Hi, it's me — the content you're looking for. And HOT DAMN, check me out. Amy Tom chats with Kate Bradley Chernis, CEO of Lately AI, about her startup journey. Kate describes what her career path has been like and what she's learned along the way in the ...
Hi, it's me — the content you're looking for. And HOT DAMN, check me out. Amy Tom chats with Kate Bradley Chernis, CEO of Lately AI, about her startup journey. Kate describes what her career path has been like and what she's learned along the way in the kitchen, in the studio, and behind the CEO's desk at Lately.
On this episode of The HackerNoon Podcast:
🥂 VOTE FOR KATE & LATELY AT startups.hackernoon.com/new-york/new-york-city
🏦 Replace your business bank with Brex - https://bit.ly/37doqiH
Connect with Kate & Lately:
Learn more about HackerNoon and Startups of The Year:
Amy: [00:00:00] Startups startups, Startups. Welcome to startup summer. I am very excited to launch this series with Katie. Bradley. Sure. Niece, actually, we did not practice this beforehand. I do this all the time. Is that how
Kate: [00:00:13] pronounce your name? I love library. It's actually turn is so turn is Ryan's with furnace and it's my husband's name and he's a guitar player.
So he's turned us the furnace,
Amy: [00:00:23] okay. All right. I'm the co-founder and CEO of Layli AI. So yeah. Welcome to the podcast. I'm very excited to have you. Oh, also what a hectic introduction. This is Amy, Tom, and you're listening to the hacker noon podcast. Welcome. Welcome. It's a great time as always.
Kate: [00:00:40] Awesome. Hey there, Amy. What's up everybody. Nice to see you.
Amy: [00:00:44] Awesome. So Kate, I wanted to have you on the podcast today to chat with you about how you started lately AI. So tell me you are the co-founder.
Kate: [00:00:53] Yep. Co-founder and CEO. So I, I'm the one who bears all the weight and gets punched in the face every yeah.
Amy: [00:01:01] when did you start? What year were you
Kate: [00:01:04] in? 2014. Hard to believe we're all. Okay. Oh
Amy: [00:01:07] Yeah. It's coming along. All right. Okay, so Kate, what was your very first job?
Kate: [00:01:12] I was a line cook, so I was a line cook throughout junior high school and college because I got two meals a day, oh yeah. And I was like burning through that a really high metabolism. And I loved the lawlessness of the line and everything that Anthony Bourdain wrote is a hundred percent true. Amazing. Yeah. And that theme has carried on through my life. Obviously I'm doing this other lawless thing with no rules or rules that keep changing all the time.
But the one thing I loved about the kitchen was the camaraderie and the unification around getting up everything hot and pretty at the same time. So there's a lot of unspoken organization in the dance that we did. Yeah. Yeah. And there's that urgency. And it's. And you keep doing it every night, you have this like sense of accomplishment for a second and then, it all just starts to fan again.
Amy: [00:02:04] okay, wait, what
Kate: [00:02:05] kind of played was it? I've done it all. I've done seafood and fusion and, all kinds of different stuff. I was almost always on the fry line. So I was the. I was the only chicken though in the line, in the kitchen most of the time. And I didn't, I was so young, like we just wore jeans.
We didn't even wear like checks. Like I can't even believe I could not even stand up wearing jeans and weather that hot now, but you didn't care. And I had burns all up and down my arms. You know that you just get burnt, that's part of the thing, but oh, do this funny thing. Cause no one ever asked about this, but we used to get this one place.
We had these breadsticks and they would send us the dome and we twist them to make it look like we had made them and we'd put them under the salamander, which is like that big grill that you can, it's like a sleeve they can pull in and out. And there's a huge fire, like a broiler underneath that. And we would always forget about them.
And brian, Doug would take them out. They'd be black as can be. And these little twisty shapes that look like for your body, it's yeah. And then put them up on the place where the way trons would come and get their food. And it was a little nice little garnish. So they would just walk in and be like,
Amy: [00:03:09] gosh. Okay, wait. So this was like in your late teens, early twenties, when you. Yeah.
Kate: [00:03:16] So sixth, seventh, eighth grade, all through college. All through college? Yeah.
Amy: [00:03:21] Okay. Wow. All right. Are you good
Kate: [00:03:23] cook? I can be what I want to be, but I don't really like to, because I don't have the time. And also I'm ha I, my husband is, wants to eat something different every day.
I don't care. I eat chili. Every day for three weeks, it doesn't really matter to me and I don't read directions. So not interested. Yeah.
