Episode No:101

Navigating Entrepreneurship and Embracing Data-Driven Strategies

Louis Shulman

Co-Host of The Louis and Kyle Show Co-owner Orbit Metrics and Inbox Ghosts

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Ep#101:Navigating Entrepreneurship and Embracing Data-Driven
Strategies ft. Louis Shulman (Co-Host of The Louis and Kyle Show, Co-Owner Orbit Metrics and Inbox Ghosts)
Ep#101:Navigating Entrepreneurship and Embracing Data-Driven Strategies ft. Louis Shulman (Co-Host of The Louis and Kyle Show, Co-Owner Orbit Metrics and Inbox Ghosts)
  • Ep#101:Navigating Entrepreneurship and Embracing Data-Driven Strategies ft. Louis Shulman (Co-Host of The Louis and Kyle Show, Co-Owner Orbit Metrics and Inbox Ghosts)

Episode Summary

In this episode of The Hyperengage Podcast, guest Louis Shulman discusses his experiences as a podcast host and entrepreneur. He shares lessons learned from over 150 episodes, emphasizing the importance of focusing on key business aspects. Louis also talks about his companies, Orbit Metrics and Inbox Ghosts, which help businesses with digital advertising and customer engagement. Additionally, the conversation covers the role of a fractional Chief Data Officer in technology businesses, highlighting the importance of data-driven decision-making and the use of tools like Metadata for media optimization in SaaS businesses.
Key Takeaways Time
Why Louis started a podcast after some entrepreneurial failures 1:05
How the purpose of his podcast has evolved over 4 years 5:42
Overview of his company Orbit Metrics 10:15
Launching his “done for you” newsletter service Inbox Ghosts 13:13
Thoughts on AI and SaaS startup trends in 2024 28:36
Thoughts on AI and SaaS startup trends in 2024 31:51

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Transcript

[00:00:06] Taylor Kenerson: Hello. Welcome to the Hyperengage podcast, our first episode of 2024. WHOOP WHOOP. Thank you so much for joining us. [00:00:15] Taylor Kenerson: I have a beautiful guest here, but before I introduce him here with my co host, Adil, and my name is Taylor. And we're going to walk you through Lewis's journey. It's very exciting and definitely different than some of the other guests we've had on Lewis. He's the host of the Lewis and Kyle podcast with over 150 episodes. Correct me if I'm wrong, Lewis, and counting, still going to this day, which is an amazing feat that you're still trugging along in this journey, and you also have a few companies, which we'll definitely dive into. So we really appreciate you, and thank you so much for joining us, Lewis. [00:00:51] Louis Shulman: Yeah, thank you both. I'm excited to be. [00:00:55] Taylor Kenerson: I got to get into this. What is your ‘why’ for starting the podcast, and how has it shaped your journey thus far? [00:01:05] Louis Shulman: The ‘why’ for starting the podcast, specifically, I'd say, came after a couple of entrepreneurial failures, not in a massive sense, but they certainly weren't successes. And basically, I had tried several projects over many years, and with Kyle, we had done a few projects together and basically had realized that our projects failed because they weren't particularly good ideas. We just wanted to start a business because we wanted to start a business, not because we actually had an idea worth starting a business around. So then we kind of reframed it as what should we do with ourselves? Let's not start another business just for the sake of starting another business. Let's wait until we actually have a proper premise of a business to start, and let's busy ourselves productively until then. So we were both in college. I was a junior and he was a sophomore, and we had kind of, for a couple of years, entertained. The idea of a podcast kind of came into clarity, obviously, with the pandemic timing as like, an easy starting trigger. And we had been a part of a mastermind group that Kyle had created, where we did in person dinners with a few of our friends and brought in one kind of outside guest from the community who is older and established and successful. And so we wanted to carry out and continue that tradition remotely. And we just kind of said, we're not going to coordinate this for a six person group. It's just going to be me and Kyle and the guest. And that is kind of the inception of the podcast, at least the short story. [00:02:26] Taylor Kenerson: That's incredible. I mean, often when you have some setbacks and failures in your journey, that can be the end for so many people. And they could just go back into that, what everyone else is doing their nine to five and really never live out their dreams. So it's really incredible that you were able to not only reframe your perspective on those setbacks, but also take those lessons and try to understand how it can teach you and how it can chart your journey forward. So can you talk a little bit about then starting the podcast and then what you learned through the podcast to then create the companies that you built and then touch on those a bit? [00:03:04] Louis Shulman: Definitely. The second question is a