Episode No:99

A Journey into AI-Powered Analytics with Alex and Joseph

Alex Hong & Joseph Lee

Co-Founders of Syncly

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Ep#99: A Journey into AI-Powered
Analytics with Alex and Joseph (Co-Founders, Syncly)
Ep#99: A Journey into AI-Powered Analytics with Alex and Joseph (Co-Founders, Syncly)
  • Ep#99: A Journey into AI-Powered Analytics with Alex and Joseph (Co-Founders, Syncly)

Episode Summary

In this episode of the Hyperengage Podcast, our hosts, Taylor Kenerson and Adil Saleh interview Alex Hong and Joseph Lee, from Syncly. Syncly is a new AI company that aims to revolutionize the way people work. Joseph shares his insights on building products based on customer feedback and the challenges of balancing the company’s vision with customer needs. The discussion also focuses on the integration aspect of Syncly, including the constraints of a startup and the importance of choosing the right platforms to integrate with. Alex joins the conversation and talks about the role of customer success in the company’s growth. The podcast also touches on Syncly’s seed funding round and future plans for expansion into the voice of customer analysis market.
Key Takeaways Time
Joseph’s previous AI company for quality inspection was acquired, showing AI’s transformative power. 1:01
Joseph started Syncly to help companies build customer-focused products via feedback. 2:01
Syncly integrates workflows to collect, analyze, and act on customer feedback. 5:53
Syncly targets revenue and customer success via integrated insights. 8:24
Syncly provides quick value to drive adoption. 17:26
Syncly dogfoods itself to improve the product. 21:19

