SaaS Founder Interview with Jehan Hamedi, Founder & CEO of Vizit
Tony Zayas 0:05
Hey everybody, and welcome. It’s Tony Zayas here at the another episode of the tech founders show, where we get a chance to talk to some amazing founders who are really pushing innovation and changing the way we work, live and play. And today, I’m excited to talk to a pretty interesting founder who has an incredible background and is doing some amazing things. It’s Jehan Hamedi. He’s the CEO and founder of VIZIT, and VIZIT mission is to provide the technology and insights, consumer brands need to optimize their visual content to increase sales, and create stronger connections with their customers at every channel. So some super interesting stuff. With that I will bring john on. Hey Jehan, how are you doing? Hey, Tony, I’m doing great. Thanks for having me on the show. Awesome. Yeah. Thank you for joining. We’re excited to talk to you here. I guess just to get started, I gave a little brief snippet about VIZIT, but I would love to hear your version of that. And then I’ll just eat origin. How did how did you start the business?
Jehan Hamedi 1:10
Sure. So So VIZIT, we’re you nailed it. Our story starts with images. We are the first visual intelligence company. You know, we were here because there we we found that there’s just an incredible, incredible opportunity that we’ve learned from our partners and our customers with visual content and understanding, you know, that consumers now if you can believe it, they scroll through skyscrapers worth of content every day. The chief creative officer that head of head of creative at Ogilvy said, it’s the Statue of Liberty worth the content. So if you think about that, just the sheer volume of visual material that everybody is seeing and interacting with, it’s kind of changed the rules for selling for marketing for communication, you now have to stand out within this kind of sea of same kind of this infinite scroll. And visits approach to this problem is very is kind of rooted in data. So kind of telling that story of the genesis of the company. So I’ve spent the last 10 years of my career in kind of an interesting field of quantitative social science, which is sort of a fancy kind of way to say, studying and and understanding how different consumers and populations of people interact with content on the internet. And much of my background, and sort of my previous life, when I was building insight platforms on type on top of text analysis, so if you think of all of the social media commentary, and comments and blogs, and you know, if you’re a brand and you launch a new campaign, or you’re Nike, and you launch, the new LeBron James shoe, creates a large conversation. And that conversation is enriched with insights. And you know, from people sort of, kind of, from my background, and that had worked with large brands, you know, you you kind of refer to that as the voice of the customer and like a new way of understanding the voice of the customer at scale. But now, images are worth 60,000 words, and images and designs are what are powering trillions of dollars of e commerce purchases, and campaigns all around the world. So VIZIT sort of exists to provide a new lens, an entirely new source of consumer data that doesn’t come from the voice of the customer. It unveils the view of the customer, what are consumers seeing what do they want to see? And importantly, if you’re a brand, how can you create a visual brand that’s compelling and enthralling to both captivate and kind of convert through that visual dimension, the visual medium? So I would summarize that by saying we measure images.
Tony Zayas 4:14
It’s super fascinating to that point, you know, and I was thinking about this in preparation. Just there’s, there’s so many to your point, you know, there’s that statue of liberty of visual content that we’re looking at every day. So you came from the side where you are, you are focused on not the visual, but the content. What What do you see as the big difference in the takeaways of what you’re learning, when you were kind of studying and looking at the metrics and behavior behind the text content versus the visual content? I’d be curious to get your take on that.
Jehan Hamedi 4:52
Yeah, so really two things. The first is that people don’t read anymore. They recognize. So your you know, much of the industry is focused so much on, you know, descriptions and some kind of text image. And that, like a visual component has a markedly more powerful impact on the ultimate performance. And we’ve proven that out. So on every single occasion. But the other really interesting thing that we sort of learned in the early genesis of our company is that much of that prior technology that I described, use AI and used, you know, natural language processing and some of that kind of advanced text analysis, technology to understand and report on what had happened in the past. So using my same example, launching a shoe, it spurs a conversation, and then you use this technology to measure that previous technology to measure and mine it. But that doesn’t give you quite the actionable data that you need, if you’re somebody that says well, but I have a new campaign, and I’m about to put an incredible amount of capital behind it, or I have a new product, and that product has a face, it’s got packaging, it’s got to design, I can’t get that wrong, for all of these reasons, and how the consumers now behave. So you need something predictive. And so we sort of went from, you know, this kind of orientation in the industry of reporting and kind of, on the analysis of text to predicting the performance of imagery. And in order to do that, we had to have this sort of wacky idea of it, you know, there is there, oceans and oceans of data points on visual material. In fact, it is one of the largest datasets in the world that is completely underutilized. And so we thought, what if you could figure out a way to mine this data, and create a software simulation, that learned from interaction rates with hopes of that will give you insight into the types of content that people are more drawn to and more favorable responses versus other favorable response, you could ultimately create a artificial simulation of an entire audience of people do that, you could then predict, given a new piece of content, or a new product design, how the real world audience would ultimately respond. And the beauty of AI is, it’s very, very fast, so you can get your answers while you’re creating. So it was sort of this thing where we learn from our customers, we saw where the market was going, consumer behavior as sort of rooted in consumer insights had shifted markedly, the technology and the data and sort of led us to this visual medium that our customers were telling us look, we think there could be a source of competitive advantage in there, we just don’t know how to harness it, and untap it, but we’d like to do it first. And that’s that sort of kind of our story and how we got
Tony Zayas 8:20
so what did you assuming you had those cues? And those insights, when did you actually timing wise make the decision to say, yeah, we’re gonna, you know, run with this idea and build a business and the product?