bit more challenging because I'm coming up on four years for having done the podcast. [00:03:10] Taylor Kenerson: Holy shit. Timeout. That's a big moment. That is a huge moment. Like, kudos to you for even being that consistent and sticking to it, because so many people just quit after the first or second episode before you answer this question. And then I have another question for you after this. [00:03:28] Louis Shulman: Definitely. So starting it specifically was fairly straightforward, right? Because they started in 2020, which means they had Internet access, and Google was a nice, established product that existed at the time. So it still exists. For the record, Google has not been obliterated by AI quite yet in January of 2024. If someone's listening to this in the future, like Google, I remember hearing about that. So basically, we just kind of did a very basic Google and we're like, how do we start a podcast? And I don't totally know what things we had done wrong, painfully wrong in the months leading up to it to put us in the frame of mind of like, let's not make optimal decisions and let's just get started in a really messy way. But fortunately, that was our attitude. So I used to analyze decisions that didn't matter, and I still do. I just used to do it much more frequently than I currently do, such as best microphone, best production software, best hosting software, best editing software. And I basically was like, look, if it's on this blog post of the top ten, it's one of the best ones. So it's good enough. And same thing with every other decision that needed to be made to get started. And I think, not totally sure if we had a specific set date for the goal, but I feel like it was one of those things where we started and we're like, if this takes us more than like a week or two to start, we're doing something wrong, basically. Just like, what's the quick and dirty? How do we just get a podcast out the door and make the decision? So basically, Google, first tutorial, first set of things that sounded like they checked the boxes. There's a book by Barry Schwartz, the paradox of choice. It's kind of like going into decisions with a framework of like, before you go out and do the research, you write out what is it that I'm looking for? What are the boxes I need to check? Then when you find the first thing that checks those boxes, you're just like, good enough, right? I said, this is what I needed. This is that I'm not going to keep looking. So that was very much our kind of a greedy algorithm, if you will, from a computer science perspective, a very greedy selection criteria for how we get started. And we just did that and got started. I'd say five guests were from our personal network. So family, friends who run businesses, friends of ours who started small on campus startups at our school. And then within the first 25 episodes, we were reaching out to just random people from Twitter, people who had a blog that we found interesting. And then everything kind of snowballed from there, from having the credibility of having had 25 episodes, and then nice serendipities falling into our lap. That was the early stages. As far as what I've learned each year kind of represents a very different set of goals and priorities and stage in life. Like when I said I first started it when I was a junior in college. So originally it was very much a means of discovery. It was like, what business models are out there? And what does life look like for the people who've pursued this business model? Did their life seem really painful and awful, and did their path to making it seem like something I would be willing to endure? And does it seem like a match for my skill sets and my weaknesses or not? And ironically, so I was studying computer science in school, so I kind of thought the type of business that makes sense for me to start is a large software company. And then I interviewed a lot of SaaS founders, and I was like, all of these guys, for the most part, seem miserable, and there's a selection bias. If I only interviewed the miserable ones, I suppose, and not miserable, but the ones are like, this journey was really hard and really painful. Then a lot of other people who did more like the agency model, like b two b services. They're like, yeah, I just found some businesses that want my stuff and I just sold it to them. And then we just build it up. And I was like, that seems like they were happy along the way. So it was kind of a means of discovery of what's out there and what seems appealing based on who I can relate to. And then in the later years I can get into specific lessons. But I know I've been speaking for a few minutes. But at one point I decided I still didn't have an idea of what business to start. Even after several interviews, even after, let's say like 70, I wasn't totally clear on what to do and I had graduated by that point. So I kind of decided yet again, I still don't have a business to start. Same problem I had when I started the podcast. I still don't want to just do something for the sake of doing it, because I know