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Transcript

[00:00:03] Taylor Kenerson: Hello, everyone. My name is Taylor Kenerson, and I am here with my co host, Adil, and two beautiful, much long awaited guests, Joseph and Alex from Syncly. Thank you both so much for joining us today. [00:00:17] Joseph: Thank you for having us. [00:00:19] Taylor Kenerson: So excited to dive in. [00:00:21] Taylor Kenerson: So, Joseph, I'm going to throw this question at you first. I know you were originally a part of an AI startup. Back in 2016, you actually exited one. And I'm really curious, Sua Labs, to understand what lessons you learned from that experience and what really made you start Syncly and move into the new AI industry that we're in today. [00:00:46] Joseph: Awesome. Yeah, definitely. So, yeah, as you mentioned, this is my second AI company. My last company, Swallow, we founded back in 2015 and we sold in 2019 to company in Boston called Cognex. It's a public company. It used to be our competitors and they bought us. What we do with AI back then was that we use AI to automate quality inspection process for manufacturers. So if you look at your iPhone, it's like a defect list, right? There's no defect on it. So basically, we help the factories to find the defects in an automated way. So that's what we did. And after selling our company, the lessons learned from running the previous company was that AI can definitely change the way people work. So we completely redefined how the company is doing, quality inspection process. And that created enormous value to the company and the users as well. So we believe that AI can change the world in the future as well. That's one. The second lesson learned is that the great product is built based on customer feedback. So when we started the company, we were not the industry expert, we are not the subject matter expert. But the reason that we could grow really fast was that we really care about what customers feel about our product. And then we try to build a product based on that. So that's why we started simply, which basically helped the companies to build a product, what matters to the customers. And I'm very excited to what we are building because we are building something that we based on our lessons learned. [00:02:34] Taylor Kenerson: I love that. [00:02:35] Adil Saleh: Amazing. [00:02:35] Taylor Kenerson: Thanks so much for sharing. [00:02:37] Taylor Kenerson: So one problem that we seem to, I guess, discover a lot on the podcast is this idea of being customer centric while also understanding as the founding team what your vision is and your mission is. So how do you, based on your previous company and Syncly now and engaging with your clients, what does that balance look like in listening to the feedback and the data and what it's telling you versus knowing your mission, knowing the values and knowing kind of where you want to drive the ship? [00:03:11] Joseph: No, I think that's a great question. It's always try to find a balance between the mission and the customer feedback. So when I say customer listen to your customer feedback does not mean that to build exactly what customer told to you, but there's the underlying reason for that. Or there's a job to be done when customers say something about your product. So I think figuring out what are the underlying reason of that customer feedback and try to map it with your mission to build the product that you basically want to deliver the right value to the customers matters. So I think you always constantly find the root cause of the customer feedback and try to basically link it to your company mission to actually build something that actually matter to the customers. [00:04:02] Taylor Kenerson: There's a few points very interesting in there and it's a few that really resonate with me is the more you ask why, the more you can understand what that root cause is. And usually asking why the first time doesn't really ever get you that root cause, it's asking why and why again. And then it's also using data as a guide and not a directive. Just like you mentioned. When you're getting customer feedback and you're looking at the data, that doesn't mean to do exactly what the customer and the data is doing. It's simply to use it as a map and kind of understand your own internal map and align the two. So thank you so much for sharing that distinction. [00:04:40] Joseph: Pleasure. [00:04:42] Adil Saleh: Love that I have this question with Alex ever since I first found Syncly and how you're trying to approach this problem. There are a lot of platforms that are AI powered. There are a lot of platforms providing insights, analytics for product management, customer success, revenue teams, sales support teams. But what I found really unique about Syncly is how you're able to integrate into the workflow of these teams. You talk about revenue operations, you talk about customer success operations that we really very much enclose with community. And how did you guys in terms of building this, giving it a SaaS experience? What was the real challenge you had in the first place? Identifying and positioning it as a product, because there's so much noise. There are platforms that are doing Salesforce integration first off, segment integration first off, and they're letting these customers pipe in all the data that they need and then they're building insights on top of it for different teams and all. So I'm just looking at it and you're just doing a couple of integrations starting up and then you're helping them to get the feedback management that matters. Like Intercom, tools like Intercom, tools like Jira, these platforms that are more for customer support and feedback and then task management. So project management, you could say. So what made you decide to do these kind of integration? And then exactly positioning the problem solving for Rev Op and customer success because there are so many integrations involved. [00:06:16] Alex: Sure, that's a great question right out of the gate. We can't just build a native integration with all the tools out there, right? So you have to be careful in choosing which ones you integrate into because we're a startup and we have limited resources, but I think that there are tools out there that helps us integrate into different platforms as well. But what we provide to our users, our users, they use our native one click integration that is compatible with their tech stack, right? And we create a channel for their entire organization to collect all the feedback, parse all the customer communication into syncly. And first, we went through a lot of interviews and we did go through a list of questions with our customers, existing customers, and both prospects as well, to understand where the pain points are and what kind of black box there is in terms of they wanted to understand, these are the data they want to be able to process and all that. So we did for one use case. I think I can introduce one case to answer that question. So we replaced notion with Syncly once. I can share the blog post later. But yes, notion is great at note keeping and recording things, but it's not built for any kind of analysis, right? That's why when you keep customer feedback in notion, it becomes a black box. That became a pain point for one of our users. So through that integration capability, we built a Slack