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Building an AI-Driven Sales Optimization Company: Vincent Yang, CEO of EverString (Part 5)

Posted on Sunday, Aug 2nd 2015

Vincent Yang: We use, what we call, topic modelling to analyze every single news. For example, is this company acquiring the other company? Is this news about conference sponsorship? How do we know how strong an implication is? We have no idea. That’s the point where we have to rely on machine learning. Machine learning will be very helpful for us in figuring out the correlation of every single business indicator to the final outcome. We analyze tens of thousands of features and also millions of combination of features to find the correlation factors of all of those.

Sramana Mitra: Where did you find your early traction? Was it in the technology industry?

Vincent Yang: Correct. Most of our early adopters are SaaS players in the Bay Area. Our industry has moved on. We’re starting to see more traction in the East Coast and Midwest. We’re starting to see business services companies using EverString to predict their next customer. We even have a company doing fleet management.

Sramana Mitra: Have you run into a company called InsideView?

Vincent Yang: I’ve heard about them. We are not direct competitors and we never run into them. What InsideView does is what we call data enrichment. They’re providing better insights about companies to sales people. It’s very different. Our primary use case for now is for marketers to help them predict who they want to call.

Sramana Mitra: InsideView actually started in the lead generation area. They’ve since moved. This is a heavily venture funded company that has to scale. They found it very difficult to scale in the space that they started. At any rate, let’s talk more about your situation. When did you launch the product?

Vincent Yang: Beta launch or public launch?

Sramana Mitra: Beta launch first.

Vincent Yang: We spent the first one and a half year on developing the technology. We did the beta launch a year and a half ago.

Sramana Mitra: That’s beginning of 2014.

Vincent Yang: That’s correct.

Sramana Mitra: You had a set of beta customers that you launched with?

Vincent Yang: Yes.

Sramana Mitra: This was a point where you already had the angel financing, or even venture financing, to build the product?

Vincent Yang: Yes. Back then, we only had the angel funding. Our Series A came in July 2014.

Sramana Mitra: You used the angel funding to launch the beta and got a bunch of customers. Then you raised Series A about a year ago.

Vincent Yang: Correct.

Sramana Mitra: How much have you raised so far?

Vincent Yang: We raised about $1.6 million for the angel funding. For the venture funding, we raised $18 million.

Sramana Mitra: How is the customer adoption tracking? What are you doing to acquire customers? What’s been your customer acquisition strategy?

Vincent Yang: In the early days, we still relied on a lot on outbound. Inbound brand awareness wasn’t that very strong. We had mostly enterprise sales reaching out to potential customers. We do the demos and the customer face-to-face meetings in the early days.

This segment is part 5 in the series : Building an AI-Driven Sales Optimization Company: Vincent Yang, CEO of EverString
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