that's not going to work out, because I've listened to enough people who just try to do that, and the path sounded painful and like something I wanted to avoid. So it's like, I'm just going to get a job and do stuff in an industry I'm excited about, learning skills I'm excited to learn, and then at some point I'll be in a better position. Yet again, it's the same exact spot as I was when I started the podcast. What is a useful thing to do with myself? Because I don't actually know what to do that I want to do in a way that's not set myself up for failure. So I decided I wanted to work in the bitcoin and cryptocurrency industry. So at that point, the podcast was just a way to immediately download a lot of information and important relationships by networking with cool people. And then it was helpful in getting a couple of jobs in that industry. Then eventually my co-founder for my current kind of businesses had reached out to me, wanting me to join those businesses with him. And so I did. I left those jobs to start the business with him. And then from then until now, so I'd say from October, September of 2022 till about present day, the podcast has really been a vehicle for me to say, what am I personally bottlenecked by? Why is my business not growing? What skill set do I not have? What people do I not know? And where can I use the podcast to meet those people and learn those things to continue to unblock whatever it is that is preventing the business from growing? [00:08:25] Taylor Kenerson: Thank you so much for those insights, and I love that. The one fact that you mentioned earlier, it's where do you place your focus and attention, right? It's finite. So if you're so focused on the shit that doesn't matter you're going to keep in that loop of doing shit that doesn't matter until you realize, just like you mentioned, what are those checkboxes? What are the few things that you need to know, or the goals that you have going into that research, or going into a specific project that you're looking to get out of that instance so that you already know? Once these boxes are checked, that's it. Move on to the next thing and not get caught in that loop of the continuous. I mean, we've all been there, just the continuous nothingness. You're back at the same square you were. And I love too, that you had a different outlook on the podcast. The podcast served a purpose initially, and then that purpose transformed over time, and you didn't really see the podcast that many people start podcasting for pr and all that stuff. It was really like what it sounds like. It's more for inner development and inner work, and understanding where you are personally and professionally, and then understanding how you can align both with yourself internally and your values, with your overall goals, and what you're really trying to achieve, which is just an amazing perspective, because you see the herd of people that go to start a blog or a podcast, and it's very similar, and the story is the same. And I feel like that's why they're not able to stand out, because you're doing the same shit everyone else is doing. What do you expect? A different result, which is really powerful. [00:09:57] Taylor Kenerson: So can you dive a little bit into those businesses with this partner, and kind of what the businesses are and who they serve and who your ICP is and what your thinking around those are? [00:10:08] Louis Shulman: Yeah, so I have three main projects at present outside of the podcast, and in many ways they're very complementary. So orbit metrics was the business that my business partner had started and reached. I'd say a sustainable level of this is worth pursuing before I ever got involved. So he really took that from zero to one without me there whatsoever. And he actually did that part time while he was still working at another job. So on the side, he got that to a zero to one stage, and basically to a point where he was making decent money, but not something he wanted to quit his job to do, because he did a really good job doing software engineering and basically that business. The core premise was that a lot of businesses that put through a lot of digital ad spend, so like, I don't know what a lot means to different people, but let's say a minimum of like $50,000 a month in digital advertising. Obviously, for some people that's like, I spend $50,000 a day. And some people are like, that's our yearly ad spend or whatever. But at that amount, basically a small optimization brings in a significant return. And especially if you're spending that money across campaigns, kind of omnichannel omni doesn't have to mean every single channel, but like a lot of them, then it's pretty guaranteed that you're not analyzing, you're leaving money on the table. Like, you're not optimizing everything that could be optimized. A lot of the reason for that is the aggregation of that data is very time consuming and annoying and just like you're just not going to do. And it requires a certain skill set you may not have or no one from your team has. And there's software that's