, you can set it up yourself, or we’re happy to help you move in and customize it for your company.

JC: That’s cool. Okay, well, you did mention about like, in the future might replace slack for someone. So let’s talk about the future, right future big tech. So let’s, we’ll start actually, I’m gonna go on that note, I usually ask about the big picture for the industry. But I’m gonna ask about your company first, since you’re going that direction, do you have a roadmap? I mean, for this plan of having more of like, again, like replacing slack or an internal communication that has the same familiarity or ease of use as slack? And if so, how far out is that for you guys?

Brett: Look, Slack is an amazing product, we use Slack. But we don’t think it’s the future, we don’t think it’s the end state of work, right? Like, we don’t think being a little green dot, you know, is the future head like that’s a bleak future of zoom and slack or the future of remote work, and everyone’s just sitting in their box, completely unaware of whatever anyone else is doing. And the best thing you can do is a custom, you know, custom emoji comment. That’s the best way you can express yourself. Like, that’s a bleak future for humanity and, you know, desk workers. So we, we think that, you know, we can give people a place to connect and express themselves, to their co-workers and build real relationships and you know, have more authentic human connection, we’re just at the start of that, you know, at the beginning, it’s just making it work, making the video consistent, and reliable. Make it so you can customize your office make it so it’s easy to share links, you know, I built three companies, I know that it’s not the fancy stuff, it’s the little stuff that just makes it work. And so, exactly the details. And so make it easy to, you know, be in Kumospace, our users are actually in there six plus hours a day, right? So make it easier to make that so they have a desktop app, get them a nice mobile app, right? Like we can work across platforms.

Brett: So you know, simple stuff, but done right, make it integrate with your calendar. I mean, there’s, you know, it’s not rocket science, we like to think of, we want to move space to be this thing you turn on the beginning of your day. And then it’s like a little conveyor belt, it just pings you when you need to be in this meeting. It’s like having an assistant right at your office. It’s like, you know, hey, JC needs you in the marketing meeting. Now, hey, five minutes from now, let’s walk you over to the engineering meeting. That’s, that’s how we envision the future of our product.

JC: Awesome. All right. Now let’s talk about the future of the industry. I gotta tell you, I haven’t heard of any other companies that are like yours. Do you have competitors out there? And if not, do you have ones that maybe could swoop in fast? And you know, where do you kind of just see the next five to 10 years of that? So we already talked about how you know if the future was zoom and slack could be pretty bleak. So let’s talk about everyone’s remote future, you know, you plus your competitors. I’m just curious. Is there anyone out there like you and whether it is or if they’re ours or not, you know, where do you see the industry as a whole going?

Brett: Look, I think during the pandemic, there were a bunch of companies that were kind of experimenting with this idea of like, they call it spatial audio kind of video spaces, a lot of those were kind of proof of concepts didn’t really go anywhere, you know, take off.

Brett: But that said, you know, the future of remote work is the future of work. So it’s obviously a big market. And, you know, some of the big Silicon Valley species, you know, we have Lightspeed and that they’re not, you know, are placing bets because the, the TAM, total addressable market is just so big, you know if everyone’s spending, we people are actually spending 10s of millions of hours and Kumospace, every month. And so, you know, VCs hear numbers like that, and they say, okay, you know, there’s something valuable to build here. So there’s definitely gonna be competition, whether it’s from slack, or from zoom or from other other startups. But the lucky part is that there’s so it’s such a big space, that we just think about making our customers happy, you know, doing a good job. And then if we do a good job for them, they’ll send us more customers like, it’s such a big TAM, we don’t really have to think about competition too much.

JC: All right. Well, that’s a personal question. Now. I mean, you obviously had a pretty cool. Yeah, I just want to let you know, you said you started three companies and whatnot, and you got the VC fund, you’ve got Kumospace, and you’re obviously a very creative person. My question is, wouldn’t like when you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? And is this it? And if not, like, how did it get here?

Brett: Yeah, you know, I have sort of got bit by the entrepreneur, entrepreneurship bug, pretty early, I was selling seashells by the seashore. When I was a kid, and, and had a little money box. And, you know, that ended, I was I eventually, at some point, got my sister on payroll. And I was paying my younger sister hourly and taking the profits at my parents sort of came in and regulated that business out and sort of made a profit share, which, you know, to this day, I still feel guilty about my sister was one of the kindest people I know. So I’ve always been an entrepreneur, you know, interested in entrepreneurship, one, that business plan competition, at college.

Brett: And so I just can’t think of any other way of doing it, like, the freedom to be running my own companies, while in Costa Rica and surfing in the morning, I just, I can’t think of anything, anything better. So and that’s, that’s, you know, that’s actually a big part of the driving ethos behind Kumospace is like, this idea that you can live your best life you can, you can be productive and work, you can have connections, your co-workers, you can do really collaborative and creative things. And then you can also have your free time, you can work from anywhere, you know, you can spend more time with your kids, you can, you know, travel the world like and that is like, I don’t know, that’s my personal goal in life, is to have my cake and eat it too. And, you know, I think Kumosspace is really just an extension of, you know, that it’s like me and Yang trying to productize that idea and share with the world as a product.

JC: That’s awesome. That is the dream, right? I mean, that’s who could argue with that being able to have the freedom is really where it’s at more than anything, right? You know, the money can come and go, but if you got the freedom of movement and experience, that’s really what helps make life really fulfilling. So that I agree with. So, to wrap up here, Brett, how can how can people for one find through MySpace, right? And then also, how can they reach out to you? Specifically, if maybe it’s a big company listening and they they have a big deal they want to talk about?

Brett: Yeah, so it’s, we’re just And you come and check it out, grab your office, set it up for totally free. And, you know, if you want to get in touch, you know, feel free to ping me. I’m on Twitter, Brett1211. You can connect with me on LinkedIn. Just mention this podcast and you know, we’d love to have you talk about the future of biz tech, or I’d love to connect with you.

JC: Awesome. And listen for everyone listening out there again. If you liked what you heard today, be sure to subscribe the podcast give it that five-star rating we talked about? Write some cool comments behind it. So other techies like us can find it and enjoy learning about all these amazing and helpful b2b software’s on the market today. Brett, thank you so much for being on the show. I really appreciate it and I’ll talk to you soon here after as well.

Brett: Absolute pleasure, JC thanks for having me. And best of the best.

infinityadminEp. 65: Bringing Company Culture into a Virtual Office Environment – Brett Martin, Founder & CEO of Kumospace

Ep. 64: Optimizing Customized Packaging Solutions – James Malley, CEO & Co-Founder of Paccurate

Learn more about Paccurate at:
Find James Malley on LinkedIn here:

JC: Welcome, everybody to another episode of The Future of this tech. I’m your host, JC Granger. And I have another fantastic guest on the show with us today. And listen, if you end up loving this episode, please show your love and appreciation by following this podcast, wherever you’re listening and, you know, get a five star review, put some nice comments in there, because that is how other techies like you and I find cool podcasts like this. And today I have the pleasure of interviewing James Malley, the founder and CEO of Paccurate. James, thank you so much for being on the show. Tell the audience a little bit about yourself and what it is that Paccurate does.

James: Sure. Hi, Hello, thank you for having me. Like you said, I’m the Co-Founder over at Paccurate. We are a carbonization software provider, which is kind of a mouthful, but it basically just means that the packages that show up on your doorstep, we help retailers and other shippers. Make sure those boxes are as efficiently packed as possible so they can save money and reduce their carbon footprint.

JC: That’s actually not a small thing. Right? I mean, here’s the I Am One those habitual, like every two days is Christmas for me, because my Amazon packages come now obviously Amazon does their own. But I also some of the best things I ever buy are from Instagram ads, right Shopify stores, essentially. Right? So do you work with more Shopify companies? Or is it individual wholesale retailers? Like, who’s your kind of your perfect client that uses Paccurate?

James: It’s kind of all across the board, honestly. And in terms of size as well. So we have some customers that ship, you know, 4 or 5000 packages, you know, a month, and others that do that every half hour, so it’s kind of all over the place.

JC: Now, okay, so then you guys are outsourced or you outsourced? I mean, like, for example, if someone is selling on Amazon, and they’re not using FBA, right, Fulfillment by Amazon, they’re selling it, but the packages could be packaged from you guys still. Is that an option they have?

James: Yes. So we’re pure software. So we don’t actually do any of the packing?

JC: I’m sorry. I meant can they use your software? Oh, yes. Initiate that. My apologies. Phrased that incorrectly.

James: Well, I only mentioned it because we do get that, that question sometimes. But pretty much wherever this shipment originates, is where our software runs, and it looks at what’s being shipped out and looks at, you know, the cost implications of picking this box, these boxes, etc. And then it shows packing instructions with a 3D visual on a screen typically at that pack station, so the operator can put it together.

JC: That’s awesome. Well, what motivated you to start the company? Did you work in an industry and you’re like, This is crap, this could be done better? Or was it just an idea you had over beers with a friend like, you know, just what’s that origin story. And it’s

James: kind of like all of the above. My Co-Founder, who’s our CTO now and kind of the architect of our core tech. We have been freelancing in the space for a while. So we would help shippers get their shipping systems set up and like integrate it into their other systems. And it was around that time that FedEx and UPS started penalizing poor packing more. So this was like 2017-2018, where we had some of these clients that we had had would say, Well, I’m getting absolutely hammered with these fees, you know, the features in my warehouse management system, etc, that are supposed to handle this are just like not working. What do we do? And Pat and I kind of at that point, we had been doing the freelancing thing for long enough that we were like, Let’s, we want to make something we own. We’re kind of tired of running around putting out other people’s fires all the time. And so we gave it a shot. And yeah, that’s kind of the origin story there. We didn’t get hit in the head by an apple or anything, it was more just listening to what our existing kind of customer or client base was telling us.

JC: I mean, that’s, that is more than one of the more common ways of course, right? I mean, a lot of people try to push something onto an audience or an industry, and they find it just falls flat. And they invest all this time and money. And the smart ones, like you were saying, you know, you listen first and see what people are asking for. Because they’ll tell you, right, you know, and you say, oh, okay, cool, I’ll just go build that thing. And then like, Great, thanks, you know,

James: we had, you know, kind of a few startup ideas in a prior part of our life. And, you know, they ended up being like, really kind of aspirational. And like, nobody asked for it. But we wanted to build something cool. This was very much the excitement kind of all came after once we actually got started to get data to start to get big users and see what the actual impact was of the thing we had made out of curiosity. So it was kind of a, you know, instead of like you said, sort of the eureka moment that kind of came later. 

JC: So, you know, I would imagine that someone listening to this podcast might be someone who’s thinking about getting into, you know, eat commerce and selling things online and stuff. You brought up something that I never thought about, that I hadn’t heard of before, which was that these major shipment carriers are penalizing for poor packaging. Can you clarify a little more about like, what does poor packaging look like? And how much does that cost companies? Right? Like, I mean, you’re helping solve a problem that some companies came across, I’m curious from the point of view of someone who’s about to get into it, so they don’t have that problem to begin with.

James: Sure, sure. So when you’re just starting out as an E-commerce seller, if you’re doing your own fulfillment, most of spent time starting out, you use a 3PL while you get things off the ground. But if you’re doing your own fulfillment..

JC: repeat for the audience who doesn’t know 3PL..

James: Third-party logistics company, like stored is a good example. There’s, you know, hundreds of these companies that you send them all your product, and they’ll pack it up and ship it based on the orders that you get. So pretty, like low startup costs, because you’re tapping into an existing network. And they’re a great option. But whether you want to try fulfilling yourself out of your garage, or, or maybe you’re coming out with like a big, huge overnight success product and you start opening warehouses, you might initially have the time on each shipment to like, be thoughtful about how you put it all together. But hopefully, you very soon hit a volume of orders, where there’s no time to really do these things carefully. And I think one of the things we’ve found is, it’s not really fair to put packing mistakes on the actual packing, the people doing the packing, because 99% of the time, their prime directive is to get all the orders out the door. That’s, you know, that’s really the most important thing these things have to get on a truck, especially because e-commerce customers expect speed now, thanks, Amazon. So having something in place that can provide a little instruction there takes the burden away from the people in the warehouse who would otherwise be responsible. Especially for a problem like this, which is so foundational to your kind of supply chain, it can be really important.

JC: So with somebody using your software be also be able to use and work with stored because you are saying that it provides instructions. So if someone was sending all their product to another company at 3PL, and they said, but hey, and then we run your software to say this is how to do it right so that we don’t have issues? Or do you find that there are barriers or walls in between that overlap?

James: We do partner with three peels and there are a couple of different ways three peels work, often you know, an e-commerce brand will pay for the shipping. And so there’s definitely more incentive for the brand to tell the 3PL like, look, I’m looking for any and all ways to lower my fulfillment costs here, you need to pack these things better, or in, you know, kind of the old school parlance. They might give them like a scorecard to say, you know, your average air per box is like 80%, you’re gonna need to get that down, or we’re looking for a new three PL. So it really depends on kind of the relationship and the deal you have with the three PL but we can you know, get plugged in pretty much anywhere.

JC: Do you have general average stats of you know, kind of like that one-liner, the elevator pitch of, you know, Paccurate saves on average x amount of cents or dollars per package sent with its efficiency and instruction?

James: Sure. 15% is the average saved on shipping costs, which is pretty good. And I don’t think we’ve ever saved any less than 6%, which is still you know, for a lot of our customers, that’s many millions of dollars, because transportation is incredibly expensive. For retailers so that’s kind of the headline number. But I think what we get more excited about is the material savings like other things that have more to do with scope three emissions reduction, I think our average cardboard saved is around a square foot per Carton, just by on average choosing smaller cartons. And you know, that can equal hundreds of acres of cardboard acres is sort of our favorite measuring stick for Material savings across you know, in the course of a month. So those are the fun numbers anyway. 

JC: So yeah talk about that then. So it sounds like you guys have an altruistic nature, obviously, as well, to your business. How much of that is a driver of the business? And is there any other than this being something that makes you happy? Is there anything that’s passed on to maybe not necessarily money-wise, right, cuz we already figured out the savings on the economic side. But I guess how important is the business on the environmental side? And are there any other benefits to focusing on that as a business?

James: Yeah, I mean, I would say our team is incredibly idealistic, and a lot of our kind of momentum. And energy is basically from those numbers looking at like, you know, pounds of co2 saved and all these things in terms of passing on, I mean, the emissions we reduce, would you say your audience is familiar with scope three emissions versus scope one and two?

JC: If any audience is going to know about it, it’d be mind because we’re all tech nerds. But maybe break it down a little bit more for the newer followers?

James: Sure, yeah. So there are different kinds of emissions that companies are responsible for. And scope one and two can happen inside your four walls. So if you’re, I don’t know, melting plastic and you’re in your office or something that’s probably one or two, as one does a scope three emissions are things that you do that cause outside of your four walls, there to be some sort of carbon impact. So yeah, exactly. So in shipping, it’s pretty straightforward. It’s, because I caused FedEx to use 100 trucks over this past year, which is still my scope, with three emissions. And that sounds, you know, like something, you know, we’re doing the best we can, we really are relying on our partnership with you know, FedEx in this case, to minimize those emissions. Legislation has come down in Europe, and that is coming here. And there’s actually a lot of momentum behind it to hold companies accountable for scope three emissions. So this is, you know, something that we’ve noticed, even in just the past few months, a lot of retailers looking for supply chain ESG initiatives, because that’s a supply chain is a huge source of social scope three emissions.

JC: Yeah, it’s interesting I look at it because like, you know, like when I’m buying an airplane ticket, right, I now see that though, there’s a line item for how much emissions now, I like transparency, just generally speaking, right? Regardless of the industry. I think the problem is that I think most people don’t look at that number, and that doesn’t mean anything to them. They don’t know, they’re maybe they’re happy to say okay, like, cool, but like there’s no real like, yet anyway, we’re not taught at an educational level, typically, by standard or even societally, you know, what is too much, you know, it’s this line on for carbon emission versus the other one, like, Okay, I know higher one is worse. Right. But if you just show me one, I don’t know if that’s good or bad. But I, I feel like with, with what you’re saying if the legislation is coming this way, whether people agree with it or not, it’s still going to create attention to it. And I look at it as a parallel to when nutrition facts came on to the food. Right? Yeah. People forget, like, I mean, I grew up with nutrition facts on food, you know, I’m 40 years old, but my parents probably didn’t, right? There was a time when it was just, here’s your food. And people had no idea. And even then, when those nutrition facts came out, there was probably a certain amount of time before people, they didn’t know what that meant, like, is that good? Is that bad? And over time, you start to get an idea, how long do you think it’ll be? Before an average person can look at a line item that is presented to them on something they purchase, where it shows carbon footprint, where they might actually understand how much of an effect that has, or how much it’s saved, or much better or worse.

James: I think that consumers that are already kind of sustainability-minded, probably within the next two years, will have a mechanism and might be, you know, regulated, like nutrition facts, where you know, not too long ago, or like 2%, zinc would, you know, or, you know, not understanding what that meant. I think, in general, the average person probably within the next five to seven years, will be able to tell anytime they order something, what the impact of that is going to be?

JC: Does your software, pass the positive impact stat to the seller, so that they can pass it on a receipt of some sort to the buyer?

James: Yes. And really, you know, what we do is twofold. So we do this real-time instruction. So you can think of this as like operational efficiency. The other side is analysis and simulation. So it allows our customers to, you know, select a big chunk of their shipping history, and then run simulations and say, Okay, what would it do to my, you know, cardboard, corrugated cardboard usage? If my flagship product was a quarter of an inch smaller? Or if I switched to these three PL or this carrier? How would my packing and emissions change?

So there’s, there’s like a planning element, but there’s like, here’s what is actually happening today. And all those stats, we, you know, make very visible and we’ll kind of actively point out, because, you know, if you care about sustainability, but you have, you know, bosses who are more about the bottom line, that’s what makes packing just like the great place to start because you are paying to pollute, like every cost associated with parcel fulfillment is also almost one to one associated with emissions. So you can keep it quiet that your motivation is, you know, being greener, and just highlight the dollar savings to your, your bosses or whoever it may be, or vice versa. You know, we have a few larger customers where we came in as part of an ESG initiative. And the dollar savings was kind of incidental. So yeah, that’s, that’s kind of why we nerd out about this specific problem.

JC: I think you bring up a good point about where, like, where people’s motivation lies, right? Like, I think a lot of companies are trying to go green, as a money-saving thing. See, at first Going Green was more expensive. So like, I have this, I have this opinion that, like oil companies will have no problem going green, when the numbers benefit their bottom line. Right? And other any other, you know, take any other type of industry, chemical plants, whatever. I think once the technology makes the numbers go in their favor, they’re following the numbers because not the the ultras depart or, you know, the forward thinking. And again, we can all have our opinions on that. What I’m saying is that what’s interesting, and what’s what’s nice to hear is that technology is advancing in that direction, there will be a tipping point soon, and it has hit in certain industries, where it actually is more beneficial to go into “green route” financially. But that’s just what, especially in America, right, that that is a large motivator for how our infrastructure is set up. You know, we are the, you know, there are other countries that maybe look, that’s why we didn’t start the legislation starts in Europe, right? And then they’re gonna test it out there, and then somebody will bring it here. But here’s what I think is interesting. Your company, your software, specifically, I think, will absolutely blow up here pretty in a good way, very soon, if what you’re saying about the legislation is true. And it comes here, because what I’ve seen as a pattern in our government, regardless of the party, is that tax incentives come with certain legislations. And if this one in particular, you’re talking about from Europe comes over here, there will probably be some sort of corporate tax incentive to adopt greener ideas. And your software is something that’s already available to procure that, right?

So I think that’s good for him. It’s great position for your company. It also has the benefit of being good for the planet, obviously. And, you know, we’re not perfect. You know, a lot of people talk about, like electric cars, and I’m like, Well, look, you stopped in mind for the batteries like, Yeah, but that’s not great. But it’s still better than our current one. Like, like, no one’s saying it’s great. No one said, Absolutely. There’s there’s no harm to the planet by creating that lien or going and mining the nickel or whatever lithium ion, you know, whatnot. No one disagrees that the process sucks, right? Well, if you just put them side by side, one has a higher chart, you know, number than the other. And it’s just, if we keep going that direction, then eventually maybe we get to something that can be a zeroed out, right? And that’s the goal, right? A net zero for that. Right? Cool. Okay, so let me ask you, how are you getting the word out? Like, how old is your company first? And then what are you doing? I’m a marketing guy, as you know, listen to my podcast, I always have to ask this question. So beyond first, how old are you? And then also, what are you guys doing to tell companies that you exist?

James: Sure. So we’re about five years old, my co founder, and I were noodling on it for a couple years before that. The pandemic is when we started to get big brands using our technology. And we kind of leveraged the success there to raise a seed round almost exactly a year ago. And that allowed us to grow the team and, you know, get some more marketing funding together. So we have kind of a multi prong approach. We do some digital marketing, and I would say it’s okay. It brings in folks like when they’re specifically looking for what we have..

JC: More inbound.

James: Yeah. And, you know, it’s a fairly niche, you know, make right sizing boxes is not a massively booming industry yet. So people are usually looking for something like what we have, I would say, the most successful marketing initiatives are also always things we do with our partners. So shipping software companies, packaging distributors, and corrugate. Manufacturers send us a ton of leads, because they, you know, they care about their customers being efficient. This has been more of a recent discovery and kind of interesting revelation, but we reduce the amount of material that shippers use that has not stopped materials vendors from sending their customers to us. You think there there would be kind of some friction there. But it’s actually you know, some of these companies are serious about sustainability. A lot of my A lot of the pessimism that I used to hold in my heart has kind of been vanquished over the past six months or so, which is I’m happy to report. 

JC: That is good. That’s awesome. All right. Well, let’s let’s talk about, you see the last six months. Let’s talk about the future a little bit here. Right, future biz tech. So we always ask this question. First off, I’m gonna It’s a two part question. The first part is this. Where do you see the industry you’re in? So we’ll call it let’s say, you know, supply chain or packing software? And I don’t know how many competitors you have. But let’s just say your your, your general industry, where do you see going in the next five to 10 years, whether it be through technology, or legislation, like we talked about, or culture or anything like that? What’s the big picture that you see happening?

James: Yeah, definitely more. I mean, we’ve talked about it a lot, but definitely more emphasis on ESG. And I think, you know, you you mentioned, you know, trade offs. And I think that’s probably what the bulk of green solutions we’ll have attached to them. But, you know, packing, it’s one of those things where there’s not many trade offs, because it’s part of the maybe least sexy are of the three R’s, the reduce, and I think the more technology comes out that doesn’t have trade offs, that is just we just found a way to use less of this thing. That’s, that’s really what’s exciting to me reusable things, I guess that’s, that’s another art. But using less material using less space, we talk a lot about bandwidth and taking up less space in the supply chain network. I think that’s going to be a major focus.

JC: All right, and where do you see your company? I mean, you got to seed round a year ago, the obviously been cleared and using the money well, which is good. Where do you see your your company in the next six months to a year like you got a cool roadmap stuff that you can give us a preview on like what’s coming here?

James: Some of the the kind of alliances that we’re working on at the moment I’m really excited about because, you know, we used to be just with the API is what we started with were the real time packing instructions. And so our, you know, a lot of our partnerships were pure, you know, operational software. Now that we’ve got this, you know, simulation capability, we’re suddenly got like a tow in the packaging space. So I’m really excited about making our platform kind of a little bit more involved in the way that packaging is procured in terms of like, what’s imminent, actually, this morning, cube scan, which is a, you know, one of the most successful companies that makes dimensioning equipment that actually can capture dimensions and understand what objects look like. They just sent out a press release about our partnership with them. So you heard it, you heard it here first. Yeah, that was the big thing that happened.