Jehan Hamedi 8:34
out of it. Oh, my gosh, I can’t I can’t remember the specific time I do remember the instance. So we, we were doing a lot of diagnostics, and you know, looking at data of all sorts, and just like every startup, you kind of go through different iterations of your technology iterations of your product packaging, who you think your customers are, who they actually are. But I do remember very distinctly that I had a, I phoned VIZIT VP of engineering, and I think he was driving across the country at the time. And I said, Hey, Zack, what’s going on? And he goes, Oh, that’s too much. Like, you know, what’s, what’s happening as well. We’re doing images now. He goes, awesome. I’m in like, let’s do it. You know, and it’s just one of those things where, you know, we’re, we’re a startup to we’ve gone through and I’ve been fortunate to go through an incubator that PepsiCo was a sponsor of, and you just, you learn and, and you just find that focus, focus, focus and really kind of zeroing in on, ultimately, what’s driving results. But where you can kind of see the market going, really helps you focus your resources and your team and ultimately your, your strategy. Because you don’t have the resources of a multi billion dollar company with 20 product lines. You have one. And so we we realized we were pretty good at something. And now, you know, we exclusively specialize in the advanced analysis of imagery.
Tony Zayas 10:06
That’s awesome. So, um, I’m curious, what is the team makeup? Is it?
Jehan Hamedi 10:16
So, our team makeup is I would say data is in our DNA. Most of the core team, myself included, you know, most of us have cut our teeth on kind of working with large consumer brands, building insights, platforms, or designing research process. So several of us hail from Crimson hexagon, which was one of the first and early movers in the kind of enterprise consumer insights space, sort of the precursor to what ultimately became social network analysis, which ultimately became social listening. And now social listening is kind of part of a whole other category. But, folks from data robot and effect TiVo, which are two very well known and really awesome AI companies, here in Boston, zappy, element intelligence, you know, there’s sort of a cast of characters and just an incredible, incredible team. But the thing that sort of binds us all together is, is understanding consumers, and helping brands better connect with their consumers. And at some point in all of our careers, we’ve sort of built an insight platform or had done some type of, you know, analysis where, you know, we help change and ultimately improve decision making.
Tony Zayas 11:39
Sure, cool. Are you’re in Boston? Correct?
Jehan Hamedi 11:43
We are, yeah, we’re so I, if you can tell from my voice, I have a bit of an easily accent. I’m, I’m Wisconsin guy, my my family still live in Wisconsin, but I’ve called Boston home for over 10 years now. And we’ve built our team out here.
Tony Zayas 12:00
That’s cool. I’m a photographer. And so I recognize, you know,
Jehan Hamedi 12:03
hey. Well, my wife’s family’s from Chicago. So we have this Packers bears rivalry. I’m not read the ESPN news today with I guess Aaron Rodgers is airing out his laundry so bad. But Chicago’s near and dear to my heart, too.
Tony Zayas 12:25
Ask just you know, I know a bit about the community like both startup and tech in Boston, what how would you describe it?
Jehan Hamedi 12:35
You know, I, I couldn’t imagine building and launching visit. And in any other city. You know, I think the resources here are incredible. The support network, the angel investors, and folks that are just, you know, really looking for, you know, kind of hungry ideas like napkin stage, you know, I remember those pitches. But the universities here do a really wonderful job. There’s so much talent in Boston, there’s new ideas and new research coming out of BU and MIT and Harvard, and you know, every other Northeastern all the great schools. But we were very fortunate to to participate in in a couple of incubators, one of which was masschallenge, which is here in Boston. And they’re awesome. They, they gave us our start, they helped connect us to corporate partners, introduced us to some wonderful advisors, and you can just kind of feel like that, you know, building at a technology company in Boston, there’s sort of this camaraderie and you’re kind of part of the fabric of innovation that sort of, is kind of ingrained in the culture here. And, you know, I am, of course, totally biased. So if there’s a listeners that are on the west coast, I know I don’t know a ton about your, your ecosystem, but Boston has done done a really nice job by us. And, you know, it’s, it’s been been a lot of fun.
Tony Zayas 14:05
Yeah, that’s cool. I know, I spent some time with a couple companies up there. And it seems to be the case. So that’s really cool. From a, you know, from a perspective of who do you go to, when you have questions when you have challenges, what is your peer network or perhaps mentor network look like? And, you know, what are the some of the some of the ways that you stay engaged with others to keep you at the forefront?
