INNOVATORS VS COVID 19
Garreth Chandler of The Evolved Group About AI-powered Conversations and Covid-19 Pandemic
We talked to Garreth Chandler, CEO at The Evolved Group about replacing traditional surveys with conversational AI and here is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Garreth Chandler: Actually pretty well. Melbourne had the hardest and longest lockdown of any city globally to date. This was an incredibly challenging time for both our people and my family. I am proud of the resilience demonstrated by the people in my life at work and home.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded The Evolved Group.
Garreth Chandler: I am a market researcher who became a technologist. Before founding the company, I had the benefit of diverse experiences as a research buyer working in Australia and Hong Kong while completing an MBA. The ability to work with so many well-known organizations and see how they manage insights has been formative. When I founded the company with my business partner back in 2010, we knew the world needed better technologies to understand humans. Over the last decade, we’ve built a business with unique human insights technology coupled with expertise about all things related to human data.
How does The Evolved Group innovate?
Garreth Chandler: We replace traditional surveys with conversational AI and powerful text analytics powered by deep learning. We’ve developed our own technology in house, and that has required balancing maturity in developing an enterprise-grade product with the spirit of innovation and willingness to explore ideas, trial and fail to create new technologies. We’ve achieved this by creating a ‘sandpit’ where our people can try things and, when they work, feed that back to our product development team.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Garreth Chandler: We got hit hard earlier, losing a fair chunk of revenue in the first quarter from March 2020. However, we saw a big bounce back as businesses realized that understanding humans in a pandemic was the window towards opportunity. We have seen a huge wave of demand for our services since about midway 2020.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Garreth Chandler: Yes, when the pandemic hit, we had to make some hard decisions on reducing our headcount in advance of knowing whether we really needed to do it or not. This was challenging, but we did our best to be clear, transparent with our people, and decisive in our actions. I believe that was important and ensured people were clear on the priorities and how we could get a balance between protecting the company and looking after our people. In retrospect, I think we handled this well.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Garreth Chandler: Yes, we have been using HubSpot to manage our campaigns, LeadFeeder to understand the performance of our digital assets and deliver through. Office 365 has been simply enormous during the pandemic, both in how we service our clients and how we work together as a team.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Garreth Chandler: Yes, we did. The Job Keeper arrangements put in place by the Australian government enabled us to maintain a larger cost base and protect our employees from the worst financial impacts of the pandemic. This was a good policy.
Your final thoughts?
Garreth Chandler: Adversity brings the best of our people. The pandemic has challenged our team, and I am glad to say that we have shown true resilience in the face of significant challenges. The experience has been an important reminder that life is about playing the cards you are dealt. Once you accept that the challenge is how you respond to challenges rather than achieving a specific outcome, everything becomes easier.
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