integration. We can drill down on it later, but so far as advancing our integration, we build with our customers, right? We build our feature with our customers in terms of understanding where the workflow is and help them understand how existing tax, second existing workflow, where Sinclair can fit in and bring the most value to our customers, right? So syncly became a single source of truth for all their customer feedback. And they manage all their backlogs and everything on syncly. Now, because we do have a native integration on Slack Channel, they create a Slack channel for all their customer success, managers and all whoever's talking to the customer, they can bring all their customer insights or the beats and pieces of customer, whatever they're asking for. On Slack Channel, they share. They have a unified Slack channel for that specific use case. And we process all that into syncly. And once we do that, we run different analysis, and now this breaks down the silo between everyone in the organization so that you can rally people around the same understanding of the customer. And they prioritize the items based on different metrics, whether it's revenue impact, or by customer cohorts or on an account level. And you can finally send them over to linear where you're working with your engineers. And when it's done, you can close it and they'll bring it back to syncly and being able to close the loop, and they can go back and tell their customers that these features that you've originally requested are now ready for you to use. So that we're completing that feedback loop and being able to process that and streamline that process by automating a lot of the process that they're doing manually now and being able to understand the tech stack and strategically position ourselves to be compatible with the tech. [00:10:06] Adil Saleh: Absolutely. I do see you have zip integration, which is, of course, the go to thing to do, because a lot of your customers might be using third party platforms that they can integrate using Zapier, which is kind of a leverage. So now, talking about a size of Rev Ops team and customer success team, what size do you recommend? Let's say a lot of these startups, they are thinking of hiring their first rev op. They're hiring their first head of customer success because they want three or four customer success to work under head of customer success. That controls the entire revenue retention and net dollar retention. So what size do you recommend? Size of a business. Do you recommend using syncly? Integrating syncly? Because a lot of these folks, they're already taking feedback. They're already trying to make sure that feedback gets translated to the right people at the right time, in the right language, and this doesn't get lost. But again, at the same time, they are not able to invest into one technology that solves all of this problem. However, they're using three or different, four different platforms. [00:11:15] Alex: Yeah, I think we provide real time customer visibility and based on the big volume of feedback data. So it depends on the size of the company. But there is a place, I believe there's a pain point in every organization where they're not seeing or there's a data, customer feedback data, which is qualitative data, and they're trying to put quantitative value in it, on it. It's really hard for them to do without. And if they want to do it, they need to hire somebody. They can't just throw body at them and expect them to solve this problem, right? Because they're going to grow their customer base and it's really not feasible for them to hire as many people as possible to solve their problem. So I think that we are tackling the problem of scalability. That's what AI is great at. Using AI, your cost of having that customer visibility becomes really low while you can enjoy all the upsides, right. I think that's why people do consider AI to help them analyze and auto categorize all their customer feedback, because onboarding and offboarding of their new employee is always a headache. And also you're going to have a lot of new features launching every now and then. And after you launch a new product, these CSMs and customer support people have to learn it and they have to onboard a new knowledge so that they can tag it in certain ways and all that. So that becomes a problem of management and it becomes a problem of operational headache. So that's when AI come in and we can solve the problem for you. [00:13:03] Adil Saleh: Very interesting. I have a question to you, Joseph. First of all, congratulations on raising your first seed round with 500 global and some other investment partners. And it was quite amazing when we saw, because we've been following a lot of Y combinator back companies and you just started last year, it's quite an achievement that in the first year, like closing your first year, you're just able to raise your CFund, which knows that these companies, these big partners, trust your vision, your team, and the solution that you're providing. [00:13:39] Joseph: Yeah, sorry, could you repeat the last question? I missed the part. [00:13:44] Adil Saleh: I was thinking that companies and these partners that we get to meet at Y Combinator, it's not so often that they get their seed round this big in the first year. So congratulations for making sure that you get the funds rolling and having the trust backed by 500 global and companies like Rebel, that's also a big VC. So congratulations relations on that. [00:14:11] Joseph: Yeah, thank you so much. [00:14:13] Adil Saleh: Okay, so from a CEO standpoint, from a business standpoint, commercial standpoint, how you're thinking of expanding into this market, I know there's a huge gap. There are so many players coming with these big funds. You know those. So how you're trying to find a unique proposition and how you're going to penetrate into the market, what are some sort of high level plans that you have? [00:14:37] Joseph: Yeah, love the question. I think we are in the very interesting domain right now because analyzing customer feedback at scale is not something that can be done in the past before AI comes out. So we are very excited to be a part of it. So since it's a new category and customers are not super familiar with customer feedback for voice of customer analysis platform. So I think two things. One, we got to meet more and more prospects in the world to help them understand what the value that they can get through Syncly by understanding their customer feedback at scale. And second of all, because as you mentioned briefly, in the beginning, we ingest the data from all different channels. It could be private channels such as Intercom, Slack, Zendesk and so on. It could be also from public channels such as Reddit, Facebook Group. So I think building the product that can cover the broader customer set would be really critical for us. So we're going to focus on our go to market motion and building product to actually reach out to the higher number of customer base in the world. [00:15:53] Adil Saleh: Wow. So since we all know that there's a huge addressable market bringing into this category, they're investing into collecting more feedback swiftly, smartly and getting it optimized across different teams, which is what that you're talking about. Revenue Ops team. A lot of these segmentations, I would say