Amy: [00:03:41] I love this chaos. Okay. So what did you do after that? Slash where did you go to college? What did you.
Kate: [00:03:51] Yeah. So I was a fiction writing major, which all also ties into our AI by the way.
And we can talk about that a little bit. Cause there's lawlessness in writing, write poetry has its own rules as does fiction. So you can fully start a sentence with, and by the way I learned the command of the pen. The pen is very strong. You can do, you can write whatever you want and break all the rules as long as you, you own it.
And you command that authority, so I. The intention and the. I like it when there's this huge puzzle. So when you're writing, that's what you're doing. And in a storyline, there's a puzzle and you have to figure out how to arrange it best. Sometimes it's not in that straight line. It depends.
And I like all the Easter eggs that really good authors leave. And I love on amount of people. So the way that and the way the word sounds. The, the theater of the mind is incredible magical thing. When you're reading your imagination is a character, right?
And the author relies on that. They're relying on your imagination to fill in the blank in any all kinds of different ways. And that's why it's. You don't want to write something. You don't want to hold the hand of people. You want to give them enough room to, to fill in the story with you. So those components and I went to Skidmore, which is like a nowhere school in New York or to me it was nowhere.
And I actually, Amy. So like I came from Burlington, Vermont. Like UVM and fraternities. And I was so dumb. Like I arrived at Skidmore and I saw all these mansions and I thought they must be fraternities. And Skidmore's like a former seven sisters. So it always has to be 51% women. There's no men. There's no like fraternities they are, but I didn't know that.
Cause I was just like, naive Vermonter and then from there I actually worked in a newspaper for a little while I did the, get this, I did the body mind spirit section, and the personals and here's, what's crazy about that is they're the same people so way, I'll never forget the day of the guy who owned the VAs clinic by which I mean snip, he wrote a personal and it said something, a word, I didn't know, this was before the internet.
So you can just pull up your phone and look at stuff. And it said here suit a plus, this is his description of his dream woman. Yeah. So here's suit. I found out H I R S U T E. Harry,
Amy: [00:06:07] oh my God. Wait. So you have to look it up in a dictionary. And then
Kate: [00:06:13] I had to call this guy and make a sale. I'm like, Hey, do you want to renew your ad in the body mind spirit section or, and so that was fun. Two, because the paper, like this is analog, this is when at a newspaper, we would cut out the sections and put them on this big thing. Then that's how they would then they would, I would literally, I was the chick that got in the car and took the ferry over to the printer.
With the paper. So everything coming down to the last minute, each week and all that. And then from there I so I had this little career in radio and the radio was amazing. So again, folks like, see when you're my age, I'm 47. Seem like it's all connecting until you get old enough to have the wisdom, to see how it did.
So radio I was really lucky Amy. I was in AAA, which is adult album alternative. It's a very rare format. It's like the music they play on NPR, the cool stuff, the rock and roll. Whenever they can get there. A bit louder, but it'd be anything from David Bowie to Ryan Adams, to new pornographers, to Bob Marley or BB king.
So it's a mix of genres, a mix of decades, and then both new and old music together. And our job, again, theater of the mind to make you the listener feel that I who wield the mic, I'm giving you a voice. It's a two-way street in that you have a role and what I'm doing that you trust me to take you on this journey, right?
And by the way, I'm just going to fill this in for everybody. So here's, what's really cool. Music listening, which is when your brain hears a new song, it must instantly access every other song you've ever heard before in that instant pulling up all this nostalgia, emotion and memory, and your brain is trying to find the familiar touch points from the older songs.
So it knows where to index that new song in the library of your brain. Now, when you write. Anything, any copy sales, copy marketing, copy a book. Someone who's reading your text. Here's the voice because your voice is a note. It has a frequency, like a song. Okay. And they hear your voice and you, as the author need to think of the same things.
Am I giving this person enough familiar touch points for all that emotion, nostalgia memory to come through to make you trust me to give me your money? Is that's the name of the game, right? Yep. And by the way, all of this is the baseline for our AI
so I did one more thing in there. Sorry to interrupt you. The other thing I did was I started a little marketing agency and my first client was Walmart.
Amy: [00:08:50] Oh my gosh. Okay. Wow. Wait, how did you get your first client as Walmart?
Kate: [00:08:56] Yeah. I had, so I had left radio. So radio was a boys club. I was sexually harassed.