Jehan Hamedi 14:32
Yeah, that’s a great question. So you know, there’s, there’s a lot of people there’s, there’s a lot of people that I turn to, I think one of the most important things is a founder or CEO is or any executive is you got to be comfortable with you don’t what you don’t know. And be be comfortable asking, you know, and that’s something that is very important to me. I know what I know, and I know some things really well, and there’s other things that I don’t know, well, and so as I sort of approach, you know, kind of building a business, I try and surround myself with, with, with people who are really talented and really experienced in the areas in which I’m most inexperienced, or in things that I’m just not quite as wired for. And so that tends to be a mix, you know, my old boss, and mentor and advisor is somebody that I’ve probably talked to, at least once a week, because he’s been through similar problems that at similar companies, and that similar in later stages, I talked to our customers. So we have sort of an informal customer advisory board right now. But I mean, they are the most talented and passionate and, and obviously innovative people to take a chance on an early startup. So I find that I can just get some incredible, unfiltered, sorta, Java is a bad idea, you know, kind of advice and feedback, or, hey, you’re onto something. And, and sometimes you can really strike gold and come up with a whole new product concept or a new use case. But, you know, I think it really comes down to, you know, as you start up, you know, think about, you know, past employers and mentors, that you’ve had other professors that you might have stayed in touch with, particularly if you’ve gone through a business program, or if you’re more of a technology founder, getting close to, you know, the departments in which you got your degree can provide you with some really great feedback and guidance as to how to kind of go about architecting, a new software system. Yeah. And then, you know, I mean, that just the advisors and sort of talent around Boston, it’s, I’ve found that there’s just a sort of a community and kind of an unspoken bond that, you know, you can reach out to folks and ask them questions, and they tend to be very generous with time. And then what I try and do is when that same thing happens to me, I like to pay it forward, you know, back because it, it’s just everybody has these problems, and you find an entrepreneurship, like you need the answer yesterday. So it’s really important to have kind of that speed dial of, Okay, this is an app’s question about this topic. Who do I know there? Oh, she is an absolute expert. I’ll give her a quick call, and see if maybe she can help. So
Tony Zayas 17:37
that’s great. Now, that’s fantastic. And that’s, I think you raise a really good point. And on this show, you know, we talked the founder. And that’s a very much a recurring theme is that, you know, reaching out and asking for support from others, and how willing typically people tend to be who’ve been there and done that. And I think the importance of knowing that going into it, if you’re an early stage, and not being afraid to ask and building up a network of people that you can ask questions, how did you go about? And do you still actively, like grow your, you know, grow those type of relationships? Where you have, you know, where you become part of that community? How did you go about that? And obviously, you’ve been doing you’ve been, you know, add things for a while now. But what type of effort do you put into that with with growing that nurturing those relationships? And then network?
Jehan Hamedi 18:36
Yeah, well, so absolutely, I’m still focused on it, I focus on it every day. You know, one of the, one of the big defining kind of pillars of visits culture as an organization, and something that’s really important to me is just be human. That simple, too, might sound kind of ironic coming from an AI company, but be human, you know, like, people are, like, treat, treat somebody the way you want to be treated. You know, if you’re in the b2b business, you’re ultimately selling to a person somewhere. If you’re selling b2c, you know, you’re trying to have a direct relationship with with consumers. And so, you know, I find that, you know, just being kind of genuine and transparent, and, and also helpful. You know, I always try and, you know, when I meet somebody new, you know, that the way those introductions you’ll usually go, so tell me about you, I’ll tell you about me, what are you up to? And, you know, I’ll tell them and, you know, how can I help you and then, thank you so much. What can I How can I help you know, and so I always think that the, a great way to go about it is is to just sort of think, think about for your, you know, both for your team. What are some you know, if you’re a CEO sort of looking at, you know, your executive team or your, your directors or any new hires, think about, you know, what are some of the support resources that would really help them and would really kind of bring a new perspective and sort of enrich, enrich them, because the one thing you do not have, and you cannot create more of as a startup is time. So it’s important then to sort of build relationships and kind of start, you know, ultimately recruiting in folks to kind of become part of your vision, help your team, but then in turn, help them you know, and if that’s, that’s helping them with a new job opportunity, if it’s, you know, something like, Hey, you know, you work at a small company, so maybe you’re not quite in business target market, but we can help you out. You know, like, let’s figure out a way to make sure we can, can return the favor and help you. So I just think, I just think, when you’re in commerce, when you’re you’re sort of having conversations like you and I are having today, it’s creates a, an echo chamber, it creates a conversation. And I think it’s important to participate, ultimately, because if you don’t participate, then you’re sort of missing out on some of those human interactions where you could really, you know, not only help help somebody but but just, you know, learn more about something that you might not, might not know about, and particularly if you’re fundraising, that’s sort of a really important part of the process is meeting people and seeing who’s, who’s sort of a physis fit, but also who’s a personality fit, who’s a cultural fit? And that just comes through meeting.
