Interview with VERB tech CEO Rory Cutaia on Livestream Shopping Platforms and Assisted Sales
Interview with VERB tech CEO Rory Cutaia on Livestream Shopping Platforms and Assisted Sales
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Darius 0:02 Welcome to the retail type podcast. My name is Darius Vasefi, producer and host and Today my guest, my guest is Rory kataya. I hope I spelled that pronounced that correctly. from a company called verb technology, and Rory is the founder, Chairman, President and CEO of verb technology, and they have a new product on livestream shopping and commerce. So I'm really interested to learn more about Rory and what they're doing in the live streaming space. Welcome, Rory.
Rory Cutaia 0:43 Thank you, Darius. And I'm very happy to be here. Thanks for inviting me.
Darius 0:46 Great. So maybe we can start with a bit of a background on yourself, and how did you come about starting verb, and then we'll get into what verb does.
Rory Cutaia 1:01 So I started my career as a lawyer, practicing law in a large firm, outside of New York City, but we had offices all over the world. And for the most part, I was involved in a lot of entrepreneurial things. When I was at the firm, I represented a lot of really well known entrepreneurs, even even today. So many years later, these are names that people would know. And I did some some really kind of unusual things I went to, on behalf of the firm, to what was then the Soviet Union, and represented the Soviet sports committee, I was the first one to bring athletes out of the Soviet Union to compete professionally, as opposed to just an average of sports, among those kinds of things represented the mayor of Moscow for foreign investment into the city. And I really had the entrepreneurial bug, I'll tell you, when I represented some of the people that I did. And again, this was a really large, firm, and we had really big clients. I realized, you know, kinds of things that some of these people were doing and making a ton of dough, I could, I could do that. So I, I ended up leaving and started a business as a telecom technology company, and it was called telex, and Telecom. An amazing start, we took off, we were providing the the back end, for at that time calling cards, and the company just grew like, overnight, we went from four people to over 100 people, within a few months, just massively blew up. But as fast as it blew up and crashed, as cell phones became more Daisy, myself, this goes back to the 90s of Salesforce cell phones became more more prevalent. People stopped using calling cards and the business began to crash and we had to, we have to pivot. You know, every, every entrepreneur has to pivot no matter what your business is, when you start it no matter how well you think you've thought it through. Trust me, you're going to pivot every every business does a pivot. So that was our pivot, we pivoted into the idea of connecting Telecom carriers networks to one another. That saved the company, literally that that changing that into that business model, and ended up growing the company dramatically sold it for over $200 million. And that was my first retirement and it lasted. good solid weekend, I think joined a private equity fund. And as a partner and as the entrepreneur in residence as opposed to in the front. And I did that for about another six years. Nothing against anybody in private equity. I don't like that business. I like to grow things not lever the heck out of companies and make a pay down the debt and put money in my pocket. So I retired again for the horse for Virginia. And retirement just didn't suit me. I had an idea for another company, based upon video technology, literally got on a plane flew into into Los Angeles, lived in a hotel for about six months while I assembled a management team and created what was the predecessor to verb technology company. Today, we're NASDAQ listed company and we've got some really interesting software for sales in particular, for the retail space. So looking forward to talking about
Darius 4:41 Wow, that's that's an amazing background. I think we can have a podcast or a movie just on the part of you bringing out of Russia. Absolutely. I feel like I'm on lifetime number 12 Yeah, I know. Well, I mean, that's, that's one of the one of the nice things about entrepreneurship is that you can be as creative as you can afford. And you can make happen, and it just seems like you've definitely that's, you've got that in your blood. So that's awesome to see. Thank you. Yeah. So So let's talk about verb. I see that you do. So is it pretty much like a specialty software for all kinds of salespeople, or sales functions?
