Episode Summary: We’ve interviewed a number of guests on TechEmergence, but very few who have had a serious part of their career in selling automobiles. But Michael Perry did just that for 5 years before founding Kit, his third startup – an AI-powered Virtual Employee that works in marketing for small businesses and was acquired by Shopify in April 2016. In this episode, Perry speaks about how Kit and Shopify leverage AI on a daily basis, and how a “non-tech” person with no formal background in AI or data science can build a team for an AI project.

 

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Expertise: Entrepreneurship, CRM and Marketing

Brief Recognition: Michael Perry is the Creator and Director of Kit, the virtual marketing employee for small businesses. Perry founded GVING in August 2011, a predecessor to Kit, which was a cloud CRM solution for small businesses looking to create a database of customers. In 2013, Perry was awarded the New Business Innovator of the Year award at the Innovation Summit, hosted by Infusion Soft. He was named a Forbes 30 under 30 in January 2016.

Current Affiliations: Director of Kit for Shopify

shopify's kit

Interview Highlights:

(1:42) I’m interested in how Kit and Shopify proper leverage AI and ML as part of their business offering?

(2:56) You talked about the digital employee that goes off and embarks on marketing tasks for Shopify customers, what does the look like on a day to day…give me a couple of use cases of Kit in action…

(4:48) Who writes the copy…the kind of stuff that discerns ROI…where does this get pulled from (with Kit)?

(7:28) You guys have to consistently be refilling this engine of inference with these new kinds of available advertising, that feels to me like the hardest heavy lifting that you’ve got…

(12:58) In terms of Shopify itself, where does it leverage AI and ML?

(15:45) With regards to leveraging AI as a fellow who didn’t get a PhD in machine learning but had a different background experience, what were some core lessons from building an AI Product?

(18:48) How did you attract the technical talent you needed to build a company like Kit?

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