JC: That’s exciting. That’s awesome. Okay. I was like to ask a personal question. So I’m gonna ask you what you told me in the pre show that you’re, you’re a new father. Correct? Okay, you’re, you know, I’m a father as well. And it’s been a while since I’ve been a new father. But when I think about my daughter and my business, right, as far as a long term, like, what am I do? Is this something I want to hand down to her? Is it something that I want to sell and then move on to something new? So I guess my question for you as a new dad, have you thought long term? Is this a company that you or an industry that you want to stay in? And maybe have something to pass down? Or is it something that you want to eventually exit? And then take those resources? And is there an like, is there a next thing like what’s Is there a bigger picture that we don’t know about? I’m just curious.

James: Well, it’s only this is our second kid, and she’s only six days old. So Wow. Yeah, so you know, I had her on my chest sleeping during my last call today. But kind of when I’m looking at her, I’m not really envisioning, you know, pushing her towards supply chain in particular. But I do, you know, I do feel incredibly fortunate to be working on a problem, that it’s not going to solve climate change. But it might have a measurable impact on something related to a missions of supply chain, which is actually, you know, pretty impactful. So, I do think that, you know, the joy that I get from that I’m hoping that she find something that she loves, that is also satisfying in that way. And that helps me kind of with the fear of what, you know, climate will be like when she is at the point where she can start making those decisions.

JC: I think that’s a good word to fear. Because I think for any non parents that are taught to, you know, they was like, you know, what’s it like, I’m like, it’s fear all the time, but you still do it. Like, you’re not you’re not crumbled in a bowl in the corner, you know, in a cold shower, like anxiety and depression, but it really is, it’s fear and hope at the same time, which is interesting. It’s like this complete dichotomy of like, write down In the middle, like this extreme hope and happiness, on the other side is extreme fear. And like paranoia, like, you know, because you just, you can’t afford for anything to go wrong, you know. And so I think it’s an interesting place to come from. But I think what you’re doing is really great. As far as when it comes to legacy, I think that’s really cool. And not just legacy of reputation or name, but specifically, and like you said, you’re not going to solve the whole problem. But the whole problem is so complex that it takes a million small solutions to do and go in the right direction, you know, and I would imagine that feels really good being a part of that. And it’s an I enjoy interviewing you for it. Given the industry you’re in, there’s been a lot of material that has been written and created. If there was one movie or book or podcast, something educational, that ties into whether it be climate change, or, you know, is there anything that inspired you more that you could pass on to the audience, for any kind of intellectual purposes?

James: Oh, man, now that this is the spot.

JC: If you don’t have if you don’t have if you don’t have a book, or so if there’s a person too, I’m just curious, like, you know, where would someone find a little more inspiration other than just Googling, you know, stuff? Well,

James: I think, you know, I used to be fairly pessimistic, in general, you know, just kind of cynical, politically, you know, about the world, all these things. And over the course of, you know, starting this business and growing it, and talking to companies, even big companies that I, you know, and when I was a teenager, and in my 20s, I was like, you know, corporate, whatever, you know, I’ve just been so inspired by the earnestness that some of these folks have for being less wasteful, that there’s not a, you know, there’s rarely a huge marketing campaign associated with these things like they actually care. And I hope that doesn’t insult.. 

JC: Like it’s not all it’s you’re not seeing like, everyone’s they’re not adopting it for a PR stunt is what you’re saying? Yeah, like, although there might be some PR, you’re not seeing what you would expect, that they’re just doing it for the good look.

James: Right? Yeah. And I think that, so I guess my advice would be to just keep talking to, to people, if you’re, if you’re feeling like there might not be a market for your sustainability solution, you might be surprised if you’re able to keep talking to people. And the other thing, and the, the name escapes me, but I did read a book a while back about optimism, hope, maybe we can put it in the show notes, if I can’t remember later. But optimism is far more useful, particularly for entrepreneurs than is pessimism. And so one of our kind of company values is micro pessimism, macro optimism. And I think we stole that from stripe or some other corporate, some other startup page, but we talk about it a lot. Because, you know, when we’re when we’re solving a problem, we’re like how, you know, this won’t work. Because of this, this won’t. But the grander kind of vision of what we’re trying to do, it has to be optimistic, you have to have a belief that what you’re doing can be achieved. That would be my parting thought, with no specific book attached to it.

JC: I like that, you know, I’m going to put you in contact with. So she’s a client of mine, actually. And I liked her a lot. Her name is Lisa Foster, she is the author of a book called the bag lady. And you never heard like the term like with a crazy bag lady or whatever, you know. And so she turned that into a book. And what it was, is she was one of the first ones to actually convince corporations to get away from plastic bags. Like she was one of the starting people like, and a lot of these companies started doing it. And then it became this big thing. And obviously, you know, I mean, whether again, whether whether some people listening, agree with it or not, it doesn’t matter. She had a big impact. I’m gonna put you in touch with her, I think because she does. She does coaching and consulting for big companies when it comes to a more green initiative. And I feel like if she knows about your software, that could be something maybe she even talks about, with when she comes across the right client.

James: That’d be amazing.

JC: Yeah, I’ll put you guys in touch. She’s really cool. You’ll like her a lot. How can people who are listening if they want to reach out and either use your software or any other kind of, you know, bigger deals, how can they get a hold of you in particular? And then also, how do they get a hold of the company in general?

James: Me in particular, I’m pretty active on LinkedIn. So just look for me on there. James Malley talk mostly about putting things in boxes. So as long as you’re willing to have that in your feed, we should connect and is our website. If you’re technical, you can sign up and start using it really quickly. We haven’t talked to maybe a quarter of our customers because they just came on board and started using it and there’s Some cool ROI calculators and stuff there as well.

JC: You know one question I didn’t get to ask, I want to make sure I squeeze in before we go. Who is this software for? And who is it not for as in, let’s say size of company or where they’re at, or, you know, if they’re starting up versus they’ve got 10,000 packages a month? Is there any range where it’s probably not a good fit, and you specialize in a certain size or type of company?

James: Yeah, I would say our sweet spot is, you know, between 100,000 and a million shipments per month. So..

JC: enterprise level, big stuff?

James: That’s pretty large, but we priced it in such a way that, you know, if you’re only doing five to 10,000 a month, you will get, you know, even a higher percentage ROI, than some of those larger customers. You can absolutely use it I mean, the API, all the documentation is there, it’s pretty much good to go. If you’re small, like if you’re an Etsy store, probably not a good fit, if you’re packing things yourself. And just, if that’s the case, just you know, be mindful about the materials you’re using and, and try to pack each shipment with care.

JC: Awesome. Well, listen, I appreciate it. And for everyone listening out there. Again, if you like what you heard today, be sure to subscribe to this podcast give it that five star rating with a little bit of kind words behind it. So other techies like us can find it and enjoy learning about all these other amazing and helpful. b2b software’s on the market today, just like Paccurate. James, thank you so much for being on the show. And like I said, after we get off your all I’ll give you a shout and intro to Lisa.

James: Awesome. Thanks, JC. Thanks a lot.

infinityadminEp. 64: Optimizing Customized Packaging Solutions – James Malley, CEO & Co-Founder of Paccurate

Ep. 63: Using AI to Grow Sales with Customized Ads – Matt Swalley, Co-Founder & CBO of Omneky

Learn more about Omneky at:
Find Matt Swalley on LinkedIn here:

JC: Welcome, everyone to another episode of The Future of Biz Tech, I’m your host, JC Granger. And I have another fantastic guest on the show today. And listen, if you end up loving this episode, show your love and appreciation for the podcast, wherever you’re listening to it, be sure to give it that five-star review preferably with some nice comments, because that is how other techies like you and I find cool podcasts like this. And today I have the absolute pleasure of interviewing Matt Swalley, who’s the Co-Founder and Chief Business Officer of Omneky, Matt, tell the audience a bit about yourself and what is it that you guys do?

Matt: First of all, JC, we say thank you so much for having me today. Love your show, and say hi to the audience out there. So I’m the Chief Business Officer of Omneky and the Co-Founder we are an artificial intelligence-powered marketing platform that uses real-time performance data across Meta, Google, Tik Tok, LinkedIn, Twitter, uses computer vision to help quantify what’s leading to performance. And then we use the latest generative AI tools plus what we’re building in-house to make really quick, efficient and more effective digital advertising campaigns and creatives. And a little bit about me is I have a different path than most, I spent 13 years at a Fortune 10 company 250,000 people working at AT&T. So yeah, and then transition to an early-stage startup. It’s hyper-growth. But I got to I got lots of iterations of leading teams like leading seven different teams over a period of a couple of years moving all around the country and meeting with 1000s of customers. And then one big career-defining moment that carries the Omneky was I set a goal to get into corporate strategy after I got my MBA, and I got some really big picture, go to market deep data analysis, where I was digging in data for weeks and then telling the story. And then as joining the most exciting generative AI companies advertising Omneky, that’s what we do we tell stories with data. So it was a perfect fit and love, love the ride.

JC: That’s awesome. That’s very technical background. And it is I mean, coming from a Fortune 10 company. I mean, literally, that doesn’t get much higher than that. Right? Also, I’d like to say I love your fashion style. I think I just noticed that we’re basically wearing the same thing here. So good for you. Imagine, for people listening, you can’t see it, but we’re matching and it was not planned. So tell me what motivated you to start. Well, did you you’re a co-founder. So you did start the company with someone else? What motivated you to leave? I mean, obviously a great career in is about as high corporate as you can get. Right. You know, what was that defining moment? What pain point did you say? Dammit, we got to fix this or you know, what, what was it that led you to co-found the company?

Matt: Yeah, so our founder Hikari Senju is a Harvard computer science grad. He founded it back in like the late 2010s. And he had this idea way ahead of time that data and analytics would be the key to using artificial intelligence and generative AI. It wasn’t yet at the point of this today, where it’s at this Cambrian explosion where it’s getting better every day. And you can actually create things with it. But he had the vision. And he founded it. And I was actually employee number three. So at the time, Hikari who was running, all of the engineering, all of the sales, was the most driven person I’ve ever met, he brought me in as the business leader of the company as employee number three, taking over all revenue-generating activities. So that was the entry point. And how I got decided to join was, I was doing corporate strategy and looking into all these emerging companies. It was the bull market after COVID 2020 and 2021 when the markets on fire. And I was looking at all these emerging startups and reading a book called Clayton Christensen’s innovators dilemma. Are you familiar with it?

JC: I’ve heard it, but I have not read it.

Matt: Basically, it’s it talks about how large companies get disrupted by these small companies, because they can’t place big bets, because they often are billion-dollar revenue streams. And it just really excited me to join a tech company. And I met Hikari, who I knew would help lead us to, like Initial Public Offering as our goal. And that book, though, opened my eyes and was like, I want to join a company like that, that is going to disrupt the incumbents and be that publicly traded company in the next 5 to 10 years.

JC: That’s awesome. But so let’s do this. You give a very technical explanation of what the company does. And beginning now let’s do more layman’s terms. So give an example of what it’s like, because I watched some videos on your website. So I have a good understanding. But for people listening here, give an example of who would use your system and what it would do for them in just real terms.

Matt: Sure. So we have multiple ideal customer profiles. So I’ll give you I’ll give you two major ones here. One is we partner with growth-stage startups where we’re partnering with the CEO or founder and we’re a direct plugin to their marketing team. And so what we do is, let’s just say let’s talk about meta and Google they own historically 60% of the digital advertising market. But it’s slightly declining right now, we would plug into those channels, we would look at historical advertising data in real-time. So you can look at, you can plug in through API integrations, and pull in data for why people are clicking, or buying things, lower funnel conversions. And then we have our own computer vision there that automatically tags things like color, length of the video, and text in the different dynamic sections of the ad. And with that, you can run regression and start to pull out insights into what are commonalities for different audiences that should be used in the next set of ads.

JC: So basically, it’s a massive split testing platform. And in one way, I’m sure it does other things, but I’m a marketer. Right? So I look at it from the point of view, like you’re saying that I can, I can, I can run some ads, and then based on their performance, your AI can actually pick out the why, and not just the what?

Matt: That’s exactly right.

JC: That’s impressive. Can it also analyze other ads? So let’s say, you know, does it have a competitor analysis? Can I see, can I analyze other successful campaigns of other companies, and then figure out why those work and play off of that

Matt: We cannot analyze, we can only analyze the data that we have access to. So the customer data that we have pulled in directly from the platform. Now we can make more macro views into verticals and everything. We can’t share data. But we can definitely look at verticals and performance and make assumptions that can be used for customers.

JC: So for example, if I start off with three different versions of an ad, and then I plug your software into it, how many more versions can your software create for me based off just before I’ve even run the ads?

Matt: We can. So first we need that historical data to get data. But what we use is the latest generative AI tools plus, plus our own proprietary technology. And we look at the data. And we can generate tons and tons of ads for multivariate testing. We’re talking anywhere from at the minimum 30 a month to hundreds for our largest customers. And they’re a combination of.

JC: Compounding as more data comes in. Right? That’s right. 

Matt: Yeah. And depends on how big the advertising budget is. And like, one of the biggest things in the future is micro-segmentation, or being able to really do targeted campaigns more personalized. So what you do is you can be really agile with the data and target different segments of your customers instead of more general very quick. And what we’ve got the time value down or the time we can launch a campaign is down to like, like three business days right now where we can have an initial onboarding, connect with the data, and then turn around a first set of ad creative for a company with either little to no brand assets are quite a few brand assets in three days. And then they’re fully launched within a week. So where can that’s like one of our major key KPIs is lowering that time as we build on the key.

JC: Very cool. Okay, so now let’s talk platforms, what platforms does your system work on right now?

Matt: Right now we have integrations with Meta, which includes Instagram, Google, which includes YouTube, TikTok, LinkedIn, Twitter, Reddit. And then we’re building out connected television and some of the other mediums like gaming, which is going to be an emerging vertical.

JC: Cool. Cool. All right. I have a question about LinkedIn, because I’m a b2b guy. Yeah. So LinkedIn has mostly I don’t know this, I’ve decided to get the audience per second. LinkedIn has regular ads, like you see on anything else, right. You can do those, but they also have inbox like in mail style, like, ads, where it goes, it sends a message right into the inbox. Does your system yet? And if not, when? does it deal with that? Where it can take let’s say, I write a sales message and I use the paid version to drop it into inboxes? Can your system right now create different versions based on the feedback have it in that in that kind of text? Because it’s longer? It’s much more text than it would be for like a small ad. Do you guys work within the paid version of the messaging?

Matt: We have not expanded the messaging yet. And that’s something I’ll definitely definitely

JC: Feature request right now. Like, I’ll use it tomorrow if you do, because we love those. We love the direct pay that so features requests? You heard it here on the podcast,.. Okay.

Matt: That’s great, yeah.

JC: I mean, so um, what type of it’s funny I was usually asked what type of marketing early doing but obviously you’re probably using paid ads in your own system. Why not turn the turn the guns in but let’s say outside of that, obviously, using your own system to promote yourself. What are types of marketing? Are you guys doing? You’re doing PR, you’re on a podcast, so that one’s checked off. Okay. What else are you doing to get the word out? And how long have you guys been around?

Matt: We, our first revenue month was in March 2020. So we’ve been around since then,

JC: That was a great time to start a business, wasn’t it? What happened in March of 2020? I can’t remember I think my mind has blocked out the trauma.

Matt: The world is shut down, the market circuit breaker was pulled multiple times in a day at one point around that

JC: You picked a hell of a time. But hey, here you are, though you made it.

Matt: Yeah, we do really well, with a number of different ways for generating business one is in, they all complement each other. That’s what’s so exciting about marketing, right? They’re all a different complementary strategies. And then you can target and retarget at different areas of the funnel. But digital ads is really our main major business development. And then we have a team that sends out targeted emails, and then the goal is to set up a demo or we retarget. Those, those people, once they visit our website, or landing page or social page with our ads is the second one. And then we get tons of word-of-mouth referrals from current customers, and then building out partnerships in an agency arm as well. So those are our major channels.

JC: You’ve got it down that I mean, that’s you definitely we’re using all the angles, which is good. Let me ask you a question for your, your optimal client, I’m sure you can take on a broad range of industries and company sizes. But let’s talk optimally speaking. What size of budgets monthly budget, do you find that is kind of the minimum where you see the most effectiveness of your system playing into just so the listeners have an idea of like, who they should refer this to? Or should they’re referring it to mom and pops, you only spend 500 bucks a month? Or should they be only referring it to enterprise level that are spending 50,000 a month? Like where is that sweet spot? That you advise that like, Listen, this systems really going to help you more? If your budgets at least x?

Matt: Our sweet spot is between $10,000 in ad spend to Oh, half a million to a million dollars is our sweet spot, but 10,000 and up essentially per month? Yeah, yeah, our smallest customers that are testing and learning concepts, you need to get enough data, you need to spend about $3,000 a month in ad spend. So that’s just from learning from data, testing your value prop product, we can help customers find product-market fit with that kind of data, bringing initial customers on, but really, the greater than 10,000 is really the sweet spot.

JC: Perfect. Now, question just about your company as well. Obviously, your your SaaS platform, people go in there. And they use that? Do you have an add-on service by any chance where you guys have offered to manage certain ones that people want to use your system? But then they’re like, listen, can you just do this? Like, do you have an add-on to that?

Matt: We sure do. So with about 50% of our customers, we offer the full management through our customer success team. So we do a campaign strategy, go to market, how we’re going to you know, go after different audiences, then we segment each one with a different type of creative or multiple different types of creative that then we go multivariate test against each one of those types of platforms or mediums.

JC: Awesome. Okay. Well get into the main question, of course, my two-part question do for every episode for anyone who always listens, a future biz tech. So let’s let’s talk about the future. The first question is about the industry. So not you guys in particular, but kind of the industry you’re in? Where do you see these kind of multivariate testing AI-driven marketing platforms in general, going in the next three, five or 10 years? Whether it be from legislation, you know, because a lot of privacy stuff out there too, for targeting? Whether it be culturally, technologically just where do you see the industry going? Is there anything that excites you, or worries you coming up in the future?

Matt: Well, it’s a really exciting time, since it just hit this commercialization. It’s crazy, the multiplier effect of all these people learning how to use it, and then telling people, one of the most interesting things I will say, like in the short term, and I’ll give you a long term here, is that everyone, people aren’t going to lose their jobs, they’re gonna have to evolve how they think and how they in how they upskill like, using AI is such a different brain power than the past where you actually have to write something down and think it through or design it on a you know, on a canvas or on a computer. Now you have to understand how to tell the AI what you want it to do. It’s a completely different thought process. So

JC: not as easy as people think to like they’re like, oh, just ask you something. And it’s like, I’ve never asked this isn’t saying go ask that brick wall something like where do I even start? Like I don’t like even know, like, I start with small stuff like have a Chat GPT. I’ll be like, Oh, tell me this. But then I see examples of other people. And they’ve asked it, something’s super complex I never would have thought of it. I’m like, Oh, okay. I didn’t know it could do that. I guess I’ll you know, so we learn on how to even talk to it, just like you’re saying just as much as it’s learning how to give answers.

Matt: Right, right. And then you have to learn how to get really specific on what type of camera lens you want. Do you want a drawing or crazy color picture. There’s all these different things the way you tell it to do to get what you want. So the more you can figure out those different models and different ways to explain something the more successful you have in the near term video is going to be there very soon, in the next year or two. So you’re gonna be able to tell AI to completely put together a video for you. And I can actually see within the next five to 10 Here’s where you can, it’s going to have some sort of neural thing where it can tell what you’re thinking and then start to create it from there, which is mine.

JC: Now we’re gonna, now we’re getting to the scary black mirror stuff here, right? This is Yeah, but it is coming it is it does a thing like, like, you just look at the science, there’s no opinion here I will agree with or not, or if you like it or not, it’s not the issue, it’s going to happen. You know, there’ll be, there’ll be plenty of people, they’ll be more than willing to adopt certain things that other people will not be willing to. But it doesn’t make it any less real. So I just think it’s fascinating to see. And it’s gonna be an exponential curve. I mean, we’re not even be able to keep up pretty soon, too, you know, all the manual stuff for even like space launches. Right? Now, there’s pilots, yeah, there won’t be because eventually AI and computers will be able to take off a jet and fly it in space and come back better than humans can just like how we have, you know, auto driving cars that are coming out. I mean, the technology, the ability is one thing now the social acceptability, that’s a little slower, right? Where do you see, let me ask you that? Where do you see the the dissonance between the technical realities versus the social acceptability? And how much do you think that’ll hold back the industry because at some point, it gets scary people just, they don’t either know what to do with it, or they’re afraid of where it’ll go, you know, just do you see a big lag between our implementation versus our actual ability?

Matt: Well still, you’re still seeing with like, certain open models that are creating things only in certain ways, because it’s learning from out there, what’s already out there. So it’s creating. It’s almost picking out how something should look. And it’s showing it over and over again, instead of giving you a more diverse view of what all the different things are. The second one I think is most interesting that just is happening now is I have two little kids, learning is changing so much, right? Like when we were there, we had to write it on paper, we had to go read a book. I think we’re probably around the same age, you know, like was so exciting for you. And then now that Google search was last they were searching Google now kids are starting to write out everything on chat GPT. So schools are already going back to writing with a pencil and paper again, right now, like..

JC: When we were kids, it’s when those those those new advanced calculators were coming out. Remember what they it was the graphing calculators that came out, and that technology advanced so fast, and then we’re sitting there and like, you know, algebra, or calculus or trigonometry. And they were like, Okay, great. What do we do with this? Because these kids are figuring out how to do the whole equation just by typing it in, and we can’t actually prove that they know what they’re talking about. Right? So for us, it was the graphing calculators. And for kids now, it’s Chat GPT. And there’s this, you know, massive struggle and almost chaotic type of, like, what do we do? Like? How do we like, how do we get them to not like, how do we tell the difference, but you know, it’ll create another industry, now, you’re gonna have an industry, which is already probably going to pop up of someone’s gonna write software in AI that can track other AI so that teachers can tell if it’s plagiarized through AI, rather than just plagiarized from different sources on its own. Right. So like, there is a cat and mouse game with technology, which I think is really, really interesting.

Matt: The other interesting thing, too, is all these technologies are getting built upon these technologies that are getting built today. Like I saw it. I saw this week, someone already built a citing company. So it goes in and it can cite the things that Chat GPT is writing on top of, because a lot of times when you go you go get Chat GPT to write something like, where did this come from? And you can’t track it back. So now they’re building apps on top of that all in real time. And it’s just, it’s moving so fast. And it’s it’s great to be part of it.

JC: Apps on apps on apps. I like it. All right. So let’s talk about your company. Okay, I’d like to know, where’s the future of Omneky going right. And let’s talk about, you know, maybe in the next six months to to a year, and if you got any cool things coming down the pipeline that my audience gets to hear first, you know, we’d like the inside scoop. What do you got? 

Matt: So the other side of our business, we talked about how the data and analytics is an input, you can pull out different value props, images, texts, the things that should be included in the ads. Well, we have a generative capability where we have our own technology plus the open source ones, where we take that data directly feed it into a generative tool, and then it gives you prompts on what to create. So that’s really we’re combining it right so we’re taking the data and moving it right to helping the machine tell us potentially what, what you should make for a customer. So that’s one of our favorites. And then that’s, of course, the copywriting on top of that, in the future. We want to continue to do this of course with video and then for like E commerce, you can instantly take a product and you can put it in different backgrounds for production with a click of a button. That’s one of our favorite use cases for AR right now. You don’t have to go film things all over the place. You can take a product photo, you can go put it in all these different scenarios and then you can go take it to market within hours instead of weeks and a lot more money in the future. Omni key wants to go from just digital ads to landing pages to chat bots and key I’m expanding to improve conversions down the funnel. Because that’s next.

JC: Yeah. And I like because the funnels that have more pieces, just the ads, right. And like a lot of people, myself included, you know, we’ve been forced to Frankenstein’s to certain things, you know, you have an end goal. But once you start putting money into the top of that funnel, it’s got to go different places. So a company can add more things on so they can control that. And it works seamlessly. I mean, even better, right? Like one of my favorite examples is click funnels, for example, right click funnels as a software was way before its time. And it just started adding in so many pieces of the puzzle, so that it made it easy for people to go in there and drop things into the top of it. Whereas yours now with the AI into it, and the ads, if you start adding on that’s even higher in the funnel, and drops in. So that even does better than Click Funnels right, you know, in the future. So I think that’s really cool. Okay, so you had told me, you like to read or you’re a big reader, you’re saying, as a kid and whatnot, what is your favorite book you’ve ever read? It could be anything it doesn’t. We could talk business, it’d be business book, but just more or less like, what book is one of your favorites that you would even recommend to the audience, based on kind of maybe how you got to where you’re going or something that inspired you?