Tony Zayas 21:50
So I’m assuming you guys have raised funds. Yes, we have, I would just love to hear you know, this is also what we typically like to talk about, because it’s, you know, it’s a big undertaking for those who are going through it the first time to get prepared for what, you know, it entails going out and pitching. What was your experience like with that?
Jehan Hamedi 22:10
Well, it’s, it’s a learning experience, if you, I think the thing that a lot of first time founders will think about is I certainly thought about was I need a deck have to have this deck. And as soon as I have this deck, I’m gonna raise all this money. A deck is important. But it’s one small piece. And in fact, your deck should be treated as a living document. Because I found that really, quite well like my view of sort of how I was going to sort of describe the business and describe the opportunity. You know, using my words, and my visuals might not be presented in the most effective way to a, you know, a investor that’s looking at dozens of different companies a week across a number of categories. So I learned pretty quickly, I’d say one of the first things is, you know, we have a get data in our DNA, like, we’re certainly a technology and product first company, as as we sort of birthed this, and invested a lot in our intellectual property. But you don’t want to go into a investor pitch when you’re leading with here’s this cool technology that we built. They’d say, Okay, how are you going to make money on that? And what is the problem you’re solving? And of course, there’s many, but there’s, there’s just really a great, you know, just like if you’re interviewing for a job, you need repetition, you need to kind of the more people that you talk to the more you learn about areas and expectations that people had from your pitch, people start asking the question two or three times, you might wonder, well, maybe I didn’t present that as clearly. Or, you know, maybe I actually didn’t refine that part of my business plan as well. So I think the way that you kind of have to go about it is you do have to have some steel skin, you’ll get, you’ll get the folks that say, this is science fiction, this is never going to work. And I got that a few times. And you smile and you say, I really appreciate your feedback. I look forward to showing you what we can do at VIZIT you know in the future, and I just kind of take that as motivation. Like, I know this is possible. And I feel like what sort of helps galvanize this effort because it is it’s a slog, particularly that first round, but what galvanizes that effort is your team and the caliber, quality and just passion of the folks that you surround yourself with because they are the company, they are the product. They The market opportunity, and the investor isn’t investing in some concept of visit, they’re investing in its people. So I think the more that you can really emphasize team and, and, you know, bring that to the forefront of, here’s why we are doing this and why we are the team to pull this off. That that really differentiates your pitch. And I certainly didn’t learn that in my first, first go around. But you know, it’s a, it’s a fun experience, I tell everybody, it’s one again, we need steel skin, but you’re going to learn so much. And what you’ll find with investors is they know lots of other investors, and many of them that decide not to invest. And this is something that I thought was incredible in Boston, is they’ll still offer advice. And they might be you know, I don’t, I don’t know this space, I think what you’re doing is really cool. It’s just, it’s not the right fit for my thesis, and what I’ve done in the past, but if there’s any way I can be helpful to you, let me know. And those that there have just been some incredible, incredible individuals that have been in that camp, and it’s good to take them up on it, it’s good to keep them apprised. Because you just never know. But, you know, I, I’d say take, it’s all learning. worst thing you can do is do the exact same spent times and hope for the best. But ultimately, when you find one lead investor that has an incredible amount of conviction, and belief and trust, and kind of just culturally, philosophically is aligned with you and the core team, that’s when you have the recipe for for success.
Tony Zayas 26:48
That’s awesome. Now, I have to say that you’re the first person that we’ve talked to, that has put the emphasis on in the, you know, pitching, on focusing, and I think it makes a ton of sense. And I love that you share this, but focusing on the team, because as you said, you know, the concept is one thing, but then there has to be people behind that, that make it happen. And to your point of you know, be human, you know, the culture that you guys are fostering and all of that. It’s that balance, right? Because if the technology just was perfect on its own, then there would be no need for people to be working on it. Right. So cool. So I appreciate that insight. And then I would love to hear more with you guys being you know, technical AI company. You know, data being in your DNA, all that stuff? How do you find the people that are good fit, to build that right culture, because of the importance of the people that you need to carry out, do the things you want to do? It’s got to be a right fit for that culture and to continue to push it forward. So I would just love to hear you know, what is your process look like? How have you developed that team? And any, you know, any, any learnings
Jehan Hamedi 28:05
help you cut out for a second there? But any learning? Exactly. So, I would say that the you know, the way that we’ve kind of gone about building our team, and frankly, for any of the tech founders or aspiring tech founders that are listening, there is no easy solution. There’s no, you know, you look on Angel list and you find your perfect team. Like, that’s not the way it works. I think the first thing that you really want to do is, is sort of take a step back and think about what does the company need at this stage? What are the skill sets that we need to get us to the next stage? And you have to think very, very specifically about that. Because, you know, many times you know, if you think about marketers, there are lots of different types of marketers, b2b marketers, there are so many different disciplines and b2b marketers. So I think the first thing is just being very honest with yourself and also talking to your advisors and your team about how do we get this concept, this seed idea to the next stage what has to happen. And that process gets a lot easier if you’re coming from a background of selling or working in product or in marketing for a similar or adjacent company, or adjacent industry. Because your past experience will have been exposed you to the relevant skill sets will have built