Tell Us About Exceed.ai and How Did You Come Up With the Idea For the Company?
I started Exceed.ai 4 years ago with my partner Yaron Ismah Moshe. Prior to Exceed, I lived in Silicon Valley where I managed the WebEx product line of Cisco (what we all used before Zoom). The idea behind Exceed stemmed from my experience at Cisco coupled with my conviction that AI will change the future of augmented workforce.
At WebEx we generated thousands of leads every month. Marketing employed a lead scoring methodology and passed these leads to a team of 40+ SDRs to figure out who is ready to talk to an account rep. Two things were obvious to all of us: first, lead scoring helped narrow down the number of leads, yet we all knew we were missing out on qualified leads. The reason was that we did not always have the information needed to accurately score the lead.
The second was that it would be hard to scale the follow up and qualification process with more SDRs, since the long tail of lower-scoring leads have a lower return. As humans are humans, they are not perfect at juggling too many balls at once.
I was always fascinated with AI and automation and how it will change the workplace. We are slowly moving into an augmented work environment where robots will work alongside humans to automate non-strategic, mundane and repetitive tasks.
And that’s where the two came together. Using Intelligent Virtual Assistant to work alongside the sales and marketing team to follow-up, nurture and qualify leads so humans can focus on closing deals.
How Does Your Company Innovate?
Within Exceed is our AI Assistant capability which works 24/7 alongside humans to find qualified prospects from their existing leads. It ensures every marketing lead is automatically followed up on, nurtured, and is qualified. When a lead is qualified and ready to talk to a human, the AI Assistant books a meeting directly on your rep’s calendar.
We utilise Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing to mimic humans to provide an automated two-way conversation with prospects over email and website chat. Our systems learn from how humans respond to leads and become better the more the system is used.
By now, we have collected millions of records that have been used to train our product to a point of positive accuracy rates of above 97%.
How Has the Covid-19 Pandemic Impacted the Marketing and Sales Industry?
The marketing industry is in a repositioning stage as it adjusts itself to the new post-COVID-19 reality. Remote work is growing, distributed teams structures become more common and allocating budgets towards digital assets is a reality marketing leaders are facing these days.
As a result, companies are seeing more leads coming in at the top of the funnel, with a lot more noise. At the same time, budgets are tight and organisations are looking to do more with less headcount and also get more out of their existing investment in generating leads.
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What’s the Best Advice You’ve Ever Received?
Be responsible for your failures.
Taking responsibility for my mistakes and failures is not just the right thing to do, it is liberating. Once I owned my failures without being ashamed about it, it allowed me to learn and grow – it also let my team dare without being afraid to make mistakes on the way.
What Is Your Advice To Entrepreneurs On Negotiating and Raising Funding for Startups?
My advice is to make sure you do your market validation and talk to customers before you talk to VCs. A strong team + value prop + proof points, is not enough. You need to find the right VCs and prepare yourself for many no’s before you get the one yes.