Matt: Sure. So one, I got a couple here. So the first one was innovators dilemma, I already talked about earlier about how you distribute..

JC: I’m gonna add that to my reading list now too.

Matt: How you keep making marginal improvements and eventually it gets good enough for commercialization. And then it hits a tipping point, and it takes out the incumbents. So that’s, that’s a fun one. A second one is 4 Disciplines of Execution, which this is a basic business book that helps you set lead and lag measures. Lag measures are like revenue. It’s like creating a scorecard for your business where you’re figuring out all the activities you have to do to get to those goals. It’s a very strategic approach that simplifies the entire process. And then the last one, which I’m sure you’ve read is Malcolm Gladwell is the tipping point.

JC: Oh, yeah. I’ve read every one of his books. Absolutely. Look, I like outliers, too. Because I liked outliers. a tipping point was a classic. I liked outliers. Also, because it, it helps you understand that just what you see is not necessarily the full picture of the average of like, what’s plausible, it tells you what’s possible. And you know, in so many people, we live in a world of plausible, but we think in a world of possible. And that’s not always a good thing, right? Because it can be don’t get me wrong, right like that the real innovators and creators, they don’t know how to live in plausible they only live in possible. But if everyone does that, a lot of people are gonna be disappointed. Right. So I thought it was interesting how he captured how certain stats, you know, or certain people show you be like, Oh, look at that. But then you start doing the reverse math. You’re like, oh, well, that’s how they got there.

JC: The Canadian hockey league, right? 

JC: Yeah, like the birthday. I was blown away. If you guys if you haven’t read Outliers, you gotta read Outliers, and anything from Malcolm Gladwell will reach a tipping point. First, it’s a good foundational book, and then and then read his other ones I’d recommend

Matt: I love I love outliers. I mean, just the fact that for the audience out there, if you’re a little bit older, and you start a sport, and you’re older than the people in the same team as you, then you have a much greater success of making it farther along and up into the pros. It’s pretty good. 

JC: And you know, and actually, since we’re on a tech podcast, one of the examples he given there was actually Bill Gates, it’s like, well, you know, was was Bill Gates his big genius? Or was he in the right place at the right time and also smart. And so when you break that down, it helps you understand that certain people you may admire are still great, but they are not this insurmountable example that you couldn’t actually produce sometimes it’s just a matter of where you are when you are like what you’re you were born literally right yeah, you know, right time Right place, right situation. And then of course your intelligence has to play into that your motivation and things like that. You have to have them all but I thought that was super fascinating. So yeah, good one good and tipping point. Again, classic, it gives you the whole foundation everything you need to know for that. Let me ask question how can people watching I’m gonna ask you one more personal question Sure. Because you I like to hear I want to see I want to know a little bit about your childhood side here. You know, what is it that you wanted to be when you grew up like when you were a kid and then is this it and if not, how did you get to here from there.

Matt: Great question JC you know, I don’t think you can ever predict what’s going to happen like you look at Steve Jobs say you connect the dots looking back you know, it’s it’s famous. But when I was a kid, my dad was a salesperson, by the way he went to IU, I went to Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, I really looked up to him he’s the most humble follow through person ever like never forget to face and I was like, I want to do what he wants to do. So that’s how I initially got into sales when I when I graduated. And then I think every decade of our lives, your whole everything changes like what you’re going to do next. Right. So like that first 10 years versus the second 10 years. I wanted to get a big strategic mindset get into corporate strategy, start learning how to tell stories with Data and financial outlook and then now as Chief Business Officer, trying to figure out how to put the pieces together to build a billion dollar business. So I can’t say it’s exactly the way I figured it out. But it’s all exciting. And every 10 years, you feel like, you look ahead and you can’t be sure what’s going to happen in 10 years, you can plan for it. But it could be completely different.

JC: Yeah. And Omneky you guys, I think in the pre-show, you mentioned something about a round of funding. Did you guys explain that – did you guys get funded? Are you working on it? Sure. We

Matt: Just closed out a fundraising round in November. So we are hiring through our next stage of growth and bring on some amazing leaders and some of the best engineering and AI scientists across the world right now. So they’re all joining the team, and they’re going to help us build everything we’re talking about, to help our customers grow faster.

JC: Wonderful, wonderful. Congrats, by the way. I mean, that’s, that’s a big deal.

Matt: Thank you.

JC: How can people listening a reach get to the company site? And then be how can they reach out to you personally if they have more higher level bigger deals to propose?

Matt: Sure. So you can reach out to me at Matt at Omni au, or Matt Squale, on LinkedIn. And you could also just go directly to our website and schedule a demo and then put in the notes there that you heard us on The Future of Biztech.

JC: Cool, yeah, let me know if anybody comes out there. I will. Awesome. So for everyone listening out there. Again, if you liked what you heard today, be sure to subscribe to this podcast, give it that five star rating with a little bit of comments on it, so that other techies like us can find it and enjoy hearing all about these new amazing and helpful. b2b software’s like Omneky. Matt, thank you so much for being on the show. I really appreciate it and I look forward to talking to you off here too.

Matt: Thank you so much, JC it’s such a pleasure. Bye bye.

infinityadminEp. 63: Using AI to Grow Sales with Customized Ads – Matt Swalley, Co-Founder & CBO of Omneky

Ep. 62: Growing Sales without Sacrifices – Andrew Forman, Co-Founder & CEO of Givz

Learn more about Givz at:

Find Andrew Forman on LinkedIn here:

JC: Welcome, everyone to another episode of The Future of Biz Tech. I’m your host, JC Granger. And I have another fantastic guest with me on the show today. And listen, if you end up loving this episode, please show your love and appreciation by following this podcast wherever you’re listening, and give it a five-star review, put some nice comments behind it because that is other techies like you and I find cool podcasts like this. And today I have the absolute pleasure of interviewing the founder and CEO of with a Z at the end. Andrew Forman. Andrew, thank you so much for being on the show. Tell the audience a little bit about yourself. And what is it that Givz does?


Andrew Forman: Yeah, thanks so much for having me on JC, this is exciting. And yeah, to give you a bit of background, what about me, and about what does Givz do? So on my end, let’s see where to even start. I did six years of investment banking, give you the real quick rundown six years investment banking also founded a nonprofit during that time. So kind of separated, they pay the bills and have some sort of impact type of deal, went back to business school, attended HBS for two years, and came out of Boston basically saying, okay, I want to start my own company that’s going to have a boat, this double bottom line type of type of activity, right, where it’s like, hey, this is good for the world. But it’s also good for the investors and shareholders in the company. And so how do you make that happen? And so Givz is doing that on a couple of different levels. And so the first thing that we do is we allow brands to run donation-based incentives. So the hypothesis is that brands are trying to get away from discounts as much as possible, the consumers really wising up and at the end of the day discounts, while they still drive short-term sales, people know that they’re just, they’re not like getting this amazing deal, they’re actually just paying for a lower quality product, and that, you know, something that’s $200, discounted to $100 really should just cost $100 in the first place. Of course, they’d rather pay $100 than $200. But if they if they will definitely pay $200 for an item that should be worth $200. And so that is kind of the rub, that brands are kind of running up against discounting here, where they’re like, hey, like, we can’t just mark it up and knock down the knockdown a discount piece, because then we’re gonna have to do that for the rest of time. And so why don’t we just sell our goods at full price for what they actually should be worth and the quality that they’re manufactured at? And then how do we incentivize people if we’re not going to use discounts? How do we incentivize people to actually care and buy right now, and that’s starting to come across as pay social impact is extremely important here. But everybody cares about different things. So how do you do it, you use donation incentives, you say, Hey, by today, you’re gonna get $10 to give to any charity you want, if you buy right now. And we make that really easy for any brand to be able to do that.


JC: So that’s cool. I mean, that’s one thing that I took a lot of interest in this when I heard about your company kind of coming through the pipeline, so to speak here, but tell us how, like E-commerce right, like, how does it work for them when they are plugging into your system? Like, like, what does that look like? In its real nature, right? So what, so they have a product? It’s $100. And they say, what? If you know, $20 of that is going to go to a charity, you pick? Like, how does it look in real-time? How is the user experience even understanding or knowing that they’re giving while buying?


Andrew Forman: Yeah so it manifests itself anywhere that you and the reason I always draw the comparison discount, because anywhere you would find out about a discount code is the same way that you’d find out that you’re going to get money to give to a charity when you buy this product, right? So the banner on top of this site, spend $300 or more on our site will give you $30 to give to a charity, which always comes in a banner, you can we’ve had companies do a bunch of social posts around this, we’ve had companies talk about it in their emails in the footer of every email, don’t forget, when you spend over $200, you get $20 to give to a charity of your choice,


JC: Does it allow the user to pick the charity does it like take them to another screen and say like now pick the charity, you want to send that $30 to or whatever?


Andrew Forman: Yes, that’s actually embedded to our tech guts embedded in the thank you confirmation page. So after somebody makes a purchase, so very importantly, you don’t want you know, from a user experience standpoint, you don’t want to take people away or make people think about what charity they want to support individually just yet until they’ve made the purchase, make the purchase know that you’re gonna get, you know, all that upfront stuff, know that you’re gonna get money to give to a charity of your choice. And that actually we’ve shown enhance, enhances their ability to say, yes, I want to buy this right now, do I really need another pair of $400 shoes? I don’t know, but I’m gonna get $40 to get the charity boom, I do it. Right. And so that is that that psychology piece up front is what we’re focused on. But in terms of what you’re asking, Okay, how does it actually work? Right after you make the purchase embedded on the thank you confirmation page, you now have $40 to get to whatever charity you care about, and you’ll see highlighted charities that the brand and cares about that you can easily choose, or you can go in and search and we have over 174,000 different charities that people can choose from.


JC: That’s really cool. Okay, see that that like that? Because it’s very engaging with the user experience? And you know, you got Yeah, what was the name of the company? Was it? Was it Tom’s what what was the one where it was like buy a pair? Give a pair? Like who started that?


Andrew Forman: Toms? Yeah, so it was, it was so thick, you know, they kind of broke the mold, you know, or created, I should say, more or less on, on that giving aspect. And we all saw the results of that, right? It was really good. But this is interesting, because it allows a little more user engagement, other than just knowing that it’s going to go somewhere, you get to actually decide and pick, which is pretty quick..


JC: Well, that’s pretty cool. So I’m a marketing guy. So I always like to ask them how are you getting the word out about Givz? I mean, you’re on the podcast. Okay, so PR check, right? What else do you are you guys doing internally to go after? And what brands? Specifically going after big, big giant ones are going after mom and pop like, you know, yeah, what’s the target and how you get in there?


Andrew Forman: Yeah, part of the issue, I think on our marketing side is that we’ve had success across the board, right? We’ve had success across the board. And so toning in on that, like who is the exact perfect customer for us has been very difficult. We’ve got h&m as our as a large largest client, we’ve got a ton of brands that you’ve never heard of as small clients, right? And so how do you focus like, well, if we get a bunch more h&m, we should really focus there. But those are hard, long enterprise sales cycles. How do you do that? For us, we started to we really invest in the Shopify ecosystem. And we recognize pretty quickly that while we could get a ton of these longtail Shopify stores, but larger Shopify stores are really ones where we wanted to focus Shopify Plus. And we’re actually now about to roll out a Shopify POS integration that is going to be really interesting for in-store shopping. So being able to allow people in the store, you know, the store can put up a sign saying, hey, when you spend over $50, today, you get $5, to give to a charity of your choice, you know,


JC: Like the little logos will pop up on the screen or something, you could just tap it kind of thing?


Andrew Forman: Exactly, exactly. So that’s, that’s something that we’re really excited about also, because it is hopefully going to get us exposure to some larger Shopify brands that already are gonna have store presence, etc, etc. So that type of you knows, physical retail presence. So that’s, that’s one thing that we’re excited about. There are a bunch of different conferences that we think about and try to and try to attend. And then it’s really been the way we’ve grown to date is really word of mouth. It’s hard to describe what it is that we do. So from a marketing perspective, I wish I would have invested in brand marketing a bit more earlier. We it is hard to I mean, not only brand marketing, but also product, product marketing, like what is it that we do and people are like, Oh, you guys do like Roundup stuff. It’s like no, we don’t do..


JC: Anybody would think it’s Roundup, because that’s another model that’s pretty popular, right?


Andrew Forman: That’s, it’s much it’s even more popular, I’d say Right. But I’d say it’s way less effective. So it’s killer on two fronts. People are like, Oh, I tried that roundup stuff. It doesn’t work. I’m like, that makes sense. Roundup doesn’t have it doesn’t make sense Roundup. Did you think about it, right? Like somebody goes into I use the instore example of CVS here and here in New York. Somebody says, oh, like I wanted to go buy toothpaste that CVS and so you’re gonna go and you’re gonna spend whatever it is five bucks and 27 cents on toothpaste. Okay, great. So you go in, you’re gonna buy toothpaste, you go to checkout, they’re like, Hey, do you want to donate an extra 73 cents to this charity that we’ve chosen for you that you probably don’t really care about? But don’t hate. I mean, it’s probably like, Okay, I don’t know, like, how many people are looking at me in line? Like, do I really? Do I really want to do this. They’re asking you for me for my own money now. And I’m like, Sure, or no. And either way, if I say yes, like, Man, I should have just like, went on Amazon and used Amazon smile or something. And like, it didn’t wouldn’t cost me anything. Or if I said, No, now I’m like, walk around feeling bad. No, I should have done it. 


JC: Yeah you can’t you can’t tell me hey, puppies, right? Like..


Andrew Forman:  Yeah, so like, that does not have good business implications for CVS. What I like about is that a lot of people end up saying Yes, for just I don’t know, for different reasons. But it gets a lot of money to that one charity, but, they certainly don’t have a better relationship with CVA. Because of it. Nobody’s like, oh, like,


JC: It inspires guilt, rather than a positive emotion where you felt like you’ve done something good, because you have choice is really the foundation of any positive emotion after the fact. Right? It’s like, knowing that you got to do it, right. And they just had, it’s like, they hand you a 20 and said, Where do you want that? 20 to go? No, oh, I’m gonna go there. And it’s not my 22 You’re 20? You know, so yeah.


Andrew Forman: Exactly, so you get the point. So it’s, you’re building that up. So So for me, the flip side of that would be the gives version of that, as CBS says, you walk into CVS, you see a sign that says, Hey, spent $50 or more today, and CVS will give you five bucks, we’ll hand you $5 to give to whatever charity you want. So now you go into the store, you’re like, Oh, I was gonna buy toothpaste. All right, I’m $5.27 all the way there. But you know what, I actually needed all this stuff. And this stuff, all of a sudden, I spent 70 bucks. And I go check out and I’m like, Okay, I spent 70 bucks, like, okay, great, here’s $5 to give to whatever charity you want, they flip the screen around, and you like, choose a charity. And now you feel great. Maybe you just, you know, last night had a charity event that you were like, add to or something, you have friends that have charities, you have family members that have charities, whatever it may be, you’re gonna give it to their charity, you’re like, This is what I truly care about. And now CVS has that information as well. So the next time they go to email you, they’re gonna say, hey, we know you care about this particular charity, come back, spend $100 This time, and we’ll give you 10 more dollars to give to that charity. Okay, so that is what we’re trying to build.


JC: So I know you touched on a little bit when we first started, but you know, what inspired you to create this, right? I mean, like, I get the idea of saying, I want to create something that can also help give back. But why Right? Like, I mean, and I don’t mean that in some nihilistic way, like, Why Does anyone care? I just mean, is that something happened? Did you go through something? Or, you know, or did you see things in the industry that you hated? And you’re like, This is bullshit, we need to, you know, make this better? I mean, what was that moment where you’re like, This is the idea. I’m not just going to make e-commerce, you know, SAS platform, I’m going to make one that does this in particular.


Andrew Forman: Yeah, I for me, so I was the treasurer of a nonprofit. And I had friends who were working at retail companies, and we were trying to make this partnership work. And it was just so much harder than it should have been so much red tape, so much internal bureaucracy on top of illegal bureaucracy that I was like, Man, this is nuts. There has to be a better way. And like our industry must be shifting towards how do you how do nonprofits and corporations work together. Because they each have something that that that the other wants, right? Like, there’s a symbiotic relationship to be struck there. And for me, I just felt, if I could build a really big business around that hypothesis, that would be the home run. And so I spent, you know, my time in business school trying to figure out where that intersection makes sense. And that’s ultimately where we should go. It was a long road to get here. My first idea was a Venmo for charitable giving. And it was a direct-to-consumer, you know, everybody downloading an app to donate to a charity of your choice that didn’t work out. And we pivoted into this, and I think this is what we should have been doing the whole time. Obviously, I wish I had known. But this is, this is where it was meant to be. And now, you know, as we think about that second piece, not only so there’s an increase in average order value or an increased conversion rate, increase in sales, however way you want to sell So when you use gifts now as an e-commerce store, but I’m already getting pressure from both the stores as well as the charities to be more connected. So you know, when somebody, when you spend that $50 or more at CVS, for example, and they spend it around which charities show up well, there should be a marketplace there where the charities that show up are actually posting about people like posting to people, Hey, go shop at CVS, spend $50 or more, get the $5. And give it to us, because they’re your you have a choice, you have an agency, you have agency, you in this model, as the end consumer, you have the power to donate to whatever charity you want. And so charity should be talking about the fact that that’s out there, and the brands would obviously love that. And there, there’s your flywheel. 


JC: Got it. If I knew then what I know now kind of like we all wish we had a time machine, right? So but this is where you’re at, you’re here now and that’s what matters. Alright, so speaking of time machine, let’s pivot towards the future. Right, the future biz Tech, we got to talk about the future. So first question is where do you see your industry going? So you know, kind of maybe the, I guess, for that you’re kind of in the middle of two industries, right? You’re in the, in kind of the nonprofit giving platform industry, but then you’re also an E-commerce, SAS industry, you know, where do you see these industries going in the next maybe five or 10 years? Whether it be through technology, legislation, culture, you know, just where you place your competitors, like, where’s this heading?


Andrew Forman: I mean, I’ve, the hypothesis for me has always been that these two worlds are going to collide, right like commerce and social impact are going in the in this in the same direction. And on a crash course in terms of people caring about what’s behind their purchase these days, it did not use to be the case. My parents did not care, right like that. They really didn’t. They’re like whatever is the lowest price for the best quality stuff. Like that’s it. I think there’s still a little bit of that. But there’s definitely like, hey, like, how did the How did this gets made now, right? Like is was it ethically sourced? Was it you know, is this going to hurt the environment if people keep buying it this way? These are real questions now that people and companies have to answer and the younger generations especially are starting to say no, we’re not going to buy something that is unethically sourced, we’re not going to do something that’s bad for the environment over and over again. So we need to start listening to this type of thing, right? And so for me, it’s they are going together culturally, it’s going to be you buy whatever you’re buying any physical and goods that you’re buying, and even virtual goods. If you’re talking about, you know, the metaverse and everything like that. Why are people buying skins in the metaverse? Why are people buying sweatshirts in real life that have particular sayings on them or particular designs is it because they want a signal? It’s all about signaling who you are as a person. And more and more people want to signal? Hey, I care about this world that we all live in together. And I think that’s where it is heading. So as much as I’d like to as much as I like to say, Yeah, I do this because we’ve sent $2 million to charity, and we’re wanting to send a billion dollars to charity. We do. And we will. But I also think this is where the world is actually moving. And therefore this is where the money is going to be.


JC: Perfect. Yeah. And that I can see that I can agree with. Now, let’s talk about your company. Right? My audience likes to get the inside track on some new stuff. So what do you got coming down the pipeline here? I mean, where’s Givz going? Specifically, maybe roadmap style features or just any general shifts or direction?


Andrew Forman: So two big things that we have in common one is that POS piece that we’re looking at. So the point of sale, for Shopify, we’re excited on that front, something that’s even more maybe techie and consumer and a bit more of a shift that we’re excited about is we’re in building out our offering and our platform, we had the Shopify integration, and then we wanted to build like a platform agnostic API so that any company could use us, right. And then as we built this out, and we were just, we’re going through the final touches of like, Hey, here’s the full platform, it’s beautiful. You can you know, any brand can now say, alright, here, I want to create a $10 to give to charity link, boom, go. We have a jewelry store that wants to create $100 links because if people spend over $1,200 at their store, they’re gonna get $100 to give to charity. Great, you can log in and create those links, no problem. And one of our engineers added a Share button on there, right? And he was like, you know, maybe, and I was like, Dude, what are you doing? That doesn’t make any sense like a jewelry store creates $100 link. They don’t want to share that all over the place. As I’m on Twitter and Instagram and Facebook, because then people are going to be donating without having made the purchase that needs to be guarded, you know. But then I took a step back, and I was like, Wait a second, that’s actually interesting if we open it up back to individuals, so I do get this from my friends all the time, where they’re like, hey, like I want to donate, I want to donate 100 bucks, I don’t know where to donate that. And so if we actually open that up, that feature up to everybody, and we’re about to do this, you know, in the coming months, where we open up to everybody and put that share button on there, so I’m really glad he did this. Now you set a limit, you say, hey, I want to donate $100, I want to donate it in $5 increments. And my friends, or followers or whatever, maybe tell me where this should go. And so create, you know, a link that says the first 20 people that click on this link, allocate $5, to the charity that you care about most. And I want to support my friends. And so that’s a feature that we’re rolling out here in relatively short order that we are excited about.


JC: Very cool. Awesome. All right. Well, let me ask you, I want to switch to a personal question. So I asked this to some of my guests. What did you want to do when you like, when you were a kid? What did you want to be when you grew up? And then is this it? Or if not, how did it get here? You know?


Andrew Forman: Yeah, I mean, so when I was a kid growing up, I wanted to play football professionally, obviously, right? Like that was that was, that was a childhood dream. And then I as I got older and realize that that was not going to happen, I thought about you know, alright, what is it that you want to be when you grow up? I love math and numbers. So I was like, Alright, I could be a math teacher was like, you know, kind of the next leg and I was like, okay, but I don’t know, I don’t know that I want to make retirement plans. Still, once I’m, you know, once I’m unable to be running around and pounding the pavement all day, every day, I will retire and become a math teacher. That is something that I want to do at some point. But I think, at the end of the day, I Yeah, once I gave up on the football dream, I really didn’t know. And so I went into investment banking because that was the, you know, opportunity to in my mind that opened the most amount of doors, you could kind of do anything from there, and had a good bass of salary. 


JC: Nice. Well, listen, since you’re, you know, a young entrepreneur, if you what is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given on your journey through all this? or what have you learned that you think would be the best piece of advice you could give?


Andrew Forman: Yeah, I mean, I think for best piece of advice I’ve been given, man, there’s been so much, it’s so hard to so much good advice, so much bad advice. But I think the most important piece is if you’re an entrepreneur, then your business revolves around you, you can’t separate it in the beginning, you can’t separate out, you know, oh, I think I in the beginning, I was really trying to be like, super objective and analytical about everything. And there’s just nothing to analyze in the beginning. And people are betting on you, as the CEO, as the founder, to make this thing go. So you have to bet on you and trust yourself. And make split-second decisions. And just go and run with them understanding, you know, that some of them are going to be wrong, some of them are going to be right, you’ll adjust as you go along. But you have to just put one foot in front of the other and sprint, and you have to go as fast as you can. And just and just trust yourself. And don’t hold yourself to too high of a standard. Just trust yourself that you’re not sure what the right decision is. You’re gonna make this decision. You’re gonna make the right decision. 70% of the time, great, perfect. Let’s go do it.


JC: Just launch right? You don’t have to be perfect. You’ll figure it out.


