We talked to Brennan White of Cortex about creating content that the audience craves and the impact of the pandemic.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Brennan White: We’re doing well, comparatively. We live in an area that’s handling the virus decently. Everyone in my family remains healthy.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Cortex.
Brennan White: I’ve been a startup guy since I graduated from college. My first job out of college was a sales and marketing guy at a SaaS startup. I learned a lot about marketing, SaaS, and sales there.
After that, I founded my first company with my best friend from middle school – a marketing startup where we created content for brands.
After a decade there, my co-founder and I created Cortex to solve the problems we saw all of our brands experiencing at the first company.
How does Cortex innovate?
Brennan White: We’ve built the only technology that can predict how humans react to something they see. Since creating that technology, we’ve relied heavily on user feedback to keep innovative. We run user interview sessions every two weeks and incorporate their feedback into the product roadmap immediately. That way, we’re always adding new things to serve the customer, and we’re always speeding up our rate of innovation.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Brennan White: A significant portion of our customers before COVID were in the travel, tourism, and hospitality. Those industries were hit hard, and we were affected there. In every other industry, our customers’ need for Cortex has increased dramatically. Cortex’s tech lets them answer “how do we need to change our messaging and content to adapt to the new post-COVID normal?” Our customers know that their customers’ buying behavior changed due to COVID and needed to quickly align with those changes. This need is directly solved by Cortex, so we’re thriving now.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Brennan White: None of the decisions were too tough, but it required us to quickly change several strategies. Firstly, we had to step it up and support our customers who were affected extra hard -Like trying to help and give free support to our users who may be searching for a new role.
Then we needed to adjust to the new reality of our customers – 80% of the customers needed us more than ever and were thriving. So we focused on supporting them even harder too. More support for overworked teams, unlimited users within a customer so everyone who needs help can get it.
Then we changed our sales and marketing strategy to reflect that new normal. The pain points got more acute, so speaking to that more specifically was and remains to be important.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and Cortex in the future?
Brennan White: For me personally, I need a daily break to go to the gym and lift. My time lifting heavy weights seems to reset my stress and anxiety to zero and gives me time to process and prioritize.
For the company, we’ve amped up the communication dramatically. Often times, especially with a remote company, people are hesitant to chat with others without a specific agenda. We’ve tried to breakdown those hesitations by encouraging lots of different intraoffice communication for communication’s sake. It ends up helping people feel more focused, effective, and less stressed.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Brennan White: We don’t have competitors as no one has built the capability to predict how humans react to something they see. We plan to leverage our lead, our subject matter expertise, and some recent capital that we’ve raised to continue building exactly what our customers ask for. That will maintain our lead for many years.
Your final thoughts?
Brennan White: We’ve recently sponsored the largest study ever on the ROI of AI at enterprises. Over 1,200 companies were interviewed, and it got a TON of fascinating and surprising info. For example, the average company already spends $38,000,000 on AI (whoa). . If any of your readers would like free access to the report, we’ve created a link for them – https://www.meetcortex.com/roistudy