Martech Interview with the Co-Founder and CEO, Octane AI – Matt Schlicht

Matt Schlicht from Octane AI talks about the importance of data & AI technology in today’s e-commerce market. He also puts light on the future of conversational AI

Marketers now have the ability to personalize every step of the customer’s journey with access to targeted technologies

1. Tell us about your role in Octane AI?
As CEO & Co-Founder of Octane AI I oversee strategy, product, and the culture of our 100% remote team. I am very passionate about product, and empowering others with technology, so I spend a lot of time thinking about our product and what the future will look like and how it can make the biggest impact for our customers.

2. Can you tell us about your journey into this market?
In 2016 we launched Octane AI as a way for businesses of any kind to market to their customers using chat on Facebook Messenger. During our first year we recognized the powerful impact our technology was having with online stores, an industry that already was getting so much value from email automation, and knew that if we focused on it we could bring new ecommerce capabilities for conversation, automation, and personalization. In 2018 we launched our Shopify integration and have grown to working with thousands of some of today’s fastest growing brands. Shopify and Shopify Plus brands increase revenue by using Octane AI to personalize the entire customer journey, from onboarding experiences with quizzes that recommend products, to targeted automations on SMS, Messenger, ads, and more.

3. How do you think technology is upgrading the marketing sector?
The biggest technology companies, like Facebook, Netflix, and Amazon, have spent billions of dollars jumping ahead of the rest of the world’s marketing capabilities. This is especially true when it comes to technology that personalizes the customer experience (when you and I both go to Amazon the home page is going to look completely different for both of us). Over the next five years this type of technology is going to become democratized and simplified for every industry, and we are focused on enabling every ecommerce brand to have access to it.

4. How has the customer-centric approach enhanced e-commerce companies?
If three people walked into your store and had completely different needs, would you have the exact same conversation with each of them? Of course not! You would take time to figure out what each of them needs and then answer their questions and guide them towards the perfect set of products.
Ecommerce brands that replicate a digital version of this experience with quizzes see huge benefits – higher average order values, multiple new customer connections, and the ability to add personalization to every marketing touch point.
Instead of making assumptions about each customer, brands who take the time to get to know their customers at scale, ask them questions, and build a relationship, are the brands who will become the leaders in their categories.

5. Can you explain how Messenger and SMS help in driving sales?
Similar to the sophistication of email, ecommerce merchants are able to send personalized messages over Facebook Messenger and SMS with advanced personalization technology.
Each message drives new sales, retargets customers and offers instant customer support.
Messaging is very important for Shopify merchants in particular because with messaging engagement increasing over time, merchants need more channels than just email to connect with customers.

6. We recently covered the news about the launch of Shoppable Quiz, how does this platform help merchants and shoppers?
With the Shoppable Quiz, merchants are able to increase conversions and average order value as well as grow their marketing list with better data. It’s easy to use as there is no code quiz builder, the quizzes are tailored to the brand, there is real-time product catalogue syncing and detailed revenue insights and analytics.
BeautyBio increased its AOV by 28% using a quiz to learn about their customer’s top skincare needs and segment them into profiles.
For the shoppers, the quiz simplifies the discovery experience for them with an in-depth online consultation altering the ecommerce space from a searching experience to a helpful, personalized, and conversational experience. Customers are also even able to add products to their cart directly from the results page of the quiz.

7. What tips would you like to give to Shopify Merchants, that will help them in delivering better customer experience?
Utilize the power of personalization to offer an experience that customers can enjoy.

Marketers now have the ability to personalize every step of the customer’s journey with access to targeted technologies.

These personalized efforts will encourage repeat purchases and build long-term customer relationships.
Our mission is to humanize the ecommerce shopping experience. Making discovering the right products easier for customers, gathering customer data to segment buyers into profiles, and use those profiles and collected data to properly market to every individual using the right messaging at the right time.

8. What work-related hack do you follow to enjoy maximum productivity?
I often set 5 min timers for myself and see how much I can do before the time runs out while I listen to electronic music on Spotify.

9. How do you prepare for an AI-centric world?
We’re already in an AI-centric world, but most of our experience with it is from big companies like Netflix recommending us our next binge, Amazon recommending us that new quick purchase, and Facebook doing whatever it can to keep us engaged. Businesses looking to prepare for an AI-centric world need to start implementing strategies to collect their own data and use it to personalize recommendations for their own customers This technology is going to accelerate rapidly and there is a big advantage to businesses who move fast now.

10. What have been your major recent developments?
In addition to the Shoppable Quiz, we’ve recently announced a $4.25M funding round led by Bullpen Capital in August, along with participation from General Catalyst Partners, Boost VC, FJ Labs and others. Additionally, we’ve announced the hire of Heather Adams as our first VP of Marketing, who will lead efforts to scale our internal marketing team, accelerate new customer acquisition and optimize and diversify our content engine to help grow and evolve our brand.

11. Can you tell us about your team and how they support you?
The Octane AI team is 100% remote, in over 10 countries, and growing rapidly. As a remote team from day one we have always fostered a culture of self-management, humor, curiosity, transparency, and strong work life balance. Every Monday we have a team call where all important updates and data are shared equally across the company so that everyone is empowered with the information needed to make decisions on behalf of the greater team and our goals. It is amazing to wake up every day knowing that the team is not only owning their individual responsibilities, but constantly pushing to improve themselves and everyone they work with.

12. We have heard that you have a very joyful work culture, so can you share with us some of the fun pictures of your workplace?

13. Which apps do you use the most on your phone?
I use Slack for talking to the team, Zero for managing my fasts, Videoleap for editing videos, and TikTok where I post drawing and animation videos to my 800k followers.

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Matt is a two-time Forbes 30 under 30 alum, the creator of Chatbots Magazine, the #1 bots and AI publication in the
world with over 750,000 readers a year, and a TikTok expert with over 800K TikTok followers. Previously, with a focus on digital product design, Matt pioneered one-to-many online live video at Ustream (acquired by IBM), went through YCombinator, and helped grow rapper Lil Wayne from 1 to 30 million fans online.

Trusted by 1,000+ Shopify and Shopify plus brands, Octane AI provides an all-in-one platform for engaging quizzes, data collection, and personalized Facebook Messenger and SMS automation. Merchants use Octane AI to connect, convert, and retain customers by personalizing the customer journey and giving customers the confidence to purchase.
AI is backed by top Silicon Valley investors, including Bullpen Capital, General Catalyst, FJLabs, M Ventures, and the founders of Hipmunk, Hearsay Systems, and Articulate. The company is all-remote and employs team members in 10+ countries. It was founded in 2016 by Matt Schlicht, Ben Parr, and Leif K-Brooks.

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