I didn't even know it. I was sexually harassing people too, as part of the culture you were expected to. But it was being used against me. So I was creating a hostile work environment, which I didn't know what that meant before we didn't have that language, and my body was reacting terribly.
I had a. A huge rash on my torso for a year. Nobody can explain it. I fell down the stairs, tore a ligament. I was in a wheelchair for like almost a year and a half or crutches. I started to not be able to use my hands to type it all. I had incredible tendonitis and epicondylitis. And so I had to learn to use voice activated software.
This is in 2006. Okay. Dragged Siri didn't exist. There were no cell phones. And I was terrified. I could never type again. And I can't to this day, by the way, I still use voice-activated software. And so I had to hire an intern to do my job for me to type for me to segue all the songs they want.
I'm at XM, I'm on the air all, all day long. I can't do my job. I can't do any job. I can't even go into exalts and work the register. And I left and went to a. Music related boys club. And my dad kicked me by the shoulders one stage one day and said you can't work for other people and there's no shame.
Amy: [00:10:15] So that's how you became an entrepreneur.
Kate: [00:10:17] That's how I started. Yeah. And I was like, oh, light bulb. And I also read this book that you guys probably know called guy Kawasaki's artisans. Yep. And guy says, right in the first chapter, don't make a plan, just get started. So I was like I don't need this book done.
And then I met my first investors, literally the next day I was kismet. And they were like, we love you. They were fans of mine for my exam. And They were like, let's start a company. So we did this music related company. I built a widget. I don't know if people remember widgets, but around my space time, that was a big deal and using a lot of the frameworks, but it was two songs a day, an old song and a new song.
It was like talking about the stuff we were talking about before. And as I was marketing that my, my aunt was the principal at an agent at a a nonprofit in Washington, DC, and she was working with Walmart. And so she was like, you're really good at mark. Come do this for us. We'll pay you a lot more.
Get out of the music business altogether. And I was like, yeah. Wow.
Amy: [00:11:14] Okay. All right. You know what I, this is the second episode of the startup series. The first one we did with our founder David and I knew this would be a good idea because of when am I going to. Story of going from like the mind and body section to you, like having AI business.
So yes, it's
Kate: [00:11:37] so weird, right? Like random journey of events. Okay. Random. And so by the way, just to complete the circle. So for Walmart, I ended up getting them. I made a spreadsheet, one hell of a spreadsheet, and I got them 130% ROI year over year.
Amy: [00:11:55] Okay. Wait. Yeah. Then tell me what your secret to success is.
Why are you so good at marketing?
Kate: [00:12:02] Cause my Uber power is making listeners into fans customers. Okay. Yeah. Yeah. And
Amy: [00:12:12] is that by like brand-building would you say
Kate: [00:12:17] some of it is by gut? I know how to scale the handshake. When you walk into a room and you have to read the room, you don't want to, you don't need to be the person shining, right?
You just want to be the person magnetic enough that people are coming to you and you make them shine, or at least feel as though they're shining. That's the thing, that's the contagion. They want to be around you because they feel better. Bet you right. But how do you
Amy: [00:12:46] translate that to people you've never met?
I E marketing,
Kate: [00:12:50] I did talk to an empty black box for 12 years. But your question is great. So then, so Amy, I was really lucky because we actually were live. And so I had the experience of cracking the mic overnight. In perfecting my persona and my voice. And so my radio voice is a little bit different.
You're listening to Amy, Tom right now. It's perfect. Purposely not, I'm not too breathy there. I'm not like you are listening to Amy, Tom, because that's like a turnoff to a lot of female listeners. And in general, it's asinine and I'm not like big, you're listening to Amy. There's that? And so I had the
Amy: [00:13:25] radio
Kate: [00:13:26] commercials.
Yeah. Fake. So what's this place that's authentic. And, in addition to that, I learned to make mistakes on purpose. I would one mentor told me a secret, which was silence is the it's very powerful. Okay. Because people turn it up, they lean forward. They think they need to fill the space with their own voice.
And so I learned how to use it. These kinds of tricks while also revealing. And this all is pulled into lately, like a hundred percent. We can talk about how, but you got to, people want to go to the green room, right? It's because they haven't been there before the green room is boring. Let me tell you, but you don't know that.
And so I'm going to give you just enough to make you feel interested. And so we're doing it here. You got. You're amazing. Nick, behind you. I got Pac-Man this shit's on purpose, right? Like I'm giving you an entry point into me visually. I've given you a million of them right here today. We talked about the line, cook and sex a little bit and newspaper, like we'll snip step at least.
