Interview with Dave Carruthers, Founder and CEO, Voxpopme
Tell us about your role and journey into technology. What made you start Voxpopme?
Since starting my career, I’ve immersed myself in all things digital — enabling me to be involved in developing high-growth technology businesses for over 15 years. I started Voxpopme in 2013 as a project within my digital and mobile design agency, initially, launching the Voxpopme app to collect authentic video-based feedback for our clients from an on-demand community.
After sharing some of these consumer-recorded video responses from this community with the likes of the BBC and McDonalds, my co-founders and I realized the huge appetite for real stories in a world that is inundated with emotionless data. Since then, we’ve spent our time automating and optimizing video insight and analytics while building an agile, scaleable video solution for global brands.
What is Voxpopme and how does it fit into a modern CMO’s marketing technology stack?
Voxpopme is the market-leading video insight platform. We help businesses see the people behind the data with video to drive real customer-centric decision making. Our unique technology lets you capture customer-recorded video feedback at speed, analyze at scale, and share with ease.
Video responses can be collected by integrating video open-ended questions into new or existing surveys, or by using Voxpopme’s specialist apps and communities. Then our automated analytics and sharing tools help you find and share the most insightful snippets of feedback and disseminate them throughout your entire organization.
For the modern CMO, Voxpopme brings research and customer experience programs to life by adding unrivaled depth to traditional text-based feedback. As a result, every data point you rely on to make decisions can be backed up by the real human story behind it. This puts actual customers into the C-Suite — removing the brand-customer disconnect that is considered so problematic in many of today’s businesses.
What is the current state of the Video Intelligence industry? How do you prepare for the disruptions arising from maturity of Data Science, Customer Intelligence, and AI/ML?
Video Intelligence has gone from a fringe solution to mass adoption in a few short years. Voxpopme is an enterprise-level video solution for clients such as Microsoft, Clorox and Verizon. As such, it’s fair to say the technology is more than mature enough for its core user-base. Disruptions from Data Science and Customer Intelligence actually complement the rise of agile video as the combination of human video feedback alongside a robust quantitative data set makes for a rich, rounded understanding of consumers’ preferences, habits and motivations. As for AI and ML, these present huge opportunities for video research within the existing platforms. For instance, AI enables real-time video chatbots to evolve the Q&A process of video feedback by prompting customers to expand on feedback in real-time — adding yet more insightful commentary in a video response.
How do you see companies such as Adobe, Salesforce, SAP and Oracle raising the bar of Video Intelligence industry? How do you compete and integrate with these?
These leaders in technology could enhance the Video Intelligence industry in any number of ways. First and foremost, through the adoption of existing tech. They all have customers and a vast number of employees that they’d like to build a better understanding of — agile video insight can help them achieve that. But, more importantly, integrations with these companies could build powerful technology partnerships.
Salesforce enables their clients to survey customers with traditional online surveys, but integrating video into that offering would vastly increase the reach of video and the depth of data that their clients can gather about the customers in their CRM. Companies such as Oracle present exciting opportunities when it comes to Machine Learning and AI where integrations into Voxpopme could help extract even more insight from videos shared by consumers. Our current integration of IBM Watson for video sentiment analysis is a great example of the possibilities here.
Finally, companies such as Adobe set the bar for creative software — theoretically, there would be nothing stopping the integration of premiere pro calibre video editing tools into Voxpopme’s platform to help bring stories to life. Although, the existing editing tools we have in place are designed to make video showreel creation intuitive, even for a first-time user, so that would have to be taken into consideration. The list of opportunities could go on.
Which Marketing and Sales Automation tools and technologies do you currently use?
We’re going through an interesting transition right now. We’ve had three great years using HubSpot’s marketing and CRM platform. It has been a great tool for delivering our digital campaigns during those crucial growth stages. However, as our client base has grown exponentially, we’re in need of more robust sales analytics and a more sophisticated sales CRM. So, we are about to kick-off our next stage of growth on Salesforce. Although a CRM transition is a lot of work, the teams here are hugely excited about this platform migration.
What are the core tenets of your business development model? How does Voxpopme add value to digital transformation journeys for businesses?
Our business development model centres on delivering long-term value to our clients and partners. With an agile approach to video, we’re able to provide unrivaled access to rich customer stories. In the past, it would’ve taken weeks to capture and analyze the rich qualitative content we’re serving to them, but our automation and optimization of video insight and analysis means they can truly digitize and scale this process.
The appetite for video is growing astronomically and, as a result, we’ve been able to foster long-term, subscription-based programs with many of the Fortune 500 — enabling them to collect video insight about products, services, advertisements, branding and more. Voxpopme’s approach sits in the sweet spot between quant and qual, meaning entire companies can build a better understanding of customers that goes deeper than traditional quant metrics, without the hassle factors associated with traditional video research.
