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Podcast with Arjun Rai: Emoji Data, Data Science, The Entrepreneurial Journey, Start-Up Life, AI, Investing

For the episode audio, please check out our podcast page. 

Terry Tateossian (00:03):

Arjun is the founder and CEO of HelloWoofy, woofy.ai and emojidata.AI — Welcome.  Thank you for sharing your experiences and your knowledge with us today. So I wanted to start off with some information about your and if you could tell us a bit about your background and how did you get started in this whole entrepreneurial journey that you’re on?

Arjun Rai (01:11):

Sure. Great question. So I, my, my mom would tell you that or my dad as well and that you know, I’ve been selling something or the other since I was seven, eight years of age. You know, from, from selling a, you know, flowers at a wedding that were used as, you know, Indian weddings have a lot of flowers. So I just picked them up and turned them into garlands and, you know, tried reselling them at my grandmother’s gate and, and my mom was like, why are you selling them for a quarter? And of course we’re in India right now cause we were just visiting India and they was like, no one knows what a quarter is in India. And, and first of all, why are you selling so low? And second of all, why are you selling it at all? And so I, so I got in trouble there and then you know, I remember a couple of years earlier or later, it’s a little fuzzy right now, but I was, we were moving out of an apartment in Colorado and, you know, there, there was whole bunch of furniture we were getting ready to throw out.

Arjun Rai (02:02):

And you know, we were also up against a very busy road. And so I had this like, you know, like a two foot by three feet paper that said 25 cents. All furniture must go. And people started coming up as the movers are trying to get down and you know, take the stuff out. And my mom sees this on our way back cause she went to grab food and she’s like, what the heck are you doing again? Like 25 cents. So something was something where the quarter, it was where it was very fascinating to me. So again, got in trouble there. But fast forward when I was a teenager in high school, I decided to team up with a couple of people, build an ad network which did pretty well. And then, you know, we learned quickly that, you know, we were probably too, too naive.

Arjun Rai (02:44):

And there was so much more to learn about raising capital, about business development, things like that. But it was a good early MBA. How do we bring people to the board, how to get advisors and mentors on board, how to put an investor deck together. So all of those things I definitely think I learned pretty quickly and at a very young age. And then falling that ended up convincing the Dean the university I ended up applying to that, you know, I was worth backing it from an education standpoint. And so he ended up giving me a couple of scholarships, which pretty much, you know, gave me a full ride for the first year he came to New York and launched this ad agency focus on social media marketing just so I could pay the bills and make sure that I, you know, I could, I could feed myself and you know, and get, do all the other things I wanted to do in New York.

Arjun Rai (03:29):

And by way of that, figured out that project management sucked for creative individuals. And so I ended up raising about a hundred K, little under a hundred K from some very notable investors like Brian Cohen, first investor in Pinterest, Jeff pover one of the first guys in Twitter and Facebook. So these people that were like, no, we want to support you and we want to back you. And so they wrote small checks and you know, that was, that was gratifying. And that was my first, you know, first way into the angel and the venture community itself. Then by the end of college, I ended up getting a few more years of scholarships that helped pay for college. And at the same time it was running another business that was for project management. And we ended up raising another about 800 5,900 K so in aggregate about a million dollars.

Arjun Rai (04:15):

And by way of running that company, we quickly figured out that, you know, sometimes a deal, maybe too sweet and too good too, you know, too good to be real and, and, and so I learned quickly to, you know, always do due diligence. You know, when you’re looking at a deal, whether you’re raising capital or you’re doing business development or getting a new client. And so I did ha didn’t have that knowledge or that know-how back then, but learn very quickly that, that’s important. So a couple of years later, we ended up having to shut down a company. We ran a cash, we were way too early for, for our own good. We were betting that, you know, project management would be more easier on bigger touchscreen devices and they would get cheaper, which they did. The surface pro, the iPad pro came out.

Arjun Rai (04:56):

But just the timing didn’t match up. So that was my first venture failure and I learned, you know, we’re, timing is very important. Getting the right people on board is very important, whether it’s the engineers or even the investors. And then following that, I, you know, that’s what you were referring to as, as my current position is building a social media platform that allows anyone and everyone around the, around the world to essentially take back their time, the grunt work that goes into social media marketing and do it based on data. Not just because they feel like winging it, but they feel like that they can actually make informed decisions and compete with companies that have pretty much unlimited marketing budgets. And so we’re looking to level the playing field on multiple levels when it comes to marketing.