relationships and trust with other people who have either worked with you in the past or were partners at other companies in your past life and, you know, so it’s really I found it one of the most important things is to Think about what the goals are. And then think about who you know, and who you trust in that first batch, because in that first set of hires, because the initial team that you surround yourself with is, is, again, that lifeblood of the company. And if you have any kind of bad hires at that stage, it can have a catastrophic impact on future hires, as you can imagine. So I found, you know, what worked for me, and that I was very fortunate, very lucky to have just an incredible group of former colleagues, friends, former partners, that shared in ViZIT`s vision and in fact, accelerated at TEDx. You know, it’s something where you really have to get the right brains in the room. And one of my colleagues, Eli Orkin has has been with us since the very beginning. And he’s somebody that I worked with that my past my past company, and it’s, it’s sort of those kind of pillars, and that’s just one example. But those pillars of both, what are you trying to achieve? What do you stand for? What do you want to build, like, you have to know that with these first set of of this set of team that you’ve team members that you bring along, they’re going to weather, some very hard storms, you’re going to have weeks and months where you run into a brick wall. And then you say, I can either keep sitting here, I could go backwards, or I could go around. And it takes a really unique, I think skill set and sort of agility, but also sort of a passion to kind of weather that. And, and of course, as an AI company, to, you have to be able to find and recruit some incredible technical talent, you have to it’s, it’s a very, very competitive space. And, you know, Ai, as an industry has just exploded, and we’re fortunate to be in a segment of AI, visual AI that is very underdeveloped, relative to what you might, you know, we would voice AI and Alexa. And you know, but we found that the something that has worked really well for us as we try to, you know, recruit technical talent and build our r&d team is, again, that be human. If you’re joining visit, you’re joining visit to be a part of something, we’re chart work, we’re charting a new course, you’re gonna work on problems that have never been solved before on earth. And that get technologies, it kind of gives you goosebumps, you think like, this is really cool, you know, I know, it’s gonna be hard, there isn’t a playbook for this. But there’s a certain breed of person that that’s what, what kind of wakes them up in the morning, that’s what gets them out of bed, they don’t want the kind of the mill type, you know, rinse and repeat, sorta, or I’m kind of working on this one component of this larger system, and I’m making incremental changes, I just wanted to build something. So I think through that, if your first set of hires are kind of sharing that vision, they bring that passion, they elevate you, and they elevate each other. Now you’ve got an initial, like team that also knows other similar people that share that vision, and you just start amplifying your message as you go. And, and then over time, you start to build in cultural norms in the company of, you know, what, when we’re recruiting or when we’re interviewing, what are some of the things that we look for. And that just takes time. But again, it comes back to that initial core team, and I couldn’t be more thankful for, for all the visitors that are on our team today.
Tony Zayas 34:07
So shifting gears just a little bit as the founder as the CEO, how has your role changed over time from early on pitching, probably spending a lot of time really on that focus to where you are today. I would love to hear, you know, how your role is evolving and changing?
Jehan Hamedi 34:28
Well, you know, I, I would certainly say in the early days, there was a lot of a lot of pitching, you know, and a lot of kind of business planning. But that business planning and those that those operations, those don’t, those don’t go away. You know, I think in fact, as a CEO, one of the things that I and I talked about this a lot is chasing bottlenecks. You know, it’s sort of thinking about, like, we’re trying to build a platform, a process, a goal. The market strategy, a customer success strategy, where there’s no formula for it yet, there isn’t another company that I could just say, I’m going to try and do that, but a little bit more efficient here, here. And here, we have to build it. And that means we’re totally going to make mistakes in the first couple rounds. But it’s important to learn from those mistakes. So I find a lot of my time, certainly working with customers and understanding how to improve our product. That’s a really big emphasis of mine. Because ultimately, you know, when, when you’re the founder and the CEO, a lot of times, you have a very big voice, and ultimately where the platform will go. And it’s very important, very, very important that that is customer led. And that, you know, you’re, you’re really listening to what the market and the customers are telling you. So I like to, you know, kind of get involved in different areas of the business. You know, I feel like at our company, we have the, the, the, you know, the culture that you know, everybody’s in, everybody’s in the canoe, and we’re all rolling, rolling together, we’re at that stage where it’s very flat. It’s sort of who can help him, what do you got on your plate, your books, the next couple hours, I can do it, you know, that’s sort of the vibe and the culture that we’re building. So I find that, you know, I’m working on different things every day, I wake up every morning, and it’s been different working from home, but I feel like I’ve kind of gotten into my, my groove, and I have my espresso machine right over. It certainly accelerates My, my, my morning. But you just kind of start your day with, you know, what are the few key things that have to get done? Or the key areas of the team, as each of these departments, again, are new, they’re nascent, that need the most help? And that’s where you start prioritizing your time. Yeah, no,
Tony Zayas 36:56
that’s, that’s fantastic. I’m curious, you know, with being in the visual content space, and as you said, somewhat underdeveloped, as opposed to, you know, some other areas similar? Is it ever challenged that maybe there’s so much opportunity for different directions that you can go, you know, that you’re not just following down a path of others and trying to do something a little bit differently? But it’s, it’s a, it’s a pretty wide open territory? Is that ever a challenge to you guys that allows you to lose focus? And and how do you maintain focus, and continue down the right path, if that makes any sense?