Rory Cutaia 5:35 Yes, it anybody selling anything would benefit from using our software. So let me let me provide a little background and context around that. We recognized some time ago, many years ago when we first started the company. So we started in 2012 2013, went through our own pivot. That's probably a topic for another podcast. But we recognize that people didn't really want to read anything anymore. People wanted to consume information by watching videos, and they want to share information by watching videos. And I noticed that a lot of the sales software that was available in the market, even from the big incumbents, they weren't utilizing video. Now, mind you, this is before you had video, even on social media, right, you didn't have video on LinkedIn, you didn't have video yet on Facebook. And if you think back, it's really only been a few years, since we've had video on social media. And now, of course, video dominates everything. So we were really ahead of it by recognizing, again, that people really preferred to consume information through through video as opposed to reading, but there weren't really sales tools out there that incorporated it. So we decided that we were going to go ahead and create software specifically for sales people selling anything, but it would be it would be based on or video technology. And, and what we recognized is that
if people watched your video, if you're selling anything, people watched your video, and they had to leave the video to contact you. Right? Whether it's they have to go dial a phone number, or they have to go to a website. If they have to leave the video to contact you, you actually lose 80%, that's eight, zero 80% of the people that are actually interested in your product or service, just because they have to leave the video to contact you, you're going to lose them. And that's because the obvious right, we're all we've all become. Add right? You get interrupted by the next text message that you know the next clubhouse broadcast phone's ringing, the dogs barking your wives, whatever it is, and you don't get a chance to complete that action. So what we did is we focused on eliminating that, that point of friction, and allowing people to click right in the video, as in when their interest level peaks. And so we created interactive video, and but we had to build it in a way that would be super simple, super intuitive. Anybody could do this, they need to be able to do it right on their cell phone. So that you can create, you could shoot a quick video where you could use an existing product, the sales video that maybe corporate wants you to use. And you could add interactive icons simply quickly, easily. For example, click here to buy now, click here to open my calendar right in the video and you can click on an available time slot to make an appointment with me. Click here to download my white paper, white tickets, my brochure, whatever it is that you might be selling. Let people click in that moment when their interest level peaks. Again, the idea being eliminate friction from the sales process. And where did we get that from? We got that from you know, Jeff Bezos and Amazon with that one click Buy capability that he created. Fortunately, the patent died expiry A while ago. But brilliant, right? The whole concept there is he made it so easy, eliminating friction. And obviously Amazon blew up for that reason among many others. So we've incorporated that capability into our into our platform. And we call that verb CRM. We've had that now for maybe about two and a half years and and that's allowed our company to grow incredibly well, quarter over quarter year over year. And we we listed our company on NASDAQ are super excited ringing the bell on NASDAQ. But you know as as entrepreneurs, we're always thinking about well, what's next? Take a look at what you've what you've created, and then try to visually extrapolate to Well, what's the logical extension of this right? And in my mind, that was taking that same ability to add interactive icons into a video, but be able to do that in a live broadcast in a live stream. Because what we noticed is that people began using webinars. Now, this is before the pandemic. But of course, once the pandemic started, then everything was was zoom, WebEx, and everything, everything was was virtual. And all selling became virtual. So people, I mean, I was getting done 5030 4050 invitations a day to somebody webinar. But you know, what's a webinar, it's really just somebody trying to sell you something, right. So same thing, people would put the URL in the in the chat or phone number on the screen. And with that, you know, we could figure out how to take our icons, and instead of adding them to a pre recorded video, which was already super cool. If we could add that to a live broadcast and give a host of a video webinar, the ability to add those right on their screen that shows up on the screens of everyone else, then that would be incredible. Right? So we spent several years and a lot of dough to get that to, to make that a reality. And we did and we launched that several months ago. It's called verb live, and it is absolutely the killer, killer application for anybody selling anything. But let me just pause there for a second. Because, you know, obviously, when we created this, we thought we were geniuses, right? We thought this is incredible. until you find out somebody already did it. Right. So we found that there were companies in China that had created live stream, shopping, live stream e commerce, and they were about a year or so maybe a year and a half or so ahead of us. Now, you know, I think our our platform with technologies is far superior, but just for just just specific data points.
They have something called Singles Day in China. It's November 11. And it's somewhat I would say analogous to our Black Friday. Singles Day in China is where unmarried people buy each other gifts. So it's a big, big shopping day.
Darius 12:27 Yeah, that's like 1111 shit, right? Is that? November 11?
Rory Cutaia 12:31 That's correct. November 11. That's right. So November 11 2019, one person, an influencer in China, on a single live stream, sold $145 million of merchandise in a single live stream. And credible right. Now, fast forward a year later, to Singles Day 2020, right, less than a year ago, in China, you had one again, different person, but same thing. single individual, in a single live stream, did $425 million dollars in sales. That day alone, the handful of live streamers that are out there, did $75 billion in live streams. And in 2020, a half a billion people 500 million people purchase products, through live stream shopping. So is massive, massive now, we are obviously betting that that's going to come here to the US and the rest of the Western world. And, and we're now seeing that. And frankly, I think it's going to be way bigger here, especially in the US that has become in China, because people here in the US have already been sort of pre conditioned to live stream shopping, if you think about it, right? Because we've had decades of QVC and home shopping network. And what is it it's nice thing shopping, people are watching the show on TV and people just talking about products introducing products, except of course you have to call a phone number or go to a website, which is what right that's friction. So it's this but people are already conditioned to watching and engaging in that way. With with verb live our platform. You can you could do the same thing. Anybody could be their own QVC channel, broadcasting themselves from wherever their kitchen, their garage, or studio using their mobile device or laptop, whatever it is, to as large an audience as they as they can can muster up. And what what's really interesting about it, what's so engaging is that it's pizzle Live Chat, right on screen. So you can ask the host questions like, Oh, that's, you know, could you turn around and want to see the back of that dress or, or see the ham or whatever, whatever you you'd want to ask. So instead of just looking at static images and reading reviews, like you would on an Amazon example, you're actually engaging with the host. But what's even more interesting, and even far more engaging, is that you're also communicating with other shoppers. So you're talking to other viewers there that are watching that same live stream. So one of the I happen to watch some that I see our clients doing, and you have someone saying, Yeah, you know, I bought that dress last week for my mom, I'm back this week to get with myself. It's great. It's this and people communicating back and forth. And it's so much fun. It introduces that social aspect that I think people miss, especially through the pandemic. But this is even more fun. Because you don't have to leave your house, you communicate it with a whole bunch of different people. And it's, it's, it's exciting, it's fun, it's different. It is what I believe go on. Cooking.
