AI Interview

involve.me: „AI is More of an Opportunity Than a Threat For Fast Moving Incumbents“

Das involve.me-Team. © involve.me
Das involve.me-Team. © involve.me

This interview was conducted with the new GPT „Startup Interviewer„, which Trending Topics has developed on the basis of ChatGPT. More information about the tool can be found here.

involve.me is an AI-powered online form builder that enables businesses to create interactive user flows with embeddable widgets, landing pages and pop-ups for the entire customer journey per drag & drop. By bundling quiz, survey, form and calculator elements, businesses are able to improve lead generation, product recommendations, onboarding, feedback collection and other vital CX areas, while gathering valuable first party data and enriching contact profiles. Founder and CEO Vlad Gozman talks in this interview about recent developments, AI integration

How did you come up with the idea for involve.me, and what was the inspiration behind it?

Vlad Gozman: We’ve started out with a completely different product, trying to build a CMS for VR. In the process we realized that we needed a better interactive onboarding for our early access users. One that would be tailored to the brand identity that we had and that could offer great personalization and data capture capabilities. What we built worked so well, that we adapted a version of it for our website and used it to generate leads.

As our VR play didn’t pan out, we started doing agency work and used the same tech stack to create interactive lead gen landing pages for customers like Universal Pictures. Once we had a working self-serve MVP based on the input from all previous projects, we introduced it to our agency customers and switched them to a SaaS model. We then ditched the VR product and pivoted to the 100% SaaS play with involve.me.

It’s fascinating how your initial VR project evolved into involve.me. Can you share more about your target audience and market? Who benefits most from using your platform?

While involve.me is being used agnostically when it comes to industry, our main customers are marketing and sales teams in SMBs that want to own their customer data.

That’s a clear and focused target audience. Moving forward, what are the key features that set involve.me apart from other online form builders and customer engagement platforms?

involve.me is unique in a few ways, from having a landing page type drag & drop builder to offering in-depth design customization, to the extent that projects blend in your website design when embedded, without standing out as a 3rd party tool. Our built-in features for lead qualification, validation and overall data quality, paired an expanding ecosystem of currently over 40 native integrations make marketing and sales automation also a standout capability of our tool. But some of the most interesting differentiators are our AI-powered features. Our customers are able to use AI to generate personalized responses and feedback for each individual user within their interactive flows.

Additionally they can use AI to create comprehensive business reports that analyze large swaths of qualitative & quantitative data with ease and valuable insights. In less than a minute our customers can generate a detailed AI-powered report for their project, even if it has a large number of submissions. The AI model will process all response data and provide a well-structured business report that includes an executive summary, a detailed explanation of the results, conclusions and recommendations for further actions. We’re currently infusing further generative AI features across our entire product surface.

The integration of AI for personalized responses and data analysis is certainly a game-changer. Can you share some of the challenges you faced while developing involve.me, and how you overcame them?

One of the most interesting challenges was adapting our tool to the fast-paced world of generative AI. Our core belief is that this new technological paradigm shift is more of an opportunity than a threat for fast moving incumbents. The ones that in the short term enrich their offering with AI will win in the long term. And I’m not talking internal process automation, but rather AI-powered features inside the product. So we set out to do exactly that, but boy is the pace of innovation fast!

Faster than I’ve ever experienced in my 15 years of building SaaS products. There were 2 main challenges around incorporating AI into involve.me. Firstly we needed to build workflows between several AI models for creating our reports. We used some pre-processing of the data as a step within the workflows, then GPT 3.5 for summarization and lastly GPT 4 to write out the detailed business report. We’ve created a flexible way of setting up these workflows for further adaptations to prompts, additional data and even changing the models to reduce dependency risk. Our second challenge was billing.

Since using generative AI with various models at different cost points for certain features in your product can become costly fast, we’ve created our own AI credit system. Therefore we have observability over our recurring costs and can easily include a usage based pricing into our business model. We’ve definitely learned a lot over the last few months.

Your approach to integrating AI into your product while managing costs and adapting to rapid technological changes is impressive. Let’s talk about the team behind involve.me. Can you describe your team’s composition and the key skills or qualities that have contributed to your success?

We currently have a team of 13 people, some at our HQ in Vienna, Austria, and some fully remote. Our teams are split into 3 main areas: product, marketing and customer success. At the moment we run on a freemium self-service SaaS model geared mostly to SMBs and have no outbound sales in place. As we’re expanding more towards mid-market and enterprise we will set up a sales team. A cool fact about us is that we are a 4 day work week company, with 32 hours per week at full-time pay & benefits.

How about your funding so far? Do you have any investors?

We did a small friendly angels round at the moment of our pivot. We also leveraged a neat additional tactic to keep our dilution as low as possible: we did a limited life time deal offering that enabled us to get a first batch of highly committed customers, as well as enough bank to finance our road to profitability without further investment rounds.

It’s interesting how you’ve strategically used a limited lifetime deal to finance your growth. What are involve.me’s main goals and objectives for the next year? How do you plan to achieve them?

We see a lot of opportunity in enriching and expanding our platform’s capabilities with AI and there are already a few powerful features in the works that will make processes much easier for our customers and provide a lot of business value. We’re bullish on the potential of increased automation and higher data quality across the customer journey, as well as the new capabilities of customization & personalization of user flows. So we’ll ship useful features at the intersection of these trends.

With such forward-thinking plans, it’s clear that involve.me is poised for further growth. Can you discuss any specific challenges or obstacles you anticipate in achieving these goals, and how you plan to address them?

As mentioned before, we’re in a fast-paced environment like none before it. So we’ll have to ship fast, while also remaining customer-centric. It will definitely be a balancing act, but I’m confident in our team’s ability to make it happen.

Finally, what advice would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting a tech startup or are in the early stages of their journey?

I’m not necessarily a big fan of recipes when it comes to founding a company, as every entrepreneurial journey can be quite unique. And the environment has changed drastically in the last few years. One adage that still holds true though, is that you should talk to your ICP before building your product and validate it. Then based on customer feedback, start building out an MMF, a minimum marketable feature centred around the biggest common pain you’ve come across.

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