And getting punched in the face. What it's like when you're sexually harassed, like there's a lot. Have avenues for people to relate to this conversation, and that's the other ticket. Amy is you can't give them just one because humans are multi-faceted. This is something that marketing has done a very poor job of they've relied on demographics to group people by.
Stupid ass things. Can I share it Stu? I don't hope I can swear on your show, but like you and I, we've never met before. You're in a different country. We're different races. I bet you're maybe taller than me. You're probably skinnier and you have different color eyes and we already have a lot in common.
We've discovered we have a lot of values in common. And so that's the thing is you have to find multiple ways to relate to people, not based on gender sex location, like all that stuff, right? Yeah. And then you have to empower them to spread the good word. So that's the other thing. That's where that magic spark of light comes up.
That's your job to, to turn on and people, and that's Janae say quad that's that one's hard to teach.
Amy: [00:15:39] Okay. So do you have any difficulty then, like coming from such an audio background, translating the same things that you just talked about into text format?
Kate: [00:15:49] Smart question.
And the answer is no, because of what we talked about, because I know the sound of the voice translates. So like when I'm reading texts I'm thinking of how delicious it sounds. My, I was just reading I did this. My friend has a soliloquies evening. It's a little, it's sounds bougie, but it's fun.
So someone can read something from a book and two random people on the corner of her yard. So I read Tony Bourdain's chapter from kitchen confidential, the one that's about the language of the kitchen, the vernacular of the kitchen, which it's fascinating to me, how words. Can sound the rhythm of them, how they sound when you read them out loud.
Now, no lyrics, by the way, don't qualify haircuts, all lyrics sounds stupid as hell if you read them out loud. So don't do that. But so I thought about that and how much I like that. And then I know how to. I know the PO so people can't right. I know this I'm really lucky. I took a degree that everybody thought was a joke at the time, but who look, who's laughing now, us English majors were laughing all the way to the bank, because the whole world has to write yes, there's video.
Yes. There's podcasts, but you still have to promote it with text eventually at the baseline. And text is essentially No, how we're community communicating people transcribe. Then they put a blog out, whatever. And so I started to think about Visually again, back to cooking what you eat with your eyes, you read with your eyes.
It's the same idea. So when you're writing, how can I make that digestible to you? There's all these beautiful things on the keyboard. There's parentheses and commas and ellipsis and brackets. And then there's bold and italics. Of course we have emojis there's space, there's all capital letters. Like all those things.
I'll read something to you. Okay. Here really quickly so you can get so people can get an idea, but this is a thing from west Elm. The store, this certificate is issued for reward purposes and is a duplicate of that certificate. You received by mail vomit. You guys can all hear how hard that is for me to say, do you even know what it means?
I know you don't. Here's what they're trying to say. Hey, dumb ass. We emailed you a copy of the coupon. You can't use both. That's what they're saying. Yeah. Okay.
Amy: [00:18:01] Because there's two different ways to say it. You can say it with like emotion and the way that you would speak or say it. Yeah. And direct, or you can say it like a convoluted, the way you would write on paper.
If you were a west Elms legal team, like whatever. Yeah. Okay. Yeah,
Kate: [00:18:17] exactly. Got it. And so think about that. All of our communications, this is really super important. I'll tell you I saw something. So engineers listen up, companies waste $400 billion, billion with a B in the U S alone each year due to poor communication skills.
Now this is of course sales and marketing externally, but it is also very much internally. It's how the engineering team can use to communicate to customer service. It's how HR communicates to accounting. All across marketing is the most valuable entity throughout any business. For this reason, if the marketing team is able to internally translate the message and make it so that the employees can tout the value and the tow the line, then it's automatic, how it happens externally, it all bleeds out this way. I actually do so because I learned this and because I learned that companies also spend three points. Billion on remedial writing training. Kill me. Now, can you imagine if you had to go to that? I created a very cool remedial writing training class for my team to go through a couple of years ago.
And it became again, the base sign for it for lately. So what happens is these are my writing roles using all the tools. We just talked about that I use in organic social. And then lately first studies. And makes me it's best practice baseline. Then it studies what all of our customers right. And informs the brain.
And then it'll also take on you and what you do as well. So it's constantly looking for everything. We just talked about. Touch points of familiar, getting the theater of the mind across what causes trust. Where's that persona, that little Jenna say qual, we talked about that makes it good.