Darius 16:12 Sorry, I'm checking out some websites. I was I was checking out QVC. Actually, another live stream just came up.
Rory Cutaia 16:23 So yeah, I am expecting that this is going to be gigantic, in the US and around the world. And I'm proud to say that our company is really very much at the forefront of it. And the fact that we can make this kind of tool, which is what it is, right? It's a tool available to anybody. I mean, literally anybody. I think this is going to change online ecommerce as we know it. And I think that's going to happen quick, is going to be in the near term. And certainly as we look out over the next, you know, six to 12 to 24 months, this is going to be it's going to be a really big deal. And I think that if if what's happened to China is any indication that this is going to be this could be a really big deal. And this is where Yeah, this levels, the playing field, whether you're a solopreneur, whether you're a startup and you've got a boutique, or you're a big box store, everyone is going to want to create their own live stream shopping experience, because this is what people are going to demand.
Darius 17:26 So do you think that it pause now? Right, okay. Yeah, that's that's a, that's a, you know, great overview. You think that so there's different types of live stream shopping, there is the QVC style, which is the one too many, you know, 111 person talks, and many people are watching and they can communicate, but they, you know, each person is shopping basically for themselves, but it's not like a interactive one on one format. And then there is companies that, you know, I'm you know, involved in one of them is that they do one to one, and live streaming and that I mean, there's so many different ways that live streaming can be used, that, you know, it's just like, nobody's going to be able to do everything. I mean, it's, it's, it's really interesting how this market and this, this new channel is really evolving. So, I guess my, my next question is, what do you think about like, the so in order to for a seller or retailer to actually start and be convinced to use live stream shopping? What are the, like, questions that people have that you've seen, you've heard from retailers? Is that? Are they just not convinced about this? Or they just don't know how to do it? Or what what are the some of the main I just objections, because retailers are pretty slow to pick up on technology? Right? I mean, historically, they have to be dragged and kicked and dragged into using new technology.
Rory Cutaia 19:11 You're absolutely right. And, and there's, there's a good reason for that, right. They have brands that they need to protect they they have reputations that are wrapped around these brands that they need to protect, and they can't be made to look foolish, they can't have a misstep. So you're right, it is slow. So they are going to watch and see what others do. And when they get a certain degree of confidence and comfort, that the technology is real, that the platforms are reliable, and that the results are actually real. Then you're going to see a flood. I mean, a tsunami retailers trying to get on board and figure out who's got the best platform that suits their needs. And that's coming. There's no question about it. But for us, it's you It adoption is, was a lot easier for us because we didn't start by going after big retailers for the reason that you just said, they're slow, and they need to protect their brand. And they want to see it actually working and other people having success with it. So we went to our existing client base, you know, we've got about 160, some odd sales based organizations, these are companies that have, you know, 10s of 1000s of sales reps around the world, each company, as you know, either 50 to 100 sales reps, and some of them have, you know, 100,000 sales reps, globally. And they're using sales software for each of their reps. So we went to them. And we said, Take a look at this. They're already using our our verb CRM, where their their reps are creating videos and adding their interactive icons to it to sell and, and by the way, they're seeing sales conversion rate increases from 600 to 12 100%, increases in sales, conversion rates using the interactive video based CRM products that we that we have. So we went to them with the live stream, and we said, here it is, check it out, you know, we're going to give you three months free, go use it and see what you think use it with just some of your top salespeople and, and let's see what kind of feedback you get. The response was overwhelming. And here's, here's literally a quote, from a billion dollar sales based organization. The CEO said this was far and away the best, most effective sales tool they've ever used in the history of the company. We had another CEO who told me that during the year, they did a beta for a couple of months on it. They said that 60%, six, zero 60% of the people that attended a live stream actually purchased product, if you just anyone who retail knows what what that means. That's crazy, ridiculous conversion rates that's so far away, greater than what you should normally expect from doing, for example, a webinar as an example. And the reason is, because it's it's so engaging, it's entertaining, it's fun, you get caught up in it, you see what other people are buying, you see the inventory, clicking down, fear of missing out sort of enters enters your psyche on it, and you just get caught up in it. And it's and that's why they're getting these kinds of returns. So now, even though our product is only within the market now for several months,