Terry Tateossian (05:38):

So before, HelloWoofy. So you were, were you born in New Jersey?

Arjun Rai (05:43):

No, I was a, I was born in new Delhi and I moved to Chicago when I was four or five years of age. And then because my dad was in it, he would get new positions in, in, in, at work every six to 12 months. So so we moved around a lot. We were in Chicago and Colorado. We were in California back in Chicago. And then finally most of my education I ended up doing a New Jersey between Westminster and Plains road, New Jersey.

Terry Tateossian (06:08):

Then you mentioned in college or actually all the way back into high school, you had already started developing a product.

Arjun Rai (06:16):

Yeah, it was, it was an ad network and it was, it was playing around with different languages, programming languages. I had actually started programming at in seventh grade that, that was, that was a good language. We were, I mean, there was basic ones like HTML, CSS, just getting, you know, getting into visual basic and, and JavaScript. But I think my, my passion really came out in the front end development, which was all about design aesthetics and, and how the UX is very critical to, you know, making sure the customer feels like they can actually get something out of the product. So I guess that was my first foray into the product development side of things and use those skills to make MVPs and wire frames and raise cap, you know, funding off of that.

Terry Tateossian (07:00):

And then into college, you started your first agency per se. What, what made you think that that was

Arjun Rai (07:13):

A good direction to kind of look into? So one thing led to the other in high school I was very fascinated by the radio class and the radio club overall. And so I ended up joining that early on and copywriting and headline writing. And, you know, just interviewing people kind of came almost as a natural thing to me. So I ended up using that experience and saying, okay, let me do social media marketing and take this conversational aspect and, you know, help companies and startups mostly in that, at that time. Talk better on, on social media. So I started freelancing actually before I went to college, but then I was, you know, basically thinking about how do I formalize this and sort of turn that into an agency. And so I’ve always been in communications one way or the other and running my own agency, figuring out what are the pain points of running an agency, which in that case was project management. There was no visual way to manage people and projects and yeah. And and ended up, you know, building that into a, into a venture backed idea.

Terry Tateossian (08:17):

And then after that, your first venture backed idea after the agency was, you mentioned work there?

Arjun Rai (08:24):

Yeah, it was formerly known as canvas and we had a trademark issue with a company out in England, so we ended up renaming it to a workbench. So. So tell me about that,

Terry Tateossian (08:34):

A bit about that. How did you kind of venture out of agency life and start creating products? Correct.

Arjun Rai (08:41):

It almost came as a need. I needed a better project manager and solution cause we were working with people off shore onshore people around the world. And if you tried using existing tools like a sauna or Microsoft project, it almost felt like if you were a chef at a marquee restaurant and you were given the series of blunt knives and expected to run the restaurant really efficiently and wouldn’t happen, right. If you’d be not only inefficient but you’d be very disgruntled and injured and yeah. And, and you’d always be pushed to the max to, to make sure that you are hitting the bottom line. So it, same thing in agencies and even in my own agency it, it always felt like we were trying to do better with and you know, ways that didn’t keep up with the changing of the time.

Arjun Rai (09:27):

And so we were looking for tools that could allow us to re, you know, basically render our desk right. If you had projects on your desk, you had people you want to work with, you had, you know, documents you want to work with, you would just shuffle them around and put people together and say that you do a project, a, you know, drag a project or drag a document to a person and say, this is, I’m sending it to you with my, be a brief, take a look at it, sign off on it, and then send it back to a client. So it’s a very visual way of thinking and approaching things on tabletop. We were, we were saying, why can’t you do that as a project manager? And there was a company earlier on called bump top that was a huge inspiration. The, the founder was very much ahead of his time. He ended up selling that company to Google. But the technology back then definitely was not, you know, where we were, we needed the technology to be, and we said, you know, why don’t we actually build, try building it now and make it more visual. But unfortunately, as I said before, we, we still weren’t there from a hardware standpoint. Touchscreens weren’t as cheap as possible and a touch projectors were still not available as widely.