a lot of these compartments that people do at your install base, I'm just talking in my own language. In the Salesforce days we used to call install base customer base, install base. So a lot of them are these days in the PLG motion, they are segmented by ripening coverage. So revenue coverage is something very important. So how do you think that these small businesses have like 3% of their customer base covering the top line revenue, are able to use syncly into their processes? Maybe it can be as simple as they're using excels, they're using Google sheets, these kind of platforms, and having to integrate a platform like Syncly, how hard or easy it's going to be for these startups, because I'm sure they're listening to this conversation. [00:17:08] Joseph: Yeah, no, that's a great question. There are so many SaaS platform in the world and there are so many SaaS platform that actually fit to your workflow. So I think it's super important to help them get the value off of the syncly within 30 minutes. That's our goal. So that's why we are building more native integration. To get the integration done within five minutes and by setting your tagging taxonomy or by defining what category or what topic you want to keep tracking of, we try to show the result within ten minutes. So 30 minutes to the maximum. We try to help them get the value so they can actually make the quick decision and they can persuade the other stakeholders within the company. So I think building the product that can bring the value within 30 minutes is a critical and we are working really hard to achieve that milestone. [00:18:04] Adil Saleh: Time to value. Time to value is such a big thing for early stage and especially during the onboarding stage when you're working on a seamless onboarding and you need to make sure you ensure adoption as soon as possible. So one question, last question to you, Alex. Thinking of adoption, what kind of initiatives are you guys taking to stay on top of user activities? Like you might be using syncly for that, for your own customer insights, how you're mapping these journeys, these exceptional behaviors, these usage patterns, to identify risk opportunities, growth, expansion, all of that. Talking about customer success. [00:18:42] Alex: Yeah. I think that most important thing is to help them understand what our core value provides and what we're trying to solve, right. That has to match what the pain point that they're trying to solve. Right. I think that we believe that starting from the workflow that is so manual but essential, right. Type of work that requires precision and speed, that require resources, that the current way is just not sustainable, scalable. I think that that's the value that we provide. And you have to understand from customers perspective what's the success criteria, what kind of workflow they're trying to automate so that they can get instant value from applying AI, which simply does. So we stay close with them in terms of we will talk to them and we will be connected through Slack Channel and I make sure that they're getting what they're wanting to and I think in order to understand where their pain point is and to help them get to that level, these are the things that you need to do syncly. So we need to be very clear and upfront about these are the efforts that we need from you. And given that you put this much efforts onto our product, these are the outcomes that you're going to be able to get, right. And we do that within a one week free trial period to make sure that they're getting what they see so that they can validate the value before they sign up for the long haul. [00:20:20] Adil Saleh: Cool. So first off, it's more of a hands on implementation. You get to know the use cases, the kind of tech stack that they have, and then you try to tailor the best solution for them and help them get the first foot in the door. [00:20:34] Adil Saleh: So now the customers, just one question on top of this, like the customers that have already signed up, like post onboarding, what kind of tech stack that you have internally to ensure the success of their adoption to the platform and then feature retention. There are so many components inside Syncly that you guys need to stay on top of to ensure the success of that account. So are you guys using syncly for that? If you are assumed that you already are for your own customers, what does the process look like in terms of increasing the lifetime value of the customer in terms of usage, if not the revenue? [00:21:13] Alex: Yeah, we dog food our product as well, so we use syncly to do that. And also we use recording tools like Gong and Green and all that Zoom calls. We do record it just for the recording purposes. We do take a look because there are two different pillars of data. You got to look at qualitative data and the quantitative data, their usage metrics and all that. This side, we do look at it from amplitude, different tools to do that, but we do use mainly syncly to understand their qualitative side. So when a customer comes back to us and asks us a couple of questions, we do send those pieces of feedback back to syncly, so as syncly ingested data, and then it will come up at the, on an account level and the high level that can bubble up. What are the things that our customers are asking for and based on the customer cohort and customer, are they on a free plan? Are they on a pain plan? And what kind of person are they? Are they marketer? Are they product managers, are they CX leader? Based on that, we'd be able to understand these are the struggles or these are the product gap that we have to fix right away and by the urgency and by the revenue impact and all that. We do process that in sync. And then I think so far, I think it's been good. We still have a lot of ways to go in terms of covering different use cases and all that. But I think dog fooding has been helped us in improving IR UI and UX and all that as well. [00:22:44] Adil Saleh: Yeah, now a lot of that comes along the line and it comes continuously until you make it perfect. Nothing is perfect when it comes to user experience. You always tend to improve. You always tend to make pivots, smart pivots. So I'm also asking, we had a meeting last week with my CTO. We are also a B, two B SaaS company. We're trying to integrate syncly, so might need your help with onboarding. And just so everybody knows, Alice is a great writer. They consistently write content and consistently get their blog up and going. Always come up with some industry trends. That one article that he was talking about notion that how we can replace we are using notion company wide not for the task management but documentation, everything. And now you told me that why it's not good for the task management and I absolutely echo because it's more for a documentation platform. It will always stay like that. [00:23:41] Adil Saleh: So Joseph, it was real nice meeting you and getting to know syncly inside out. And one more time, thank you very much for taking this whole schedule for the podcast and sharing your journey. And I wish you real best for all the times moving forward. [00:24:01] Joseph: Thank you so much again, thanks for having us. [00:24:04] Alex: We appreciate you Adil. [00:24:06] Adil Saleh: Thank you Alex. Yeah, rest of the day you both stop.

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