people are doing their own case studies, they're posting these things on social media, every single host have a verb live event becomes basically a virtual salesperson for us, because they were exposing the technology to more and more people. And let me tell you, all you have to do is see it. And you realize how powerful this thing is. But I want to tell you what we did to take it to the next level. Because for us what we're, as I said, When NASDAQ was two company, were publicly traded, you know, we're constantly looking to grow the business create value for our shareholders. So we created this, obviously, we're expecting an amazing, amazing year, this year. Next, what do we do to make it even better, right? Just like when we when we thought about, okay, we've got really cool interactive video capabilities for our, our sales tools, how do we make it better and that we came out with more alive? Well, let me tell you what we just did with Ferb, like, we added a new feature. And it's called attribution. And let me tell you what attribution is. So if you think about the total addressable market, for live stream, live stream shopping, or live stream anything for that matter. The you're looking at people who are comfortable being in front of the camera, right? People who, who feel good about their ability to present and how they look and how they could articulate the value proposition. And and it's probably not for people who don't feel comfortable being in front of the camera, when they don't like the way they look. They don't like the way they sound. They don't feel they could, they can be persuasive for a whole bunch of different reasons. So how do you make verb live a live stream shopping, appeal to those people? And that's what we did with attribution. Let me tell you how that works. So if you're, for example, let's take one of our clients, big sales based organization, and they've got their their superstars in the company who really, you know how to sell in front of a camera, they can articulate the value proposition really, really well. They're persuasive. They come Great. So maybe a new person just getting started. That person would go into the, the the application, take a look at the calendar of events and see which, which people are hosting which funds, what products are they talking about? And you might identify a couple of them. They're like, yeah, you know what, I know this guy, he's really great. I like what he's selling. And you click on that, and it will generate a special invitation for you. And then what you could do Darrius, this is you, right? you clicked on it, you got your own special invitation. Now, you could send that invitation to your entire contact list, everybody, you know, right, you can send it by email, you can text it up with post on social media. And then if any of the people that got your invitation, go and actually see that that livestream event and that other person and purchase something, you get paid, you get paid. So now everyone that has a contact list is now a potential client, customer user of this platform. And that's where we've taken it to an entirely new level. And, of course, we believe that that will enhance adoption rates of live stream selling even further.
Darius 26:20 That's very interesting. That's almost like the affiliate model. Yes. Okay. So So how do you actually, so just thinking about that, if I share that link with my contacts, and they purchase something, how do I get paid,
Rory Cutaia 26:39 the system is designed to the software will track that it will be able to attribute that person to you. And then you know, each host is going to have their own revenue share for for people that send send people to see their that their live streams. But yeah, This changes everything.
Darius 27:00 Yeah, interesting. So the sales based organizations that you mentioned, are these actually retailers or because we're talking about retail, right, or e commerce so so there is a difference, right, between just pure play online pure plays, or, like omni channel retailers? Which, which ones are actually using this more than your software?
Rory Cutaia 27:29 Well, for the most part, I think right now, what we're seeing is affiliate sales companies, social selling companies, companies that are selling through a variety of different channels. These are not companies that have brick and mortar stores, they sell a lot online, they sell a lot of social media. These, again, these are companies that have brick and mortar stores. However, we're now just seeing interest from the brick and mortar stores, the big box stores, the big brands, consumer brands, because that now they have data that they can look at, there's companies that they can talk to, you know, that that that are reputable, you know, billion dollar sales organizations that are using it and say, yeah, these are the results that we're getting, you know, at any given time, there's 10s, of 1000s of these verb live sessions going on all over the world. So, you know, this is, this has happened, this is happening, right? And, you know, so retailers, even traditional, you know, brick and mortar businesses are looking for ways to sell they're already trying to sell online. Now, we're all trying to add some kind of dimension, because of you know, what's happened with COVID? I can't think of a better way to grow their business.
Darius 28:53 Right? So how does, how does the, I guess the revenue side of the verb work? Is it like software as a service? Or is it transaction based.
Rory Cutaia 29:04 So it's software as a service. So if we make it really easy and affordable for for anyone to pay a monthly fee, and utilize the service, and there's different packages, and it's as low as $5 a month, up to $49 a month, depending upon, you know, what kind of volume you're intending to do and how many verb live events you will do in a month. But, so, yes, okay. There's a service business model for us.
Darius 29:36 So do you also process the transaction itself, like the take the credit card transaction? Or does the company actually plug in their own payment system,
Rory Cutaia 29:48 the company could plug in their own payment system. So for example, we're integrated with Shopify and some other platforms so that it's real simple. You just put in your credentials for your existing accounts and And all done. Okay, place that shopping cart on screen and then clear through your account. So we're not getting your money. We're not seeing your money. We're not touching your money. That's yours.
Darius 30:09 Okay. All right, great. So just to do a quick quick recap for the audience. We are speaking with Rory could tell ya, and Okay, so am I saying your last name correctly? Are you close enough? But it's actually kataya Pitaya. Okay, thank you. I hate when people do that for me. So I'm trying to not to. So Rory kataya, the CEO of verb technology, so you're actually based in Newport Beach? Correct. Okay,
Rory Cutaia 30:40 all right. Our main office is actually just outside of Salt Lake City in Utah. But we also have an office in Newport Beach, California. That's where I am right now.