Terry Tateossian (10:29):

So then after work bench you started HelloWoofy. So tell me a bit about that. How, how did you make that jump from workbench into HelloWoofy.

Arjun Rai (10:42):

You know, very painfully shutting down the company because, you know, we were running out of cash and the, you know, we, we basically said this is too early. It’s too early for its own good. We basically said that, you know, we need to find an idea that is still a pain point in the creative space. Especially from a communication standpoint. And very naturally social media marketing came back to me and I can remember running workbench as a engineer, but doing all the non-engineer stuff, which is obviously accounting and marketing and sales and customer development, the customer marketing and sales side really resonated with me because there was no way to scale it. And when it came to talking to customers online or talking to customers in person, it was all about the communication aspect. And so when, even when I was running the agency, we use tools like Hootsuite and buffer to schedule content for our clients.

Arjun Rai (11:31):

It wasn’t very scalable and even if it was scalable, it wasn’t very creative in nature. So we basically decided to build something. It was a mobile app. Operationally we had about 10,000 downloads when we launched you know, years about two, three years ago. And almost everyone that, you know, looked at the product, it was definitely more visual. It was definitely more powerful than any of our competitors, but they a bigger screen size. So in terms of learning, you know, you have to talk to your customers all the time, even if it’s very, very early on. So we ended up raising a little bit more capital based on the prototype. It was in mobile app. We then got into an accelerator program here in New York and we basically pivoted quite capital and we essentially decided to pivot to a desktop oriented you know, ecosystem for the product itself.

Arjun Rai (12:17):

And if we hadn’t listened to our customers, we would have continued building the mobile app, you know, to to no end and, and saying that this is what we need and this is what we think the customer needs, which is not true if you don’t, if you, if you actually talk to the customer, you’ll get very different opinions. So we ended up, long story short, we built a data science driven marketing platform for the web and and, and that’s where we are today is entirely data science driven. And every, every part of the platform is based on data. It’s not about winging it or you know, what a copywriter may feel like, you know, typing in everything is all about data.

Terry Tateossian (12:52):

So let’s talk about that pivot from one product to the current. HelloWoofy product. You basically had to restructure everything from the ground up. You had to get refunded, you had to repeat, you had to get into an accelerator program. Let’s talk about that. How did you go about number one, building a new team and then number two, getting funded?

Arjun Rai (13:18):

So originally the first check, first series of checks that came in actually came in from a fund called 1517 fund and they’re most notably known for having the, the founders come from the field fellowships. So they, one of the partners was actually falling me since I was 19. And he reached out to me when I was 19 and we finally spoke when we were, I was 20, which was three weeks later. It was my birthday and I was disqualified because back then the deal fellowships said if you’re over 20, you were disqualified. They’re looking for candidates under 20. But, and then subsequently since then they, I think up to two 25. And so we stayed in touch and one thing led to the other. We were at next gen summit and I met the same guy and his partner, Danielle. And a couple of months later they ended up writing a check.

Arjun Rai (14:04):

And they said, this is interesting. We had 10,000 downloads at that point and let’s see what you can do. And of course, to your other point, we ended up getting into an accelerator. They upped their investment by another a hundred K and O. And overall we had raised just a little bit over 2,250 K at this was a bad note and this was November of 2017 and and so learned a lot from, from that experience overall. But one of the things that I think we had to do as a, as a difficult choice was let go of our cofounder. It’s a couple of months later we had a falling out. There were certain things that were not above water. And then, you know, I came to Noah and we essentially decided to let go of him. A couple of other people as well who were part of that disarray.

Arjun Rai (14:51):

And we had about $12,000 left in the bank. And I told my investors that this is where we are. We hired the wrong engineer. We obviously had the wrong co founder, you know, what do we do? And all of our investors said, don’t worry about it. You know, we’ll invest in the next thing you do. And if you’re going to shut it down, that’s totally fine. So it’s one of those moments where you learn about people and how important it is to have the right people around you. And and, and not people who are too greedy or always looking for the bottom line. And I told him, I turned around and told him that I’ll do whatever it takes to make sure the company survives, that we ship product, we build product and make revenue and, and you know, make sure that this is broke.

