An interview with Matt Hall – Founder of Chose2
Matt is an experienced lead generation and SaaS Sales Director & MD who has successfully grown a SaaS start-up to 50+ MRR clients in its first year. Matt's experience covers sales, marketing, client delivery and product development and has sold and delivered projects to SMEs and multinational organisations. We recently had the chance to talk with Matt about his entrepreneurship journey and how he and his team are set to disrupt the online brand engagement space with Chose2 as well as share some great business insights for all new and upcoming entrepreneurs.
1. What is your background and how did the idea of Chose2 come about?
- I started my career at Pareto, a sales training and recruitment business, where I won many awards for my sales performance. I then moved into online lead generation fronting a marketing automation SaaS reseller – leading the business from 0-50 MRR clients in its first year. My exposure to that world has given me a keen interest in delivering engaging online content/experiences. I know online brands have challenges engaging consumers – and how much money they waste by failing to do so. With that in mind, when a friend jokingly said it would be amazing if people could swap their faces onto sport / TV stars, it got me thinking. What a great way to offer engaging and memorable online experiences!!! Video has always been used to engage consumers - they crave video content to watch and share on their social networks. And personalisation is highly effective when it comes to engagement. So, I decided why not combine the two and develop a video face-swapping product?
2. What sets you apart as a management team?
- When Dermot Power and I first partnered, the challenge we faced to build our product was huge. Our R&D showed face swap videos could be produced but to do so with the majority of video content (anything other than very short simplistic clips), it took days, needed huge amounts of human intervention and the processing costs were in the £100s to produce a single video. We wanted to get this to minutes and pence and with no human intervention – so asking rather a lot – however, we were unmoved on these ambitions. With that in mind, I guess first and foremost, we are both hugely ambitious. To add to that, we have proven how resolute we both are. We have had many setbacks – as expected with developing an Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning product - but to overcome them and keep going has been huge. Our ability to support and keep one another positive when overcoming massive challenges has been equally important. The blend of skill sets we have is very much complementary and will undoubtedly help us on our journey.
3. How did you come up with the name for your company?
- Synthetic media is going to play a massive role in the video content of the future. We anticipate a point where video content that has been ‘synthetically’ produced will be marked as such when shared on social media sites. It will help protect against any manipulated content being used for purposes other than fun and entertainment. We will mark our videos saying that the users ‘Chose2’ do the video in such a case. Every video that is then shared on social media will have our brand name on it and will act as a great promotion for us!!!
4. What is your definition of success? And do you have the right support system in place to achieve it?
- Success could be described in many ways, but my immediate thoughts are – happy clients, financial growth, and a significant return for all those that have and do invest in the business. It's humbling when people back you and for that, we want to reward them. In return, we will achieve our rewards. Founder + Lightning, who is a UK venture builder, recently backed us. As well as reducing our raise requirements, access to their broad skills gives us a massive advantage as we progress and grow. As we progress further, we will add skills and operational resources but will undoubtedly add to our exec team when the time is right. If people can add value and are willing to work hard, we will always listen.
5. Your platform uses AI technology; can you explain how it integrates with the client site/app and how it works to help build brand engagement?
- Our product enables brands to offer their consumers fun and memorable experiences, which builds engagement. Online brands are spending billions to attract consumers through to their sites or apps, only to lose up to 60% immediately due to a lack of engagement. They need to offer consumers something more. Consumers crave video content and personalisation is key to engagement so enabling consumers to produce personalised videos and see themselves as their favourite fashion icon, sports player or TV/movie star is great fun. In turn, brands capture consumer data to use for future marketing which increases conversions and in addition to that, consumers will shout about the brand by having fun and sharing their videos on social media. It’s a win-win. Brands benefit and so do their consumers. Our product will integrate and run from within a client’s site or app. All the AI magic to perform the face swap videos is done in the cloud, and the videos are delivered back to the consumer from within the client's site/app.
6. How do you intend to market your business?
- Firstly, through our direct contacts and referrals from our network. Through our connections, we have immediate opportunities with huge brands that excite us as a start-up. We also have contacts ready to introduce us to some of the biggest brands in our target markets. For that, we are thankful. Our route to market is direct to brands and also through agencies of which again we have strong contacts. In addition, we will promote through typical channels and shout about what we are doing. It's new, it's different, and it’s not something a brand will search for on Google. It needs to be shouted about!!!
7. What sets Chose2 apart from its competitors?
- Two key things – our technology and our deployment methods. Current technologies can only perform face swap videos on very simplistic video content. This rules out the majority of video content produced and certainly rules out their ability to work with our target markets. In addition, many existing technologies are being deployed within standalone apps. Our due diligence points towards clients needing to increase engagement when consumers reach their own site or app – not in third party apps so hence we will deploy our technology within their own domain. Yes, our product is used by consumers, but we are very much a B2B sell.
8. What is your business model?
- We will sell direct to brands and through agencies. As we launch, we will initially charge a price per video before potentially moving towards a more traditional SaaS model with a combination of license fee and volume usage fee.
9. What’s your traction like and where do you see yourself heading in the next 12 months?
- This raise will enable us to progress from prototype to launch. All of the ‘science magic’ has been mastered, we now need to build to deliver at scale. Whilst our current stage is pre-revenue, we have created demand from major fashion, TV and sporting brands which really excites us. To have opportunities to work with such brands from launch is not something every tech start-up has the opportunity to do!!! The roadmap for the next 12 months is clear - Secure investment, launch, gain traction, add new product features and look to expand into international markets. The opportunities we have on the table now are with brands with a strong presence in the UK, Europe and the US, so by default, we should be gaining traction abroad quite soon.
10. What valuable advice would you give new entrepreneurs starting out?
- Work with a business partner. You will have great days – which you will want to share. You will also have miserable days – which you will want to share!!! I’d also say never be afraid to reach out to people if you need input or advice. I’ve had a lot of great input from people who have offered me more of their time than I could have hoped/imagined. Most are hugely respectful of the challenges you take on as a start-up especially, if they have been in your shoes in the past, they are willing to help.
11. What is you biggest challenge and how will you overcome it?
- After securing this investment round, our immediate challenge will be delivering a seamless launch and ensuring we hit the ground running. We plan to work with those with whom we have created demand through our final product development stage, which will ensure we go from launch to revenue-generating very quickly. I certainly look forward to that day!!!
12. And finally, why should an investor back you and Chose2?
- Us – because we are absolutely determined to make the business a success.
Chose2 – because we genuinely have an opportunity to disrupt the online engagement and entertainment space. That is shown by the fact that major brands want to buy from us, which considering we haven’t even launched yet is no mean feat. We are also very progressive in our thinking. This is product number one, and we have some exciting new product ideas in the pipeline that give us huge enthusiasm for where we can take the business. In addition, achieving success is one thing, but selling such a cool product will be even better. We can have fun on the journey!
For more information on Chose2 and to view their deal page Click Here