Jehan Hamedi 37:40
It does. And that’s one of the first lessons, you know, that we learned is, image is a absolutely massive opportunity. But there’s lots of other companies, you know, in other industries that are also pursuing very, very large opportunities. But you nailed it Tony, is we have to focus. And I think the way that we do that is the point that I just made, it’s being customer obsessed. So there are lots of ideas and lots of brilliant ideas that the team has. I have ideas, I bad ideas are good ideas. And it’s important to catalog all of those it really is, it’s important to keep track of all the different things that you’ve kind of come up with, or you might have heard, because over time, it will begin to form a mosaic. But the key areas and where you need to focus is what is solving the problem for my customer today. And the key thing that we that we used as a sort of trying to think of the term here, but a guiding force of focus is what, like one of the big drivers of of many early stage companies is references, and referrals. So we looked at our customers that had introduced us to other people in the industry that were their peers. And we said if they did that, this problem must be very, very important. And they must have been so happy with the result that they had. And they just were so thrilled with the opportunity and understanding our stage right that we’re going to get even better and more complete as a company and as a platform. But we sort of follow the customer obsessively. And that kind of allowed us to, you know, again, listen to feedback from other areas of the market, catalogue it, but it’s sort of what drove the result that impacted a business outcome that was measurable and successful and was so successful that for a very small company, they were willing to introduce them to a multi billion dollar company in sort of, you know, and put their name behind it, that in my mind was all the validation we needed, that we are on the right path, and that we need to continue to investigate that path. And the more that we learn from our customers, the more that will ultimately build, and, you know, help do even more for that. But without a doubt, focus is a challenge. Time again, is the one thing you can’t make more of, you only have so many hours in the day, as does your team.
Tony Zayas 40:30
Know that some brilliant feedback on you know, really focusing on the customer? What is your What does that feedback process or loop look like? You guys have something formal in place, and you said, You spent a lot of time engaging with you know, your customers? I would just be curious how you guys do that and catalog it and prioritize?
Jehan Hamedi 40:53
That’s a great question. So it’s informal, I would say at this stage, just given the stage that we’re at. So for each of our customers, we do have regular check ins. And that’s usually very focused on kind of their strategy. What are what are they doing? how can how can does it impact that? Or if we can’t impact it? Is there any other way that we could support you? Is there any, any advice we could give you? Is there somebody that you could be that you’d be interested to connect with, that’s complimentary to us, we’d be more than happy to introduce you to here. So I think those types of sessions really help kind of uncover pain points, uncovered sort of future needs, and other areas in which they’re thinking. But it’s so important to just build a high amount of trust with the relationship and what you can do, what you can’t do, how you can help, how you can’t help, because that social equity is really important, because I’ve found that the best feedback loops are when you can send a text message, or pick up the phone and say, What do you think about this? Give it to me straight? And you can you can count on getting a real answer. So I think over time, I’m sure as our company grows, as other companies grow, you build in more machinery and more process around customer feedback. But NPS scores don’t help you at this stage, you need to have human conversations with other humans, and talk about their problems and talk about your technology not in a sales context. But in a, here’s what we got, here’s what we’re thinking, that vibe with you. What are we missing here? What would you like to see added? And that I find is a really great way to sort of get at some of those nuggets that ultimately helped shape, you know, your focus and direction.
Tony Zayas 42:44
I love how the recurring theme of the guy from the AI company. Right? It’s, it’s so easy to think the technology and process is going to solve things. But really, it’s so much about, you know, relationships and learning and all that. So that’s awesome. to hear that. Now you guys work with some major, major brands, I’m curious how you took you took the product to market, you know, to start to get those initial customers, obviously you said referrals was a way that you grew, which is amazing and outstanding to hear. But I would I would be curious to hear from a growth perspective, how you guys started racking up some wins?
