Interview

Interview with Matt Schlicht, Co-founder & CEO at Octane AI

Matt Schlicht

Matt Schlicht, Co-founder and CEO at Octane AI, explains the need for AI in marketing to drive personalized message and recommendations to customers

1. Tell us about your role as co-founder and CEO at Octane AI.

As Co-Founder and CEO of Octane AI, I oversee strategy, product, and the culture of our 100% remote team. I am very passionate about our 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. How did you think of creating an AI-driven personalized message tool for the market?

We launched Octane AI in 2016 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. We knew that if we focused, 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 automation on SMS, Messenger, ads, and more.

3. How do you think AI 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 go to Amazon, the home page looks completely different for both of us. Over the next five years, AI-driven personalized message will 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 AI-driven customer-centric approach enhanced the operations of 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 touchpoint.

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 cab send a personalized message over Facebook Messenger and SMS with advanced AI-driven 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. Octane AI recently launched Shoppable Quiz. How does this upgrade help merchants and shoppers?

With the Shoppable Quiz, merchants can 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, and there is a real-time product catalog 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 derived using AI. Customers are also able to add products to their cart directly from the results page of the quiz.

7. What tips would you like to give marketers about using AI to deliver better CX?

Utilize AI-powered personalization to offer an experience that customers can enjoy Marketers can now 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 using AI. 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-minute 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 customers. This technology is bound to accelerate rapidly and there is a big advantage to businesses that can move fast now.

10. What have been your major recent announcements?

In addition to the Shoppable Quiz, we’ve recently announced a $4.25 million 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 a 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 Octane AI has a very joyful work culture despite being remote. Can you share with us some of the fun activities across the globe?

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 drawings and animation videos to my 800 k followers.

Matt Schlicht

Co-founder and CEO at Octane AI

Matt Schlicht, co-founder and CEO at Octane AI, has been fascinated by chatbots since forever. A two-time Forbes 30 under 30, he is also the founder of Chatbots magazine and a TikTok expert with over 800k followers. Previously, Matt has pioneered one-to-many online live video at Ustream later acquired by IBM for $130 million, and helped grow rapper Lil Wayne from 1 to 30 million fans online. Alum from Y Combinator, Matt is the creator of the largest bot community – Bots Group, and powers the bots for brands and celebrities as CEO of Octane AI, the service behind the Facebook Messenger chatbots powering an online suite for running messenger and conversational marketing automation campaigns.

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