Andrew Forman: Oh, definitely. You don’t have to be perfect.  Perfection is the enemy of progress. Right? Like that is Yeah


JC: How can people reach your company? You know, like what sites now? And then also, how could they reach you individually if they have maybe some bigger deals..


Andrew Forman: Yeah, so the website is You can chat with me remember the team there, you can also book my calendar there. And then online, you know, I’m on LinkedIn. Always. I do get a ton of whatever stuff there. So if you have something just put a message in there and I’m happy to chat just say that you heard on me on this podcast and I will immediately accept and chat. But also on Twitter, a forum, not super active these days. But just kind of monitoring what’s going on.


JC: Perfect. And listen for everyone out there. Again, if you liked what you heard today, be sure to subscribe to this podcast and give it a five star rating, preferably with some writing behind it. So other techies like us can find, enjoy learning about all these amazing and helpful b2b software is on the market today. Just like Andrew, thank you so much again for being on the show. And I really appreciate you coming on and I think what you’re doing out there is great and I wish you the best of luck with it.


Andrew Forman: Thanks so much. Appreciate it. All right, bye bye.


infinityadminEp. 62: Growing Sales without Sacrifices – Andrew Forman, Co-Founder & CEO of Givz

Epi. 61: Guiding Tech Companies forward with Embedded Insurance – Matheus Riolfi, Co-Founder & CEO of

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Find Matheus Riolfi on LinkedIn here:

JC: Welcome, everyone to another episode of The Future ofBizTech. I’m your host, JC Grainger, I have another fantastic guest with us on the show today. And listen to me and I’m loving this episode, please show your love and appreciation by following this podcast, wherever you’re listening, be sure to give it a five star review, preferably with some nice comments because that is how other techies like you and I find cool podcasts like this. So today, I have the absolute pleasure of interviewing Matheus Riolfi, who is the co founder and CEO of Matheus, thank you so much for being on the show. I want you to tell the audience a little bit about yourself, and and what is it you guys do?

Matheus: Hi, JC, thank you so much for having me. Yeah. So as you mentioned, I’m the co founder and CEO of Tint, we help tech platforms embed insurance into their products. So think about the last time you use Airbnb or Uber, you don’t even think about it. But there’s actually the insurance being transacted with your service. And that’s a little bit of what helps like no, we will make easy for any tech platform to make insurance as part of their product and services. So they can sell more, they can get more profitability out of it.

JC: So let’s talk about that. I found this very fascinating, because I haven’t seen anything like this, right. And I’m a tech guy, I see a lot of stuff. And I thought this was interesting. I want to dive a little deeper into that. So give me an example. So and here’s, here’s the way I see it. But I want to I don’t know if I’m wrong here. So when you’re saying that a company can offer insurance to its customers, for the use of their platform, is that like saying, If I’m using an email marketing software, and it accidentally sends out the email with the token of first name, instead of the actual name, I say, Well, what the hell? And there’s an insert, like I guess, you know, give me an example of where the insurance comes in and what types of platforms people typically would want to see this on.

Matheus: Yeah, absolutely. So let’s get an example of a real customer that is public, there’s a company called “Neighbor”, which is like, think about Airbnb for storage. So you can rent out your garage space for somebody else. And they can leave their things, their car, boxes, whatever it is. And we help “Neighbor” create a kind of protection product that, you know, if you leave your things in storage, something happens, it’s broken, there’s water damage, whatever may happen, you get paid, right? So the idea is that of all the companies we will work with, by making insurance a feature of their products, they actually kind of the value of the product and service increases to the customers right so at the beginning of the show, I thought about our mentioned Airbnb idea. So if there’s damage now you can rent out your place on Airbnb, there is damage as the host you get paid because Airbnb got some insurance in place. So imagine Airbnb now have to go and convince people to let strangers come to their house, we know assurance and saying, by the way, if something wrong happens, and it will happen, it’s your problem. Like if you are by yourself, so like obviously, the service wouldn’t work without that protection.

JC: Okay, now that makes sense. That again, I was thinking Airbnb when you were saying like that, maybe were one. What about other digital types of like, what about software platforms of use for b2b Right, because those are more b2c? So I understand a consumer need for insurance. Can you give us an example of a b2b style one?

Matheus: Absolutely. So we see a huge trend in a lot of different vertical SaaS platforms. So vertical SaaS B– those companies were businesses can run their operations. So again, one of our customers called guest T, they help property managers rent out their spaces in our Airbnb verbal are many different channels. So they can run their calendars they can run their cleaning, like all those kinds of services that you need to do to manage the property on guests, your guests is the fact of the operating system. So what we do we work with those kinds of companies to help them protection as one part of the stack that they offer, because now they’re covering one more necessity that the business will have and the beauty like that we’ve seen with this vertical SaaS and others is that they know the customer very well they have a great relationship so they already paid to acquire that customer. So it’s literally the insurance distribution insurance or the the protection product comes as a net profit that kind of center to to those companies.

JC: That’s cool. So I was I was looking at your website, which like I have over here to my other screen there wasn’t sees me going. Oh, yeah, I was I was looking at some other stuff here to tell me about how your system decides how the insurance let’s say numbers work. I mean, it’s, right? So there’s an artificial intelligence somewhere in here. Let’s talk about the tech like the fun stuff, the tech stuff, like how is it deciding and figuring out what to charge what to cover things like that? Sure. So

Matheus: We the way we work because that we do three main things to those companies right as a way to provide this end to end solution to help them create their own embedded protection products. So we help them with all the technology. So as you mentioned, all the court systems that need that run in the background, from who sees what price, what price they cease? Who do we keep track of who purchase? What if there is a damage, like how does this person get paid? Like all those things, these were kind of our software stack. And then we also help those companies with now the back office and compliance. Now insurance is a highly regulated space. So there are a lot that goes behind the scenes to make that happens in the right way. And then we also help those companies can transfer the risk. So getting some insurance or reinsurance partners that would actually take the risk of those companies work. Now, if we double click on the softer part, which is more and more the AIP is that we can support any pricing logic. And we work with actuaries we work with some of the kind of data and actuary folks to come up with like, what’s the right price that should be charged for the users and we have everything from the same price for everybody very simple, all the way through using machine learning some sophisticated algorithms to try to come up with this pricing.

JC: Can people set their own pricing? Or is it just based off the model from your, your software?

Matheus: It’s a combination of both, we typically can provide some expertise in some guidance, but we we have a partnership with our customers where they eventually control the customer, they control the user expertise. So they are welcome to tweak some of those kind of pricing suggestions that we can may come up with.

JC: Nice. Okay, so what motivated you to start this company? I mean, like, what kind of history do you have? Were you working for some insurance company and you’re like, This is crap, and I need to I need to make the system better. I mean, like, just what was your motivation for even creating this?

Matheus: And I think you’re right, so that was a little bit of motivation. So I mean, as most people work in insurance, I didn’t, I came to this path a little bit by accident. So I joined I am originally from Brazil, graduated from business school. And I joined a company called Turo, a peer to peer car sharing marketplace. Now, it’s up to the moment. Yeah, it’s a multi billion dollar business now. But when I joined the was not 15 People startup. And a turns out like I was leading international expansion.

JC: I hope you kept your stock options, by the way.

Matheus: I did. It I did exercise them. Then also there were I spent four years with the company. But yeah, my job was to launch the business abroad. And 80% of my time was spent understanding insurance of the city how things were working in Canada and the UK, a friends in many other countries. And you know, in parallel, my co founder, who was also an early employee at Turo was the head of data science. So he was coming up with the models, this pricing logics that you did you ask for the data talked about. And we realize the same problem and opportunity right there put the problem that the opportunity was that Turo was no coming, launching and processing hundreds of millions of dollars of insurance premiums or protection fees, as they call it. So we’re seeing the clear benefit. And the business really couldn’t exist without this, this this insurance protection. But we also saw how hard it was for a company that is not in the core business of insurance. That doesn’t happen software engineers that are dedicated to this piece of the business, like how hard it was for them to actually make things work. So that’s really what inspired us to start tends to make ease, you know, really at the product that we wish existed when we were working into and creating similar products for them.

JC: Very cool. Does this apply to any kind of service based, right? Because I’ve so far what I’m hearing, it’s more about when there’s products or something at risk, which makes sense for insurance. But let’s say for example, like I’m dating girl who owns a talent agency right now, so every now and then something can happen in a client can, let’s say pay to have talent show up for a certain gig. But something could happen and that talent either doesn’t make it or they maybe they break something while they’re there. Who knows. Right? Yeah, yeah. Would your insurance work for a business like that? Or a business like mine, like marketing? Right? If marketing goes bad, like if an advertising agency puts out something that is false advertising, for example, by accident or on purpose? Who knows? Can that be covered through what you’re doing? So how about service based industries?

Matheus: Absolutely. So there were for example, we have one of our customers, it’s called “deal”. So they help companies hire contractors abroad and they provide all the contracts, the payments, like all everything you need to have a contract are working for you in a country outside the US. And we worked with them to create what is called misclassification guarantee. So basically, if deal tells you it’s okay to hire this person, say in Italy as a contractor, and it turns out, they’re wrong. And then this person is suing you fall misclassification, like, I was saying that they actually he or she was an employee, not a contractor, this coverage is protection from deal will pay the legal fees up to a certain amount. So this is an example of the appears service where it can the protection can work in your example of the of the talent, and then when we are thinking is like, as a business, what are the risks that your customer has, when they are contracting you that if you were to get those risks to go away, you would sell more, that is the mostly the ultimate way of thinking about embedded insurance and better protection. Because there’s, there’s a clear risk in this case, the risk is like your talent, breaking something, can’t lay down your structure product and saying, by the way, you can have a pre premium tier of my service that if that were to happen, then you know, you, you are covered up to X amount and..

JC: And if they deny the coverage, and in a way that can also maybe protect the business from lawsuits like, hey, we gave them a chance to cover this. And they did. And now that may not work in every state, but I could see a legal argument. If you offer insurance, if something goes wrong, it might help you in a lawsuit. If you’re sued for the thing that went wrong, that they denied that they declined the coverage for.

Matheus: Yeah, I think, you know, we the way we work normally with those things like we have a compliance department and with the legal team that will kind of go to the bottom of this and know the exact use case know exactly what’s happening to just confirm, like what or not say, well, you’re saying it’s right. But the principle seems to apply, right, which is the you you’re naming that risk. And then in a way, you’re kind of offering the ability to go away. So that’s a good, okay, it’s a good way of being transparent. And the reality is like your customers, if the risk is real, your customers are already thinking about it. And in our case, like a lot of our prospects that when they come to us, they’re already hearing from their customers, that there is a pain point. So those are the kind of the best use cases for us when he’s like, No, you’re already hearing, you’re already dealing with that pain. So we help you transform that pain into a profit center, or it’s something that not only protects your customer, but also can accelerate your growth and your profitability.

JC: Very cool. So I’m a marketing guy by by trade. Right. So my next question is, how are you guys getting the word out there about? I mean, you’re on a podcast, that’s one thing, right? You got a PR angle, right? But beyond that, are you guys doing like paid ads, social media, SEO? I mean, what kind of things do you use to get out into the market,

Matheus: We do have, like some PR related efforts or thought leadership efforts, I think it’s a very nascent industry. So there’s quite a bit of education that we do. And I think that we see that as a way to just kind of put the message, the message out there, we do have a lot of content creation. So now not necessarily talking to the ship directly, but blogs, and constantly in other channels as well, because again, relates to the education piece. We also have a direct sales force or outbound channel where we can reach out to companies and like create so we use a combination of both we don’t do a lot of pay just Yeah, we didn’t do a lot of pay in 2022, I think is absolutely in our plan for 2023 to be more aggressive on pay. But our know our hypothesis is that paid is we’re not as the plant is an industry or the vertical been such a nascent, it’s not the point yet we’re paid will be the most scale a scalable, kind of higher ROI channel, but we will start making a lot more experiments with that next year.

JC: Yeah, you have a lot to choose from, right. I mean, I just I like what you’re doing, because it’s fairly unique. I’m sure you have competitors. Everyone does, right. But I can guarantee it’s, it’s small, right? Because this this type of thing, especially with the way you do it, I think is very cool and very unique. The Future of Biz Tech Podcast, I got to ask the question, the future questions, right?  First one is, where do you see the industry of this type of insurance and going right, so you and your competitors, and just in general? I mean, you know, this is something I think is going to evolve, just given where things are going. So where do you see that next five to 10 years, whether it be because of regulation or legislation, or technology or just economy? You know, where do you see the overall industry of where you’re at the evolving to.

Matheus: Yeah, we are in my point of your most exciting time in the insurance industry, since it was created hundreds of years ago, right? I know that exciting and insurance are not necessarily requirements that go together.

JC: I didn’t want to I didn’t want to say I kind of want to say it. But I was like that is like you heard it here first guys. Exciting and insurance using the same sentence. But I agree with you this because this stuff fascinates me. I like the tech side of it.,

Matheus: Yeah, no, absolutely. So what what’s happening here, right, the bigger trend of like every talking about here is that insurance is becoming a feature, not a product, right? You have now all those tech platforms. And again, we use Airbnb and Uber as examples, but those now came or 10-15 years ago, and obviously they are at scale now. But there are many examples like no Apple,  Flexport, Tesla, like everywhere you look, you see known insurance companies launching their own insurance embedded insurance products, because they realize that that makes their core business better. So in a way, like think about insurance, right is this product that was created 300 years ago, that kind of looks and feels the same. And even with the Internet of like now the the beginning to the 2000s in the mobile app, in the 2010 or so it wasn’t the same product, it’s just instead of be sold by an agent on the street, it was sold by via mobile app or via website. But fundamentally the same product, same everything with embedded that changes, right? Because again, the companies are going to be the ones driving it. It’s like Apple Care is branded by Apple, it’s run by Apple, where it’s part of apple stack when you buy an iPhone, and it is a protection product, right. And in this new world, it everything changes the unit economics change, because now guy calls and progresses, the world spend 25% of the dollar that premium that you pay in premiums in advertising. So every time you have your car insurance, then you spend $10,000 a year, 250 to 300 of that go to that guy on TV that you know on the radio that you see over and over. So in this world where the customer has already been acquired, that expense is gone. Apple already paid for the iPhone advertising. So the Apple Care distribution costs is virtually all the technology like all the things that happened behind the scenes. So in 10 years, a lot of insurance products won’t be standalone anymore, there will be features of brands that people love.

JC: I liked that idea that that feature instead of a product. That’s interesting. Okay, so let’s dial down a little bit more. Now. Let’s talk about your content. Where do you see you guys in the next six to 12 months? And if you have any, like cool roadmap features, like my audience loves to hear the new stuff for us. What What can you give us? What kind of preview? Can we extract out of you today?

Matheus: Is a great question. So we know being the last few months, really laser focused on or like launching new products in the shipping vertical. Like we had a over 10 different use cases on our platform already. But we think shipping is one that was getting a lot of traction. So you’ll see a lot of our kind of next kind of rollouts coming in the shipping and shipping protection industry. And in six to 12 months, I think you should expect to see a lot on the vacation rental as well. So again, supporting the property owners who are putting their properties out for short term rentals, and making sure that when things that go wrong, and they will in a certain percentage of times they get paid and then we can keep making money with their product.

JC: That’s awesome. So thank you for those two because I I always need that in the podcast, but we got it we always got to look ahead and not just what’s what’s right here. I want to ask you a personal question. We’re gonna switch gears a little bit here. What did you want to do when you were a kid? Like what do you want to be when you grew up when you were a kid? And then is this it? Did you want to be like a tech, you know, CEO, or it wasn’t a firefighter? And then how to how did you get to here from there kind of thing.

Matheus: So I want it to be two things right? So I’m lucky that I ended up and one of the two options. I think, I wanted to be like athlete. I always love sports in general. I play again from Brazil. I played soccer from a very early age. I played tennis from early age as well. Unfortunately, it was never really good to pursue that professionally. So that was that that route was off the table. But the other route was to be a founder so I was one of those kind of kids were had the lemon stand type of things. Doing things and creating things on the side trying to monetize a few ideas here and there. So I always enjoy that. So I mean, luckily, I ended up really in one of the two options that really wanted for me in the future.

JC: So that’s great, because you know, we’d love people, some people nail it, right? And other people, like just life kind of pulls them in different directions. And you should, we should, we would adapt to, you know, changing circumstances and things like that. So that’s cool, though. I like that. I love that you’re from Brazil, my first international trip I ever did. First time I ever used my passport, I went to Rio for carnival 10 days solo. And it was wild. Oh, man, that was my first trip, like talking about diving headfirst into an empty pool, right? Like, it was nice.

Matheus: It’s probably the most intense time you can come to Brazil. So you went from zero to 1000. Right away.

JC: Yeah. And I was staying in Ipanema, right. And like right there on board, it was fantastic. So love your country, although I will say this is a warning to anyone. They have this thing out there called the Black Sun. And I’d never heard of this term, the Black Sun and I was like, what’s the black sun and I found out the hard way because I was sitting on the beach under this like abandoned thing, right? Like an umbrella cabana thing. And half of my foot was outside of the shade. Just half, maybe sitting there for 15 minutes talking to someone looked down my foot. And it is, I mean, beat red. Beat that fact that I want to have and I was like, how is that possible to get that burnt that fast? And apparently, just the humidity in the haze that’s up near, you know, when the sun’s out. They call it the black sun because you can basically burn so fast. And I was completely unprepared for that. I was like, Whoa, so so anyone listening, just make sure that you wear your sunscreen and have a lot of shade if you’re going to be out there when the Haze is out. So yeah. How can people reach you? Well, first, how can they reach the company if they want to just take out the website, whatnot? And then how can they reach you personally if they have some bigger prospect of higher end deals for you.

Matheus: So if the company came go through our website, we have many kind of forms and different ways there we do check all of them, we guarantee that you’re gonna get an answer. So that’s definitely a good place to start. If you want to reach out..

JC: It’s TINT.Ai

Matheus: Exactly, TINT.Ai. And if you want to talk with me personally, good channel can be my LinkedIn. So you can just probably search my name, you will find me and I’m also very active on LinkedIn. So be happy to chat mine.

JC: And if anyone listening has Matheus. MATHEUS, and then RIOLFI, RIOLFI correct?

Matheus: That is right.

JC: Perfect this way to try to find it on LinkedIn and make sure they don’t end up with someone else. Right?

Matheus: Yeah, yeah. The good news is that I do believe there’s only one Matheus Riolfi in the world so I think you probably not gonna get if you spell it right.

JC: Hear that ladies? He’s one of a kind. For everyone listening out there. Again, if you liked what you heard today, be sure to subscribe to the podcast and a five star rating. Put some cool comments behind it so others, like other techies like us can find it and enjoy learning about all the really cool b2b tech software on the market today. Matheus thank you so much for being on the show. And I actually look forward to talking to you after this because I have a lot of interest in your in your feature type product here soon. So thank you for coming on.

Matheus: Thank you so much JC It was a pleasure. Bye bye


infinityadminEpi. 61: Guiding Tech Companies forward with Embedded Insurance – Matheus Riolfi, Co-Founder & CEO of

Epi. 60: How uses real conversations to convert calls to customers – Alex Levin, Co-Founder & CEO of

Learn more about at:

Find Alex Levin on LinkedIn here:

JC: Welcome, everyone, to another episode of The Future of BizTech. I’m your host, JC Granger. And I have another fantastic guest on the show today. And listen, if you end up loving this episode, please show your love and appreciation by following the podcast wherever you are listening or on YouTube, be sure to give it that five-star review, firstly with some nice comments on there, because that’s how techies like you and I can find cool podcasts like this. So today, I have the absolute pleasure of interviewing the co-founder and CEO of Alex Levin. Thank you so much for being on the show. Tell us a little bit about yourself and regal and what you guys do.


Levin: Yeah, thank you for having me. So I’ve been in the technologist industry for a long time now. And my co-founder and I started regal just over two years ago now to build software for b2c sales teams. And people are a little shocked when I say that sometimes they go well, there’s no such thing as a b2c sales team, you know, don’t you mean b2b? But no, it turns out actually that, well, there’s been a lot of software builds for teams that do sales on the b2b side, you know, where it’s a very complicated sale, very low volume, you know, you pay salespeople quite a lot of money. There’s a massive under investment in using the phone, using SMS, having a conversation with your customer in the b2c side. And there’s just an under investment in the software for that. So in industries like lending, insurance, health care, education, local services, it turns out that if you, if you build a website, without having a human conversation with the customer, your conversion rate drops way down. And so these are complicated decisions, these are longer decisions, you’re making more considered decisions. And it’s critical to have a moment where your admissions agent is talking with you, it’s critical to have a moment where your healthcare provider is talking to you before you make those decisions. So the software has worked amazingly well. And we now are proud to announce that we have reached over a billion dollars in revenue driven by our first 100 customers. So I think it’s just a small sign that this is something really working for our customers.


JC: Now that’s awesome. So now, it is interesting, like you said, because we do see a lot of software out there for b2b. So how, like, who’s your main client base is a lot of ecommerce companies, I imagine. I mean, kind of who are the main people or companies that are buying this type of software from you to help with their b2c side of things?


Levin: Yeah, I’d say about half of the consumer economy is retail. So you know, buying clothing, shoes, pencils, things like that. And about half of the consumer economy is more complicated things like, you know, like I was saying health care, education, local services, insurance. So things for you know, your health, your wealth, your kids, your pets, your car, your house, think about that world. While fun says works, actually, in all of those sorts of industries, we’ve particularly focused on the more considered industries, because we find that there’s faster uptake there. In retail, I think people have been taught for so long that customer service is a call center talking your customers a call center, that we see, businesses don’t want to provide a higher quality of service to their customer today, because they see it as a call center. On the other side, in these more considered categories, they already understand that key part of the decision making process is to have a conversation, and they’re desperate for software that will help them have more conversations with the right customer in the right moment. And so I’d say we focus much more on that side, there’s probably some 50, 60,000 businesses that are, you know, 100 employees, or above, in the more considered side that need our software.


JC: So how, what kind of results have your clients been seeing with that? I mean, what kind of standard, you know, if they’re doing X, you know, conversion rate, after using your systems? Where are they usually ending up? I mean, is it massive here? Or is it more like smaller percentages, but on volume, it makes a big difference, what kind of results we’ve been seeing?


Levin: Yeah, it’s pretty striking. So I’ll start by going back to my own experience for a second. And then I can talk a little about current customers. But my co-founder and I were at a company called Angie that owns Angie’s List, and HomeAdvisor and handy and all these home services brands were actually the largest home services provider in the world. And we found that we had built a great digital experience. And we were doing you know, a billion and a half in revenue on that digital experience. But we found that for a lot of services, our conversion rates online were worse than the offline conversion rates. So like, stop for a second. So like you think of technology is building a better mousetrap, we actually built a worse mousetrap. Meaning if you just went to an old school paper and pencil guide to install your fence, you buy that at a much higher rate than when you went on to the Digital site that we had built. What we found though, is if we call somebody and got them on the phone, we could get back up to that same conversion rate. And so it just like opened my eyes at the beginning I think this is kind of like a twilight zone like, why would anybody answer the phone right? But it turns out that for these more considered things you know, people really like it and so when we call them and say hey, you have a house you want to fence installed, they go oh my god internet company and wants to talk to me, that’s fabulous. And so it really opened our eyes to this opportunity. So today, on average are calm Customers see about 25% increase in conversion rate, and a lot of our customers are already doing phone sales. So it’s not, you know, from nothing, they’re already doing it. But we’re able to give them tools that give them more levers to get customers on the phone to convert them on the phone to drive higher average order values. And that’s really why I think we’ve been so successful is because we represent incremental revenue for the brands we work with. I know a lot has been written out about customers, I’m sorry brands, lowering their marketing spend, and they are, they’re not going to spend inefficient dollars to get people to their site. But of the people that are coming to their site, that middle of the funnel, they’re massively investing in how to convert more of them. And they’re massively investing at improve retention. And that’s why I think we have such a good fit with brands today is that they, they are pulling for software like ours, that’s going to drive higher conversion, higher retention.