Arjun Rai (15:28):

We’ll get you your money back. Fast forward a couple of months, I ended up picking up a job as a chief of staff at a startup, basically applying all of my salary into the company itself to the tune of about 170 K to two date. That’s obviously the salary, the credit cards, credit line savings, all of it into the company. And, you know, fast forward a couple of months, we ended up shipping product generating revenue. You know, we were just on a TV show as well, which I can talk about too much. And you know, pitching some incredible investors and, and there’s some other news coming out in the next couple of weeks as well, which I’m very excited about. And I think that’s almost like the stamp of approval from the universe that you did it and you stuck with it and you didn’t let it die.

Arjun Rai (16:11):

Mainly because we still feel the need is, you know, there’s a need for it for every business owner around the world to compete in marketing. And so now we can allow them to do that. So when you approached investors, how did you pitch the idea? What was your kind of like your, your star statement? Originally I would always say it’s this for that. Like, you know, it was originally we were say it’s Hootsuite on steroids or it’s you know, Hootsuite but on mobile or buffer on mobile but more intelligent designed for people on the go with, you know, when they’re in the, in the Uber and Lyft, they’re looking to run their camp marketing campaigns and then check on them and then, you know, be, be off on their way. And, and that kind of resonated with influencers who said, obviously, you know, we’re always on the go, we don’t have a big team and we need a tool that can take away a lot of the grunt work, but more, more so than that, it became clear that people wanted a bigger real estate in terms of web platform.

Arjun Rai (17:17):

And so we pivoted because of that. And, and investors liked the fact that we were talking to customers and we weren’t just making product internally and wishing that this would work. We were definitely bringing customers, in fact we were videotaping and you know, with their approval and permission to show investors that this is what our customers are saying, this is what they want and this is the pain point that we are looking to solve. And they then they understood that, you know, this isn’t a company or group of people are just building product just for the sake of building product. Cause that’s the thing is something that’s very common in startup world is you get into this ever, you know, everlasting loop of just building product and wasting money. And, and I think that that was something that the investors early on saw and they’ve been through the accelerator program.

Arjun Rai (17:59):

We were trying to build product. We obviously had the wrong engineer on board. But even with that mistake, we learned how not to build a product. And, and when we eventually did build the right kind of product, all of the learning that went into it wasn’t just about what the customer said, but what didn’t work out in the last couple of months before that. And so we had a really polished product at that point. So that’s a, it’s a good point. So let’s talk about how not to build a product. Yeah. fact check everything that a person might say in terms of their resume. We quickly figured out that, you know, resume is one thing and interview is another thing. And if you get a referral from someone who you trust, that’s another thing in terms of you need to check all of all of those avenues of due diligence and make sure that you did your own due diligence and not, you’re not banking on someone else doing their, their part.

Arjun Rai (18:52):

So very quickly we, we, we actually were recommended the engineer, the CTO from our investor and a junior partner at the fund. And you know, obviously when we went in blindly and said, of course, you know, great friend, great, you know, referral, we should go ahead and go ahead and hire the person we did. And we’ve quickly figured out that, you know, we were, they were taking either the person was taking code from you know, all over the internet, you know, open source, open source code files and you know, slicing and dicing it together and you know, slapping on an MIT license on it, which I don’t know if you know or your viewers know, but MIT licensed basically says at the core of it that it’s not that the company doesn’t own the IP. It means that anyone who has access to the source code also can say they own the IP.

Arjun Rai (19:36):

So I mean April of of it, April of 2018 I basically said that, you know, this is not good at all. We had wasted so much money into building product at that point in salaries and everything that we need to fully stop this, we need to let go of the CTO. And a couple of weeks later at ended up having to let go of my cofounder as well. And that was, that was an interesting point in history in terms of learning how, how to let go of your close friend. But then also how to say no more to, to, you know, what is perpetually basically really diseased in, in the culture itself. And at that point we had 12,000 left in the bank and we basically decided to do a turnaround. We scrapped everything. We found a new team off shore, we built product in under a year.