Darius 30:49 Okay, awesome. And so this interview is being recorded on clubhouse. And if anybody has questions, please raise your hand. And I'll start to bring some people up and ask Rory about, you know, his his experience and what he's working on. So I guess one question that I have myself since I'm, I'm in the business in again, we work with, like, only actual shopping agents in the store. So it's completely like different experience. Both of these are actually needed for the future of shopping. So like, if you are a retailer, omni channel retailer, retailer, you need to go where the consumers are, right, you need to be selling, or enabling people to shop from you from different ways, maybe the website, or the app or, you know, you know, in the future, probably Alexa. And I mean, all of these different things are different channels. And livestream is really growing to be, we are projecting to be a major one, we're hoping that it's going to be somewhere, you know, like a trajectory close to like what's happening in China. But I think there's, you know, there's probably, I mean, there are differences between the Chinese audience and the US audience, right. Like the cultural differences, what, how did those things? What do you think the impact of the cultural differences might be? Potentially? Again, it's a question, I'm not sure. But the Chinese have a different way of shopping and they are a lot more solid. They're like these, the people that you mentioned, these are they are they called caol? Key opinion leaders. And they are like, worshiped over there by people. And we have some of that here. But I don't know if it's at that level, you think that might have any kind of an impact on that? Or?
Rory Cutaia 32:54 I think there's no question that when you're launching a new technology, and you're trying to get attention, you're trying to create awareness, to have people that are well known like that, then that gets you started, that kicks it off. But that in and of itself, is is not sustainable. What's happened in China, is that yes, those people kicked it off. And, and they had amazing results, creating an enormous awareness. But now, that business is thriving, based upon the awareness that was created is so many other people involved in it now, that that's no longer the reason for the success of that in China. So, you know, I often say when people ask me what, you know, what are the challenges that we face as we're launching this here in the US, and it comes down to pretty much the same thing. It's just awareness, because as soon as people see it, then they want to use it, they want to be part of it, they want to participate. They understand that this is something that can generate that, you know, that that second or third, or even a primary income stream for people, especially in these crazy days that we're all living through right now with pandemics and earthquakes fires. I mean, you know, floods, it just goes on and on, and how that impacts the economy, people's jobs. This is an amazing way for anyone to generate an income. I mean, you know, we've got people you know, from Pampered Chef, as an example you have, you have women that are, are set up their iPhone in their kitchen, and they're cooking a meal, and people are watching them prepare the meal, and being able to click on the utensils and things that they're using them buying them being that's extraordinary. And you don't need to be some gigantic influencer to build an audience for that and these people are generating an income from it. That is sustaining them through these through these difficult times. That's what we're talking about. And then everyone who sees it agrees that yes, I could do this. You mentioned you know, shopping and some of the stores and personal shoppers and things like that. I was speaking with someone yesterday, for, you know, a big brand name store that that utilizes personal shoppers, a store that everyone knows, well, what better way for those personal shoppers to reach their their target audience, their customers, they could just start a live feed while they're in the store, showing them different different products, different clothing, the tire, whatever it might be, and then allowing them there, their client that's watching this, just to click on the screen and make the purchase. It just doesn't get better than that. So yeah, I see this being adopted in a pretty meaningful way. And potentially a different way than China. But nonetheless, gigantic.
Darius 35:50 Yeah. Do you think there is a generational factor to using live video for shopping like, you know, Gen Z, or Millennials are?
Rory Cutaia 36:05 I think that the younger generation is going to be drawn to these kinds of things more rapidly, I think that's just the way it works, you know, social media work that way. Think about Facebook as an example it was was college students, right? Today, it's, it's grandmothers. So I think that, you know, with any kind of new technology you're going to have, you're going to have younger people join to at first. But you know, as I mentioned, I gave the Pampered Chef example, a few moments ago, that wasn't a young person using it. This was you know, these are elderly, women and men that are selling these, these kitchen products, and they're selling to their audience of people that all their age, they're the same thing. So I think the generational divide for this is, is probably not as great as it would have been, had we introduced this, you know, five or 678 10 years ago.
Darius 37:12 Right. So So when we talk about, I guess, the, the, the user of this technology, we're talking about the actual seller, and the shopper. Right, so the seller, like you mentioned, has to have the skills to communicate in a way that they actually entice people to actually come to their shows. And then I you know, purchase. And I think that's probably where the timing of it is kind of interesting, coinciding with the rise of the influencer generation. Because if you're an influencer, you definitely have a leg up to use something like life, you know, this live stream shopping, or selling, then if you're not,
Rory Cutaia 38:05 yes, agreed. And perhaps that's where attribution comes in. Because in that case, all you have to do is have a contact list. And and send your people that watch someone who is an influencer that knows really how to sell always knows how to present that product. And you can generate an income for yourself.
Darius 38:26 Yeah, you need to have some kind of a credibility in, I guess, some the product that is being sold. So for example, if you're an expert in classic cars, and you have a network of 500 people that they know you and you share this live stream of somebody selling classic cars, and you share that they will definitely be more inclined to follow and click on that link, than if there is is just doing that. Or if you're a physician, doing it for a medical item or so i think that's that's really the interesting part about we know every anybody can use this technology, but I think, really the actual usage and the effectiveness is a lot more nuanced to be successful. Yes, anybody can try it. But we want to be successful. And I think that's where the differentiation is going to come. Is those people are going to be more successful.