Jehan Hamedi 43:25
Sure. Well, I think the first thing is, and there’s a couple of schools of thought for this. But my philosophy was always look, just like how time is a very precious resource to me and our team. Anybody at the others on the other side of the aisle who is a would be buyer time is very important and precious to them too. And you have to sort of just understand that, and understand that you need their time and their feedback in order to harden and build out your product. So one of the first and most important things to do with any technology is get case studies and to get case studies. And again, there’s two schools of thought here. One school of thought is always you know, in the early days, like always make sure that you’re paying for every study, and that sets the value of your company and all that, but you don’t know what your value is. You know, and if they’ll pay for it, but what’s in it, and some folks will just understand what stage you’re at, and they’ll be comfortable with it. But the way that we approached it was we think that this technology could be applied to this problem that you have. Do you have that problem? You know, can you can you tell me a little bit about this? And so what we did is we we’ve focused, we had a maniacal focus on the success of the first case studies, because we knew that as many AI technology companies are your core IP is your database, and the deep neural networks that are built on top of it. You don’t have the you know salesforce.com, you know, portfolio of features and capabilities is just not there yet, you but you have something, and you have something that could be very, very valuable. So if you don’t know yet how people want to interact with it, other tooling that you need to build around it, or how you should even show the output, focus on the outcome that the customer wants. And so in that regard, many and much of our very early work was focused on sort of tech enabled consultant, if you will, where we’d say, let’s focus on your problem, and understand what outcome you’re trying to achieve. And let’s see if there’s a way that we could use our technology to do that. And we focused on getting very big brands to do that. And to do that you had to look for innovators within that company, you know, that cmo probably isn’t gonna answer your call, you know, a data analyst probably also isn’t the right person. to mobilize and initiative, you kind of need to find that person in the middle that’s looking for a new capability, external to the company, and is okay with just a true this is a software pilot, the tech company that has a cool story that we need to really prove it out. So we got some incredible case studies with with PepsiCo with its chips with masterlock. With central garden pet, not all those were done for free, right. But we, we put together sort of these these examples, where through our software, we were able to demonstrate a material sales lift. That was what the person cared about, sales, sales, sales. And now in in this world where, you know, budgets are tight, there’s a lot of different technology players out there, there’s a lot of different things you could do, focusing on the outcome that the customers want. And a lot of times it’s its growth and lift, if you can show that others will listen, or they’ll give you an audience. And that’s really all you need as a startup is to just say, I’ve got these wins, I’ve been successful, you know, can I have a shot on goal to just prove to you how I think our technology can help. And then as you get more and more of those case studies in reference to this, you can start learning what the market need and pricing is and sort of the right way to package it. Once you start charging, you can funnel that capital back into the development of your platform. And over time, you start to have something that your customers built, and that your customers are building. And so it’s your job to just continue to listen, and, and listen very acutely. So that’s kind of how we went about it. But for for sure, we were very, very fortunate to be a part of some incubators, that also were able to help introduce this to some of those innovative type leaders. That kind of is like is an important Launchpad.
Tony Zayas 48:13
That’s great, really good stuff. Just given my very limited understanding of AI. I believe there’s there’s kind of a certain amount of data that’s needed to operate from for for from an effectiveness standpoint. Or how you got you know, those early, you know, that early, those early customers and getting people to use the platform. How did you work through that? And then does that effectiveness kind of crease over time? Or what does that look like that growth curve of the effect of this essentially?
Jehan Hamedi 48:56
Yeah, that’s the dirty secret of AI, an AI is only as good as the your data. And that’s why most AI companies keep their data very, very tight to the vest and you invest to the, to the best, and you invest in conditioning and cleaning that data set. Because it’s just think of an AI like, you know, it’s it’s are these neural networks is they know nothing until you teach it. So you have to teach it patterns. And you have you have to teach it through repetition, to identify and recognize certain instances that lead to, you know, one classification or one outcome. Other examples and instances that lead to another and then over time, it begins to learn and kind of understand these these patterns that will ultimately improve its accuracy. So your data size is very important. It’s very hard to create an AI system with two data points. But really the quality too. And, and that’s, that’s one of the things where visit has thrived, because we’ve created a proprietary database of over a trillion visual cues and data points that are feeding our engine. And it took a long time to build, and it took a long time to clean, and it took a long time to harness. And so, you know, that’s, that’s kind of one of the things where, when you see companies talk about AI, like there are lots of different types of AI, out there. Sometimes AI can be used as a, you know, rather liberally. In our world, it’s deep learning. It’s using deep neural networks, that ultimately learn to kind of simulate the way the human brain visually processes imagery. And to do that, just like you, if you, I’ve never seen your background before Tony. But I, my brain developed an instant perspective, because it related it to millions and millions of things that I had seen over my lifetime. That’s what this AI is ultimately trained to do. So you have learned through repetition, and then over time, it gets even smarter. But they can be expensive to maintain. So there’s always, you know, investments in infrastructure investments and optimization, and, and rigor, because if you’re giving your customers an AI recommendation, that needs to be accurate, and it needs to be explainable. Because if you can’t do that, it’s very, very hard to trust, you know, as you could imagine, and in healthcare applications for AI, you’re now seeing really cool systems being developed that can detect early stage cancer in a variety of different areas. How do they do that? Because some company that is in the medical industry has 1000s and 1000s and 1000s, of annotated radiologist reports, this is this isn’t this is this isn’t this is this isn’t. So that’s their IP, that’s their data. And they’re training these algorithms to classify and understand sort of that instance. So that it’s not going to replace the radiologists. It’s a decision guide or an enhancement. So imagine they come into the room and it highlights something could be problematic, X percent sure. You know, how many more times could that, you know, could you avoid a, you know, false negative, for example, in our world, it’s, it’s about, you know, de risking, and ensuring that the content of the products that you put out into market are actually going to get a positive market reaction market response. So our problem is a lot more complex, because we aren’t simulating that that one classification, we’re trying to simulate an entire group of people. So it gets complicated. But we fortunately have some incredible brainpower on the team that has really helped us crack it.
