We talked to Ilan Kasan of Exceed.ai about the help the company gives to sales and marketing teams to exceed their goals with AI and Automation, and he had the following to say:-
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Ilan Kasan: My wife and three kids are doing well and staying safe. Thanks for asking.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Exceed.ai.
Ilan Kasan: I studied Computer Science and Mathematics at Tel Aviv University and got my MBA from Santa Clara University. I started my work career as a software engineer at a startup. Then moved to Silicon Valley to become the product manager. Eventually, I found my way to WebEx (what we all used before Zoom), where I became head of product. Then I started Exceed.ai with my co-Founder Yaron Ismah-Moshe.
I believe my previous experience as a product manager truly prepared me well to be a CEO.
How does Exceed.ai innovate?
Ilan Kasan: Within Exceed is our AI Assistant capability, which works 24×7 alongside humans to find qualified prospects from their existing leads. It ensures every marketing lead is automatically followed up on, nurtured, and is well qualified. When a lead is qualified and ready to talk to a human, the AI Assistant books a meeting directly on your rep’s calendar.
We utilize Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing to mimic humans to provide an automated two-way conversation with prospects over email and website chat. Our systems learn from how humans respond to leads and become better the more the system is used.
By now, we have collected millions of records that have been used to train our product to the point of positive accuracy rates of above 97%.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Ilan Kasan: In the first 3-6 months, there was lots of uncertainty, budgets were frozen, and some of our customers went out of business. Once people got used to the new normal, our value proposition began to standout.
In fact, one of Exceed’s competitive advantages is that it allows customers to do more without hiring more people and helps them get more out of their marketing investments with regard to lead gen.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Ilan Kasan: The coronavirus caught us in the middle of a financing round. This disrupted the process, and we had to cut costs to allow us more time to complete the financing. Being a small startup with very little slack forced us to make tough decisions and trade-offs in terms of headcount and salaries. Luckily we are now at a point where most of our staff is back to work, and we are even hiring!
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and Exceed.ai in the future?
Ilan Kasan: While I am under pressure from many angles: investors, employees, customers, family, etc., we have learned that there is no need to be stressed. What typically happens is my adrenaline goes up which gives me more energy to face my challenges head-on.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Ilan Kasan: Our main competitor is a company called Conversica. I have lots of respect for them. They have been around for a while, and I credit them for creating this market.
Since they are a larger company, they help educate the market, so for us, while they are a competitor, I prefer to call them Coopetition.
There is a saying, “The second mouse gets the cheese.” Our advantage is that we built our platform from the ground up to provide real automation and AI for lead engagement. So, in short, our tech is superior, the user interface is simple and easy, the system is flexible, and the AI is delivering better results.
Your final thoughts?
Ilan Kasan: We are big believers that the word is moving to an augmented workforce, where humans and robots will work alongside each other. The robots will automate the mundane manual stuff the humans can focus on what matters. We are bringing this vision to marketing and sales teams, and we are very excited to see it in action delivering real value to our customers.
Thank you for the opportunity to share my story with your audience.
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