Tivan Amour, Founder and CEO - Text Like a Human

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By Sal Daher. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

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Trying to create a bike startup, repeat founder Tivan Amour builds a texting tool that quickly outgrows the original business and is then launched as an independent company. Listen to the founding story of Tone (tonemessaging.com) and how it’s allowing brands to speak directly to customers.

A great chat with one of my favorite founders.

Highlights include:

  • Sal Daher Introduces Tivan Amour, Founder of Tone
  • How Tone / Save My Sales Was Born Out of Fortified Bike
  • The Story of Kyle the Super Bike Salesman
  • Kyle Stumbles Upon the Idea of Texting Bike Clients Who Don’t Complete the Sale
  • Texting Proves Out as a Massive Driver of Sales
  • “…so, we turned that potential lost sale that would have been $750 into an actual conversion within a couple of days that was worth 50% more, right?”
  • Friends in e-Commerce Urged Tivan to Turn the Texting Platform into a Business
  • “In Techstars, one of the mantras that I think was drilled into us was to sort of be open to serendipity and do things that don't scale…”
  • “Lo and behold, in the first month we started getting our first couple thousand-dollar paychecks from brands that we were making tens of thousands of dollars for.”
  • The Texting Platform Starts Becoming More Scalable
  • Tivan Decides to Sell the Still-Growing and Profitable Bike Business and Focus Just on the Texting Platform
  • “…from those initial 50 beta customers to about 10x, so we have just under 600 customers that we do this for.”
  • “You have to have customers who tend to like being texted, which from what we can tell seems to be most brands that we've talked to. There's very few where customers don't enjoy the instant communication.”
  • “We figured out how to automate our first 25% of all messages in the platform in our first version of AI, and that was in 2019.”
  • “Almost 50% of the interactions are now being done by AI and the other 50% by a human agent.”
  • “We think that the key component here is that there's always a human readily available to make sure that the authenticity is still there…”
  • “…if anyone ever feels like they're talking to a chatbot with us, we missed the mark.”
  • “We believe that people buy from people they know, and by combining humans and the right tech, we can create that experience for every business.”
  • Tone’s VC Raise
  • “Over the last 15 years, a lot of it has become automated, so messages that you're getting from businesses are kind of preprogrammed and when you fall into a certain segment of customer, you'll just get that message.”
  • “What we're actually doing is creating conversations with these customers, and it feels very different than getting that marketing automation email from a business or even a marketing automation text message…”
  • Tone Allows for Two-Way Conversation Between the Brand and the Buyer
  • “Customers are going to decide how they want to engage with you, and it's up to you to leave every door and window open…”
  • “There's text message marketing and that's everyone, and then there's text message relationship automation, which is what we do.”
  • How Tivan Navigated Taking a New Business Out of an Existing Business
  • “…so when people call me and say, "Hey, I'm thinking about starting this hardware company or this eCommerce brand, here's the knick-knack that we sell. I know that you did a lot of manufacturing in China and would love your ideas on it." My first question is, can you think of a technology startup that you'd rather start?”
  • “…the biggest learning for us was how hard cash flow is in consumer brands. For us, for every $1 million that we wanted to make, we had to sink $300,000 at least in inventory, and then sit on it for six to eight months before we even got to payback.”
  • “We weren't necessarily the ones that should have been running a business like that, and it's great to be kind of in a supporting role that I think better fits us.”

126 episodes