JC: I mean, 25%. And that’s, that is pretty amazing. I mean, you look at any kind of company doing a 10 million bottom line. You know, that’s another 2.5 on the books.


Levin: And I’d say, you know, it, when we go to conferences, and we go meet customers, I’ve been doing phone sales. So let’s say you’re a big, you know, a life insurance company, and you’ve been trying to call customers, the story we hear again and again, is that customers have been, you know, have been anti phone calls, or that the brand has been having a hard time getting customers on the phone, even though once they get them on the phone that customers like it, and once they get on the phone, it leads to more revenue for the brand. And so they for a long time thought their only option. And in the old software, it’s kind of true, their only option was to call the customer faster, or call them more times. And that’s a negative cycle, right? The more you call somebody, the faster you call somebody less likely they’re gonna answer over time, the lower the answer, it’s going to be over time, and it becomes spam. So we teach brands to do the opposite. We’ve built software that allows them to use real time data from the actual behavior of the customer from first party data to drive personalized cadences personalized messages that would change what the channel is, you know, brand the call, so that you’re engaging people at a much higher rate, on average, our software people answer about 30% of the time, versus the industry average of a 10% answer rate on the phone, so much, much higher answer rate than email and SMS and even traditional calls. And then we can help the brand, make sure the agents who are in our product using our product, convert people at a much higher rate in that actual conversation.


JC: So what made you want to start this? I mean, you’re the co founder, right? So I mean, tell me, what’s the villain origin story here? Right? Like, what proble were you dealing with him? It’d be some corporate job or something. And you’re like, Oh, we’ve got to solve this problem? Or was it just something from inception out of nowhere? What brought you to this idea?


Levin: Yeah, so a little bit sort of I was talking about, you know, we live this like I was a marketer at Angie, my co founder and product. And you know, we really had this experience, we saw how powerful was to be selling on the phone. And when we went to the current omni channel, contact center software we use so we use for awhile Genesis, and then for a while now, Five9 and a while nice and contact, we are big account, and we went to them and said, great, you guys are fantastic. at customer service, we built the omni channel, customer service software for customer service, great. But we have this other use case where we have teams that are proactively reaching out. And here’s the set of features, we want to improve performance. They told us to go pound sand, like actually. And they said, look, it’s just not our business, we have a great business doing customer service, you happen to use one of the features we have for sales, fine, we’re not going to take it away from you, we’re not building new features for you. So I think those customers, sorry, those companies sort of just made us realize, like, you know that there just wasn’t anybody going after this opportunity. And so it led us to sort of from a place of necessity, go and start the business. I think the other big realization for both my co founder and I was that when we started in this home services business, it was doing a million dollars in revenue, it was 20 people. You know, at the end, we were doing a billion and a half in revenue for thousands of people. We weren’t having as much fun at that scale. You know, we love being builders, and we wanted to go back to the beginning and start. So it’s a nice match of a situation where we had felt this problem ourselves. And we knew we wanted to go back and build something. And you know, it just was good timing.


JC: That’s awesome. So how have you guys been growing? I mean, how old is the company and what have you been doing for your own internal growth? Maybe marketing or marketing guys, so marketing wise?


Levin: Yeah. So we’re only two years old. We’ve had quite a run of it so far. So we went from 0 to 100 customers, and I don’t know if it’s been released publicly exactly what the AR is, but quite a bit of an AR in two years. And it’s not been through marketing. So that’s what’s interesting, like we, the first year was only founder-led sales was just me for the first year and the second year we added some A’s and so they’ve been very successful and we just hired our first marketing hire a month and a half ago. So next year now we’re going to start learning and marketing. Again, just an indication of like how much demand there is. And with our current funnel, we see about 30% of the sales qualified leads, we get closed. And on average, they close in about 35 or 40 days. So it’s just a sign of how much product market fit there is that the close rate is so high and and so quickly, and we have a pretty large average contract value. So, you know, between a $50,000 and $100,000, average contract value. So that’s a very fast close for that size contract.


JC: That’s awesome. Well, let’s talk a little bit about the future here. Right? So it’s called The Future of BizTech. So let’s we’ll dive into that. First question is, where do you see your industry going in the next, you know, five or six, seven years or whatnot, and you know, like you and your competitors combined, the people who are in that kind of b2c software space now that there’s a lot it sounds like, right, but just where do you see that evolving?


Levin: Yeah. So you know, I think there’s a very heavy investment currently on the b2c side, in marketing technology, selling to a marketer, you know, doing marketing automation has become very pervasive, and people have gotten the message that you shouldn’t be sending random blasts to people-  should we be doing that. On the sales side. To your point, there’s not really much out there. So we don’t see much competition on the side today. I expect over time there will be but you know, we’re out there bringing that sort of that mission to people and saying, you know, you’re a sales professional, but you should be using more sophisticated technology that allows you to identify the right people to talk to you have the right message, you know, use AI when necessary, use automation when necessary to drive better outcomes. And so I think all of this sales software for b2c is our opportunities ours for the taking, you know, if we do a right, you know, we could be the default CRM, that sort of Salesforce, so to speak, of b2c sales in the same way, Salesforce has become the default for b2b sales, we do think there’s an opportunity to build out a lot of software, different sort of aspects of this part of the the go to market motion for b2c companies, I’d say if I fast forward, like our biggest goal is to help these brands have more conversation. So today, we drive about three and a half to 4 million conversations a month for the brands we work with. So that’s incredible, like those are conversations that would not have not happened otherwise, that are leading to a better experience for the customer, more revenue for the brand. And so we hope that one day, everybody has that. So, you know, I hope that one day when I’m going in and booking a flight, and I make a mistake, the airline automatically calls me goes, Mr. Levin, we know you’re trying to really book a flight to New York, we see you made this mistake, let us help you solve this, or if I’m going into health insurance, and they see that I get stuck, because I don’t know some information about my old health insurance, they call me and they go, you know, Mr. Levin, you know, I know everything that there is to know about this product, I’m here to help you. So think back to 100 years ago, perhaps when people walked into a hotel or a club, and they’d go, oh, we know you, sir. You know, or ma’am, here’s your favorite table, here’s your favorite drink, they could do that. Because they sort of got to know you one on one online, we have better advantage, we can take all the information at scale that we know about a customer and do things that are really personalized for them. And we can start making service differentiation in online instead of it being something that people think of as the Boogeyman. So stop thinking of customer service or human touch as a call center and start thinking about it as a differentiator.


JC: Yeah, it’s almost like a personalized, you know, assistant in a way, right, you know, like a customer care, personalized assistance, you know, you get an employee reaching out. Sometimes you get that from like, depending if you’re like, got a certain status with an airline or a credit card, but you’re saying this could be this is something that could be applicable and scalable toward all customers, regardless of status, essentially.


Levin: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, the example that I sometimes give is in the gaming industry, people know about the idea of Wales. And there are, you know, casinos that specifically assign someone to help a whale and make sure that they have a great experience. Casinos are unable to give that experience to everybody today. And it’s a shame they would love to, but they don’t have the software that allows them to provide everyone the same level of personalized support. So you know, if they had the right software, they could start giving more people that level of personalized attention. So I think it’s just an example where the industry as a whole understands is valuable, but doesn’t have the technology that enables them to do it for everybody.


JC: Well, I mean, do you have casinos as clients cuz that seems like a pretty damn good idea right there. 


Levin: Yeah, we have online gaming clients.


JC: Yeah, of course so I mean, I could see you guys talking Vegas pretty hard with this that like you’re suddenly they’re all about the personalized care and if they can offer that to everyone, that’s even more amazing. All right. Well, so then we went over, we went over a little bit of this in in your explanation here, but focusing more specifically on your company. Where do you guys see yourself the next kind of three to five years? You know, what’s coming down the pipeline, roadmap wise for my very information-greedy audience that likes to hear things first?


Levin: Yeah of course. I say a few things. When we started the company like we did, like I said, because we were builders, we want it to be back early. And we love this opportunity. And when we bring employees are committed to two things, one, that we’re going to build a big standalone company in this space, because there’s quite a unique space, there’s a lot of opportunity. And two, they’re going to make the equity they have worth a lot, meaning we’re going to increase revenue and keep dilution from raising money love. So like at a very high level. That’s how we think about the goals internally for people. Both those sort of opportunities accompany and the opportunity for individuals. I think that, you know, the Northstar to what I said is we hold ourselves to how many conversations can drive for our customers, how much incremental revenue do we drive for them, if we’re driving more, more revenue, more conversations than great we did our job if we’re not doesn’t matter how sexy the technology is. So I should I start that way, because it’s not that we’re doing this because the technology is sexy, we’re doing this because it really has an impact on businesses and on their consumers. From the technology side, you know, we’re lucky, a lot of businesses have understood that they should be moving to an event-based infrastructure internally to be you know, using the things that customers are doing to drive personalized actions in marketing channels, what they haven’t done is done that same work for sales.


Levin: So when you think about our technology stack, we continue to deepen our integrations with systems internally, both to receive the event-based data and for us to send all the interesting information we get like the conversation that was just add the disposition, what channel the customer likes to talk in, and send that back into the brand. So they can continue to in other channels personalize the outreach that they’re having. If in a conversation, we learn that you’re looking for plumbing, well, the next time you go to the site, it should show you plummet, right, so we can actually marry from a data perspective, all that information. And we play a very critical role, because in many of our customers cases, the identifier that they get first on a customer is a phone number, and then the system that gets the most information early on that customer is regal.


Levin: So we actually have the best accurate, most accurate source of data on that customer for any other system internally. So like that puts us in a very good place, and we continue to invest in that side of the business, I’d say the second thing that we’ve been we’ll continue to invest in is the journey builder. So we have a pretty sophisticated journey builder that’s been built out for conversational use cases, there are plenty of Journey builders out there for one way marketing, you know, whether it’s HubSpot, or Salesforce, or, you know, braze, or iterable, all built for one way emails, one way SMS, in-conversations are very different dynamic, you have to change things constantly based on what’s actually happening in the back and forth. So we continue to invest in the journey builder. And then I think that we’ve started now to make bigger investments in what I call intelligence or in AI, in taking the information that we get, and using it to help the brands do smarter things, using it to help the agents do smarter things. And as you’re starting to see now, even the ability to automatically suggest, you know, a language for what should be said next. And some of these new models from open AI, I think there’s massive opportunity for us to, you know, keep the human loop but enhance the ability for that human to do things. So out of business hours, well, how do you make the you know, the customer still feel like somebody’s engaging with them? Or if the agent can’t respond right away? Because we’re doing something else? How do you send them a text that’s very personalized to that person, so that it feels like the agent is still engaging with them. So there’s a lot we can do to continue to enhance the capabilities of an agent. So that in the end, our goal is that one sales agent can double the number of conversions they’re making. If we can use technology to make them more money, then everybody’s happy.


JC: That’s awesome. Now, this is. See, this is why I do this podcast, because it’s really interesting to have such a different type of innovative softwares that come on. And again, like you said, there’s so many for b2b. And you see, e commerce is one of the biggest online drivers of economy, that there is, right? And when you attach something like this, especially that personalized touch, you know that that conversion rate, like you’re saying you’re running 25% increase conversion rate. That’s insane. So I love this. I want to ask you a more personal such business question. It’s more, you know, you guys are newish, right? Couple years. Startups are chaotic, right? You’ll learn a lot in the process. If you could give one piece of advice to any other startup, you know, kind of entrepreneurs techies listening, you know, what’s something that like, what was one of the biggest surprises you had? You’re like, crap, I did not see that coming. And how would you maybe, you know, anticipate that what just going down that road to help people out?


Levin: Yeah, so we’ve been very lucky like things have gone to plan so like, I don’t have much Let’s knock on the planning currently in this company. But I’ve certainly in other companies had situations where things have not gone to plan. I’d say you know, first and foremost, if you’re the founder, you know, deal with somebody else, you know, they really trust they really can spend time with because this is going to be a roller coaster, there’s gonna be great times, and they’re gonna be terrible times, and you have to have somebody who can go through that with you. Can’t do it alone, it’s really too hard. So I always start there. I think in terms of the business, our opinion or perspective, is that execution is what differentiates businesses, especially these days, and so, you know, if you’re a founder, you know, exercise that skill, get better at execution, if you’re going to work for a founder, go find founders are great at execution, it’s fine if they have a big vision, but they don’t know how to execute it, you’re not going to go anywhere. So emphasize execution as an example, you know, find people who understand how to break down very tactical goals under, you know, find people who know how to make decisions quickly how to use data, to make decisions easier, how to empower organizations to be successful, how to hire the right sort of people, you know, if they don’t know how to do those things, or if you don’t yet, how did you notice things like golden practice? Because those are the critical things that make companies successful. Again, it’s fine to have a big vision but if you can’t follow through, you’re not going to go anywhere.


JC: Yeah, and the hiring part, I can relate to that one, you know, I think a lot of companies, they don’t put as much emphasis on the vetting of higher level positions, you know, they maybe just look at, you know, where were they previously? And are they available? It’s like, that’s not enough. You got to have culture fit, dry fit. So there’s a lot of there’s a lot there. Well, listen, I’m glad you’re on the podcast, thank you for coming. How can people reach first, the website or you know, your company? And then secondly, maybe you personally somehow if they’re trying to do some higher level deals?


Levin: Yeah, so you know, if you’re, you know, b2c marketer or b2c sales team, and you’re very interested in driving more revenue, check out our website at You can always email me at And if you’re, you know, a new founder, I’d say you know, number one piece of advice, make sure you’re you’re building b2b SaaS, I was in the b2c world for a long time and b2b SaaS is much better. I wish 10 years ago, somebody had told me that. Feel free to reach out if there’s anything that I can help with. 


JC: Awesome and for everyone listening out there. Again, if you liked what you heard today, be sure to subscribe to the podcast or YouTube, give it a five star rating, preferably some writing behind it. So the other techies like us can find and enjoy learning all about these amazing and helpful software’s out on the market today. Alex thank you so much for being on the show. And I actually look forward to that to check me out and maybe doing a little a little demo with you on your on your software there and check it out.


Levin: Great. Thanks for having me.


infinityadminEpi. 60: How uses real conversations to convert calls to customers – Alex Levin, Co-Founder & CEO of

Epi. 59: Helping Healthcare providers to offer patients pay-over-time financing options, Alice Ferguson, COO of Healthcare Finance Direct

Learn more about Healthcare Finance Direct at:

Find Alice Ferguson on LinkedIn here:

JC: Welcome, everyone to another episode of The Future of Biz Tech. I’m your host, JC Granger. And I have another fantastic guest on the show today. And listen, if you end up loving this episode, please show your love and appreciation by following the podcast wherever you’re listening, and give it that 5-Star review with some comments because that is how other techies like you and I, find cool podcasts like this. And today I have the absolute pleasure of interviewing Alex Ferguson, the CEO of Healthcare Finance Direct. Alice, thank you so much for being on the show. Tell the audience a little bit about yourself. And what is it you guys do?


Alice: Well, so JC thank you so much for having me on the show, I do want to give a call out to your entire audience, including your girlfriend, Ida. 


JC: That’s actually my mom. My mom would be like be like  “Wait, that’s not it”


Alice: Well yeah your mom, your girlfriend and your two friends. So..


JC: I’m working on getting that down to one, it’s just easier.


Alice: Well, my name is Alex Ferguson, I am the CEO of healthcare finance, right which is HLD for short, because we know that the whole name is a bit of a mouthful. And we do patient financing, which is not the sexiest two words in the business world right now. But I’m hoping to show you today, why it is incredibly important and why the way that HFD is poised is going to be the wave of the future for this industry.


JC: It’s not sexy, but I gotta tell you, healthcare is a pretty big problem for a lot of people, I would say that anything that saves should be money or give puts them in a position where they can take advantage of their actual plan. I mean, I find that sexy, I don’t know, maybe I’m like that.


Alice: And I love that you think about it that way. Because you know, every person out there is a patient and every person out there needs to figure out how to finance their procedures. Because as we know, we’re not a country with universal health care and may not ever get there. And the interesting thing is that we see much more left of health care now because people care about how they look, people care about what they want to do. So it’s what they need to do. So the nice thing is that we’re growing organically in those directions. But also we have a 100% approval financing platform, which I don’t know if you know, but like the entire US industry, if you look at the entire population, only about 50% of the population actually have what’s considered like a prime credit score. That’s a score of 80 or above, that’s only 50% of the population, you have the other 50% that gets declined, time over time for getting financing. So they did it. We do have a 100% approval platform. And I did that. We are doing something that is naturally, organically growing as time goes by. That’s why it’s kind of exciting and sexy to me. And it sounds like it for you too. And you’re, you know, more people in the audience.


JC: I mean, here’s why I say that, because there’s a stat that I heard, you’re in the industry. So correct me if I’m wrong, but I heard this stat not too long ago, that was alarming. And it was essentially that. For one, we already know that we don’t have very expensive health care for one. And we know that we don’t get a lot for what we pay for compared to some other countries right now, we already know that. Here’s the part that I found even scarier was that of the people who are insured and have plans, most of them will, like avoid going to the doctor even use those plans. Because it’s almost too expensive to even engage in the plant like the premium becomes like the copay can be so high when it comes to surgery or whatever, or they are capped at a certain amount that it is now going to exceed and they know this going in. So what I found to be tragic was that it’s already expensive coming out of their check, you know, every month, and then when it’s time to actually use it to cash in on it. It’s literally too expensive to use, even when you’re paying for it already. And that was crazy to me. Am I wrong on this? Because..


Alice: No, and I’m not in the insurance industry. But I’ve been a user of insurance in every way possible. Right? There’s things like co-insurance, which means that, you know, they only cover 20% of something. There’s maximums, there’s deductibles, but even for things like your home insurance, you know that that’s a pain to go through too. Because there’s a deductible, there’s a maximum, there’s caps, you literally have to read the 30 page contract that you get in the mail twice a year. And you know, save that, find that and read through that. You don’t understand what is even covered. So it’s just you right, it’s not just the dollar amount that you have to worry about. But it’s the whole process. Right? That in itself is challenging and daunting and no one sits around being like “Oh, great. I have some time today. Let me read my insurance policy” no one’s sitting around doing that. So I think the whole thing about this is how do we make it easy for everyone to think through and how do we make it comprehensive. So I think you’re absolutely right. Even with insurance, there’s still a question mark as to how am I going to get this covered for that? Sure.


JC: Well, let’s talk. I do know that there’s like a b2c aspect where you do but, but I want to talk about the b2b aspects specifically, right. So talk to us about how your company works with other bigger companies when it comes to this.


Alice: Yeah, so accounting and setback, if you think about healthcare, so much of healthcare that’s covered by insurance is reactive, you break a leg, you go and you get it covered. But really, the whole world is becoming more health conscious these days. So people are getting more proactive about stuff, I want to fix my teeth alignment before I need to cap a crown, I want to, you know, get this removed before I get cancer there. And that proactive part usually is not covered by insurance. And that’s where we, that’s what they call, elective health care, because nothing bad happened to you yet. We’re not going to cover it.


JC: If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. Right?


Alice: No, I want to fix it, because I know it’s going to break in the future. So that’s the nice part about this whole light of healthcare piece. Now, with the way that we do this, the way we think about it is, most of these providers, most of these healthcare providers, they’re good at what you want them to be good at. One thing, which is to take care of you, to do the surgery, do the procedure, do the best they can and get you healthy. And they’re not good about thinking about financing, following up with financing, processing your payment, making sure that the mystery behind that all works. That’s not what they’re good at. And that’s not what you want them to be good at either. And so that’s where we come in, we say great doctors, you think about the health care piece, getting that patient, getting JC the surgery, he needs to be the best thing you can possibly be, let us worry about how he can pay for it. And let us worry about following up with him, making sure he is compliant with how he pays for all this administrative stuff. So really, we think about selling to the providers, because we know that the providers don’t want to think about everything else. Anything else but the payment part.


JC: Well, that’s a huge infrastructure cost for them as well. I mean, it’s not even just a mental bandwidth thing. I mean, that’s, that’s a lot of money on the books for them to have people who do what you’re talking about, essentially, what you providing for them.. the software sidewise


Alice: Software side, people are seen in terms of reconciliations because it’s dollar amounts, the others had to reconcile two ledger’s and stuff like that. So you know, we want doctors to outsource and they do outsource it. And it’s not just doctors, right? If you think about the entire industry as a whole, like every great company out there. Even big companies like Apple where I used to work, what are they known for? They’re known for making great products like hardware, phones, laptops, and stuff like that. They’re not known for software, because look at the disasters of Apple Maps, and Siri and stuff. So even great companies with the exception of maybe Amazon, are good at one thing. And then these doctors are good at one thing. Everything else is really, they’re really better off outsourcing it and giving it to someone else that can make it easy for them to integrate with and make it easy for the patients to use. So that’s kind of what we’re filling. Because we really want these doctors to have an easy time seeing their patients and not spending their time thinking about anything else.


JC: So then let’s talk about that. So you can work with big companies, but you can also work with a direct doctor’s office, like just an independent doctor. So I mean, that’s a lot. That’s a lot of I mean, that’s the majority, right? Like, these private practices make up the majority of the system for the most part, right? So when you are talking to, like, what is your kind of 32nd pitch to a doctor’s office, because I find personally, that, you know, they get pitched a lot for a lot of things. And doctors are not always the best business people, because that’s not what they got, they didn’t get into their education for business, they have their education, to help–right? To literally physically help people. But when they start a private practice, they kind of get launched into that side. And it’s really chaotic for them, a lot of them struggle with a lot of things that it takes to create and run a business successfully. So when you are approaching a private practice, what is the main thing that you say, Hey, this is how, you know, this is how we’re gonna make your life better. Right? And then what does that you know, not have to go in any kind of pricing because you know, we don’t want that to change, but just maybe with a model is how you’re compensated.


Alice: Yeah, yeah. So what we call our model is called the Win-Win-Win model. So three wins are up to us and the first win is for the doctors. You know, they don’t have to think about in house financing. They don’t have to think about using different financing tools. So win for them because we make it easy for them to have a financing vehicle. The second win is for consumers. Consumers, we take care of our side and we’re experts in that customer experience because that’s what we think about. We think about how to reach the consumer. How do we get them to pay their monthly bills? And we approve 100% of consumers so that they don’t have to worry about it. And they don’t have to worry about ranges or credit reports. The third win is for lenders. So if a doctor says, “Hey, I don’t want this on my balance sheet, because there’s too much money to carry.”, we actually match that doctor or the office to a lender. And we make sure that lenders are able to get a profitable pricing arrangement. So it’s sustainable. And it’s all about sustainability because the doctors just want to set it and forget it, they say we have this financing, we’re not going to change it for the next 20 years, because I don’t want to think about it. So they use the set it and forget it model, where it’s a win-win-win for everyone in this ecosystem. 


JC: In that it takes away the problem of them having to bill insurance companies and all the crazy delays and, and negotiations that go on with that, or is it not? Like is that still gonna be part of it or what?


Alice: So we’re separate from insurance, right? So customers can still say, “Hey, I want to use insurance for this.” A lot of treatments are covered by insurance. So they still had that part of the world. But if a person says, “Hey, I want to pay out of pocket, but I can’t actually afford it.” or “I want to pay out of pocket and I want to use part for insurance.”, that part will still be by insurance. And there’s billing companies and there’re insurance claims companies that can do all that. We’re essentially full of people that want to do cash pay, but can’t afford to, or want to do cash pay and they can’t do it in one lump sum.


JC: So then, you guys can also work with plastic surgeries like like you said, elective, or is it only just like, where’s that elective stop or not?