Arjun Rai (20:20):

We shifted, we had beta clients and, and today we have a really good number of clients on board and just a matter of eight weeks of launching. Congratulations. I mean that is quite a bit of an achievement. Yup. Yup. But there’s a lot of, you know, blood, sweat and tears that goes into it. I remember, you know, after my day job as chief of staff, you know, coming back home from seven to 12 o’clock working on the company and then the morning five to like seven 30 in the morning working on the company and then going to work and then coming back and doing the same thing over and over again. Cause cause our team was based in Europe and our data science team was based in Asia. And so we were working or you know, pretty much me, I was working around the clock. And and I think that’s, you just have to have a certain mentality to just keep going no matter what. And of course your health might take a toll. But I think we were definitely looking for the longterm.

Terry Tateossian (21:10):

I think that’s a pretty typical kind of entrepreneur story where, you know, right now it’s glamorized and everybody, you know, thinks that it’s so cool to me. You’re an entrepreneur when in essence one of the most stressful things that you could possibly imagine and you know, you give everything up for it.

Arjun Rai (21:27):

I had this quote in my office at the university which, you know, NYIT was very generous to give me an incubator space within the university itself and help, you know, allow me to help run it as well. And one, I remember one quote on the wall that said, for every two minutes of fame there are eight hours of hard work. And so even being on your show, I mean, you know, the fact that we were at the MWF and we met there and you know the, I mean we didn’t, haven’t talked about the amount of time that went into negotiating that deal to be at the MWF and then, you know, just everything has a story but it’s to your point is glamorized on the, on the face of it.

Terry Tateossian (22:03):

Let’s take a quick break and thank our sponsors. The production of the amplified podcast has been brought to you by social fixed medium. Social fixed is a transformational growth hacker agency focused on emerging technology platforms, video and podcast production, content marketing and overall startup strategy. Social fixed has helped over 300 clients generate millions of dollars in revenue, fund raising and profit. If you’d like help launching or growing your business, visit [inaudible] dot com let’s talk about some of the common, I think, mistakes that happen when launching a product. Like for example, mispricing how did you determine how to price your platforms? So for example, is it perceived as a per license? Is it per team, per channel?

Arjun Rai (22:59):

Yep. So originally it was a, it was basically a user base, so it was one user who could manage X number of social media accounts. And we started with that as an iOS app. And we quickly figured out that our price plan was extremely low. We were charging anywhere from five bucks to $15 a month in different tiers. And we really wanted to make sure that a lot more people bought into it and could give us feedback and you know, basically, you know, have a better chance of getting a wider spread of opinions so they could build on the product. And that turned out to be a bad decision. We made the product so cheap that the audience that was coming after it was wasn’t the ideal audience. Our customers we were looking for originally and almost every customer that we wanted to go after said we’d be paying, willing to pay anywhere from, you know, five times or maybe, you know, or more than, than the price when you have already.

Arjun Rai (23:51):

And so I think pricing is very key from the get go. And so when we launch about a couple of weeks ago, we were running a short PR promotion essentially for pre-orders where we were giving the product away for, you know, very low pricing. But eventually when we went to market, we wanted to stick to $49 a month and we didn’t have any issues with that because we were at, you know, on par with our closest competitor at $49 a month and we were $20 more premium than our biggest competitor. And in both situations they couldn’t come close to any of the data signs or the technologies that we had built. And so we felt, you know, we should stick stick by our guns on that. And and I think sometimes entrepreneurs make the mistake of making things too cheap and expecting customers to be okay with it. But if you actually have a premium pricing and then you have room to give discounts depending on the contract, depending on the customer, then you have a lot more wiggle room because at $5 you have, you don’t have a lot of wiggle room to give discounts. I mean your 50% discount, which probably the most you want to give is $2 and 50 cents, which is about a subway. Right. and, and so that, you know, you have to be very careful about what Tony said in the market with your pricing from the get go.