expensive, there's a high, it's a difficult thing to do most of the time. Sometimes there are some off the shelf tools that if you're in a very narrow industry, in a set use case, it's like all ecommerce brands, for example, use the same marketing mix. So there are some analytics tools that are like custom fit to a common set marketing mix formula. But for most businesses, they do custom stuff because every business is kind of messy behind the scenes. And what we do is we help those businesses aggregate, gate, and make sense of their bi. So their business intelligence put all of that into a data warehouse. A lot of people start out with like Zapier and spreadsheets. That's great until it isn't. And then when it's not, it really isn't. Google sheets not designed to have more than 100,000 rows in it. And when you start to have a million rows, your computer gets really slow and then you have even more aversion to looking at your data and then you continue to not make good decisions. So the point of that business I'm really getting into, the problem statement here is we help people clean up their analytics and build reports that are fully automated and give them the level of insight into what they want to have. A level of insight into refresh daily across all campaigns, all platforms, et cetera. Not like literally every single number inside of the business typically related to transaction data. So purchases or sales, and then anything related to marketing. So your socials, your paid, your email, et cetera. So that's orbit metrics, that's primarily serving a lot of agencies will be kind of their go to fractional. Chief data officer is what we'll call the role and help them manage the analytics across all of their clients. And then for some brands or businesses that do a lot of advertising themselves, we'll just be a fractional data officer for the brand directly. And then the second business is called inbox ghosts. And this one's, I'd say, in many ways still being incubated. I'm very pleased with what we're delivering to our clients, but we're just coming out of our initial kind of beta cohort of we had a hypothesis and we wanted to get customers quickly, so we offered at a fairly low price, a straightforward service, which is we will produce a weekly newsletter for your business hypothesis. There being right, there's no reason you shouldn't be reminding people that you exist at least once a week in some capacity. You don't have to remind everyone, but people who are in your potential buyer's category might be a good idea to remind them that you exist at a regular interval. It's the same one of those things as the other business where it's important, but it's probably not important enough for a certain size of business to hire a full time person for that. So an analyst, someone to do what we do at orbit metrics would probably require an analyst skill set, which is going to cost any business, including if they're bringing them on full time and have to do health care and benefits and the whole thing, like $6,000 a month, probably even more. And then for maybe like a junior level marketing person, probably like at least 4000 a month, probably more than that if they're coming in full time in house. And so with these businesses, it's basically, it's something that's important, but at the certain size of business, not important enough for you to bring on a full time person. So it gets neglected unless you bring on a specialist service provider like ourselves. So that's what inbox ghost does. It's a done for you weekly newsletter. [00:14:31] Taylor Kenerson: And then I want to dive a little bit into orbit metrics a bit and really interested for the audience that might not know and myself too. [00:14:40] Taylor Kenerson: I'm not really, I know that the fractional aspect of is becoming more of a thing, especially in the economy we're in, because you have to do more with less and all this. But can you kind of dive into what it means to be a fractional chief data officer and why a company would need one? And then at what specific stage should you be looking at to onboard this fractional chief data officer? [00:15:05] Louis Shulman: I mean, our goal of calling it a C suite level position, rather than saying like, we're a part time analyst for hire. Right? A lot of that is framing, but the goal is that if you're hiring a C level person, you're basically saying that that thing is something I'm not worrying about because I hired somebody who's good at it, who's worrying about it for me and not worrying about it because they're good but taking care of it versus a part time analyst kind of sounds like you're hiring another employee, except they're part time and you still have to manage them versus a C suite level position is going to come in and kind of set the strategy and be like, even if you don't know what you want, I know what you should want because I've seen this problem before, and this is what, let's say it's an e commerce brand. They have a store in shopify. They do your standard playbook of Facebook, Instagram, those types of things. We'll be