Rory Cutaia 39:37 Potentially. Yeah, I think people that that already have a certain degree of credibility in in whatever it is that they're promoting, are going to be more successful than someone who doesn't I think that applies not just to live stream ecommerce. I think it applies to everything in life. But let me share with you Where I think all of this is going, I think that we're going to see in the next year or two, probably not a lot more than that a true convergence of, of just pure video, entertainment, and sharp ability, I think you're going to see that happen. I think that consumers are going to demand that all video is is somehow clickable, and shoppable. And I think that advertisers and sponsors of any kind of content, are going to demand it. Because if you think about that, if you're if you're a sponsor, and advertiser on a piece of content or some program, you don't really know what kind of return on investment you're getting. Right? If you're advertising on a show, and you're relying on the Nielsen ratings on a variety of those out there now, to determine if you get an ROI, you don't know if people are actually watching it, you don't really know anything more than then they were tuned to that channel. And you don't even get that information until weeks later. Whereas here, as a host of a live stream event, you'd know, in real time, who's actually watching how long they watch what they clicked on, all those analytics, you're able to, you know, at least our platform provides all that all that data, all of us analytics. So if you're either hosting or sponsoring this kind of content, you know, with with a fair degree of certainty what kind of ROI you getting. So if you're trying to figure out how to allocate your, your marketing dollars, your advertising dollars, you're going to start putting more and more of it into that, that particular medium, where you know, what ROI you getting, and I think that's going to drive this. And one other thing that we've got coming here at for where, you know, I keep telling you, we're constantly thinking of what's coming next, and we want to make sure that we're there before anybody else, think about, rather than just clicking on an invitation and going to see someone's live stream, where you can actually go to a destination, a website, if you will. And you can see potentially 1000s of live streams going on simultaneously in different categories, different channels. So you might be interested in automotive, or fashion or cosmetics or, or beauty or health care, you know, it goes on and on not different categories. And there, you will have influencers, you'd have consumer brands, you'd have boutiques, you'd have big box stores, each them with their own channels, broadcasting 24, seven, and you can go into an event, maybe you got an invitation from one of them, and you went in and you were you're watching, and you're communicating and chatting with with other shoppers, and maybe you bought something, maybe you didn't, then you can leave that one go into another one, and another one, and it becomes entertainment. You know, 30% of the people attending live stream shopping events in China did not go to buy something, they went for pure entertainment. The same reason people go to YouTube and just you know, go through, or tic Tock and just you know, run through hundreds and hundreds of videos. This you can go and watch people present products and services and, and the entertainment factor kicks in. So I think that's where this is going. We're creating something that sort of tentatively named marketplace will be the year where we're going to create that kind of experience. And I think we're going to, we're going to change shopping, online shopping, and even brick and mortar because they all those stores are going to need to participate, too, in order to stay relevant.
Darius 43:49 Awesome. So welcome to the stage. Connie. Connie is a good friend.
Unknown Speaker 43:55 Thank you What a great conversation and Roy, what a What a great visual you gave us all on on how your platform works. Two things one, I'm reminded of what's old becomes new again. So as you discussed how that group of shoppers got together and kind of encouraged each other to buy, completely reminiscent of my home party days. And I love that you brought up Pampered Chef because that would be an example of it. But that in that model that was the social way of shopping, and I did it for a short time in my career in children's where you get a bunch of mums together with a bunch of kids clothes and some food and wine and it was like magic. So I love how that how you described verb how it reminded me of that. And as you said that social aspect. I think all of these and here's where I'm going to maybe ask for your feedback. I think all of these technologies are going to completely fail or be successful based on the training. A call A previous colleague of mine is in Vancouver with another similar platform. And their success have been how presenters don't have to have a following. And in fact, they said some of the best presenters were store associates, successful associates who are used to that face time, I'm going to show you how to put this outfit together. But the more I hear of your platform and many others, the capabilities are there. But who do you know that is doing the training? Well, like how to become a host? How to Become that micro influencer? Because you've been a great host? any examples of that?
Rory Cutaia 45:44 Yeah, I think that that's kind of a question that you would you would pose to anyone who is using Tick tock, or YouTube or posting videos on Instagram? How did they learn how to do that? Who taught them? Where did they get trained to be able to do that. And I think that you would find almost universally, that they just figured it out, they just did it. So people are going to be good at it. And some people aren't, for the ones that are good at it, they're gonna pick it up as long as the platform itself is, is sufficiently intuitive and easy to use. If it's not, then it's not going to work for anybody. So assuming that it is, there are, you know, I don't even I'm not even trying to put a number on the number of people that that that are capable of doing that and presenting a product, I absolutely believe, as you just stated that, you know, the, the store associates were doing a great job of it. It's simple, it's easy, it's conversational, the same way you would conduct a home party, you're just doing the same thing and in front of a camera. So that's how that's really how I see it. But our clients today that are using it, that are really having enormous success. Well, these are these are people that are selling for a living, this is what they do. And not not that all of them, in fact, I wouldn't even say most of them is that this is their primary source of income. It's, you know, it's their side hustles, the second or third, you know, job that they have generating an income. And I don't think anyone necessarily train them, I think that the platform is sufficiently easy to understand and use, if you have any kind of technical capability. If you use an iPhone, it's something that that you would be able to do. Am I answering your question? Or is this something else? Yeah, so missing?