Terry Tateossian (25:02):

Another mistake. Another common mistake that happens when launching a product is not having your customers trust. So how did you overcome that? Just based on what the pro, you know, what other competitors are out there

Arjun Rai (25:17):

Is a great question. We were, we were very much getting customers organically through Facebook groups, through, you know, personal introductions, things of that nature. And, and so we were building trust when I was scheduling the con the call itself and you know, they could see me face to face and you know, see that there’s a founder beyond the company who’s working really hard to solve a problem that they may or may not have. Because obviously at that point we had just started talking. And by the end of the call they understand that of course you’re a founder, you’re building a product for them. And, and that they will, you know, give you a credit card and give you their credit card information. They’ll give you, you know, the ability to win their trust at that point. And so we have obviously said, you know, give us two months, three months, the preorders are running right now.

Arjun Rai (26:01):

You know, stick with us and we’ll give you a massive discount. But most of all thank you for your time and thank you for your feedback because that’s all going into the product. But you were about to use in 30, 60, 90 days. And at that point, you know, they were like this is a no brainer cause it’s, the pricing is affordable. You know, I’m locked in for the next one or two years depending on which tier they had bought into and they’re getting to see the person behind it. It’s not like, you know, there’s a chat bot or as a support ticket being opened on email or you know, this is an email based conversation. You have a human to human element in that, in that conversation. So many times I was talking to an agency founders who had a dozen clients, some who had just started in social media marketing or some people who had, you know, sold agency before and they were looking for their next you know, next solution to help you know, further their, their own business in the, in the marketing space. But you have to get on a phone call with them and video calls are the best so they can can see each other.

Terry Tateossian (26:55):

[Inaudible] I agree. How about looking at the competitor space? That’s one of the third common mistakes that happen is that a lot of times product companies will kind of prematurely dismiss their competitors. How did you guys go about looking at that space and deciding whether this product belonged in, at this time, on the market?

Arjun Rai (27:19):

I think, I think one of the mistakes that especially new entrepreneurs make is that they almost disrespect the competition. You know, if you’re a Hunter or if you talk to anyone who’s a Hunter and, or you know, even a soldier, you have to learn to respect the enemy because, or, or the, you know, or what can kill you because if you don’t, then you’ll disregard it and it made you to the point where you might let it take advantage of you. So in our case, we all this say, you know, we’re, you know, highly respectful of the companies that are around that have come, you know, years, two decades before us and there’s a lot to learn from them. Even the founders, we happen to know some of the founders of our competitors and you know, over the years we’ve gotten to know them better or through our, you know, advisory group and investor group, you know, we’ve been able to get to know them as well.

Arjun Rai (28:04):

And at the core of it, if you, if you respect them, then you know what your baseline is. Also because you then understand from a product offering standpoint, you know, this is the bottom, you know, this is point a where they can offer and you have to obviously be not an incremental improvement, but a massive improvement. So if you completely ignore your competition, then you’re, you don’t even know what you’re competing against and how to improve upon it. And then secondly, if you, once you do know what you’re competing against, you have to be, you have to make sure that you can blow them away. In terms of a comparison chart. It’s not, I mean, when you talk, I always like to say, you know, like Tesla, if you talk to Elan, he won’t say he’s a car company is an energy company.

Arjun Rai (28:42):

Everything he does, solar city, Tesla, or any of the other projects he has. It’s all about making sure that everyone has access to energy. In our case, we feel that small agencies, media agencies, urban entrepreneurs that are getting started, they don’t have access to data science. They don’t have access to data overall to make better decisions versus companies like fortune 500 companies. They have unlimited budgets, unlimited personnel to help them with every part of marketing. And so at the core of what we do is we say we’re not a social media company, we’re a data science company. So with regards to what we thought AI or emojidata.ai, those are projects to make sure that people, everyone can understand how data science can actually make an improvement in all of the marketing that they do. And so I think that’s, that’s where we come from.

Terry Tateossian (29:28):

So let’s talk about emoji data, AI and wifi data. AI. Talk to me a bit about that because you know, from, from my knowledge base, I know emojis are a very highly converting type of character for all social posts, whether it’s newsletters social posts themselves or so forth. Yeah, let’s talk about it.