Tony Zayas 53:10
And then, you know, in this whole space of this visual content and understanding of being predictive with it, how does the whole you know, consumer sophistication play into it? I once heard of the, you know, the, the example of, you know, with like the introduction of Instagram, this was years ago, I heard but someone said, that told me that, you know, the intimate sense, we used to, our brain used to take a lot longer to look and determine something to be a stock photograph. Because we didn’t see it as often. And now because we see, you know, genuine and authentic photographs all the time, we can in a split second determine, oh, this is snack, this is not. And so as that sophistication is happening, how does that impact what you guys are doing? it probably makes what you guys are doing more important, but I would love to get your take, you know, on on how do you stay ahead of that curve? What’s happening in the market with the consumers?
Jehan Hamedi 54:14
Yeah, so you nailed it. Because our system is is learning from what’s happening in the market. So we’re staying abreast of those trends, and helping our customers kind of action on them and take advantage of those sort of insights based on where visual preference and visual appetites are shifting, right, because people eat with their eyes. But the reality if you’re a brand or retailer is there’s a content crisis going on right now. Even when we’re all watching Netflix, you’re seeing a lot of the same stuff. And so that has sort of created this idea. And this burgeoning, you know, investment in emphasis at these companies to invest in new and higher quality content. Because the sea of same if you exist in the sea of same, you are lost, which means your lot, you’re losing conversions, you’re losing traffic, you’re losing interest. If you’re a retailer, you you’re losing retention. I was reading somewhere that I think like 80% of of like new customer acquisition, like you acquire a customer and they buy from retailer once. So if you’re not personalizing and really understanding visually how to kind of elevate your experience and the experience they have with your brand. It could be catastrophic. So I find that, you know, when we approach this problem, it’s like, we’re going to give you the best and most accurate information as fast as possible, on what visuals motivate the actions you care about. And we’ll do it through our real time platform, and sort of democratize access to that information to your decision makers, because you don’t have time, and you can’t afford to guess. You can’t always use stock. And trade, if you want it to do traditional market research and go survey, every single piece of content you made, you’re gonna get a multi million dollar bill at the end of the year. And, you know, six months too late, you needed the insight in the first place. So it’s a, it’s a very fascinating concept. starvation is real, is what I say on that
Tony Zayas 56:31
makes a ton of sense, that’s pretty crazy to think about just it just grows, and it’s it, you know, and it’s not going away. And we know that so fascinating stuff you’re doing. I’m gonna throw out one last question. And this does this can be what you guys are doing this could be anything else. Again, this relates to how we work, how we live, how we play, but we like to ask on this show, you know, what is the one technology that you personally are really excited about? That, you know, in the next three to five years, you really think it’s going to have a big impact?
Jehan Hamedi 57:07
Sure. Well, I, I certainly have a bias speak to that. But I would say that, again, I like my our story, my story, our team story, we are purely focused on imagery. And image as a concept has been completely under measured. And if you can’t measure something, you can’t manage it, and you can’t optimize it. So I think, you know, whether it’s VIZIT other technologies that really start to help brands understand how to harness visual data, I think that’s incredibly exciting, because text has been done. And it’s lost its commercial power, the impact of those insights, audio has been done by some very powerful companies. Visual has not. And so I feel that you know, and in our category that we call visual brand performance, the concept of you know, Mountain Dew or Axe body spray, being a visual brand, with visual experiences and visual touch points that drive and condition and connect with their customers. The ability to measure that, and optimize it is is in my mind kind of game changing. Because of this new world we live in. That is an infinite scroll, the scroll is truth. And understanding that truth is going to change industries. So I feel that, you know, visual is just such an exciting place to be and I couldn’t be more, more happy to be just just just a little part of it.
Tony Zayas 58:47
That’s awesome. I agree with you. I think this is some incredible stuff. We’re just about out of time I but first of all want to thank you This has been fantastic. I probably go you know, continue this conversation quite a bit longer. But for the sake of time, last thing just Jehan, where can we you know, people that are tuning in? Where can we learn more about you about VIZIT where you guys are up to?
Jehan Hamedi 59:12
Absolutely So VIZIT dot com. V I Z I T dot com is sort of home base. We’re doing a lot of kind of research and insights on on some really cool things. So please do you know follow us. We’re on LinkedIn. Same thing, visit labs as the force there. But reach out. We’d love to hear from you. If you’re in Boston, the world opens up be cool to get a beer sometime. But you know, we really appreciate the opportunity to be here and, and talk about visit.
Tony Zayas 59:44
We’re very cool. Again, Jehan. Thank you so much. We appreciate your time here doing some amazing things and appreciate you sharing with us. So thank you, and everybody tuning in. We will see you next time. Thanks for joining. Take care, everybody. Thank you