Unknown Speaker 47:46 You did, but in a way that you probably didn't expect is that so there's the opportunity is, is the development of training? It has to? Absolutely, will there be a few people that are natural on it at it? For sure. tic tocs a very fast video, I mean, you can you can it's it's it's probably something that takes less skill of the selling process and walking through the selling process. I think leading someone to sale takes some training. And I think that could be the risk for some retailers is if they don't invest in that training of their top people to do that in behind. And I've seen it in other environments in the store environment. So I think that it was a great answer. Thank you. Because now I just sort of thought of training and development area to think about for the future. Because I love it. I think it's it's such a great tool thing.
Rory Cutaia 48:46 There's no question that if you get appropriate training, you're going to you're going to do better. But I don't think that it's a gating issue for the technology to to, to be adopted and, and to proliferate. But think about using verb live or any other live stream platform to conduct training. Right? You could be someone who is teaching people how to sell, and they're clicking on the screen to subscribe and pay for your lessons. So, you know, there's so many opportunities and so many use cases for this kind of technology that it's it's virtually limitless.
Darius 49:29 Yeah, great question. Thank you for that. Connie. So when when we talk about other platforms, so I have in October of last year, I did a research on this space, on Mac for my podcasts and you know the pages on my podcast and at that time I found probably about 25 companies that were testing live stream shopping in some way or another now that list has grown to at least double that. And there's probably double that, that I don't even know about. Because every week I hear about another. So how what do you think is going to be the future when so we have, like, you know what you explained right now it's somehow like, you know, if you go to Amazon live, there is a bunch of live streams going on at the same time, you can jump from one to the next one, you can do the same thing in Facebook. So own app, they have lives. And you can go do that. Instagram is going to be doing live shopping, tik tok is going to be doing live live shopping. And then you have all the retailers. What's going to be the distinguishing factors between between between two, two different, you know, cohorts, one is the actual sellers, the selling organizations, and then the platforms like, you know, you and I, you know, we provide this, how do we what's going to be the differentiating factor between the platform's to to get a lot of, you know, good, good, decent scale,
Rory Cutaia 51:07 I think it's going to come down to a couple of things. First, which ones are simplest to use, which ones have the fewer sort of hurdles to become proficient at? That's certainly number one. Number two, which ones are will likely allow you as a as a user, whether it's a new user, even even a somewhat more experienced user, to draw the biggest audience. And, and then lastly, and this sort of goes back to my marketplace example from from earlier, people want to go where people already are. So if there's a destination where you can have, you know, scores of live streams going on same time, so people could leave one that maybe they were invited to, and go see another one. So now that person has, you know, additional attendees, attendees that they didn't even invite, I think that also makes a difference. And then the technology itself, I've seen a lot of, of these would be live streamers, that have created a technology where they sort of built the frame around the video and, and put interactive icons, and, you know, on the bottom or on the side, and I mean, it's, it's cool, it's it works. It's, it's, it's, it's good, I'm totally not disparaging anybody's technology, but I want to see more and more, more and more companies enter the space, because again, it comes down to awareness, I think ours is a little better, ours, you can create a custom icon, take 90 seconds, and then you could just with your finger, slide it into the video where you want it to appear, and when for how long and you could point to it, you can move it around, it's actually in the video as opposed to, you know, along the, on the sides, it's a little it's, it's more engaging, it's fun. And then, of course, the that attribution feature, where now, you know, anybody is going to be sending people to see your event driving your sales, driving your adoption rates. I think that that's, that's something that I think is going to make a big difference, too. So it's not to say that someone's not going to come out with something else that is even more compelling. You know, I I certainly hope so we, we try to stay ahead of all these things. But I think we're really just scratching the tip of this, you know, this this gigantic, paradigm shift and, and, and online selling and, and retail?
Darius 53:45 Yeah, it is, it is really interesting and exciting. And I personally think that there's probably going to be a wave or a period of consolidation in the industry between all the different, you know, companies. I mean, the market, especially in the US, is not large enough right now to really, you know, support 40 or 50 different platforms. So I think, you know, although I'm in the business myself, I see this as a as a challenge because, yes, awareness is going up. But differentiation is becoming more difficult as you know, if you think about as a retailer, and it's the same thing with like e commerce platforms, I get pitched from, you know, different really large platforms Wix and Squarespace and Shopify and I mean, they're all the same and how does how does the almost the same I mean, I can't say they're all the same, but they're really growing to become provide a lot of the same common thing. So my my view and again, you know, this, this remains to be seen is as well gonna end up probably with maybe three or four or five major players in the space and not so many square and which could be okay. I mean, I think that's not a bad thing. It's, it's meant it's going to be four or five really strong players, or platforms that really specialize in live stream shopping. So that's, that's, I guess, you know, my own prediction. And, you know, we'll see how things go. But I, I definitely agree that innovation is going to be the key to stay ahead in this game, it's just like, you cannot rest no matter how well you're doing. It's just there's no time to rest. So your team is probably extremely busy, wherever they are trying to come up with, with, you know, new features, or better ways to do something.