Seeing right. And again, not a commercial. We talked about this before. The result is 12000% increased engagement, by the way. So the stuff we're talking about, isn't bullshit. Like you can do it by yourself. No problem. And you should. So I brought my engineering team who came to that class. Jason is my chief product officer.
He's so funny because on slack one day, The crazy thing is, I know you're doing all these things and I see you doing them to me and I still bite, like he knows the psychology behind the words I'm using. Yeah.
Amy: [00:20:35] Okay. Yeah. So what I want to know is like, how did you go from like the land of the law list to becoming like the CEO of an AI company, which like theoretically is completely lawless law.
Kate: [00:20:50] Right or is it? Yeah. So yes. So the AI is lawful, you're absolutely a hundred percent. And no one has pointed that out before, so good on you. But the. I think you guys can glean that the corporate culture within lately pretty well last, there's really only there's a couple I'm the boss, that's one number two.
We are, I'm a wild horse, Amy and my dad taught me that lesson. If you put the covers on me, I'll just fall over and die. But if you let me run, oh, in the race for you by miles, like every time. And I. I'm attracted to that and other people. And in fact, to the point where no thyself, I don't have the patience or tolerance for people who can't operate that way.
So I have to surround myself by people like that. Now, those people are hard to manage, by design, where we want to run. So we're we're a very flat organization and we've all worked from home since the beginning, which actually perpetuates and I believe supports that, that good side of us, but so everybody on the team more or less has had a DBA or their own company to begin with. Or if they didn't they came from somewhere that sucked. Yeah, like I did. And they knew that feeling first and they knew they didn't want it anymore, or right. As far as the AI self goes honestly, I only know enough to be dangerous.
We didn't set out to make an AI company. And what lately was in the beginning, wasn't that at all, we thought we were focused really on marketing organization, which is about as sexless says as a, a rock, but Some rocks might be sexy, but anyways but what we saw the customers all gearing towards this one feature and getting excited about it.
And so we, we flipped everything and then we realized there's all this talk about AI. It's very hot right now. Wait a second. Is this what we're. Oh, my God. It is. Yeah. Maybe we should get some engineers in here who like little know more about this than we do. Okay. So that's how
Amy: [00:22:55] it came about. Okay. Yeah.
So it was like an accident. Yeah.
Kate: [00:23:00] I
Amy: [00:23:00] stumbled into it. Okay,
Kate: [00:23:01] cool. Cool, cool. And that's the mark of a good company is And then, oh, learn and then what did they say about that? What's that metaphor about teachers? No, not teachers steal something.
Smart people. Some people create it's like something, this is not true. It's not very nice, but it's like dumb people create from scratch, smart people steal and make their own. That's what I'm trying to say. I was confusing it with that other terrible thing, which is like those who can't do and the teach and those who do something more wonderful, which is the stupidest thing ever, because of course teachers are.
Stupendous. Yeah. Okay. My life is a bunch of mixed metaphors. Amy, can you
Amy: [00:23:39] tell? Yeah, me too, I feel like we have the same kind of energy and so I feel like this works out well. Okay, cool. I, what I want to know too is like what kind of regrets that you have as a CEO and a co founder in terms of like your startup process?
Kate: [00:23:57] I don't regret anything because it was. Then it would erase where we are. But certainly like hard lessons, perhaps hard lessons. Yeah. I I wish I didn't absorb it as much as I do. I I really feel a lot of pain. Yeah. And I really feel demoralized often and I really hang on to the sh.
Yeah. Yeah, because it hurts and you get it from everywhere. Sometimes because you're a woman sometimes because it is what it is. I hate disappointing people as a thing for me. I imagine I am in therapy for it, but like I, when I can't pay my team, it feels really shitty. But at the same time, it's like that.
Then I grapple with why am I the one. Bailing us out, which is not true, like with a raise or something, so like, why can't we overcome these things? And, my, we joke and we say that my special gift is seeing the glass half empty, which it is cause that's how I see problems and fix them.
But it's also all I
Amy: [00:25:02] see. Yeah. Okay. Yeah. That's interesting. Okay. Because I think going back to some of the things that you've experienced, like in the workplace, I feel like I have also come from a similar background and that's why I love to work at hacker noon because it's like kind of this like lawless land of like weirdness on like internet culture.
And it's what is happening here? I love it. It's wild. So yeah, I think it's like, Interesting. Because CA I think I agree with a lot of the things that you brought up, like carrying the pain and the way in your body and like how it manifests. In physical pain of like years and years of like trauma of being in a certain kind of environment or working on a certain kind of thing.
