Host: Lucy Hopkins, Digital Marketing Manager at WBB
Guest: Charlie Cadbury, CEO at Say It Now.
Lucy Hopkins: Hi Charlie. Thank you for joining us on The Botcast.
Charlie Cadbury: Very happy to be here.
LH: Great. So, I’ve heard a few podcasts with you before. Can you just tell our listeners a little bit about your background and how you came to be the CEO of Say It Now?
CC: Sure thing. I’ve had an entire career in technology. I sold my first website in 1999 then started my first software business in about 2005 with a friend of mine. We grew that into a 45-man business and we started off in the early days just building websites in 2005 to 2007, and then built a whole load of Facebook applications. We were the retained agency for Cheil, building out all of the Samsung and Facebook apps at the time, which was a whole load of funding stuff for Robbie Williams and the Prince’s Trust. I actually got my face on the advertising board at Piccadilly Circus at one point.
LH: Wow. No way.
CC: It was fun. And then we started doing a whole load of mobile phone apps. Started off with some augmentative reality apps for Peugeot and then moved on to specialise in mobile payment apps from 2011/2012. So, during that spell, that business grew quite quickly and we built about 350 mobile apps, websites and social products.
Then I found myself consulting to an enterprise travel software business in 2015. They were looking at how people are going to book their travel in a five to ten-year horizon. They were a company that build ecommerce systems for low cost airlines and looking at what other products they could use to anchor their business around. And so, Alexa had just launched in the States and we started experimenting. We built our first proof of concept of how you could build an Alexa skill and how you could book an airline ticket using your voice. And we did that in early 2016.
And that got our knowledge up and then I came up with the idea for Dazzle which, in its first instance was in room concierge for hotels. And so, we started working with Marriot in October 2016. Had a proof of concept concierge product in Marriot Hotel County Hall in December 2016. This was allowing people to go into their bedroom and say “Dazzle, can you send me a new bathrobe”, and that would go down to the concierge and get sent back up. What we worked out very, very early on was that at that point people didn’t necessarily trust voice as a channel and they needed a bit of confirmation. So, what was actually happening was that people were saying “Dazzle, can you send me a new bathrobe”, and then they were phoning down to the concierge to ask if they got the request. Which really disappoints the fact that it was integrated.
LH: Oh really? They were checking up on it?
CC: Exactly. So, we then realised that we had to, kind of, build in a secondary channel. So, we then built in a messenger bot so when you said can you send me a bathrobe? The phone would then vibrate in their pockets and say yes, we’ve received that. You’ll get a bathrobe in about ten minutes. And that, kind of, closed the loop and gave the user the confidence in the system. And so, from that point on we then built out the Dazzle platform and started putting that towards rail companies and other airlines. And myself and the VP of product for Dazzle, were contracting into this travel software business. That ended in June this year and we left and set up Say It Now, you know, using this relatively mature understanding of conversational platforms and how to build them out. And to set up Say It Now specifically to help brands meet the demands of consumers, channel shifting towards these conversational channels.
So, we’ve been in operation now for a good four or five months reaching very, very good traction from the market. We’ve got a couple of core products. One’s a conversational advertising product. And the other is more consultancy led helping companies understand and deliver against their road map and understand what the opportunities are for those businesses over the next couple of years. So, that’s been my journey here today.
LH: That’s fantastic. I noticed that one of the services you offer is conversational SEO. Is that right?
CC: Yes, very much. It’s important to understand the role that conversation’s going to have for a brand over the next few years. I gave a talk a week or so ago talking about where we are in the hype cycle. So, the message that I’ve been trying to get through over the last couple of years is that the innovation is not in smart speakers or voice and innovation isn’t in chatbots. The innovation is in natural language processing. So, that’s the underlying technology which allows humans to communicate with technology using conversation just as you and I are using right now.