Rory Cutaia 55:53 Yeah, there's no question about it. I think the advantage that we have is that we, we actually started this process years ago, you know, before the pandemic, before people were even thinking about this. And because it was just a logical extension of our then existing business, it's going to be a little more difficult for people that are just saying, Now, Hey, you know what, this could be a great opportunity, this could be a great business, I want to go see, we can develop our own right now come into it. That's just really not realistic. There's a lot that goes into developing a platform that's sufficiently scalable, that could, that could provide the level of service and features and functionality to be competitive in the space. So while I do see that there's a lot of companies that are at least attempting to come into the space, I think you're right, I don't think at the end of the day, there's going to be that many. And there will probably be some consolidation, that's where we have an advantage as a as a as a publicly traded company. But the market for it is so gigantic, that I do believe that you could have hundreds of companies in the space and all of them do very well. Now, maybe not today, because the markets brand new and in the Western world is still, you know, small, comparatively speaking. But as we see this grow month over month, and we track it pretty closely, Project 12 months out, it's exponentially larger than it is today.
Darius 57:30 Right, right. So maybe, you know, we can finish on the side of what's going to, you know, the other differentiating factor, maybe not even on the side of the consumer, or the shopper is how these companies really need to keep innovating. And that comes to recruiting, and getting building the best teams, which is, I'm sure top of mind for you as a CEO. What are you finding as far as finding, you know, being able to recruit the right people to help build the future of verb?
Rory Cutaia 58:08 You know, going back to the fact that we are a publicly traded company, and we can use our stock is currency, which we do, we have been able to attract extraordinary talent, we have people, I'm talking about some of the brightest people I've ever met in a variety of positions in our organization, we've got about 200 people in our company now. And we're recruiting every week, we're hiring people in a variety of different categories. People are willing to take pay cuts, to come join our company. Because they think that what we're doing is really sort of next level is leading edge, people want to be associated with the next great big thing, something that is interesting and fun and cool. On the one hand, and on the other hand, something that's going to be lucrative. So when you can offer people stock, in addition to cash compensation, and they could see the value of that of those shares growing, you know, month after month, quarter over quarter year over year. That's really attractive to people because we have a lot of these these guys in startups. And I'm definitely not disparaging startups from the startup world. And I love startups and I would do anything to support an entrepreneur to start up. But so they're allocating shares of stock to two founders and other employees. But reality is in a private company, you've got to rely on some kind of liquidity event before that stock is worth anything. And that may or may not ever happen. But in when you have a NASDAQ listed company or New York Stock Exchange, any kind of listed company And that that stock is like, you know, is like cash. Except that it actually, you know, the right company is growing faster than then interest on cash would. That's really super attractive to people. So we've been really lucky to be able to attract some amazingly talented people. And it's because of them, frankly, that our company has, as you know, our growth has really accelerated as it has and continues to.
Darius 1:00:29 Fantastic. So so just to I guess, speak about that a little bit more is are you providing like, like RS use? On top of base salary to two employees?
Rory Cutaia 1:00:44 Yes, in some cases, it's RS use in some cases, it's it's options. And some cases, it's actual shares, depending upon, you know, what it is, who we're recruiting and, and for what position?
Darius 1:00:54 Right. So for the audience that might be interested to work at VA? What are the top two roles that you're looking to fill right now?
Rory Cutaia 1:01:08 We're always looking for salespeople, we can add sales salespeople fast enough. We're always looking for really terrific, talented product people design people, engineers, developers, coders, we're always looking for those people. So if you are, have any of those kinds of talents and skills, marketing is another big one. You know, think about marketing, just how that's changed over the past 10 years. It's completely different. I mean, I know that's a that's a that's a whole separate podcast. But, you know, the skill set the techniques, the the capabilities, you know, the new tools available. So yeah, that's, that's, that's definitely a position that we're always looking to add the right talent to people.
Darius 1:01:59 Awesome. So, thank you so much, Rory, I know you need to get back to your important work. But I really appreciate you spending the time to talk to me about what you're working on and verb and so happy to see another Southern California Orange County company doing this.
Rory Cutaia 1:02:18 Thanks. There is. Thank you really, truly thank you for allowing me to come on and and talk about what we're doing here would very much appreciate it.
Darius 1:02:25 Awesome. Well have a wonderful evening, and we'll talk to sometime in the future. Terrific. Thank you. Bye bye.
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