And I think a lot of people will maybe feel the same way of oh, I want to break out of this like corporate life to get into like entrepreneurial spirit or like a startup, or start my own company or something because it's sometimes. Corporate life is like suffocation or yeah.
I'm like, I can't breathe in there. I know I don't want to wear slacks every day and dress up and work a nine to five. I want to take a nap at 2:00 PM and then work again in the evening. Like it's whatever. Yeah. Yeah, I think like I, and I think maybe as millennials grow up into becoming like more in power, like they will have more of the power to change the way that like a traditional workplace operates.
So I am hoping that yeah, less and less. Weirdness or more weirdness, we'll be able to spread through like office culture. And I think that's direction that we're taking. If you look at 20 years ago, even like tattoos were not really acceptable in the workplace or like whatever, like in the traditional workplace.
So I think things are changing and people are growing. Yeah. I hope like things go into that dress.
Kate: [00:26:46] I agree with you. And I will say on that note so one thing that we continue to do as a society, but in certainly in venture land is we science everything to death and we kill the beautiful things constantly.
Like we're constantly just crushing the visceral. Should I say CWA? I am a human and yeah, I can check all your boxes all day long, which I do, but then you keep moving the goal. And you don't get to talk to me about it. You're missing out on me, and I feel like that That the venture capital society specifically needs to wake the F up because they're you can't science.
How many female investors you've invested in by the way.
Okay. And you can't sign, so you can't sign the sales process. So I have a 98% sales conversion, 98% sales conversion. I've had this for almost a year and a half. It's not going anywhere. There's a million other things that I pick up on a daily basis, but not that one. And I do it without any paid ads and no cold calls and no cold emails.
So I'm not doing what everybody's been telling me to do for years and years. The line of lawless the land of the lawless. And so that's just another thing that's I get, I know what I can't scale. I understand it. But I also know there's a way and there's something here and I know that it needs to be reinvented and I'm happy to be the person to be doing this.
I know there's another way. And I know it.
Amy: [00:28:16] Interesting. Okay. How do you convince people that your way is the right way?
Kate: [00:28:22] Yeah. You just gotta be dumb enough to do it. That's the entrepreneurial spirit what's your level of risk? So when I have two months of runway, I start to panic. I don't like that very much. It, And that's when I'm already not paying half the team two months to run away and everybody's getting paid, that's easy to dial it all down.
Six months of runway, like I, I can manage on if there's six months of runway and growth at the same time, then I'm like the sky's the limit, cause I can see all of that. But that's those timelines make me nervous because I have plan a, B and C already. But if I can already see that I'm going to be going to plan D pretty quickly.
It's now at this point, the, I don't want to be a failure. Yeah. That's how it hurts. I feel like I've failed already a million times, and I want to rub it in. I want to lift others up. I want other women to be like, fuck, I want to do what she did. Yeah. Yeah. I wouldn't recommend this,
Amy: [00:29:23] but isn't it, is it everything that you dreamed? I would be like CLL.
Kate: [00:29:30] Obviously I love it because if I didn't, I wouldn't do this, and I am addicted to the highs and the lows. There's no doubt about it, for sure. Yeah. Yeah. And I love I love this conversation, right? So this is my karma is this, like a lot of people have lifted me up and helped me on the way.
And if we're talking today and one person, one underdog in any way, Damn I'm going to do that. Or maybe somebody else's like shit, our writing skills are terrible in this company. We got to improve them, whatever it is then that's good because we're not like we're not talking about lately.
And that's all I can do. The only way I can, it sounds giving back cents a week, but sometimes a lot of times on other entrepreneurs oh, can I pick your brain for an hour? I'm like, kill me now. No, I don't have an hour. And you're, what are you gonna do? Waste my time for an hour now, you and everybody else.
But I can only do what I can on my time. They have available and it's something out of this, obviously I'm going to ask you by the way for the file of this and run it through my own AI yeah. Yeah. Hold on. I'm not doing this to be totally nice. But yeah, I think my, one of my friends asked recently.
Yeah. W when does lately, and that was her question, and it's a good question. And the answer is, I don't know. Because like you said, like I'm like negative Nancy over here now a year ago we had $25,000 MRR, and now we have $78,000 MRR, which is a lot more right. And my team reminds me they're like do you remember how awful that was?