Alice: Well, it’s I say elective, because that’s where we tend to gravitate to. But really our solution can work for almost anything. It can work for a fine, it can work for anything where you have a large chunk of a payment that you want to spread out over time. And the big difference, where I should maybe take a step back and explain to the business model is, we are essentially giving a financial arrangement between the doctor’s office and the patient. The big difference is that we’re not a bank, and we’re not a lender ourselves. So if you go into your doctor’s office and say, “Hey, I’m gonna pay for this crown, but I don’t want to. It’s not gonna be covered by insurance. I want to pay for it out of pocket, but I want to have some sort of arrangement.” Instead of the doctor saying, “Great, go apply for a credit card”, and you get a credit card, and that’s your relationship with the bank. We would say it’s using shopping contracts with your doctor. But the doctor uses us for first party services. So we’re in there, but you’re not dealing with a bank at the end of the day. Like if you go to Home Depot today, you want to get a loan, there’s a Home Depot home loan, but it’s actually Citibank. So you’re ultimately dealing with a bank. And because banks have all these regulations and compliance, their underwriting only approves at 50%. Because we use something called a retail installment contract model, we’re saying your relationship is actually with the doctor, your contract is with the doctor. Our job is helping the doctor services onboard to technology and everything else. But the doctor’s name is still on that contract with you. So if you have any issues, you know, if you want to return the liners, you get busy, they just don’t work. You know, you don’t have to deal with financing companies to figure out how to stop my payments. You can go straight to the doctor and say, “Hey, I want to return this, it’s not working for me” and the doctor is like, “Great, I understand what you’re saying JC, let me just cancel this for you.” It just makes it much easier for the patient.


JC: With the provider on the back end, they deal.. they can still deal with their doctor’s office essentially, right?


Alice: Exactly.


JC: Do you find it? Do you work with bigger ones, like hospitals? Or do you find that they already have their systems in place? You know, so you do the local or the smaller mom and pop so to speak practices? What about the bigger companies


Alice: So we can go to the hospitals. And we do work with big companies that have, for example, 100 offices, or ones that are completely ecommerce. You know that you go online, you pay through us, and then you get your stuff in the mail. So we do work with pretty big companies. Hospitals are a little bit different in that they have a  pretty rigorous insurance billing process. And then a lot of hospitals, what they do is they actually kick it to a collections agency. So if someone’s not paying their bill on time, they kick it to a collection agency, which can have different terms and we’re not a collection agency either, because that is regularly a little bit different.


JC: So how does your financial model work? Like how do you guys make money just from General? 


Alice: Yep. So we essentially take a percentage of the payments that we are getting for the provider. So the provider we say “Hey, you have 100 customers that come into your doors, you know, in a month, but 20-30% of the time, you can’t actually treat them because they can’t pay for their services. So we will get you that 20 to 30%”. And then for that 20 to 30%, they’ll be put on like a monthly payment cycle. And when they get that payment for you, because it’s not always, you know, there’s always people that can’t pay on time or stuff like that, when you get that payment, we get a small percentage of that.


JC: Feels like a finder’s fee on each payment a little bit is one of the money, they never would have been able to get themselves, you get that. And then you can take a small finder’s fee like, hey, for the work we put in here, we’re gonna take a look..


Alice: We have a great call center. That kind of service, those folks they call in, you know. We have chats, we have SMS with them. We send emails, we send mailers, we send SMS texts, the stuff that you know, patients appreciate, and this is stuff that doctors can’t do or don’t want to do. We have all the servicing tools to make it friendly and make it easy for patients to pay. And we deal with all that. All the doctor’s office does is connect us to their payment system to the bank and say, “Alright, we’re just getting the money rolling to us.” The things that we give them reporting on, like how many loans, how many contracts they originated. They get reports on who’s late, who’s not late, so they get all those reports, that’s easy to see if they want to see it. But really, all we’re doing is saying, “Great, you’re in the office, here’s a little screen, sign up here.” And then you get money flowing to you as soon as customers sign up.


JC: So does that mean that the end user is the patient, does that mean that it’s like an interest free? Or can the doctor attach interest on top of it? How does that work? Yeah.


Alice: And that’s completely up to the doctor. So this is us being the first party servicer to the doctor who tells us “We want everyone that walks in to get the same pricing, the same interest, the same downpayment”, that could be an option. “We want everyone to get a 0% interest loan, that could be at a 0% interest contract”, that can be an option, too. So it’s all different things that the doctor wants to provide. And if they want, we just segment the customer base by you know, certain demographics, we can do that, too. So it’s actually up to the doctor and what they or their preferences are. But we can definitely, it’s completely customizable. And that’s why we call it a platform, because that means that there’s flexibility. And there’s customization for the doctor’s office.


JC: That’s really cool. So first, how long has the company been around? How long have you guys been around?


Alice: Over 10 years. So, it actually started out as a mom and pop, you know, looking at Mom and Pop offices with 10 offices, five offices, you know, they just need, they don’t have the infrastructure in place. They use us. And then over the last few years it really scaled up. So now we have clients that have over 800 offices. We have clients that originate 1000s of contracts in a given month. So yeah, we’ve really scaled up. And now we’re starting to think about, you know, to what you were saying earlier, how do we grow? We’re the next evolution. So patient financing. And it’s kind of an exciting time to be here.


JC: Well, it’s well, let’s skip to that, then let’s jump right into that question. So we’re first off, where do you see the industry? Or the industry you’re in? Where do you see that going in the next five to 10 years? You know, because I mean, you’re not alone in the industry. But you guys have a really cool value prop, which I think is great. Where do you see that going in the next five to 10 years, whether it be from technology, or legislation, or culture or just anything? Where do you see the industry going?


Alice: Yeah, they’re essentially some interesting things going on right now in the industry. Have you heard of buy now-pay later, that BNPL space?


JC: Yes, that’s getting really, really popular? And it’s like popping up on everything like eBay? Amazon had their own version of it. I mean, it’s just almost anything you want to pay for. You can get it right now and then just then pay for it later over time. Yeah, I see it everywhere now.


Alice: Yeah, so that’s really been huge in the last five years, and then a firm kind of started that full trend. So because it’s been so popular, there’s been much more regulation on it, on buy-now-pay-later. And then the nice thing is that, you know, people understand the whole concept of like, getting something now and paying later, it’s a little bit different than layaway, which was the trend 10 years ago, 20 years ago.


JC: Pay now, get later


Alice: Yeah, pay overtime and get it later. So there’s been more focus on that which is something that we’re not buy now, pay later, for payments two weeks apart. So that’s a very defined red tape and those companies are all backed by banks too. So they don’t want to prove it to everyone. They pull your credit report, they write to your credit report as well. Something that we do is called pay over time and we hope to see that possibly growing. Because of this, there’s going to be a shift away from the buy now pay later as is our guess. But also for a lot of healthcare, it’s not buying you know, two hundred dollar shoes, it’s buying $8,000 fertility treatments. You know, you don’t want to pay those over eight weeks. You want to pay them over years.


JC: What is the max time that typically you guys allow at this point anyway for overtime?


Alice: So our longest right now is about five years. So for loans that are like $20,000 or for contracts that are $20,000, we use a five year horizon. For ones that are about $2,000 We use like a two year horizon. So very, very different from the buy now, pay later, eight week horizon. So we see that shift away from buy now, pay later, especially as people go up on the spectrum of dollar amounts, but also because buy now, pay later has much more regulation on it going forward. And it’s imperfect because they’re just not performing well. Like it’s still, you know, Max Levchin from a firm started to get away from credit cards, but you use credit cards to pay for these. So it’s kind of not really fulfilling the original purpose.


JC: When I think a lot of people too are afraid of a credit hit, or they’re afraid of it, not giving them enough time or higher percentage. And, you know, that’s just the fear that’s been instilled through, you know, experience, you know, as consumers, right. So I think we’re, they’ve, I think what they did was good as I think they started an idea, but I think that they have, it’s going to take some time to convince people that it does and that it’s not predatory. Right. And I think that’s the biggest issue is just most people think, what’s the cat’s like, where am I getting played here? Kind of thing, right? Like, am I going to be stuck in this high? Interesting, is it gonna balloon later, and I didn’t read the fine print? You know, like, we’re just the terror that has been instilled. And for good reason, like we you know, 0809, you know, you have we’ve been through it, you know, more than more than once or twice, right. So, um, okay, so let’s talk about your company specifically. What’s coming down the pipeline for you guys here? What kind of cool insight check? roadmap stuff? Can you tell me about what my audience can hear first?


Alice: It’s funny that you always want the inside track, but yes.


JC: I’m greedy like that. Very greedy, I was an only child. I was raised mostly as an only child. I want it now.


Alice: Well, the one thing I can tell you, which I think is very exciting, is through our work over the last 10 years with providers, we know that providers, doctors, really rely on their front office staff. That person has seen the front, that greets, that greets the patients, that does the checkout,  the payments, stuff like that. That front office staff, especially in today’s environment, it’s a rotating role, and what I mean by that is that they are hiring, firing all that very, very quickly. And it’s really hard to hire for that role. So we are taking a major step to make it easy to use our platform for that person that’s sitting in the front office, because those are the ones who are usually talking to patients. The office manager, or the front desk staff is what we call them. There’s a big company called Rectangle Health. That is in 50,000 offices. That is a very prevalent software that does the payment processing and ties it to their revenue management cycle platform. We’ve actually been working on integration with them. Because today, you have to do something on the Rectangles screen, which is, you know, usually a backbone, and then you have to go over to our screen to get financing. Going forward, we’ve just finished our integration with Rectangle, we haven’t fully announced it yet, but we’re going to merge that into one screen. We are training this new front office staff for the fourth time this year. You have to learn and work with one screen and get finance through HFD. And you’re able to get a monthly, you know, payment plan for this patient that’s right in front of you, that’s 100% approval. So you never have to say no to this patient in front of you. And this way, we can have a seamless integration and aggregation of screens. And it’s making it easier for every provider to have that conversation. So that’s something that we’re testing right now with a few select providers, we should be announcing and launching them more widely after the next couple of months. So that’s something we’re really excited for. Because that will make it just one screen, a seamless experience for the providers.


JC: See, that’s what I was looking for. That’s the inside track. That’s exactly what I wanted. I wanted to preview. That’s a fantastic deal. Because I mean, that puts you in. I mean, that’s a big deal for you guys. That puts you in so many more opposites just like that. It sounds like oh, you know, one click, you know, apply kind of thing. So I mean, that’s a big deal. So congratulations on that. Um, let’s talk about this. So what motivated you to join HFM you’re the CEO, right. So like, what were you doing before? And then how did they get a hold here?


Alice: Yeah, that’s actually the story. So I’ve spent most of my time in a lot of more operational roles, more consumer facing roles. I worked at Apple. I worked at Levi’s, that’s when I got into the FinTech side because we had to do global payments, processing of payments, and people paying. And that’s where I learned that no matter what industry you work in, payment is the final step of checkout. You’ve gotten someone interested in jeans, in phones, or navigate them to your website, but you have to still make sure they can check out. And that’s when I got abandoned carts.


JC: There’s a lot of abandoned carts exactly.


Alice: Or you forget your card number, you don’t have the card number on you. And you have to deal with that, or you get notice of a  decline from your credit card because of some reason or another. So that’s when I got really interested in payments. Then I worked at a subprime credit card bank, actually. And in part of the bank, I realized how profitable the subprime segment is. Most of us think about prime, you think about your Amex cards, you think about how much you pay on those. But subprime is actually incredibly profitable, because a lot of these players have to charge high fees to offset the risk. Sure. So if their data and their risk modeling, if the underwriting is really sophisticated, which the bank I was at was really good at, they can run a good profit on some of these costs of doing. Now, the reason I found HFD was because the only other industry in the financing world that was consistent, sustainable, recession proof like that, was the health care line. Because you think about healthcare, again, it’s not the same thing as buying four $100 shoes, because that’s an impulse buy. Sometimes health care, you have to physically go into an office, get the treatment performed on you. So we have very little fraud. And because it’s healthcare, which you really need and want, and you’re seeing the doctor who’s like, you know, down the street from you, there tends to be much better performance on those contracts. So I actually came across HFD, when I was first looking to attend to industries that were still financing, that was a sustainable, viable and profitable one. And that’s how I found it, so joining now, our VP of Customer finance, they were there, trying to scale. The time was the right time, the right fit. And then we’ve kind of scaled up our different strategies, but also scale up on how we want to go into the future. In the future, what we find is really these aggregations of services, aggregation of lending and aggregation of screenings. And that’s where we kind of double down and ask “How do we tackle technology aggregation, but also looking at aggregations of providers?” So like clusters of like DSOs, for example, the dental service organizations, where they have hundreds and hundreds of offices, of mom and pops that consolidated, those are a really good way to start. And then we’re looking at fertility, we’re looking at LASIK. Those are all industries where we find that people are really doubling down on, from a customer perspective, that we can help with the large costs to do those services.


JC: So how are you guys getting? I mean, they’ve been around for a while, obviously, right? But, you know, a marketing guy was asked about marketing, how are you guys other than doing podcasts? Or do you do some PR? What do you market? How do you normally get in front of doctors offices? I mean, they can be a little harder to market to what you guys are using just as your platforms.


Alice: For sure, we really, we have a pretty human touch to our market. We physically go to a lot of conferences, where we can talk to people about understanding how our platform works. We have people literally dialing offices and saying, “Hey, how are you doing it? And how do you want to do it?” So we’re really just kind of focused on people with a human touch. And we actually have a lot of people coming to us now because they know about it’s 100% approval. And that’s a big pain point. They don’t, no one wants to say no to a patient. And when they hear that there’s a 100% approval platform out there, they actually come to us. So we can take them through what’s required to get up and running. And we can get someone up and running in as little as two weeks.


JC: That’s fast onboarding.


Alice: Yeah. It’s really actually just training that front office staff.


JC: That’s cool. Um, I want to ask a little bit about you personally. So I ask this question to my guests. What did you want to be when you grew up? Like when you were a kid, right? And then like, is this it? And if not, like, how did he get here from whatever that initial childhood dream was? I’m just curious.


Alice: So I’ve always wanted to be an engineer growing up, because my entire family were engineers. I mean, we used to sit around the breakfast table doing puzzles and stuff like that, because we have that engineering mind. So actually, at a very early age, when I was 19, I was doing work on fuel cell cars. So you think about if cars were actually true zero emissions, literally it would output water. And I was in Austria doing research on fuel cell cars when I was 19 years old, and that’s going kind of well, and this is before the recession. I’m dating myself, but this is before the ‘08-’09 recession where even though electric cars have been around for decades, no one was really driving them. So that’s what I hadn’t realized. The realization that if I worked on fuel cell cars, it may not come to fruition in my lifetime. But I knew I wanted to work on something that was future proofing the industry, the world, and making it better. So I got into healthcare after that, because I had to move away from fuel cell.  And my degree at the time was material science and engineering. So it was more adaptable to healthcare and medical devices. So how I got into healthcare then and how to meander through a little bit, you know, working in operations, working on customer services, but finally ended in a place I think, marries my love for this whole personal finance idea with healthcare. So I’m really glad to finally be at a place where I think I’m going to be for a long time.


JC: That’s awesome. Is there anything that I didn’t ask you that you wanna make sure the audience knows either about yourself or the company?


Alice: Yeah, I think one of the things I love to pine about is about the future of the credit score. Okay. And here’s why you probably applied to college, you took the SATs, you know, you apply and blah, blah. The credit score that the Americans use in their financial system today is akin to saying your LSAT score describes you, which we know isn’t right. 


JC: Yeah, because admissions are moving away from it, they take a look at you as a person, your essays, your references, and everything like that to understand who JC is. But we don’t really have that for the entire American financial system. Right now. It’s all based on his credit score.


Alice: And what I love talking about is what’s being done in other countries. So if you look at Africa, for example, there’s no credit bureau but we have three in the US. There’s really no credit bureau in Africa. And there’s a company out there called “Brands”, which is a startup. And what they do is they actually look at your SMS texts and your cell phone data to determine how trustworthy you are as a person.


JC: I don’t think we go for that here in America like..


Alice: No, it’s too privacy ridden. But this idea of how do you paint a picture of a person without just a score. And that’s what banks do all day, they try to get different sorts of data, bankruptcy data, healthcare data, all this stuff to kind of paint the picture.


JC: I have seen a new trend where they are looking at your payment history with other bills like credit card bills, sure, but like your mortgage, your electricity bill, because not everyone has credit cards or, or big ones, but they pay the electricity on time to pay their rent on time. So I’ve seen that you can connect like different accounts now into that, and it can help boost your credit score based on the trustworthiness of just your actions, that wasn’t part of it, for the longest time.


Alice:It wasn’t part of it. And if you ever like, had Progressive car insurance, they send you a tool to put into your car. 


JC: We have apps now pure now just your phone, you don’t even have to put in your car anymore. Because your phone’s gyroscope and GPS are so accurate. Now that live, you can just download an app and it just runs in the background. And it can see how you’re driving, which I don’t do because I would not qualify for better insurance. They would probably raise my insurance if they saw I was driving.


Alice: I got a good deal. I’m keeping it. No. But…


JC: The good news is it’s only a one way benefit, there’s no penalty to anyone listening, those apps cannot penalize you for driving like a madman like me. They can only give you a better rate if you drive like a grandma essentially. Right? So just for clarification.


Alice: I actually talked to the Progressive person once. I’m like, what do you look at? And they actually look at how regular your routine is. It’s not whether you brake hard, or whether you drive, you know, five above the speed limit. I mean, I’m sure they look at that too. But they actually look at this person, does this person have a stable job? Does this person go to church on weekends? Like little things like that.


JC: Well, it’s interesting. That’s really location data. Again, like some people don’t want to see how the sausage is made, right? Like this gets into privacy areas. But again, I can see that I see why they would do that. I can see where the benefit is for sure. Like I work from home for the most part. So they probably look at me and go, This guy’s not driving at all. Yeah, honestly, maybe I should run the app.


Alice: That’s only once a week, right?


JC: So it’s not like I’m barely driving it on. I thought to myself, Why am I paying all this money for full coverage, that’s the same as the other guy who’s literally out on the road, which is just more risk? The more you’re on the road, the more chance you have of getting in an accident? I’m barely on the road. So it’s like, should I pay a little bit less? You know, I gotta look into this now, just from this talk, I think I’m gonna have to go look into this again. 

Alice: I hope that’s helpful. But I think the idea is that there’s so much to be done about how do we best paint the picture of a person instantaneously without just using a single credit score? And I think that’s gonna be the next wave in the next 10 years. Yeah, which I think is fascinating. That might be one of the few things that I’ve seen that is a massive benefit to all consumers, that is actually catching on as a trend, right? And there’s no catch to it. Really, if you think about it, it’s a win-win, right? And it’s a benefit to the consumers but it’s also a benefit to the risk models of the companies, right?

 Like they now can understand better, where they should be putting the resources or what their risk model should be, and whatnot. So, a bit unfortunate, I think in that respect. I think it’s, I think consumers only get a win if the businesses are gonna get a win, right? So I think the only thing consumers can offer as a win-win, because it’s almost probably never going to happen, is that it’s just a consumer win. You know what I mean? And I think the only exception would be something like Amazon, for example, where one business wins and almost all consumers win. But you know, we could spot that one because it’s really rare, but I do like that trend of where that’s going on credit scores because it is more fair. I think it also helps eliminate any kind of racial or poverty disparities that you have in calculating it. You know, there’s no person at the top going, “Oh, we want to keep that person down.” That’s not the point. But when the numbers are in line, they can be misinterpreted, right? So you’re looking at someone who maybe is poor and doesn’t have a credit card, because they don’t qualify for one, it doesn’t mean that they’re not trustworthy, it doesn’t mean they don’t have a standard income, that they wouldn’t pay every single month. It just means they don’t have the credit card, for example, right? And so if you have these alternate ways of deciding if they are trustworthy, then now that person can live a more functional life and be part of a more normal society and get a credit card or get a cell phone, you know, a smartphone, which usually they check those things for payment plans. I mean, everything, even electricity bills, they still run credit on that, it’s crazy. So anytime that we can think outside the box, and give everyone a fair chance, regardless of their situation, that’s awesome.


JC: So I think that’s such a great feature that you guys have, and I can definitely see how a doctor’s office or even a hospital would love that. Because, you know, there’s a lot of leakage, right. There’s when they can’t take on a patient because of money. You just now solve that issue for everyone involved. Like how is that bad? Everybody wins. I love that.


Alice: I mean, we live for these testimonies that we get from the front office and it’s like, “Oh my gosh, John came in because we call him now that we have HFD, and he was so thankful that he was in tears knowing that he can probably get his teeth fixed.” 


JC: Can people refer like, if someone was listening they’re like, I want to get like elected surgery for something, you know. And the place I want to go doesn’t have it. Like how does a regular person just refer to, say, have you guys using this? Like, is there any model you have in place for like the person to like, bring it to the office?


Alice: You know what, go to the website, send in the little Contact Me form. It’s like, here’s my doctor’s office, here’s the phone number, and our salesperson will get on the phone and try to talk to them.


JC: That’s cool. I like that. So how can people do well, how can people reach the company first and then how can maybe someone at a company maybe a little high level if they’re in that, you know, VP or C level and they want to talk to you about a big massive integration, how they get a hold of you personally?


Alice: So I’m on LinkedIn, A. Ferguson, Alice Ferguson and then

But also, just go to our website, or Healthcare Finance Direct and you know, someone will definitely reply back. We’re a very people-heavy company and we just love talking to anyone and everyone about how patient financing can be so much better.


JC: That’s awesome. And listen for everyone listening out there. Again, if you liked what you heard today, be sure to subscribe to the podcast, give it that five star review a little bit of notes about it, you can mention Alice in there. So other cool techies like us can find and enjoy all these helpful B2B software’s that are out on the market today. Alice, thank you so much for being a guest on the show. I love what you guys were doing. That’s why I was so adamant about having you on the show today. And I do hope to talk to you again soon.


Alice: Thank you so much, JC. Bye!

infinityadminEpi. 59: Helping Healthcare providers to offer patients pay-over-time financing options, Alice Ferguson, COO of Healthcare Finance Direct

Epi. 58: Predicting data challenges with Marketing Mix Modeling – Mark Stouse, CEO of Proof Analytics

Learn more about Proof Analytics at:

Find Mark Stouse on LinkedIn here:

JC: Welcome, everyone to another episode of the future of biz tech. I’m your host, JC Granger. And I have another fantastic guest on the show today. If you end up loving this episode again, please show your love and appreciation and follow the podcast wherever you are listening, give it a five star review and some comments because that is our techies like us fine, cool podcasts like this. Today, I had the absolute pleasure of interviewing Mark Stoops, the CEO of Proof Analytics. Mark, thank you so much for being on the show with me today. Tell the audience a little bit about yourself. And what did you guys do?


Mark: Hey, thanks so much. So Proof Analytics basically has taken classic multivariable regression analytics, right. And we’ve automated the living heck out of it to solve what most people consider to be the biggest problem with analytics today. And that is it can’t really keep up with the clock speed of the business. Right? So you think about data science, the math is usually Awesome. All that kind of stuff is happening, but it’s happening so slowly. The latency on the answers that data scientists provide the business is so slow, so so high, right? That by the time they get it to the business, the business can’t do anything with it. It’s It’s like in the past already. Right. So the whole purpose of of analytics, from one perspective anyway, certainly from the business leader perspective, is to look down the road, right? Look around the corners, and particularly in the in the marketplace that we’re in today, the macro being what it is, the incredible volatility, that we’re experiencing the high speed change that we’re experiencing, that’s really what business leaders care about the most is being able to forecast, and then immediately in whatever speed or latency is relevant to their business, recompute that model and confirm that they were that the forecast was either on or off, and why is it off? And what can we do to bring it back on? Right? I mean, that’s essentially the, the nut of it. Right? 


JC: So Well, I mean, I saw on your website, I was doing some research and you know, looking and whatnot, and had a big Salesforce component here, it looked like that as well. So I mean, is that kind of your perfect client, just the types of companies who are using Salesforce? Or is that just a main target that you guys that integrate?