Arjun Rai (29:50):

No, you’re absolutely right. Adobe, and I didn’t even know this until a couple of months ago. Adobe released an official report called the Adobe emoji trend report in July of 2019 and they said there were multiple points in there, but I think my, one of my favorite points is 44% of the time when people see an emoji being advertised to them or as a part of a copywriter copy that has emojis included there 44% of the time, more likely to buy it. And, and HubSpot has another article on their blog as well that says a tweet versus another tweet. Without an emoji, you were able to get 25% uplift in engagement or 57% on Facebook. And so we were like, wow, this is amazing. This is incredible data. Why isn’t the one doing any of this? So we then obviously went on Google and we said, emoji recommend recommendation or emojis suggestion and things like that nature.

Arjun Rai (30:43):

And all we could find was basically a dropdown of all close to 3000 emojis. And it’s upon you to figure out which ones are relevant and whether you’re typing an email or you’re typing a newsletter. I mean, you’re going to have to sit through there and you know, you have to go through a smiley face section, the tech section, the flag section. And I was like, why can’t this be more programmatic? So long story short, we asked our data scientists to say basically build a product, an API that’s known as emoji data, that AI that essentially allows you to take any string or any texts, any marketing speak. And in turn it’s turns out contextually relevant emojis now it goes through 35 million data points to figure out what are the best emojis that will do well with the words you’ve typed in. It could even take emojis as an input and give you other recommendations or emojis.

Arjun Rai (31:29):

I’ll do well but that and and so we basically built an API that programmatically allows you to do that. And then we basically said, what about other companies? How wouldn’t they like to, you know, like email providers and newsletter creation platforms? Wouldn’t they like to use a platform like this? So, and one of the other parts of the emoji data that AI is that also helps you complete wards. So as you’re typing in real time, if I say I love and it just type an L O, it’ll complete V E space E Y O, U automatically. And then it’ll start giving you recommendations of hearts. And you know, the smiley face with the kiss is coming out, it’ll give you all those recommendations and milliseconds. And so we basically say, why don’t we actually offer this API to say an AOL, you know, or a Microsoft Hotmail provider and allow them to compete with Gmail smart compose. Because as you know, in Gmail as you’re typing and completes the sentences, we could do something similar but then also offer emojis as a, as a, as a, you know, a feature that contextually gives you those recommendations. So long story short, that’s where emoji data, that AI is going, it’s an API based business. But then wifi HelloWoofy.com is a marketing platform itself, which obviously leverages emojis and auto complete and whole bunch of other levels of data science to help marketers.

Terry Tateossian (32:46):

I needed emoji that data, that AI,

Arjun Rai (32:49):

Oh good. We can talk about that. We can talk about it. Potential deal or licensing.

Terry Tateossian (32:54):

So we were in, and I’m gonna, I’m not going to give out too many details, but we were putting together a newsletter for our client or, and I wanted to use emojis because I know it’s gonna help the open rates. And I went with all of these different hand gesture emojis. So I had a bunch of them lined up and you know, we’re talking about which one would be a good one. You stomps up whatever this sign is. I don’t know the okay sign, you know, the high five, whatever it was. And then it turned, it turned out that these hand gestures meant completely different things and

Arjun Rai (33:33):

The world. So we’ve built a dictionary. Yeah, we built a dictionary internally that kind of prevents that from happening and it gives you like, you know an understanding of what each sign means. And the other thing you have to keep in mind is that a lot of the iPhone based emojis are actually not cross compatible with other platforms like windows and Android and whatnot. So they will actually come up really weird. So we actually only work on universal emojis, that Unicode, which is the organization behind the official organization behind text-based communication. And and so that kind of prevents that from happening. One of the things I wanted to tell you about in the newsletter side of things is Adobe says that 64% is the engagement rate or in terms of uplift, we actually found 150% to 180% when we went back in our own newsletters. And I basically said, let me see if this actually works, because I’ve been using emojis and newsletters for a while. But before that, my co founder was running the newsletter himself and he never used emojis. And then I started using emojis in our upper up, you know, our open rate doubled more than doubled. And I was like our own, our own data speaks volumes to what Adobe ism and finding a hundred percent, I mean we see it all the time,

Terry Tateossian (34:43):

Time and we’ll do a B split tests for the same newsletter running against the same list.