And I'm like, yeah, but this seems way worse to me. And because we have so much more to lose, , that's
Amy: [00:31:09] why. Yeah. Okay. Yeah. I think it's nice though, to have that balance of people then do you still have a, the co-founder working with
Kate: [00:31:17] you or. Yeah, we there's four of us. So I'll all the co-founders.
One of them has always been more of an advisor in the peripherals and he still continues to be in that place. But then the other two, yeah, they're my full-time guys. And they're my brothers. Like they have left with me, we, sometimes we used to joke back in the beginning. Like we're all awesome.
Somebody has to be the leader. It just happens to be me, oh
Amy: [00:31:39] my God. That's. So me
Kate: [00:31:47] it's so funny, not accidental, but accidental, and it's true. And I struggle, you can hear me struggling. Like I'm struggling with being the CEO of this company. I'm struggling with being a leader. I'm struggling with being. I'm a change maker, not only as the CEO of a company, but internally am I being the leader that I would want to follow?
And sometimes I fuck up and I, and it, I feel bad about it and like my. Am I being the human? I want to be on, I started meditating two years ago. It's like a 10 minute thing I do every day with Sam Harris, waking up with Sam Harris. And what I like about Sam, I was every once in a while, he'll drop this little nugget in there and he's remember, or you're doing this for yourself, but you're doing this for other people.
You're doing this to be a better wife, a better friend, a better daughter, a better coworker, and I think. Okay. If all I can do today, if I'm going to suck all day, but all I can do is get in that 10 minutes to. Yeah. Then that's what I can contribute for the day.
Amy: [00:32:41] Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Yeah.
I completely agree if we go and if we go down that path any further, I will cry on this podcast. Oh my God. I want to talk to you about the future of your business, about the future of AI. What's coming up next for you. What do you think is coming up next for AI?
Kate: [00:33:05] Yeah. Like I said, I know a little.
Enough to be dangerous. So I'm gonna have to pull up something for myself while we're talking so I can remember what we're talking about. Yeah. But so with lately we did a really cool thing with Anheuser-Busch InBev a couple of years ago, and we took the product and we grabbed 10,000 pieces of content from one of their brand voices.
Like they have a lot of brand voices and we did this So could have enough to learn. That was like the the deal it needed all that content and it was social media posts. It was press releases. It was scripts from radio commercials, all kinds of stuff from the brand voice.
And we fed it to the brain and we decided that. We were going to teach the brain how to write from scratch. So right now, and again, not a commercial, but just so you guys are really clear what lately does, so I can tell you what's coming. So you connect your social accounts to lately. Now we instantly examine them for a year backwards and then we update every day.
So it's constantly learning and we're looking at what social posts got you, the highest engagement. And we break down drill language, the words, the keywords, and the sentence structures. Take note of that and we create a writing model and then you can feed us any long form content. So it could be a blog or a webpage or a webinar or a podcast, any audio, video, or text.
And we apply the writing model and we're looking for those familiar touch points, and we're pulling out the best quotes that we already know are going to get you the highest engagement in recommending them as a social post for you. And we add the video clip in the case of video to that, like a hundred, one liner is all designed to promote your show and use them out into the end of time, because you should, because we only, we used to play your favorite song on the radio 300 times, 300 times a week, so that you would hopefully hear it once, this is how marketing works, so that's what lately does now.
And we integrate with IBM Watson and meaning cloud to do that. So with the AB and Bev thing, the idea is you push a button upload. Lately reads the content. It might transcribe the text and read the text and apply it to video. And then it rewrites the social posts with your voice. already. So right now I use GPT three through the open AI we're part of a closed beta thing there, and also Google's AI to do this.
So it's happening in the background. So the idea is, okay, I want to sound like Oprah, push a button. Okay. I want to sound like what's the best language for the financial industry. Push that to incorporate all the keywords that would touch on those values.
Amy: [00:35:38] What's coming. That's really interesting because I think that as a marketer, when you're writing for a company, your voice is not always necessarily the brand voice.
So being able to take someone else's writing or perfect writing quote, unquote of whatever the brand is supposed to be and then feeding it into this. Okay. This makes sense. Yeah. Cause I think I struggle a lot too with working with a company where the voice of the brand doesn't, isn't similar to my own.
Because I'm like, I don't know. I don't know how to write for people who work in law or whatever, like
Kate: [00:36:12] boring. Yeah. And I'm just kidding. There's plenty of lawyers are cool.
Amy: [00:36:18] Yeah.