Mark: Yeah, Salesforce is a huge partner. For us, we actually have two products, I was really talking about the analytics product, we also have, you know, there’s kind of analytics, there’s also accountability. So we have a marketing ERP, it’s called an MRM, tool, marketing resource management tool. That’s the category that it’s in. And this is planning, budgeting, asset management, it’s all the stuff that you would normally expect to find in ERP, for any function inside of a corporation, but very focused on marketing. And so we are also unique right now, and that we have the only one that is native on Salesforce. So if you are already a Salesforce customer, and you’re looking for an MRM, we are your your choice, I mean that that imply,


JC: They can just go to the Salesforce marketplace, boom, boom, and it’s in, it’s already integrated.


Mark: That’s really automatic data saying, you know, if you got subscriptions to three or four different Salesforce clouds, and there’s data in those clouds, that is that you want to have in the MRM tool. As soon as you turn it on, I would say within 30 minutes after you turn on, prove him RM all that data is is there


JC: Already collected? already collected? Is there already default data? Is it already putting them into visual, like logical areas for them to go holy crap, we can actually.


Mark: Oh, yeah, no, absolutely. Yeah. I mean, it’s one of the reasons why, unless somebody wants a lot of customization. And that does happen. But I would say most customers implement it initially right out of the box. And that’s like a 30-40 day process, as opposed to over a year for a lot of other MRM tools. The implementation costs are maybe 50 to 60, 70 grand, as opposed to over a million million and a half for a lot of other tools. So we’re talking about a very significant paradigm shift when you’re talking about proof, right?


JC: That’s a massive savings. Right? Like, you know, I work with a lot of clients that work with tech companies almost exclusively and so I’ll have clients that are what I call platform-dependent software’s right so they like in health tech, right? That’s a big thing right now, you get a hospital on your software, no matter what it does, for the most part, that’s almost a permanent placement right, but it’s a big enterprise deal cost a lot of money to get it integrated, but Once they’re in, they’re not going anywhere. It’s almost permanent revenue for them. Right? And from what you’re saying, it sounds like that you’ve created an alternative to these huge, you know, ERP costs. And I mean, the integration costs are massive, typically. Right? And the timeframe, and you basically, you’re telling the audience here and me, scouts honor that, that when they click to integrate this on Salesforce, it just, it just works.


Mark: Yeah, cuz it’s native on lightning. Right? So I mean, there’s one. So right now, the only Salesforce cloud is not native on lightning is marketing cloud. Right. So but that’s being rewritten right now for lightning. So we have another way of integrating with that one. So it’s still flawless, seamless, it’s totally good. But when marketing cloud is published again, on on lightning, it’s going to be, you know, the total, the total deal.


JC: Sure. So what types of companies do you find? are getting the most use out of your product? Like what industries and size companies do you find? are using what you do with your platform? Or I’m sorry, your analytics the most?


Mark: You know, it’s not really industry specific at all, because the math is the math and the business questions or the business questions, right. And everybody kind of has their little take on it. Right? But that’s, that doesn’t really change anything in terms of like our platform, right? So I would say that, that our ICP are very mature companies when it comes to data and analytics, who are looking for significant savings and leverage economically. So they may be doing a lot of the stuff that that proof is automated. But they’re doing it the old way, right? And it’s very expensive, like when I was CMO at Honeywell aerospace, I was spending six, seven $8 million a year on analytics, mainly people, right. And that’s not where it’s headed. Right? That’s, it’s not that people aren’t going to be a critical part of the equation, they always will be. But we exist to speed them up. Right, we’re giving, we’re giving data scientists and business leaders not only a bridge, to talk and understand each other better, and deliver the results that one of them really needs from the other one, but also to do it very, very fast and very low cost, right. So that is, so I would say upper part of the mid tier, all the way up through the top of the enterprise segments would be our main addressable market. And within that, the ICP is are people who are more mature, you know, I mean, when we when we have a first meeting, we ask a few questions that are designed to help people understand, Am I really a candidate for proof, right? Because..


JC: Which industries do you find have that overwhelming amount of data that really does need to be filtered out and look visually, right? I mean, like healthcare, manufacturing, but I can see those two being high data industries, is there any are the ones that you find that get pretty good use out of this from that massive amount of data?


Mark: So I mean, one of the things that’s been kind of interesting about all this is that most business people think that big data, the term big data, is synonymous with, I have a lot of data. And it’s not.


JC: Okay, good point.


Mark: Big data is a particular type of data. And there’s two competing visions of this, you either check all five boxes, or all seven boxes, for a particular data set, and that makes it big data or not, and a lot of AI and machine learning. And again, these terms are also evolving in terms of what people think they mean. Those are big data solutions. And to be perfectly honest with you, most of what business leaders want to know is not a big data problem. So it can be served, it can really be answered or their interests can be served with what’s called lean data. Right? And they’re also they’re not really as interested in pattern recognition, although they are right, as they are cause and effect, right? They want to understand, Okay, I’m doing these 12 things, and I believe that I’m doing them because they deliver this kind of impact. Right, but I have no idea which of these 12 is the most effective. Right. And I also don’t understand how they combined together to get me there. Right. And I also have no idea how long it takes. So this is a concept called time lag. Right?  And if you don’t know the time lag, you will never find the value in the calendar.


JC: It sounds like this. And I like that you pointed out amount of data versus big data, right? So it sounds like the it’s a difference between volume and density. Right? You know, sounds like you guys really unpack dense data, and show it in an easier way? Right? Because I can have easy data and have a lot of it. But that, you know, I don’t need a board for a big giant analytics for that, right? If it’s, if it’s two different parallel points, and there’s just a lot of it, it’s like, okay, well, just two bars on the graph, like no big deal, right? But you’re saying dense data, essentially, where it’s so many different, but all


Mark: types component? Yeah. But also, I would say this, I mean, like, this is really key, you know, you can look at an NBA score. Right? So that’s two, two numbers, right? And that will tell you who won and who lost. But that is all it will tell you. Yeah. Right. It will not tell you why. It will not tell you the likelihood of that happening again. I mean, it’s so this is the issue with data by itself. Data by itself is fuel for analytics. Right? Data is always in the past. And it’s static, right? Because it’s, it’s already happened. you’ve measured it, it’s done, right? Analytics is all relational and dynamic. And it’s showing you these relationships. And as all everything changes, and moves around, and the macro changes and all this kind of stuff. It’s actually really great analytics works a lot like a GPS, and most business problems are essentially navigation problems, right? It’s like, Hey, I’m here, I want to go here, this is my goal, right? And I’ve got a forecast. So that’s my route to value sticking with the GPS analogy, right? And, and it’s tracking my progress. And it’s tracking all these other variables that are swirling around me, that will either speed me up or slow me down, or make me have a wreck or whatever, right? And it will then say, oops, you know what, you need to change course, right, you need to shift, you need to turn right, turn left and slow, speed up, slow down, whatever it is right, to stay on course, and ultimately achieve your goal. That’s why we often refer to not just us, it’s a fairly common data science reference, that business questions are usually navigation questions.


JC: So what, what motivated you to start the company? I mean, you were the CMO at a previous company, and you were dealing with this stuff from that point of view, what made you just throw your hands up and say, you know, what, screw it. I’m doing my own thing here. Like, what was the big problem that you saw no one else really solving?


Mark: Well, it’s, it’s this right? Well, we’re talking about I mean, so I was I had gotten to a very high degree of maturity, with my organization at Honeywell around being analytics lead, right? So and we were very successful as a global marketing team doing that so much so that, you know, we were featured in some earnings calls, and you know, all that kind of stuff, right. But it costs a lot of money, right. And the main reason why it costs a lot of money was we had to over hire the, you know, the staff, the data science staff, in order to get the speed of recalculation of models to where it was on par with the clock speed of the business. Right. Because we wanted to be able to, to say, Okay, this is what we’re seeing, materializing out there in the medium future, right. And that’s either something that’s really good that we want to do more of create more value by the time we get to that point in the calendar, or that’s not so hot, we need to make some changes so that we don’t get to that point in the calendar. Right? And so automation, it was super obvious that automation was going to be a big part of this, particularly since, like most marketing organizations, most business organizations have a lot of data, but not any big data. So this was not a class. This was not really an AI centric problem and so it was multivariable regression is really what it is, which is, that’s a type of math that essentially, is the most common form of data science. It’s what’s used to investigate — most data scientists would say 80 to 85% of the world’s questions are answered with multivariable regression. And so automating it making it faster to model create the models, where then the models become autonomous, right? They, they’re hooked up to the data flows. And every time new data rolls into the model that automatically recounts the model. And so you’re just constantly at whatever the relevant speed is for your business. Right? You’re getting an update, no real retail companies would probably do it hour by hour. Right. But Honeywell aerospace would do it. Monthly. Yeah. So I mean, it’s just that this is also where it’s very contextual. 


JC: So how are you getting? Well, first, how long have you guys been around how long? You’ve been in business?


Mark: About five and a half years. But like three of those three and a hal, we had some early customers, but it was we were not marketing it. We were not selling it. We were developing it. Right.


JC: I’m a marketing guy. Right? I was curious. What are you guys doing right now? Other than you, obviously, you’re doing podcasts, right? So that’s one thing you’re doing some PR, right? You get on the shows and, and get people to hear what you guys are doing, which is great. Other than that, what other things do you guys typically do to get the clients?  Do you just simply exist and stay in the Salesforce platform and allow the inbound? Or do you? Are you guys a little more aggressive? Do you guys do paid marketing or email and stuff like that? I just curious what a company of your of your stature does to drum up that that overall business?


Mark: Sure, I would say that right now, about 50% of our business comes from either Salesforce or AWS, we do all of the classic stuff. I mean, we’re not reinventing the wheel here. In terms of our outbound marketing, you know, we are also right in the middle of AI mean, the market has never been more open to what analytics generally has to offer and prove, in particular has to offer them right now. That really started with the beginning of COVID. And, and then it just kept on going. I mean, so for what the last three years, it’s been kind of crazy


JC: With these big companies a lot of money, right? Because it tells a story they weren’t looking at before. I mean, everything was kind of bloated, in my opinion before, but it didn’t matter, right? Like, like the train was running fast. And everyone’s going we with our hands near it didn’t matter, right? They didn’t care about leakage and these little things. But when you hit something like COVID, and every single dollar counts now and every single, you need analytics to tell you, you know, Where Am I bleeding? And where am I gaining? Right? So 100% agree. And actually, that segues into my next question, which is the main question I always have on my show, because the future of biz Tech, I want to know where things are going. So, you know, you’ve been in business so long, I’d like to know, first, the first question is, where do you see the industry you’re in? Let’s just say the analytics industry in general. Where do you see that going in the next five to 10 years? Do you see any major shifts on the horizon? Whether it be legally, politically, culturally, technology-wise? Where do you see the industry, you and your competitors, like, affecting you going forward? 


Mark: Yeah. So I mean, I think that, for example, let’s take data for a second, right? I mean, I think regardless of whether we’re talking about the EU, or California or somebody else that might pop up, right? Privacy is going to be even more restrictive on data. Fortunately, what we do is not impacted by that at all, because we’re not using PII, in fact,


JC: Define that for the audience, just for the.. 


Mark: Personally Identifiable Information, right? So we are, you know, whether you’re doing regression modeling by hand or doing it in proof, you’re not dealing with PII. Right? So that right, there is a huge advantage that we have going forward, we are essentially future-proofed, on that issue. And I think that I was just reading within the last two weeks, were under pressure from the macro. A lot of EU companies are violating the law on data. Right? So in Europe, right. And so we are we’re basically saying, wow, you know what, we’re under the gun so bad. We’re just gonna take the risk, right? And we’re gonna, we’re gonna just reach out to people. So what’s going to happen? what’s already happening, according to this article is a lot of whistleblower action going on, right, a lot of consumer complaints, and a lot of comebacks from the European Union agencies that enforce it to basically say, okay, you know what we’ve tried to be nice about all this. And now we’re getting ready to really, you know, put the hammer down not only on companies, but on individual marketers if we can find evidence of their culpability right? There, they’re talking in ways that whether or not they’ll be able to do that is another story, but you’re talking about, essentially, the only way to do that is to criminalize the activity, because of the shield that a corporation usually provides for its employees. So it will be very interesting to see how that happens. So I think that that’s going to be a big, big part of it.


Mark: I also think that there’s a concept that was originated in 1950s, mainly for combat pilots, but has spread out all over the place called OODA. O O, D, A, stands for observe, orient, decide and act. And it’s the speed. The key thing about OODA is how fast can you move through those letters, right. So if you remember in Top Gun, right, speed is life, I feel the need for speed, right? All this kind of stuff. That is because you’re you know, as you’re dogfighting and you’re doing all this stuff. And, you know, at very high speeds, it’s your ability to move through to that keeps you alive, and keeps you on mission.


JC: Right like quick reaction ability.


Mark: Quick reaction ability. And so this is why, you know, the current generation of fighter aircraft has a lot of automation and a lot of AI on board, right to off load all these important but secondary and tertiary decisions, move it away from the human beings. So the human being can focus, right? Same thing is happening in business, right, we’re seeing more and more volatility, all this stuff, right? People are starting to really realize that two thirds of what matters in to their performance is stuff that they do not control. So we are all kind of surfing a wave, we do not control the wave, right? The only thing that really matters, that keeps us finishing strong, up right on the board, you know, on the beach, right, is our ability to gauge what the wave is doing at any particular moment, and react appropriately to it. Right. And that is that’s business today. That’s life today. And one way at least. And so businesses are going to say more and more and more, this is what we need. Because if you look at financial data, that’s a lagging indicator. And by the time you have this financial data, it’s too late to do anything about it. Right? And the only way that you can really determine what the true leading indicators are, is through analytics.


JC: Yeah. Well, then let’s let’s segue then to into your particular company itself. So same question, but where do you see proof analytics? And let’s say in the next six months, a year, two years, and specifically, if you have anything on the roadmap that’s launching soon? Audience does like to get the inside scoop on that? Do you have anything coming up? I have to ask.


Mark: My guys would kill me if I did that. So


JC: there is a delay in this recording to when that publishes. So you do have some time? And you can give them a heads up? I mean, you what’s what’s on what’s on the horizon for you guys? And where do you see the company going in general?


Mark: So I think that that the big the big opportunity going forward, is make is removing more and more of the friction for the business user, so that the business user can look at analytics screens and say, Wow, I totally understand what’s happening. And I can make a better decision over and over and over again, using this analytical information than I otherwise could write and that I’m comfortable with it, and that it’s transparently delivered. So it’s not just me that has this, all my colleagues have the same thing. And so whether you think of that as UX, or you know how, however you want to think about that, that’s where we’re really headed right now. I mean, I think we’re already we have a really strong UX for business users. Most analytics software dumbs down the analyst screens for the business user, right? The biggest issue though, and this is a this is something that repeats a lot is that most business users hate graphs and things like that. They, they have a, I think largely because of the way math has been taught for the last 40 or 50 years in this country and other countries, they tend to when you expose them to a graph that kind of freak out and shut down, it’s a more of a psychological response. It’s not that they’re suddenly stupid, they’re really smart people. But if you trigger them with a graph, a lot of times that it just doesn’t work, they just kind of shut down. So you got to find other ways to convey cause and effect relationships. And I think that in the same way that Tableau did this for data visualization, they did, Tableau just has such beautiful visualization libraries. Right. Yeah, I think that that is very much where we are going on analytics. Right. So we don’t compete with Tableau, we, in fact, they’re a Salesforce company. So we partner with them. Right? We and there, we’re kind of doing two different things that are highly complementary with each other. So I mean, you know, in terms of the future of proof, you know, that’s, you know, that’s kind of really, really tough for me, particularly as CEO to comment on, right. Where we’ll be in six months, or 12, or 24 months is really kind of anybody’s guess, in one sense, right. But I do think that we will continue to show really, really strong year over year growth.


JC: I mean, analytics is big right now.


Mark: It really is.


JC: And it’s already have a foothold there, which is nice. Not a startup in that sense.


Mark: Yeah. And I think also, you know, we have a reputation for really strong delivery, strong implementation of these tools. And so if you’re an average, you know, Salesforce sales guy, for example, and you’ve got a big deal, cooking with three, Salesforce clouds with this customer, right? And they say, oh, you know,  we need analytics, or we need an MRM or, you know, whatever it is, right? They know today that if they put us in the deal, that our part will be flawless. And that, that really means a lot. I mean, our churn is very low, historically. Right. And we had Customer Success teams before we had sales teams.


JC: Smart. So you already get a lot, especially if you had a lot of inbound coming in, because referrals and people just word of mouth. Right? Yeah, that makes sense.


Mark: I think that sustainability also, and this is where analytics really interacts with real life, right? Sustainability is going to be the watchword for business. And over the next say, two to three, four years minimum. Right. You know, there’s, there was a post on LinkedIn yesterday, talking about NRR. Net retain revenue, right? as being kind of like the new really important metric for SAS. Right. And, and my response was, Well, it’s a really super important metric for SAS, but it always has been, right, but when you could get away with spending way more money than you were making in revenue, because you’re being backfield by investors, right? And now you can’t now you have to be reasonably self-sustaining. All of a sudden, NRR is centerstage. Right. But that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t before. And so I think that, that this is where you’re going to see a very, very sober-minded approach to most businesses over the next say, 1000 to 1500 days from now. And it’s going to be very, there’s a lot of functions. Marketing is a great example of this, that are crap when it comes to making a business case, like literally formulating and delivering a business case that is compelling as to why the business should spend more money in this area, and not less, right? I think..


JC: It’s always the first budget that gets frozen when things go to crap, right? Which is ironic, because it’s really just the beginning of the end, you basically solidified your downward spiral. That’s right, like and that’s one thing that the bigger companies like the companies that made it through COVID, they double down instead of like they went for broke, don’t get me wrong, they rolled the dice, doubling down on marketing and sales, when everybody was stopping what they were doing was either going to make them the biggest in the industry when they popped up the other end, or they were gonna be bankrupt, right? The ones who did it ended up becoming the biggest in the industry. It turned out and that’s what was everyone else just froze and just stood there like a deer in the headlights, you know, and they got hit by the car, right. And you know, that was when I made some videos about this actually in the beginning parts of COVID, about doubling down like how we were doing it. And this is how we suggest clients do it and it wasn’t self-serving, it’s like this new hire anyone you want. Just, you shouldn’t be doing this because a second you decide that that pipeline is frozen, you have a count on down of three to six months before you are an unrecoverable flat spin, right? Like there’s just nothing’s going to save you essentially, right. And so it’s an interesting point, especially when you bring up NRR. Because it’s so many companies that I saw, again, the nitrous was in the tank, and it was just blowing their hair back, we It didn’t matter that they were that they were there was leakages and they’re bleeding from other as long as they’re going fast and straight, it didn’t matter. But churn kills, right. And when you hit a wall, like COVID 


JC: But not while things are great. And so that’s why it gets so overlooked. When things are great. You’re like, Yeah, I’m bleeding 20%, but I’m making 200 on this. So whatever we write, and then But then once that train stops, all that catches up with you, and one of the best books I’ve ever read, was called Never lose a customer again. And I turn over the author, and it kills me, I’d look it up here for the audience in a second. But, um, and I remember that book, the whole point of that book was about how to retain, because essentially, and then I went into the math of it first and went and just did the ethics of it, like, you know, treat the customers well. And then it went a little bit of a referral basis, like, hey, you’ll even make more money, because they’ll refer people to you. But then it like dug deep into just the basic math like, listen, the amount of money you’re spending to attain a new client, you could spend a 10th of that to retain a current one. So what’s the point of getting a new $20,000? Client? If you lost a $20,000 client last month, all you did was actually break even. But if you’re looking forward, you’re like, Yeah, we got a new client, and you forget that you lost one. So all that money and effort you put into the new one, is more money than if you had just spent that time retaining the last one. Right. And when you get that system down internally in your company, you are so bulletproof, for things for these, you know, black swan events, essentially, right. You know, do you have to take a step back, we can maybe take a gut punch? Sure we did. But we’re still here. It’s because we had those processes in place. You know.


Mark: I think what I would say about that is that there’s two things. One is what you spend the money on. So even it’s not just about doubling down. It’s about figuring out what the what the levers are that are working, and what’s not really working in the current environment could work in a different environment, right. And so if you look at our clients, from 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022; same company, right? What was working in each of those four years, dot, you know, predominantly dominated by COVID. Right? was very different, year to year to year, right. And so they were able to use proof to identify what was falling off a cliff in terms of particular channel, and divest from that faster, and then move that money over here. Right. And so..


JC: Pivoting, the ability to pivot, we had to pivot to right, right, like we used to do, we used to, we’ve always done tech marketing for tech companies, for the most part, right? Because I’m just, I’m just a Bay Area nerd, originally hacking AOL when I was 12. And in my dad’s basement, like, that’s my villain origin story, right? But but we did everything for them. Right? When COVID hit, a lot of things became really irrelevant, right? Like, like, what’s the point of pitching a nine month SEO plan to a company that doesn’t know if they’re gonna be in business in three months? That’s right, right. So everything we did, we had to pivot and we sliced off, like 80% of our services, and we just dial down to appointment setting specifically because we realized is at the end of the day, for enterprise level tech, the only thing that matters is more appointments on the calendar for their sales team. That’s it, anything that gets it there, they don’t care how it got there, they don’t care, they don’t care. If you push a big red button, and an appointment hits, they’re like fine, whatever. We don’t care if you’re cold calling, I don’t care if you’re emailing just that is where we start our process to sell. And that’s where our bread and butter is. And we shaved off everything that didn’t basically shortcut to that exact endpoint, right? Because it because again, and we advise our clients to we’re like, listen, like, you need to shave stuff off, you’re gonna pivot towards this because the whole new world now, and the thing is a trauma set in, right? So even though COVID is essentially over, you know, in its large scale, right, it’ll be like the Cold Flu or whatever it’ll be, it’ll keep going forever, but not on that scale where it shuts down the country, or the world, but the traumas set and the people who are running companies, I mean, you will never going to forget that we’re never going to we’re never going to treat our business the same ever again. Later, it’ll take a whole new generation to go wee were never going to go wee again. Right like that’s I mean you look at the depression in the in the 20s or in Early 1900s.


JC: You know, there was great grandparents of my great great grandparents that still had money in their mattress because they didn’t trust the banks, because you can tell them all you want that the FDIC insures their money in that it’s digital and it’s fine. It doesn’t matter. Tell that to the person who was standing in line with a run on the banks. And in bread bowl lines, right. Like that’s, you can’t undo that experience. Right. But I think that that’s actually a good thing for a lot of businesses because we are on we are on such a high, it was just like stratosphere launch to the moon no looking back. And you know, that’s just kind of a house of cards at some point, right? And COVID was a really good wake up call. And I think it actually took out a certain percentage of businesses that I think it should I think we were overinflated, on a lot of industries. And the quality became less, because just so much volume. So you know, there’s a correction that happened there a little bit. So I think that was really cool. Um, before, before we go, there is..


Mark: One thing I just want to say real fast. And this goes to the turn thing, right? So if you’re a marketer, and you’re basing your budgets, your spin levels, on LTV, right, but you’ve got a high churn business.


JC: That’s not a good equation.


Mark: That’s a really bad equation. But you have no idea how common that is.


JC: Oh, I’m very aware of competence. I watch it every day. But you’re right. Most people don’t.


Mark: I wasn’t really talking about you I was talking about your audience has no idea.


JC: Well, you see that a lot with these, especially with startup software companies, we get big investments from Silicon Valley, right? It’s just all nitrous and they’re going for, you know, they’re going for the user acquisition quick, quick, quick and showing these graphs and stuff. But it’s like, dude, back here, you’re leaking bad, right? Like you, you can’t have this, you can’t do a quarter mile. Right? Drag Race. If you’re leaking transmission fluid at the back, at some point, your engine will blow it’ll be close to the finish line. And then everyone else is gonna pass you. Right? That’s just that’s the straight analogy right there. So, but I’m, I want to switch gears from for one last question for you. Yeah, I want to learn about you personally here. So I gave him a little quick I did my little villain, villain origin story, right? As a kid, what did what would you? What did you want to do? When you grew up? Like when you were a kid or teenager? Like, what was your goal? And then is this it? Or was it something else? And if so, how did that? Like? How did you get how to transition to this? Right?