like, okay, we've worked with several of these brands. We've built dashboards for I don't know how many of these companies, dozens. And if the CEO's not kind of, I don't want to say clueless, but they're not a numbers person. Maybe they're like the artsy type who just came up with a product and then accidentally has an econ brand, which happens frequently. They're good at social media. They have an idea. They're good at selling a thing. They're like, oh, my goodness, there's a lot happening here. I'm just like an artist. How did this happen? That type of person might want someone to come in and be like, look, these are the numbers you want to pay attention to. This is how you pay attention to them. And this is how you can make decisions based off of like. And then also, they might have heard a couple of things before. They're like, well, what's this triple whale thing? And what's the difference between Amazon and Google Cloud? And does that even matter? Those types of strategic decisions, like, kind of like a data governance strategy, that's also not something that they're going to want to benefit from learning from. It's more like, I trust you. And then ideally, the results that follow are like data driven decisions that lead to better outcomes. [00:16:50] Adil Saleh: Very interesting. We get to speak with a lot of tech companies that are hiring professional services for these kind of data integrations and analytics and configuring data warehouses and making sure that all the data points are not only unified, but they are driving action. So if just talking about the tech business, because a lot of them, they're listening to this episode. And we have most of the businesses starting from c to series b in the first three years, pre product market fits sitting in there. Of course, in North America, it's not economical to know teams in house. So they always prefer to have third party vendors that are doing it as a service, just like you mentioned done for you, CDO kind of services, these kind of. So I would really appreciate if you could tailor it more towards the tech businesses from the advertising data. We have so many platforms doing that too. Like one of them is metadata. Our friends as well, Gil, he's the founder of Metadata. They're helping b, two b marketing teams build reporting dashboards and optimize their campaign, automating their campaigns for media buying and all. [00:18:11] Adil Saleh: So when it comes to data points and data configurations that are impacting directly to the revenue, how do you think it entails when it comes to SaaS businesses and how does it best fits into the SaaS businesses? You can share one of your case studies or maybe one of the stories from core subscription based businesses. [00:18:36] Louis Shulman: Sure. I do want to temper what I'm saying. Primarily, I am the business development guy. In these businesses. I'm usually the base of sales and marketing. I'm the guy on podcasts. My business partner, Sean, we kind of lovingly refer to him as the man in the chair, right? The guy doing the data and overseeing the data projects and being like the high level strategy. So I, as a proper sales and marketing person, understand things enough to get someone on the conversation, do that sales discovery call, assess if what they're doing is sophisticated. And I'm like, actually, yeah, we really want to make things better. You got this good job. Or if I'm like, hey, guys, you should probably meet with my guy and let him tell you, really, you got nothing here. And you should have something here, because all of this flow of data, there's decisions you should be making. So I'm not the guy who jumps in and makes that strategy assessment, more like that pre qualification, typically in our sales cycle. So I don't want to speak out of depth in terms of my expertise for what specifically, I can speak like high level. Right? It's like every business ultimately is governed by only a few key metrics, but in terms of the category broadly. And most of our businesses that we deal with are not venture backed, so they have a different set of decision making. So I know for a venture backed company, there are certain metrics that you're trying to monitor because of how those are going to look for investors and you have other considerations that a lot of our other companies are like, they're established and they're just like, where are we wasting money? How can we do better? And that's kind of the entirety of the conversation. So I don't want to prescribe information where I'm not totally the expert. [00:20:10] Adil Saleh: Yeah, that makes complete sense. But definitely it matters a lot for a SaaS business in the early stage to invest into data and have the right people, right team with the right skill set in place to do the things in the right way. Because of all these companies, take an example of gong, when we spoke to the C suite at Gong back in the years and they said early in the days they invested in data and that's now it's yielding. Even when there are more than 1000 people on the team, they have the same approach. They are