Arjun Rai (34:49):

Yeah. And we’ll have an emoji in the subject line one. Well not completely, completely different open rates. And actually that’s the, that’s the goal of emoji data is to allow you to programmatically also run campaigns using the API and see which ones are doing better, which ones are not doing better and give you a whole slew of data points. We even built, we’re about to launch a, you know, an emoji cloud that allows you to see which emojis you tend to use the most and which ones are actually hitting the bottom line. And then on top of that, we’re building an emoji ticker in the dashboard itself that shows you across the world, which emojis are being used in real time and by popularity. And so there’s a lot of, there’s a lot of emoji signs, if that’s even a word or phrase that’s going into it.

Arjun Rai (35:31):

And and you literally cannot find anything on the internet that even comes close except for a dropdown selector and a, and then so we’re double Downing on that, you know, in the next couple of weeks. Very cool. What type of advice would you give people that are currently building a platform? Talk to your customer with wire frames. That is the, the, the furthest you should go. But before running code, take a couple of wire frames. If you don’t know how to use illustrator, find someone who knows how to use illustrator. Even if it’s a sketch, go to your, go to your customer that you think may be your customer and show them what you’re building and then iterate over the course of a couple of weeks on that wire frame itself or the graphic design. My, in my case, I loved using illustrator to wire frame all of the all of the screens and buttons and things like that.

Arjun Rai (36:18):

You could use something as simple as envision and have a clickable demo as well. But until you hone in and refine on that idea, don’t write a single line of code. And then once you feel more confident and you have maybe a dozen or so people who are giving the okay. And that’s a great position to be in for letters of intent to then show investors to who might be potentially willing to put in money, but that gives you the ability to then go off shore and hire a team for maybe, you know, $10,000 or $5,000 and build an MVP and then come back to the customers and say, okay, here it is. Would you use it a couple of months later? You have, you’re in a position to raise capital. Very smart. I think that’s brilliant. So yeah. So RJ and you’ve done a lot of stuff in your life and you are a product building machine.

Arjun Rai (37:06):

How did you, where did this passion come from? I suppose Legos. I was always fascinated with Legos and I think that there’s another company called mega blocks back then, but like it was, became the popular popular building block company. And I was always fascinated with just building things. I would also never follow instructions when, you know, you pick out, you pick a Lego set and you have the instructions, they would always build my own thing. And and I suppose that kind of translated into product or into software design and eventually software products overall and platforms. And again, I, I, I, I, my earliest memories are building things, you know, whether it’s with, you know, sand and having my own construction toys or Legos, things like that. I’ve always been a product owner and a product manager, if you will. But obviously over time I’ve pivoted and you know, refined my methodology and made it, made sure that, you know, there’s a buyer on the other end, but it was, I’m just doing it for fun.

Arjun Rai (38:03):

And I think that’s the, one of the things that I became better as, you know, with Woofy is how do I build product more honed in on the needs and requirements of my customers. And that’s when we were able to get a lot more customers in the pipeline. We have 6,000 customers in our pipeline now potential and and there’s a couple of other updates that are coming up in a couple of weeks that I can talk about right now, but it goes to the, it goes to that same idea is you have to talk to your customers and, and get to them as soon as possible. So tell me

Terry Tateossian (38:36):

How can our listeners get in touch with you find you or maybe even get a demo.

Arjun Rai (38:43):

Yeah, absolutely. So hellowoofy.com which is H E L L O w O O F y.com. And and right on there with the first thing you’ll see is schedule a demo and you’ll get my personal time essentially. And you can schedule a 1530 minute demo with me, in which case I run you through the product. Then I try to understand what your business needs are. You might be a blog, you might be a, you know, a sports company. We’ve talked to so many different kinds of companies that need social media marketing driven by data science. And after following that, we obviously give you a discount code as a thank you for scheduling call and sitting through that and and it can be up and running or you can have to go to our website directly and create a free account and then upgrade as you, as you see fit. Awesome.

Terry Tateossian (39:26):

Thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate it. Yeah, absolutely. Thank you. Thanks for listening to the amplified podcast. Follow us on our social channels and subscribe on Apple and Google podcasts, Spotify, pod bean, or wherever you get your podcasts on the next episode. Stay tuned for more trailblazing insights, energy and culture to help fuel your pursuit in the modern digital era.