Kate: [00:36:19] Okay, cool. Cool. Yeah, that's hard. And by the way, and I just want to touch on this because it's important. So for us, AI and humans must co-exist and there's a reason there.
We talked about that. Gino say CWA, a bunch, right? That's that magical thing that only a human can bring to anything. And the robots can't do that. Yeah, there it's impossible. For now, anyways, probably for some time lately, his job is to pull out those quotes for you, but they're fucked up because it's AI, it's just a robot.
And so the human has to get in there. Tweak them out a little bit. And then the AI will learn and start to get better at doing it itself later, but you got to get in there and give it that magic thing. And we find the difference between, so the customers who do that, just to give you guys why AI and humans work, the customers who do that, like Gary V get a 12000% increase in engagement.
So that's the difference like when you put a human humans on their own, the long, hard way robots on their own. Together the magical
Amy: [00:37:17] way. Yay. Okay. Okay. We spent this whole time and talking about like marketing and startups, and then I forgot that I had AI questions. So here we are. But so with the AI, I guess like specifically with lately is more better than less in terms of the data that you feed it then.
Kate: [00:37:34] Yeah. So it learns the more you feed it, the faster and stronger and better it learns. Yeah,
Amy: [00:37:39] exactly. And then how do we combat biases within this information?
Kate: [00:37:45] Yeah. So number one, you get to control everything because you're the human. So everything goes through your eyeballs and we also surface word clouds for you.
So when we are analyzing. Every day, we're analyzing, what's getting you the highest engagement and surfacing and your word cloud, and you have the option with each word to say, pay more attention, pay less attention. Let's create a noise word stuff. I want you to never, ever recognize their pull-out, that kind of thing.
So you always have a hundred cents. Rolling. And it's your fault. You're not
Amy: [00:38:14] okay. So are you like in the wheelhouse of belief that as an AI developer, like you are in the control and like you, you have the onus to make sure that your AI is unbiased.
Kate: [00:38:27] W because there's the AI can't be biased, right?
It's Hey, can. Only because of you, so it's not, it can only. Let's put it there. Say if your Twitter handle, if you were like I'm trying to not offend a huge population of the world here really quickly. So let's say your whole thing was about the color green. That's all you want to talk about was green, and the red people.
Didn't like you very much, but you and lately is going to pull up. Surface words in green, it's going to surface, forest and Moss and all those words they're going to constantly get, because it's, what's engaging with your people. So it's not biased. It's literally just a mirror what's already there.
So it doesn't tweak anything. It's it? Can't it can't, it's just literally quoting you. What
Amy: [00:39:18] if I was starting from scratch
Kate: [00:39:21] you can't so we don't let those customers come to us because we don't have anything to lose. So you have to have at least a year's worth of social for us to learn.
So lately is for advanced marketers. Yeah. Yeah.
Amy: [00:39:31] All right. Interesting. Okay. Cool. All right. Kate, thank you very much for coming on the podcast. I appreciate it. I learned so much. I am so stoked.
Kate: [00:39:42] Awesome. Thank you. Cool.
Amy: [00:39:44] If we want to find you and lately online, where can we.
Kate: [00:39:49] Yeah. So I love it when people connect with me on LinkedIn and say, I heard you with Amy Thomas.
So I'm Kate Bradley on LinkedIn. So that's pretty easy. And we're lately.ai also fairly easy. Be sure you say hi, we're we're very friendly people and we really like to get to know you. So if you're allergic to that, then definitely don't. And watch out cause we have a 98% sales conversion
Amy: [00:40:09] wait, how many people work on your team?
Kate: [00:40:11] There's 10 full-time and four or six part-time I've got two interns that have been with me for a couple of, yeah. Not amazing. They're the best. Yeah.
Amy: [00:40:20] Awesome. Yeah. Okay, cool. And then where can we find you online?
Kate: [00:40:23] Lately AI, Kaylee on Twitter and, oh my God. That's so cute. Yeah. My whole team calls me Kaylee,
so yeah. Get me there. Or Kateley Caitlin. Kate lately.ai. Now I'm doing it myself. We should have, I should have a Kaitlin lately.ai email. I think I used to, but I think I can do it.
Amy: [00:40:45] All right. Cool. Thank you very much. If you like this episode of the hacker noon podcast, don't forget to like it and share it and subscribe to it.
And you can find us on the socials at hacker noon. This episode was produced by hacker noon. It was hosted by me, Amy, Tom, and it was edited by the lovely audio wizard, Alex, stay weird and I'll see on the internet. Bye-bye.