making sure that their data is in the right places and it is driving decisions for all the organization, like customer success, support, sales, product teams and all. Also, this is pretty interesting when it comes to engagements, when it comes to making intelligent optimizations, when it comes to content marketing on a very high level. You mentioned newsletters, so how do you think that can create an impact? A lot of these newsletters that we get to receive every single day, these tech companies that come show up on our stage, they have this strategic part in it. Like they have call to actions. They have some value prop, all of that they're trying. But again, when it comes to time to value, when it comes to actual return in terms of conversions, which is something that I read about you guys doing pretty good as a service. [00:21:40] Adil Saleh: So could you touch us more on how you're making an impact for doing newsletter as a service. [00:21:51] Louis Shulman: Specifically for SaaS companies? Yeah, so we only have one. Like I said, we're still incubating this. We're actually just coming out of beta. And it's not beta from a technical perspective, it's beta from like a service perspective, which is basically like we're confident enough about being organized and buttoned up enough where the onboarding is going to be seamless and the delivery is going to be perfectly just all of the details that you don't want to take someone on with the wrong expectations. Basically, the beta was like a way for us to frame with our early customers. It's like we're going to make a couple of mistakes that you would not expect a business that is not in beta to make. And so as long as you're cool with that and want the service badly enough where you have that expectation set out from the outset, it's kind of having permission to have a couple of small fumbles, right? Not missing anything crazy. Like we told you, we'll have a newsletter in your ESP on Tuesday that you can do a quick glance of review on and then send out that day. Then we're not making those levels of errors. But in terms of the onboarding call and just, oh, I forgot to ask you a question during onboarding to understand this preference that you have. And now that's added to our sop such that we ask everyone forever. Basically, there's going to be a lot of back and forth to get things right, when ideally there's only one interaction. It's like, here's the onboarding form. It is fully comprehensive and there's nothing missed. It's kind of like those things haven't been established yet is what we wanted to communicate. So we're still building our first proper case study of like. So for example, the analytics. I think there are some in terms of conversions, right. That's probably something that's not fully been added into our process, is some sort of like, analytics, intervention analytics set up at the outset so we can report on those conversions. Because none of the businesses that we've. Some of the businesses are still like prototyping the newsletter. So they've had a bit more back and forth over the content and the feel in terms of what it is that they want. And so for them, it's not yet in that stage where we've launched the newsletter. The ones that we've launched have been for b two B services. So agencies specifically that have a high touch sales process. So somewhere where they get on the sales call and there's going to be a, how did you find us? Like, how did you find my calendar? Why are we here? And that's going to be like a very traditional, I call, like Web 2.0, in the sense of there's no tracking codes. It's just like you have a conversation, like, yeah, read your emails and then, okay, this came for the newsletter, for SaaS. Those things will be easy to add in terms of setting up the parameters in Google Analytics and tracing people back to either their first session source or those different ways of attributing someone. But our ethos within newsletters is that a lot of people only send emails when they have a sales message. And that's kind of the paradigm we're trying to break we're not saying don't send those emails, but if there's no reason to open your email besides look at this product update or look at the sale or something else, that's like why you should buy our product. We're building more brand heavy emails, more top of funnel emails that are just like we're experts at XYZ. So let's say you're a marketing agency for kind of like indie films or something like some random niche like that. Or even doesn't have to be a marketing agency. Let's just say you could have a software that helps indie film creators do x, Y and Z or something. Some arbitrary niche like that. So a traditional person would basically put out an email that's just like, case study how we just did this amazing thing case study how we just did this amazing thing versus what we do in our emails is do more of like an industry report. So it's just like a truly valuable email that's just like, here's a bunch of interesting things that happened in the indie film industry this week, right? This just