Episode 217
August 13, 2021

Bye Bye, Third Party Data Tracking

Ben Parr, President and Co-Founder of Octane AI joins the pod to chat zero-party data, the tools being used in third-party and zero-party data, and what the future of data collection means for brands in a cookieless future. Listen now!

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this episode sponsored by

Facing the Cookiepocalypse

  • Octane AI is the zero-party data platform for Shopify and eCommerce brands. 
  • “We help stores and brands collect super valuable insights on their customers in a very direct opt-on kind of way and use that information to personalize the shopping experience.” -Ben
  • How can brands bounce back from the cookiepocalypse? Stop depending on others and own your data.
  • “Stop renting the relationship that you have with your customer from Facebook and Google and other platforms and collect data and build your own data profile, your own buyer profile of your customer… Octane AI is entirely built around collecting data and getting more explicit opt-ins and leveraging that data for better conversion rates and better personalization.” - Ben
  • The beauty of zero-party data is that brands can leverage it in any way because their customers voluntarily gave it to them.
  • “A salesperson’s job is not to persuade, a salesperson is not a persuader. A salesperson is a facilitator of next steps.” -Phillip 
  • When looking at all these tools and apps we use, they shouldn’t be viewed as methods of persuasion, but as facilitators for the next steps.
  • “The center of great AI is collecting data and having great data sets.” -Ben


Associated Links:

Brian: [00:02:10] Hello and welcome to Future Commerce, the podcast about next generation commerce. I'm Brian.

Phillip: [00:02:16] I'm Phillip. Today we have with us someone who should need no introduction, but I shall introduce him anyway. Ben Parr from Octane. Welcome to the show. I have a question for you, Ben. Is it harder to balance your checking account these days with all of that sweet, sweet money, VC dollar, in it? Go...

Ben: [00:02:35] You mean how much more stress do you get when there are higher expectations and more people and you have more responsibility to make sure that you are securing their livelihoods? Because that's how I feel.

Phillip: [00:02:47] That's exactly what I meant. That's how I... That's what I meant.

Ben: [00:02:52] I see zero of those extra dollars in the bank account, in my bank account. And they all go to awesome team members who do lots of things. And every week I'm like, oh, there's someone new? And also what is happening?

Phillip: [00:03:05] It's funny because in the pre show we were talking about this like the Shopify launch event that you're sending your team to that you don't get to go to. And I was like, that's apt because your new thing is zero party. So zero party for Ben.

Brian: [00:03:18] {laughter} He's raising the roof.

Phillip: [00:03:18] No, no parties these days. {laughter}

Ben: [00:03:21] Wait till you see when we have the actual zero party.

Phillip: [00:03:27] Nice. Oooh.

Ben: [00:03:27] There will be a party for the zero party. We're not always going to have zero party.

Phillip: [00:03:34] I'm loving it. So there will be a party. There will be at least one party for zero party. So, gosh, you guys have grown up so much in the last year. I was tuning into Clubhouse...

Brian: [00:03:46] In between.

Phillip: [00:03:48] In between times?

Brian: [00:03:49] That's new.

Phillip: [00:03:49] Because you can't say before times. I don't know. In the in between times were I was listening to Clubhouse. You guys are on a hiring spree, you know, just all the product growth that you've had... Catch us up a little bit on what the last year has been like over there at Octane.

Ben: [00:04:07] Ok, so for those who aren't familiar with Octane, the tag line, we're the zero party data platform for Shopify and eCommerce brands. What that means is that we help stores and brands collect super valuable insights on their customers in a very direct opt-in kind of way and use that information to personalize shopping experience. Because our mission has always been with every product we've ever done to make that relationship between brand and consumers just not suck because it is in one way it's sucked. It's been I'm going to blast you. What if it was like a human who would actually know, like, you don't like these things, you do like these things. Wouldn't that be better? And it wasn't just like creeping around like staring at you through the bushes, like third party tracking does. So we have a set of products and there is a lot of stuff that we have launched. We have a set of products that gather this information and help you do that. The Shop Quiz was a thing that we launched last year and then that helps you build these quizzes on your Shopify stores. We won the award recently for Best Store Front App from Shopify.

Brian: [00:05:20] Congratulations.

Ben: [00:05:20] We actually got Shopify itself as a customer. So if you go to the hardware store for Shopify, you'll find the quiz that they use to be like "You're trying to figure out what hardware you need? Go take the quiz powered by Octane AI."

Phillip: [00:05:32] That's so great.

