First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Liat Sade Sternberg: COVID-19 changed our world, moving three kids to study from home, our business from the office space to our house. I was flying every two-three weeks for meetings around the globe, and suddenly everything is on Zoom. So it is definitely a new reality.
Having said that, after a few weeks of adjustment, we also got a great gift: spending more time together as a family. Once every few weeks, we travel and have the opportunity to study and work from different places. So while a day will start with online schooling and online working, the afternoons are for traveling.
Though it took a few weeks to find the right balance, this year has given us the great present of spending more time as a family.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded fuse.ar.
Liat Sade Sternberg: Prior to starting fuse.ar, I had quite the career journey. After graduating from Tel Aviv University and moving on to earn a master’s in law studies at Bar Ilan University, I served as a VP of sales and marketing at Babylon. During my time leading marketing strategies and execution, I helped the company increase revenue by 540% and win a Guinness World Record for translation software. In addition to this role, I served at the IDF for four years, mainly as a casualty officer, released at a lieutenant rank.
In between, I spent seven years at Israeli Satellite Television, where I learned about productions, promotions, advertising, and marketing. fuse.ar blends the deep understanding of television and advertisement from this role with the digital knowledge I gained later in my career. Our technology can be used across advertisers’ platforms (website, app, etc.) and social media sites (TikTok, Instagram, etc.), allowing companies to drive up engagement and build stronger connections with consumers.
In my spare time, I enjoy traveling all over the world as a female ambassador, telling my own personal story, and inspiring other young women to step forward and take positions in the Israeli tech scene. I also try to volunteer as much as possible– mentoring in the 8200 EIS, giving lectures at Google’s Telaviv Campus for Moms, and serving as a Magma Challenge member, a unique project that encourages women to explore new lands in an adventurous ten-day journey.
How does fuse.ar innovate?
Liat Sade Sternberg: fuse.ar is a unique technology helping content owners and brands transform their video content into AR experiences, thus giving active social users the opportunity to create videos and increase engagement with celebrities and pop culture figures.
We are bringing AR marketing to the masses. Our developed, patented AI platform transforms existing video into a powerful augmented reality experience in minutes. On average, our product improves our partners’ results by increasing engagement up to 66% and reducing cost per click 1000X with unlimited organic reach.
Our patented AR technology is driven by algorithms that use innovation to systematically solve those issues. Just think, you can take any 2D video and, within minutes, automatically convert them into AR objects, which can be uploaded to an advertiser’s platform (website, app, social profile. etc.) and allow their audience to create short viral AR stories. From there, users can promote brand virally and organically. Our company has been granted three patents and has others under the provision.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Liat Sade Sternberg: Beyond the humanitarian tragedy of this pandemic, COVID-19 has also been a catalyst for startups, retailers, and corporate enterprises. The tendency that we have to postpone things to days “when the time is right” suddenly hit us personally, and it forced us to make the necessary changes that will ultimately help our company to continue to grow.
We’ve taken this time as an opportunity to lead and attack because startups tend to be vulnerable players in any economy. I’ve learned the following based on my own personal experience:
- Understand your product and your tech. In my time leading fuse.ar I have changed the business model, product and moved from a B2C company to a B2B company. From approaching consumers to approaching brands, I discovered everything was actually based on the same tech. The most important thing to consider is how versatile we are with our tech moving forward. Changing your company vision in times of crisis can be a game-changer and lead your business to greater success down the line. I have implemented “same tech, different execution” several times.
- Ongoing research. Understanding the obstacles and being on top of your market is a key to your company’s evolution– especially during difficult times. Two years ago, Facebook changed its algorithm, and most of the brands lost their fan engagement on its platform. We changed our sales pitch on the same day, and that expanded our partner portfolio by 100%. The same thing happened with the pandemic. The cancellation of sports events, festivals, etc., has put marketers in situations where they have to act fast and find new marketing alternatives. Stepping into this opportunity with the right solution and pitch is a game-changer. In my case, what should have taken me two years took four weeks.
- Work with your team. I have realized that sharing challenging situations with your team can actually strengthen the bond and trust among employees and lead your company to a solution you haven’t even thought of. Remember that you have chosen to work with them every day because they are smart, talented leaders that are going to change the world with you. Bearing this in mind, in a time of a crisis, let them guide the company with you to a bigger success.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Liat Sade Sternberg: Being a startup, you have to make difficult decisions every day. Every time you change your product roadmap, you raise money, you don’t have enough money…and more. It’s an ongoing process that forces you to have quick and sharp choices often.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and fuse.ar in the future?
Liat Sade Sternberg: Funny, my husband is helping me with that. He is also an entrepreneur and the founder of Rubato.life, a startup to manage stress with music.
Your final thoughts?
Liat Sade Sternberg: Our world is changing. And this change is leading to many new obstacles and new opportunities. It is in our hands to explore and understand how to evolve personally and professionally to make this place a better home for ourselves and the next generation. Fear can freeze you, but you must try, fail, and keep on trying. You will find that every ‘No’ will lead to a yes if you just proceed on trying.