Interview

AI TechPark Interview with Simon Yencken, Fanplayr

Simon Yencken shares his views on innovating new technology for customers. Furthermore, he focuses on the use of personalization, data, AI and Machine Learning.

1. Tell us how you came to be the co-founder and CEO at Fanplayr.

I founded Fanplayr with 2 co-founders from the FinTech space. We had seen how digital technology had transformed trading floors in banking and financial services and believed that the same thing would happen in the ecommerce world. Certainly the experience over the last few years, and in particular in 2020 has proven this to be true.

2. How much of your typical day is involved in innovating new technology for your customers?

Our CTO and product team spend a significant amount of time focused on innovation and new technologies. As CEO I am a participating member of our Product Committee and we meet weekly to discuss innovation and new product development. Our goal is to put our clients first by giving them access to the latest in ecommerce technology focused on personalization, data, AI and Machine Learning.

3. How did you define the vision of Fanplayr?

At Fanplayr our Mission is: ‘Making Behavior Data Actionable’. Our Vision is: To be ‘The Platform’ for assimilating data, providing intelligence and segmentation to improve any interaction.
We defined the Mission and Vision of the Company at an All Hands Strategy Meeting several years ago. We haven’t needed to change it since then.

4. How did you approach your first 100 days as the CEO at Fanplayr?

That’s an interesting question. This week happens to be the 9th anniversary of the 1st go live of the Fanplayr Service.

Looking back at my first 100 days at Fanplayr, that time was heavily focused on product development, and our seed funding round.

5. What are the applications or rather opportunities you seek to have with your services?

When we launched the service it was focused principally on retail ecommerce, then we added support for airlines and the travel industry. Subsequently we added support for energy, and financial services. During the pandemic we have had great demand in telecommunications, entertainment and also car companies. We also now support B2B. Every vertical has slightly different objectives but they all centre on using behavioural personalization to improve the visitor experience, and as a result improve site performance.

6. How do you differentiate yourself from your competitors? What are some of the distinctive features your services have?

As I previously mentioned, Fanplayr’s Mission to Make Behavioural Data Actionable is realized by Fanplayr’s unique capabilities in the following areas:

  • Use of visitor behavioural data to understand intent and provide real time individualized personalization
  • All site activity data is captured stored and analysed, and is available for real time actions
  • Fanplayr’s depth & breadth of segmentation is unique in the industry
  • Fanplayr has a Global patent on Segmentation as a Service, which means that we have the only segmentation engine in the industry that can work in real time with external applications and systems
  • The Fanplayr Creative Editor allows content to be created, amended and stored within the Fanplayr platform and then used in real time for dynamic personalization, without needing any coding
  • The Fanplayr Behavioural Data HubÔ has open API’s and can be used with any other platform, service or application
  • Data can be streamed into or out of the Behavioural Data Hub to or from any other data platform or service
  • Fanplayr uses Machine Learning and AI to provide unique analysis and personalization to improve loyalty and life time customer value
  • Fanplayr has been an early adopter of Google AI Services to provide the leading product recommendation service
  • The Fanplayr eCommerce Insights & Analytics are unique in the industry for their depth and breadth, filtering capability, per-built dashboards, and for ease of creating custom dashboards
  • Fanplayr Site Performance Analytics are uniquely focused on user experienced site performance and lead directly to actionable insights to increase site yield

7. What are some of the unique lessons you have learnt from analysing your customer behaviour?

Every visitor is different and, in the moment, can have many and varied reasons for being present on an eCommerce site at any particular point in time. Also in this time of multiple devices, many of them mobile, any particular device be used by multiple different individuals, who could be browsing on their own behalf or on behalf of others. In this new world of heightened concerns and protections on individual privacy, many visitors are anonymous and their true intentions in the moment can only be understood from looking at their behaviour. This is why the Fanplayr Service is so valuable and necessary to almost every business with an online presence.

8. Recently Fanplayr was in the news for acquiring Japan-Based Jamu Inc., can you elaborate more on the same?

Being the third largest economy in the world, Japan to this point has been underrepresented in terms of e-commerce as a percentage of sales. Expansion to Japan has been a reliable source of growth for successful foreign technology companies. Classic examples are Apple and Oracle. Penetrating this market is challenging and a visible commitment is absolutely necessary, which takes time. The acquisition represents the fulfilment of a long-term relationship between Fanplayr and Jamu Inc, which dates back to 2012 and has been profitable for both companies. We believe that this market will represent a significant long term growth opportunity for Fanplayr.

9. Can you give us a sneak peek into some of the upcoming product upgrades that your customers can look forward to?

Late last year we launched Product Recommendations, with Google AI Services, and you can see our overview video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pgdPw9zEvgU

We shortly plan to launch Smart SMS Messaging for eCommerce platforms, leveraging Fanplayr’s patented Segmentation as a Service. The next cab of the rank will be Fanplayr  Site Speed Analytics, which uniquely focuses on end user site performance and consequent site performance enhancement opportunities.

10. What are some of the common pain points that your customers commonly approach you with?

Underperforming web sites, from a conversion, booking or qualified lead perspective. Lack of visibility into visitor site activity in light of the new privacy restrictions. A desire to launch coordinated retargeting messaging, all driven from a central behavioural data hub. A need to provide onsite (and in message) product recommendations, or to improve existing recommendations using AI.

11. What advice would you like to give to the upcoming tech start-ups?

Focus on your customers, and understand their business problems, and design products and services that are needed and meet a demand. Treat the capital you raise from investors as ‘gold’ and spend it carefully and wisely. Every cent raised and spent from investors dilutes the founders and other employees. Also never assume that you can or will raise another round of capital. You probably will but don’t assume that, because you will have the most capital offered to you by investors at the time when you don’t necessarily need it. Never give up, whilst being prepared to pivot from your original idea if that is necessary. Building a successful start-up is tough but when you succeed it is incredibly rewarding.

12. Which is the one tech breakthrough you will be on the lookout for in the upcoming year?

AI/ML will be front and center.

Many services will be launched that are either fully based on AI/ML or more likely combine technologies such as modern UI with AI/ML.

While AI/ML will not necessarily create a fundamental shift, but it will be embedded into and enable a host of features both user focused and business focused. Legacy SaaS providers will incorporate AI/ML into their primary offerings, but more as an add on and not necessarily a fundamental building block.

13. What is the one leadership motto you live by?

Be kind & understanding of others. Lead by example.

Simon Yencken

CEO and co-founder of Fanplayr

Currently,  Simon Yencken is CEO and co-founder of Fanplayr. Fanplayr’s mission is to make ‘behavioural data actionable’. Its breakthrough approach consists in analysing site traffic and providing intelligence and real time segmentation to improve and personalize every interaction with users. Finlay’s patent pending ‘Segmentation as a Service’ provides a powerful real-time segmentation engine across the enterprise to multiple databases & applications. The Fanplayr Service is a cloud based platform that combines machine-learning and big data analytics to generate significant uplifts to revenue by delivering real-time personalization to visitors. Fanplayr has hundreds of enterprise customers globally in many different languages and currencies (including: Guess, Alitalia, Maserati, eBags, Party City, Air Europa, Kiko Cosmetics, Hankyu Hanshin, The New Yorker, Samsung, Sports Direct, Vodafone, Dolce & Gabbana) and has tracked more than 4B+ visitor sessions.

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