Liav Refael Chen, and Humanz design a cutting-edge solution for the influencer marketing space
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Liav Refael Chen: During the height of the pandemic, we managed to keep the social distancing discipline in mind at all times, and we’re getting back to routine with the vaccines and working from home in some industries.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Humanz.
Liav Refael Chen: I’m 27 Years old, originally from Eilat – the most southern city of Israel, and currently live in Tel Aviv. My background is in software engineering. I was recruited to Unit 8200 by the age of 18 and served for six years. During most of that time, I was the team leader of 8-10 developers. Upon completing army service, I started working as a software developer for a tech company in Tel Aviv for 10 months. It was pretty clear to me that I preferred running my own business, as I always tried to fix things also outside of my scope, such as sales processes and execution methodology.
The Humanz platform and idea was founded together with four co-founders, who are also veterans of the 8200 elite technological unit of the IDF. We served together for six years. Last year, one of our friends told us about the marketing practice that he uses to create awareness for weekend parties that he was organizing, mainly for university students—influencer marketing.
I asked him, “How much do you pay for these Instagram influencers?” He told me, “As much as they demand.” I went on to ask him, “How do you know it is worth it?” He vaguely told me that it’s just how things are working. I knew something was off. My friend is a smart man—he has an MSc in Mathematics—and this is why his answer surprised me. I did a quick Google search and saw that it’s not just him. All the leading brands in the world are facing similar roadblocks and hardships, and they have the same questions. Companies that partake in influencer marketing campaigns don’t know how to measure influencers and how to predict their performance. Then I figured, why not apply our experience with data and machine learning to the social media landscape and come up with a leading platform that addresses this need?
How does Humanz innovate?
Liav Refael Chen: We love data, and we believe that analyzing it is beneficial in every sector. Computers and machine learning can reach smarter conclusions and has the potential to improve ROI when used in the right way. With that in mind, we designed a cutting-edge solution for the influencer marketing space. We understand the advertisers’ pains and needs, as well as those of the influencers themselves. Our core technology is a state-of-the-art set of algorithms. The algorithms understand social media behavior and create a standard in user profiling. These standards create TRUST between all parties: Influencer – Brand – Consumer. I proudly say that trust is one of our core values as a company.
The future is about social commerce, integrating with eCommerce platforms, and advertisers’ direct-to-consumer strategies. Our R&D team is always innovating, and we are working to create a new standard in influencer marketing. We’re working round-the-clock to make influencer marketing smarter, better, and easier to use – for every advertiser (and influencer) out there.
How did the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Liav Refael Chen: At the beginning of the pandemic, we had our budgets frozen from the brands we work with. Everyone was afraid of what the future might hold. After two months, we got used to the new reality, and it turned out that social media gathered a lot of traction. Consumers, more than ever, were spending their entire day on their mobile devices and social media. We released a benchmark report with statistics pre and post COVID, and the advertisers understood there was an opportunity. We finished 2020 with 30 percent over our pre-COVID sales KPIs.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Liav Refael Chen: We like to plan a few steps ahead. The pandemic forced us to make our plans more agile, and we adjusted pretty quickly. Everyone in the company experienced a salary cut for six months. I think the lesson we took regarding human resources is something I personally strongly believe in as an ex-officer. We are all on this ship together. As a family, we understand current needs and making sure we do everything to protect and fight for our employees, our clients, our motivation, and that’s what we did. Thankfully, we got back to business sooner than expected.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Liav Refael Chen: We are tripling annual revenues for the past three years, and the amount of clients is growing fast. We are using Hubspot as a CRM and making sure our funnels are connected and designed properly to have minimum time spent and have a high response rate. Naturally, we advertise ourselves only with the Humanz platform, using influencers and measuring their leads using our Humanz reports.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Liav Refael Chen: The Humanz platform is backed by the IIA (Israeli Innovation Authority) and was granted twice for our implementation of machine learning and artificial intelligence. It was of great support for our company.
Your final thoughts?
Liav Refael Chen: I hope all innovators can quickly get back on track to focus on innovation, creation, and successful business collaborations. We are now launching our offices in New York and California, and we’re looking for talented marketing and client support professionals to help make Humanz as successful in the U.S as it has been in seven other countries worldwide.