happened. This just happened. So it positions the company as an authority and as an expert on that subject matter. It's something people are going to enjoy reading, whether or not they have any plans to buy from you at any point in the future. And then just very lightly in the header and footer of the email, you just have a very basic thing that's like, by the way, if you happen to need whatever this indie film SaaS does, book a call. But the purpose of sending the email is not to get people to book a call. It's just like, here's a really interesting recap of our industry this week, or maybe a deep, it's just purely valuable content that someone in that industry would want. And so it's a reason that someone who has no intention or no reason to buy from you yet would still get on your list. And then if they are ever in the kind of right sales stage where they suddenly are in the market for that service, you are top of mind. And so at the price that we offer the service, which is currently low, hundreds of dollars per month, so it's not very expensive. It's a very small amount of conversions that would justify building something like this and just building awareness at this scale. [00:26:26] Adil Saleh: Absolutely. And one thing that also matters a lot is you mentioned the viable data and viable information, authoritative data that makes sense. And it's not too much into driving sales or driving attention. It's about getting contributions from people just like we are having this conversation like we had more than 100 conversations and people came up, shared their success metrics, their wins, their stats, their growth metrics, all of that. And this is something that nobody can take away from us. This is real data, viable, authoritative data. And if we are able to kick this and get it across our community and make it more sort of community led approach, which everybody is heading in the year 2024, because like you mentioned, with this evolution of AI, especially in the content size, like language models and all, everybody's outreaching and sending long borrowing emails and people are getting pretty much tired of it. And people now need more data that has concrete stats, industry trends, all of this to make sure they get the best value out of that time they spend while consuming that content. So that makes sense. [00:27:42] Louis Shulman: Yeah. [00:27:42] Taylor Kenerson: And I think too, to just piggyback off of that, we forget that we're humans and know everything starts with a relationship. And the transactional sales methodology of just like, just like you mentioned Lewis sending an email just for a sales purpose, it's not going to work anymore. And we have to create things with the intention of building a relationship first. And I love that approach with the inbox ghost that you're taking. And I think a relationship first approach is the way, and it's going to be the way, and it always has been for more long term sustainable things. But it'll be more evident, especially as we move into 2024. [00:28:20] Taylor Kenerson: So just one last question. I'm really interested on your predictions or any thoughts you have for creator or SaaS trends of 2024. [00:28:31] Louis Shulman: That's very interesting. Creator trends. I think with SaaS trends, what's still, there's, this is like one of the more cliche SAS things to say about SAS is always teetering between bundling and unbundling. And the open right is particularly good. Let me back up a second. Open AI is not necessarily particularly good at anything. And it's like a lot of people buy. There's a lot of SaaS programs where you could achieve the same outcome with a spreadsheet, with just a well programmed spreadsheet. But the reason that those software companies are still successful, it's understanding the components of value and there's different things that are valuable. One of those things that's valuable is not just if you can achieve something, but if you can achieve something with zero thought. So people are like, well, I can do this with chat GBT because look at this crazy. Five prompts string together and then it gets it right. That's cool. But no one else is going to do that. If you can release the thing that just does the simple thing extremely well and people don't have to think about it, that still is a layer of value on top of it, right? So just because people are forgetting the fundamentals, I forget that there's probably lots of fundamentals I forget about too. It's just a very human thing to forget the fundamentals and not think critically from a very basic level. But when you think about why do people purchase anything? It's like there's only a couple of ingredients, right? Like speed, convenience, et cetera. Simplicity. Not having to think about something. Anytime a smart founder, like a genius founder, hires employees, it's not because we don't think, we write emails that these founders couldn't write, right? It's like you're the guy who started the indie film company you know more about than I do. You'd write a better email than I would, but you probably shouldn't because