Mark: And I’d have to say that I’m very eclectic, in terms of my background, right, I started out is as a journalist, and then as a political speechwriter in Washington, DC. Okay. And then basically, you know, there’s a long time ago now, and, and was really good at it was started to feel very icky. A lot right away. And so I decided I was get out of that. And I leapt out of the frying pan into the fire, so to speak, by joining large agencies, right. And then that, you know, it’s been a constant process of kind of, like leaving up, right, which is whatever everyone really does, right? But so I wouldn’t brand side and I kind of never went back. I stayed in very large companies and became extremely senior, you know, C suite type person in large companies. And then you kind of get I kind of, honestly, I got to a place where I kept on feeling that I had seen this movie before, over and over and over. And the people were awesome. The people were never boring, right? A lot of the business scenarios started to get a little trope ish, right? And so I was kind of like going, Man, I feel like I’m stagnating. Right? I really do. I feel like I am the frog in the boiling water. Right? And I don’t want to be the frog in the boiling water. I mean, I’m not the kind of person who will probably ever retire. Not because I can’t but because I don’t want to. Right? I mean, it’s it’s, I mean, the idea of playing golf four times a week, and doing a little bit of charity on the side is just not enough. Not not not even remotely enough for that purpose.


Mark: And so, you know, I had done everything that I had really wanted to do with analytics in sight of large corporations. And that had taken me the better part of 15 years to scale that ladder. I’m probably one less way less than 10, probably less than five B2B, CMOS, who could say that they’ve done what I’ve done in terms of by linking all of that go to market to business impact in a way that the Board says, Yeah, I believe that. Right. And so I just saw this opportunity. You know, one of the things I would say is that life is not about swing for the bleachers as much as it is solid record of singles and doubles over and over and over again, right, you look at great baseball players, you know, the the ones with really high batting averages, it those averages are built on singles and doubles.


JC: Moneyball, Moneyball, it’s only four runs, gets a four, four base hits, gets a run into, you know, always swinging for the fences is actually not overall great strategy.


Mark: That’s right. And so, actually, proof has automated Moneyball from a certain perspective. I mean, if you want to kind of make it super conversational, right, yeah, that’s really what it is. And so, but it’s not the only idea that I have, you know, and so where I’m going with this is that a lot of founders tend to try to maximize an exit. Let’s just say an exit presents itself, right? And they will, a lot of times turn it down. Because, you know, it’s not 25x, or, you know, whatever it is, right. And I think that what that says more than anything is that they feel like that this is whatever this is, is their only great idea. And if they don’t get them, you know, if they don’t leverage it to its absolute max in the exit, then they’re screwed. Right?


JC: Because is it for them? Yeah, yeah. A good friend of mine once told me money now is always better than money later. Because if you’re a creative person, you will be able to leverage the money now into more money than you would have gotten later on that same deal. Essentially, totally agree. But to your point, if you’re honest with yourself, and you unicorn on accident, yeah, sure. Maybe it is better to do it to go for the big exit. Because if you don’t really have another bag, then you


Mark: You know, one of the things that Dave Cody at Honeywell taught me, you know, to really focus on is not statistical possibilities, but probabilities, probabilities, right? 


Mark: Anything is possible, very few things are probable, right?


Mark: And if we just look at unicorns as a percentage of the total, right, yeah, not a very, very, very small.


JC: It’s literally why they call them unicorns like, I’d like the name should give you a tip as to how rare and impossible that almost is, right?


Mark: And how much how much luck is involved? Right? How much? How much of that whole thing is outside of anyone’s control?


JC: Yeah, accent on timing, market shifts, technology, politics, legal state. Yeah. So many things factored into it. Mark, this was awesome having you on here really quick, though. But I want to know, first, how can the audience reach the company specifically? And then how can anyone maybe at the higher level, if it’s another CEO of another, you know, tech company that’s trying to work with you or whatnot? How can they reach you personally? Anything you’re comfortable given?


Mark: Sure, absolutely. So proof is the URL for proof. So if you want to learn more about what we’re doing, that’s the place that I would certainly encourage you to go first. There’s also a lot you alluded to this earlier, there’s a lot of podcasts out there, we’re talking or other people approved for talking. So there’s a lot of let’s call them third party sources of information. 


JC: They could just search your name on Spotify, by the way for anyone listening because if you if you put Mark Stouse S T O, U S, E, in Spotify, it’ll pull up any episodes you’re on, also, so it’ll show all the different podcasts and that your episodes are I do that when I’m trying to follow certain people as well. So that’s the way they can find you.


Mark: Yeah, and then I’m been accused of being hyperactive on on LinkedIn. Right. And so if you want to reach me, you know, either out in the open, which I don’t mind, or wild, or, you know, a private message through LinkedIn, either one is great. It you don’t have to be another CEO or another senior person. I will respond. You know, if you’re trying to sell me something that’s clearly not for me. I’m not going to respond. Fair enough. Right. But if it’s a genuine thing, even if you have no intention of buying anything from proof, right, I’m happy to get to know you a little bit. Right. So totally, you know, in fact, I don’t sell a lot on LinkedIn. Because I realized that I can either sell on LinkedIn or I can help people on LinkedIn


JC: Providing values better.


Mark: Right. Can’t do both.


JC: Yeah, absolutely. Well, it’s for everyone listening out there again, if you liked what you heard today, be sure to subscribe to this podcast. Give it that five star review put some writing behind it, so the techies like us can find it. Enjoy all these amazing and helpful b2b software’s and platforms on the market today. Mark, thank you so much for being on the show. I really appreciate it and I look forward to speak with you again soon.


Mark: Hey, thanks, man. Have a good one.


infinityadminEpi. 58: Predicting data challenges with Marketing Mix Modeling – Mark Stouse, CEO of Proof Analytics

Epi. 57: How Lockstep connects accounting departments and automates sharing of accounting data – Matthew Shanahan, Chief Strategy Officer of Lockstep

Learn more about Lockstep at:

Find Matthew Shanahan on LinkedIn here:

JC: Welcome, everyone to another episode of the Future of Biz Tech. I’m your host, JC Granger. And I have another fantastic guest with us today. And listen, if you end up loving this episode, please show your love and appreciation by following this podcast wherever you see it and listen to it. A five star review would be really great, you know, some comments in there because that is how other techies like you and I find cool podcasts like this. Today, I have the absolute pleasure of interviewing the Chief Strategy Officer of Lockstep, Matthew Shanahan. Matthew, thank you so much for coming on the show. Tell me a little bit about yourself and what your company does.

Matthew: Yeah, JC Thank you for having us attend and share our perspectives. So as Chief Strategy Officer, my role is to figure out what products we make and how we get those to market and like how do we solve the problem and build a business model around that. So that’s the some of what I do. In terms of what Lockstep is all about. We’re on a mission to automate accounting workflows between companies. And that’s what we call connected accounting. So we’ll talk about that as we go through today. But that’s fundamentally the mission. We’re on automating accounting workflows between companies. 

JC: So who’s your kind of, you know, ideal audience for this, right. I mean, a lot of people have, you know, there’s always software accounting software is everywhere. So I guess well, first part, let me back up. Let me do a separate question. first. What makes Lockstep differentiate from from the competition in that sense? I mean, everyone thinks about, you know, QuickBooks or you know, Gusto and things like that. So what is it about Lockstep that appeals to your market?

Matthew: Sure, QuickBooks does the depth the accounting of one company at a time, that’s it. So you buy QuickBooks, you make your general ledger, you load up your transaction? Now you can get financial reports, track what payments you need to make, and you’re done, right? But the reality is your books, let’s say, you’re my customer, your books are interconnected with my books. If I’ve issued you 10 invoices, those same 10 invoices have to be inside your books, but you’re using XERO, I’m using QuickBooks – how did those two systems coordinate what’s going on? The way that’s done today is people send emails back and forth on this, and they hand enter all this information. That’s not automation. That’s actually a lot of manual work. And QuickBooks doesn’t solve the problem. NetSuite you know, any of these accounting systems on their own does not solve the problem. And that’s why we’ve created Lockstep.

JC: That’s interesting. So then, okay, how does it do that, then? I mean, just generally speaking, is it like an API integration? Is there native integrations between the major platforms, like how did you merge that because I see what you’re saying, right? Like, if I send an invoice, yeah. They pay, let’s say, online via credit card. Sure, that helps me, right, because my invoice was paid. It goes into my system and auto categorize it. So I’m good. But they just paid like on their AmEx, which doesn’t necessarily go in and resolve their accounting books for that, right? Because they have to, then there, they have to have a manual process between like, that credit card did pay that so they can keep track of it. So that’s actually really interesting. But how, just generally speaking, how does that work?

Matthew: So that’s why we built a network, right? And to your point, we’ve been building integrations into the accounting system. The challenge is actually one of these situations where you have to use Lockstep. And I have to use Lockstep in order for the automation to occur. And that’s where we really thought long and hard and said, wait a second, there’s an intermediate step. What if we simply made the email process between us 10 times simpler, as an example, right now, if you want to send me a reminder that I’m late on my invoice, what you would do is you’d go into your QuickBooks, if that’s what you’re using, you’d look it up, you download the the PDF document, you’d go into your outlook, you’d say new email, then you’d attach it. And then you’d write out a little sentence saying, oh, gosh, you know, “we’re sorry, we haven’t received your payment, can you give us an update?”, and then you hit send. In our system, all you have to do is, first of all, it will automatically do it for you if you want the rule to do it. So you don’t do any work at all. And secondly, if you want to do it yourself, you could actually hit a button, and it will go into the accounting system, it’ll grab the PDF, it’ll grab all the information, compose an email and send it out. So that’s one simple way that we get started. Now, it turns out, if you start to use lots of we’re both now using Lockstep, we can actually connect automatically and that’s what we’re doing is over time, we’re building this integration now. Lockstep inbox is actually unique. There’s no accounting software in the entire world that has an email inbox.

JC: Now that’s interesting. So I imagine there’s certain industries that need this more than not, right? Like there’s certain industries that have things that are more automated like I have a marketing agency right things that we do are a little more digital and automated, but that’s not normal across oh you know, you get manufacturing companies or more blue collar start right like flooring and roofing companies that you know they send out invoices out after the fact. So there’s a lot of industries that do exactly what you’re talking about, and have a very manual labor to that. So I like how you guys integrated something for people to get started with where it still works with their, in particular one, so they don’t have to switch, right? They don’t have to switch out of QuickBooks or anything like that. But they could they though, like, I guess my point is that, let’s say they’re using QuickBooks, and then they add in Lockstep to just help automate a lot of this manual labor with reminders and things like that for invoicing. If they said, Okay, well, we want to, we want to go further into that is Lockstep itself, its own accounting software also, or is it just that tag along that helps integrate accounting software’s with each other and automate the process.

Matthew: It’s really a network to integrate the accounting softwares together. So our goal is not to you know, we have no interest, that’s becoming a more commodity market, you know, to build just accounting software. And like you said, you can actually get free accounting software from different people. Our goal is really the automation between companies. And you know, some of what we’re doing is also moving those, you know, workflows, out of email and onto the web. So rather than sending you a PDF, right? I might send you to the link where you can see your entire account online, you can get any of the information you need. And you don’t need a password, because we can send it to you in a secure link that allows you to just click the link go in deal with your account and move out. So there’s a bunch of things that we’re doing step wise to allow people to migrate from email onto the web, and then ultimately, pure automation between the two companies.

JC: Okay, that I get. So then I imagine that there’s certain industries that would need this more than others. I for one, I imagine more enterprise level, right, bigger, you know, things that have more account receivables on the back end, you know, your net 30s, 60s 90s, whatnot. But what industries do you find gravitate more towards Lockstep than others?

Matthew: It fits into 100% of all the industries. And I know that sounds like a big statement. But the reality is, every accounting department has an inbox, whether or not you do a lot of invoices, or you do few invoices. And right now, every accounting department is left using their accounting software, email client, some spreadsheet to track status, and everything else. And then a document management system because they have to record all these different elements. And we take those four apps and put it into one now you only have to be in one app, you don’t have to work in for you don’t have to keep these in sync. You don’t have the manual cutting and pasting of the information between them. So the reality is, we’re in a lot of different industries today. Now, what we’ve noticed is certainly, you know, tech companies as an example, are more rapidly adopting technology than old school manufacturing. So you clearly have those differences. And that’s where we see more traction, right? In tech companies. We’ll get on board and actually start using this within 15 minutes. So the total setup time is less than 15 minutes, and we’re happy to onboard you guys.

JC: Like how fast was that? Again? I can spend 15 minutes like that.

Matthew: Because I think you probably have an accounting inbox, right?

JC: I mean, everybody does on some level. Right? So I guess my next question is in, how are you guys getting the word out? I mean, okay, fine. You got a PR team. You got podcasts? We’re doing random right now. But other than that, how are companies been finding out about you guys? Are you guys mostly organic? Are you doing, you know, paid ads? You know, a lot of the audience likes to understand how successful tech companies market themselves and helps give them ideas on how they can help themselves as well.

Matthew: Certainly, well, we want to be in the ecosystems where there, for instance, I mentioned tech companies, well guess what? Most tech companies use Sage intact. We’re NetSuite or QBO, or zero, it’s their accounting system. So what we do is we go get into those marketplaces. So if I’m looking for a solution, and I met the sage, intact user, I’m going to go to the sage in tech marketplace. And that’s where we want to be able to be promoted and understood. The other thing that we’re doing is we’re building in morality to the product, that’s ultimately where we see the difference of what we’re building. It’s a free product. So by the way, step one, you know, it’s a fully featured free-forever, adds a huge amount of value. And you pay as you add layers of automation based product, because it’s very valuable, then we’re building into that different points of morality, where, you know, when I invite you online to look at your account, it could say, Hey, do you want to set this up as well? There’s different points that we’re finding has AR and AP. They work together all the time. So my counterpart, I know exactly what they’re going to be in the midst of doing that if I can offer them new solutions that my AR solution can make. Tell that AP department, here’s a way to improve. That’s how we’re growing the pie.

JC: Let me ask you, one feature I have curious about if you have or if it’s coming, I noticed that some companies would send me like a W9 or something at the end of the year because if they paid me a certain amount of money for the year, they had to make sure they tracked it within their systems when they do their taxes. Given the fact that Lockstep deals with a lot of automation, what is typically a very manual process.. do you guys dive into that at all? Like, for example, you know, if it says, we’ve paid this vendor X amount, and we know that we’re gonna have to supply a W nine at the end of the year, or whatever, you know, tax form it is for the country, whoever’s listening, does Lockstep help automate that as well working on like, get that out to people that it knows is hit that threshold?

Matthew: Absolutely. So when we think about vendor onboarding, or customer onboarding, or maintenance of those accounts throughout the year, those are exactly the kinds of automations that are also in the system. Cool. So very simple thing is, let’s say, my tax exemption certificate, I have to provide that, you know, to my vendors, well, why not trigger that and have it go out automatically. And the other thing that we’re doing is because the information if we think of it as the LinkedIn of accounting, you have an accounting profile, you have an EIN, you have, you know, certain regulatory documents, etc. If I share you a link to my accounting profile, now, it can be actually kept up to date and your system automatically just by using that link. And that’s one of the things is to eliminate all of that manual labor of trying to keep each other’s accounting systems accurate about who do I email with invoices? What is your W9, where’s your tax exemption? Certificate? Oh, I need your proof of insurance, all that kind of stuff we want to simplify. That’s awesome. Okay.

JC: That I like because that does good. I was wondering how much outside of just the accounting side itself did, you know, does the automation workflow go?

Matthew: Well, we see the same, the inbox is not only just AR and AP, that’s where we started, we’re going into payroll, you know, when we think you’ve got a full Payroll Expense, Treasury, so you actually grew up in the mid market, you start specializing even more general accounting to close the books. General Accounting works with a lot of people outside of accounting, right in order to close the books. And those are, again, areas where we’re providing workspaces for teams to actually do that kind of thing, and use the email system that they know today.

JC: So on the emails, talk about the email site real quick here. Is it a plugin that attaches, like to their Gmail or their outlook? Is it something where they log into your system? To do this? How do they actually see this inbox with this automation?

Matthew: That currently they do log into our app called Lockstep inbox, and then they add a connection to their email. And so it’s a very simple setup, we are doing plugins, so we really liked the idea of plugins and just getting started that way, especially if you’re a really small business, it makes it super easy to get going. So those are in plans that we have, and should expect to see in the next couple of months or so. Cool. Okay,

JC: We’ll get back to that here in a second, too. So it’s called The Future of Biz Tech so let’s talk about the future, right? First question actually, is kind of what you already touched on here. What is the future of Lockstep? You know, let’s call it the next. You know, few quarters, is there anything cool coming down the pipeline that my audience can get a first dibs on information wise?

Matthew: Yeah, we’re doing a lot more for instance, in AP automation, being able to when you receive a bill to extract all the data out of there and enter it into the system, unlike a lot of you know, and that’s somebody would say, well, that’s not unique. There’s other systems that do that today. But most of them only do it at what’s called the header level. So that’s the overall invoice and kind of summary, they don’t take the line items. And then the in addition to the line items, what you want to do is use machine learning to encode those line items, what’s the GL code that should go on there? And how do I want to record that? So that’s one of the areas that we’ll be having some really cool technology coming out to serve that. Additionally, as I mentioned, we’re adding new workspaces all the time. So in one accounting department, let’s say you start out and you’re in an accounting department have one or maybe even part time, that’s going to be something that you’d say, well, okay, I’m using Lockstep. I have one accounting email address, it’s easy, I don’t have any team members, but then you grow up over time. And you have companies that have 10 people in accounting, and some are in you know, one in AR, some are in AP, and you need the separation of duties. And you got another one in general accounting, right. So all the different workspaces, but one tech stack, so you’re not having different apps, different tech stacks, simplifying that down. And the final thing that we point out is we’re coming out with our bookkeeper mode. So you actually have the ability. If I’m a bookkeeper over multiple clients, I can have one Lockstep account and actually access all of my clients and switch between them using Lockstep. So we think the bookkeeper mode is going to be a very powerful one.

JC: Oh, Some that’s good to see coming down the pipeline, let’s talk about the future of the industry. Right? So in the next, you know, two to three years or so, is there any major shifts that you see, between, you know, whether it be the technology, the machine learning kind of thing? The, is there any, you know, legislation or just about anything that’s effectual to, to you, you’re not just your company, but your competitors in the space as well, I think that’s going to be driving everything going forward.

Matthew: Yeah, we, you know, we see accounting at the heart of all business, and accounting is the business, there’s not a single portion of the business, you wouldn’t look at and say, “Oh, I’ve got to account for this”, right? And then I’ve got track expenses and everything else. So that’s how we see the world. And the biggest things that will change are things like credit ratings, if there’s a network that can show all of those transactions, not necessarily visibly, but can actually record those and there’s trusted and been signed, why do I need to go to Dun & Bradstreet to get a credit report? I can get it in real time through the so we think there’s massive disruption in just how credit is kept and maintained. Also audit, right? Why should I do sampling my books for audit, I should be able to have 100%, up to date, real time audit that’s always going on. And so we think the audit industry is going to change pretty dramatically around this.

The way I secure loans. Imagine the way if I want to loan factoring today, it’s a very manual process, I have lots of reporting, I would have to do or if I want a loan from the bank, the covenants I’d have to keep in the reporting against my covenants are it’s sort of astronomical. And so a lot of people just say it’s not worth the business loan, because I can’t afford the manual labor behind it. But now, if you’ve got automation between the bank, the bank can actually see your books, you provide them real time financial statement, they can automate that covenant monitoring. And you unlock a ton of working capital for business as a result of that, because it now capital is more accessible, because it’s more affordable. In terms of audit. The final thing we actually see government is changing right already in India, like you upload your books, and they send you the tax bill. You know, we think that a whole form of tax will change over the next several years as well. So there’s massive disruption coming?

JC: Yeah, well, I mean, for one, I mean, they just pass legislation to upgrade the IRS, essentially. And a lot of people freak out about they think there’s 80,000, new IRS agents coming to knock on your door for your pay, pal. That’s not how it works. A lot of people don’t know that 30,000 of those people are just replacing retiring one. So the other 50,000, though, I used to work in the tax resolution industry, and I can tell you that I knew tax attorneys who would be on hold for their clients just trying to literally just call the IRS to get a certain update on something like on a file or whatnot, and they’d be on hold for six hours. I’m not joking. Six hours, and that wasn’t abnormal, that was somewhat average. And so adding a lot of IRS personnel on support staff helps. So that, you know, anyone could call and someone to pick up within a few minutes. Like, if you have a question about a bill and how many errors the IRS made. And so makes is ridiculous. But again, they’re on really outdated systems. And they have a lot and there’s a lot of labor for the human error. Right. So personally, I think that adding, you know, 10s of 1000s of people, the IRS, it can be a good thing. Because I’ve seen the nightmares of trying to deal with the IRS when they make a mistake, this can help automate their system. So I say all this for a reason. My question is this, knowing that and that’s just I mean, that’s just past that is happening. That is a freight train that we keep moving forward. How do you see that new influx of personnel and technology adapting into what kind of like what Lockstep does or the industry itself?

Matthew: Well, in general, your like your example of being on hold for six hours, can you imagine calling into an airline these days, you need to do everything online. Or by the way, if you wanted to know the balance of your bank account that you had to call somebody to get that, you know, those crazy ideas. And I think that’s, that’s true around accounting, you know, today in accounting for the average b2b relationship. If I want to know my outstanding invoices, I’ll either email you or I’ll call you and ask you. Most businesses don’t have online vendor customer portals. That’s one simple example. And then that’s true of the IRS just at a minimum to have kind of a self service capabilities for people to go in and deal with this. But then on top of that self service is to layer the automation. So not only make it easy for people to do things on their own, so they don’t have to call a call center. But then make it really automated to do these things. They’ll take more than five years. You ask the five year question, I think, yeah, certainly in five years, I would expect more online accessibility to information for you know, broad array of different processes. Probably within 10 years is when you’ll see a massive wave of automation.

JC: Awesome. All right. Well, before I let you go, I do want to ask a personal question. What did you want to be when you grew up when you were a kid? And then how did that lead you to what you’re doing now?

Matthew: When I was a kid, I wanted to be an Oceanographer.

JC: Really?

Matthew: Yeah. And that’s what I need to be done. I wanted to be a dentist. And then I took a chem class and I said, No, I gotta find some other job. And I started, I read a Time magazine article about these two new companies called Microsoft and Apple. Oh, yeah, I started to become a computer programmer. That’s where I ended up.

JC: And you’re on the Seattle area, right?

Matthew: Yep.

JC: I went to high school out in Tacoma. So I almost went to (inaudible). I was with, you went to University of Washington?

Matthew: Yeah. 

JC: Yeah, yeah, I ended up coming out here to CU Boulder. So I still would like to watch the U Dub and CU games, you know, some sort?

Matthew: Well, yeah.

JC: It’s that’s a good one. You know, we don’t we don’t win very often on those. But.. we’ve got a good team. It’s getting more competitive. Listen, Matthew, how can people reach you personally, if there’s some high level deals that we’ll discuss? And then how can they reach the company? And you know, to go and just try out your system?

Matthew: Absolutely. So you know, go to Right on the homepage, there’s a you know, sign up for free. And you can get going, you know, we like we’d say you can say the day a week using Lockstep inbox, and you can start that in 15 minutes or less. So that’s one way to get started. The second thing is certainly reach out by email,  or LinkedIn, you know, online.

JC: Awesome. Well for everyone out there listening, again, if you liked what you heard today, be sure to subscribe to this podcast and give it a five star rating, preferably have some text behind it. And so other techies like us can find and enjoy learning about all these amazing and helpful B2B software’s on the market today, like Matthew, thank you so much for coming on the show. I really appreciate your time and want to talk off off air about your software a little bit.

Matthew: Thank you, JC Great to be here. Thanks a lot.

infinityadminEpi. 57: How Lockstep connects accounting departments and automates sharing of accounting data – Matthew Shanahan, Chief Strategy Officer of Lockstep