How often do you measure the performance of your Marketing Analytics and Sales Reporting?
We measure Sales and Marketing performance daily and report weekly. Things move so quickly in a modern business such as Voxpopme that we need to have a handle on all essential KPIs to ensure we clearly understand the activities that are driving the business forward. Our heavy metrics-based management approach was also a big factor in our decision to migrate from HubSpot to Salesforce.
What are your predictions on the most impactful disruptions in Marketing Operations for 2018-2020?
It’s probably not the most glamorous, but GDPR is already having a massive impact on Marketing Operations. It’s the most significant change to data privacy policies for decades (at least in the EU), so it’s inevitable that it will have a huge impact as companies adjust to the new regulations in play.
What startups in the technology industry are you watching keenly right now?
In the marketing insights industry, there are some fascinating businesses turning traditional research approaches on their head — these include the likes of Zappi and Affectiva to name just a few. Outside of our space, there are a ton of startups I admire, but as a creator of a B2B SaaS business, I always feel a strong affinity towards SaaS platforms that solve real headaches in the workplace. Tools such as Slackand Trello make Voxpopme so much more efficient — if you can still class them as startups.
Could you tell us about an outstanding digital campaign at Voxpopme?
It’s hard to boil it down to just one campaign as our marketing team is focused on inbound/content marketing, which has delivered massive returns. The impact of all effort is measured by analyzing web and demo conversions, as well as how effectively they nurture prospects through the sales funnel. Overall, our marketing team is a lead generation and nurturing machine, and that’s our focus — attracting prospects to our site and ensuring existing clients feel the “Voxpopme love” through really engaging content.
How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a business leader?
Like any other field that will impact lives and businesses, it’s going to be essential to develop a solid knowledge base for the ever-growing influence of AI. It’s a field that is going to have a significant impact on all businesses so I tend to research in several formats by listening to podcasts, reading books and blog posts, and even attend AI-centric presentations. We put a lot of resources into the R&D for our platform and exploring where AI fits into our technology stack is already a priority. We also keep our eyes on the companies doing amazing things with AI to see if integration opportunities may exist.
How do you inspire your people to work with technology?
We encourage the team to utilize technology where it improves performance and put trust in them to find solutions that make us more productive or enhance the services we can provide our clients. We’re big advocates of continuous learning too. We facilitate this by encouraging employees to pick the tools and technologies they wish to learn and help them access this and give them the resources they need to do so — be that time or money.
One word that best describes how you work.
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
Slack has to be the most critical internal communication tool in our business. I also have a pretty intensive travel schedule for business, so I’d say Google Flights and Airbnb have to be up there too.
What’s your smartest work-related shortcut or productivity hack?
I’m a fan of the Pomodoro technique to get key tasks over the line. As a founder, there is an ever-expanding list of items to work on but it’s counter-productive to hop between tasks at a frantic pace continually. If something really needs pushing over the line, I’ll set a 25-minute timer and get cracking.
What are you currently reading?
I’m fascinated with content about entrepreneurship, technology, and finance, but I’ll consume these in a variety of ways. I enjoy reading books, reports and e-books but when I’m on the move, either out running or in the gym, I’ve found audiobooks and podcasts a great way to consume yet more content. So my last ‘book’ was an audiobook — Venture Deals by Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson. It’s a great book for anyone raising venture capital, at any stage
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
This is a real tough one. I’ve had some incredible mentors and close friends to help me during my entrepreneurial journey. So, I’ll go with the most recent, but perhaps most impactful piece of advice from my friend and mentor Lonnie Mayne, Founder of Red Shoes Living.
After an extensive period of non-stop work and work-based travel while trying to ‘crush it’ for Voxpopme, I hit a bit of a wall. Lonnie advised me that the work-work lifestyle I’d been adopting for quite some time was unsustainable and wasn’t optimal for the business. He suggested I re-balance things before I lose family and friends by prioritizing work above all else. While it was tough to swallow, Lonnie helped me reflect on where I spend my time and restructure my hectic travel schedule while putting more trust in the awesome team we’ve built at Voxpopme. This has significantly improved the work-life balance I have, benefiting both personal and professional relationships as they all get the time and attention they need from me.
Something you do better than others — the secret of your success?
It’s hard to say I do this better than anyone else, but I’m a massive advocate of trusting the team you’ve built to do awesome work. Sometimes, as a CEO, it can be hard to let go of certain roles and tasks but if you hire incredible people and put your faith in them to deliver, they typically exceed expectations.
Tag the one person (or more) in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read:
Ryan Smith, Qualtrics CEO