you should be running your company and just let us do that. And I think that's the point with software, it's like if you're thinking of something that even if other tools can do it, and even if there's a way to use AI to do it, it's still valuable to go release the feature if it's genuinely easier or does it better. I think a lot of people are very nihilistic or defeated about software going into this year because it's like chat. GBT can literally do everything if you're creative enough. That's not to say there's not an opportunity to make a simpler interface where someone just has to press a single button that does the thing, rather than wrestle with a very stochastic system. So that is my prediction is like, there's still opportunity if you don't get doom freaked out by AI, because that's what I would. [00:31:03] Adil Saleh: What about one question? What about all these big tech companies? I would say the category leaders, like in CRM, Salesforce, marketing, side HubSpot, they're building things on top of OpenAI, GPD, four, the language models, and they are trying to augment their existing databases and making it more efficient. And of course, at the end of the day, it's all about delivering value faster for their customers and a lot of these platforms that we get to speak with. Why cognitive back? You will see a ton of platforms getting funded in the first six months just because they have AI powered technology and all of that. So what about that? Can I have your notion on this? [00:31:51] Louis Shulman: Yeah, I think AI, I have a bit of a pet peeve with certain words. It's like people like the Internet, right? Back in 20 years ago, people are saying they're funding Internet startups. And then now what year is. It's 2024 to like 20 21 20 20 20 20 20 21. They're like funding crypto startups. It's basically saying like funding software startups. It's like, what is software? Software is literally everything. AI is literally everything. The Internet is literally everything. And I think some people, just during hype cycles, take a longer time to realize that. Now, if you said, I'm a vc who invests in companies that use software, it's like, okay, so you're a vc that invests in literally anything because it's like what company exists that doesn't have software somewhere in their value chain? So I think that hopefully, honestly, I think we have another year where people don't make that. I think a lot of people are still going to fall for the trap of thinking AI as a unique identifier. It's like anyone who runs a business, it's where a business that uses cell phones to communicate with each, it's like, great. That's how people communicate with each other in this day and age. I think people eventually realize that's not unique. It's an expected thing. You're not differentiated by doing the thing. It's like everyone in our company drinks water and has to eat food to stay alive. It's like, yeah, and you use AI, that's what people do now. And it's back to fundamentals. It's about falling for the mechanism versus understanding what the company actually delivers. So there's the hype cycle and the venture money probably only has so much longer. Hopefully not that much. Or maybe hopefully longer so that people who see it pass the BS can have a nice little win for a while, but basically that will wear off because they're not investing in an actual premise of like, you've identified a well defined problem that you're uniquely positioned to solve very well. It's like you're using something cool and maybe something cool will happen. And that thesis never lasts, particularly. I mean, people get lucky, right? And outsized wins. Outsized wins. But if you don't have the outsized, I'd adventure that. Most of those wins aren't going to pan out unless they happen to stumble into a well defined problem that they're well positioned to solve. [00:33:58] Adil Saleh: Yeah, absolutely. Riding the wave is just not enough. [00:34:02] Louis Shulman: Exactly. [00:34:02] Taylor Kenerson: Never. [00:34:03] Louis Shulman: There is no wave. It's just like or the wave already passed. If the technology was expensive or difficult to use, still, that'd be one thing. But now there's genuinely no barriers to using it, and there's no learning curve to using it, in my opinion, essentially. [00:34:17] Adil Saleh: Absolutely. [00:34:18] Taylor Kenerson: Well, Lewis, we thank you so very much for joining us and for sharing all of your insights and your experience. And, yeah, we wish you the very best of 2024, and we're so excited to keep following your journey and see where this year takes you. So thank you. Thank you again from all of us here at hyperengage for joining us. [00:34:37] Louis Shulman: Thank you so much. I appreciate it. [00:34:39] Adil Saleh: Thank you very much for bringing this infectious energy and this gentle team into the conversation, concrete and opinionated. [00:34:49] Louis Shulman: Thank you. [00:34:50] Adil Saleh: Thank you very much, Louise. Have a good rest of today. [00:34:54] Louis Shulman: Thanks.

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