NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- Don White, co-founder and chief executive officer, of Satisfi Labs, Inc. was not sure his Artificial Intelligence company would survive the coronavirus pandemic, but since March he made several quick pivots that has led to his sales doubling year-over-year.
"We've transitioned from a regional sales team to a vertical sales team," White told Joe Connolly and Neil A. Carousso on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight, sponsored by BNB Bank.
His sales team had previously focused on national clients by location, which allowed account executives to schedule a number of in-person meetings with clients and leads to maximize business trips. When the pandemic halted non-essential travel, White, along with many other business owners and individuals, saw the value and efficiency in video conferencing platforms.
"We give your customers expertise, someone that knows ski resorts in-and-out, someone that knows the museum industry in-and-out, baseball in-and-out," he explained. "That's a pretty big shift for us."
White believes it is a viable, long-term shift with promising early results.
Satisfi Labs' clients are in sports, entertainment, hospitality and retail - all of which had been shut down and severely impacted financially by the coronavirus pandemic. His most notable clients include Major League Baseball teams such as the New York Mets, the National Football League, Hilton hotels, Universal Orlando Resort, Macy's and more. The startup provides automated customer services through its proprietary A.I. platform that allows its clients to swiftly and accurately communicate with customers while enhancing customers’ tangible experience with the brand.
When gatherings were banned due to the pandemic, Satisfi Labs' monthly revenue plummeted 85 percent.
"Now, someone who covers the Georgia Aquarium can now cover an aquarium in California and have the same relationship," White said, continuing, "We originally felt that at least one or two face-to-face meetings a year were required for relationships, but I think now the world has adopted that digital relationships are just fine and video calls have replaced the fly in."
In addition to making a key structural change, Satsifi Labs launched "COVID Assistance" in the early weeks of the pandemic as a way to help other businesses communicate with their customers about their pandemic responses and business changes. White said they are offering the product for free as a way to attract new leads.
"That's a way that I think we twisted it to say, 'Look, let's help you first, let's not come at you with a pitch right away, but let's do something to help you get out of this. And when you come out of this, hopefully, you'll remember us,'" White said.
He told Connolly and Carousso launching an adjacent service at the outset is a proactive approach other businesses can learn from in responding to a crisis.
"It's just a unique way to build relationships that we hadn't done in the past," he said.
He is hopeful those leads will convert to clients who may want to streamline their customer experiences post-pandemic when it's clear what market changes and consumer demands have taken shape.
"Our talent pool has so much increased by having remote has a non-issue," he said, telling WCBS 880 he is starting to restore salaries before rehiring employees this fall.
"The workplace of the future, you're going to see more diversity, which I think is a big focus of a lot of companies," said White, adding, "And now, you're going to see all these talent pools that are not typically in your recruiters' network just open up. I think it's going to be better for business overall."
He noted that mothers who want to return to the workforce, but are raising children, now have an opportunity to work from home and be a productive employee, as it has proven to be efficient for many companies and industries over the past four months.
"You're going to see people come back, have families and be able to work more easily," White said.
The savvy tech founder and new-age employer evolved in his belief about how A.I. will disrupt the workforce. He told Connolly on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight in December 2018 that Artificial Intelligence would not destroy jobs, rather, it would add an efficiency to compliment skilled laborers. As a result of the pandemic with more than 30 million Americans receiving unemployment benefits, White now tells WCBS 880 it will "replace some roles," meaning A.I. will replace menial tasks like emails while creating new, advanced jobs.