Ben: [00:05:33] And that's become like a default for quizzes in the Shopify ecosystem. And then we launched new product a couple of weeks ago that has gained a lot of traction very quickly, called conversational pop ups. And that one is pop ups have not really innovate in the last decade. They are like... It's the equivalent of somebody walking into a store and the store associate being like, "Yo, give me your email. I'll give you ten percent off," which doesn't sound like fun at all. But what if a pop up could actually ask something that would help you like, "What are you looking for? OK, here's like some of the items you might actually be looking for. Let me get your info so I can send you more stuff." That would be great. That's what conversational pop ups does. It uses the quiz technology within a pop up to like ask a key question and make a recommendation and it drives just a lot more sales because your pop up will actually recommend products within the pop up. And instead of like three percent or four percent conversion rate on your email opt-ins, you might 4 or 6x weeks at twenty percent plus depending on the brand. So we are collecting that information using these two tools, and then we have a set of tools that help you leverage that information on a bunch of integrations, too, because data is useless if it's siloed. So we have Messenger, we have SMS on the platform. You can send more personal targeted messages based on this data. If you know there are cat or dog person, suddenly all of your sequences can be personalized and then connect it to the rest of your stack, like Klaviyo, for example, to do deeper personalization over your email marketing. And then we have a bunch of integrations we'll be announcing before the end of the year. I will say one of the next ones which is Zapier, so that you can connect it to all sorts of things you're doing.

Brian: [00:07:09] Yes. {celebratory}

Phillip: [00:07:09] There you go, and then it becomes, you know, an integral part of getting that data into other parts of your organization outside of just the commerce point of sale

Ben: [00:07:20] Integral integration.

Phillip: [00:07:23] Integral... Integralerizations. Gosh, that was terrible. {laughter} Yes. I mean, you're innovating in all the ways I think that are meaningful and just the right time. We've talked about quite a bit IDFA, you know, cookie changes, cookieless future. These are things that used to be, you know, used to be at some point in time, theoretical problems that some future person would have to face, and now they're actually very real parts of the challenge that marketers face these days.

Brian: [00:08:00] I feel like we've come full circle here, Phillip. Like when we first started Future Commerce, like five years ago, we started talking about conversational commerce and like what good conversational commerce would look like. And I think what we're hearing is that we've all been thinking about conversational, you know, in such like push, not a pull kind of way. And what Ben and his team are doing is they're actually making it a real conversation as opposed to just pushing information at people and hoping they talk back.

Phillip: [00:08:42] Giving tools to sort of illicit the open ended nature of who are you as a person?

Brian: [00:08:51] Exactly.

Phillip: [00:08:51] Rather than do I have a product that suits your needs?

Brian: [00:08:52] And I think it also, you know, I think that this sort of illustrates that this can't be done in a silo by itself. You've got to interact with your other channels, hence the integrations. So I think that's huge. I think that's a huge part of making this successful.

Phillip: [00:09:09] I think it is. I'd love to get some validation here. Like these are hot topics everybody's talking about. I'm dropping them because they're great SEO for when the transcript comes out. {laughter} But I'm guessing that you sense that these were things that would be meaningful coming down the pike and you built for that, or did you just get lucky? Ben, that's for you.

Ben: [00:09:28] The answer to everything is always both. But we did see the privacy changes going down the pike, like maybe not to this quick and extent, to be honest, but GDPR and CCBN and the others are clear indications that users want more control over the data. That makes total sense. And then iOS 14.5 came out. And that's like a big changing point for us too, and I think for everyone in eCommerce. It's definitely the number one talking thing, talking point I hear from a lot of brands. So I chose iOS 14.5 came out, which gave users the ability to opt out of tracking, getting tracked by the apps and sending data to apps. And what that meant was that Facebook would know like everything you clicked within the mobile app. And they don't know that any more. Apple doesn't send that. Apple doesn't send a lot of data now to Facebook because lots of people opted out, which makes sense. But that was a lot of the core of retargeting ads in particular. And being able to be like, "You did this. You did that. You should be sent these ads." So in the beginning, maybe not a lot of impact because only a small percentage of people had opted out. But as more people have adopted iOS 14 and opted out and more people hear who could opt out, the impact has been more pronounced. I've been on the road talking with our customers and they are seeing drops of 20, 30, 40, 50 percent in their ad conversion rates and spending more and more. And this is like small potatoes compared to what they adorably call the cookiepocalypse, which is third party cookies will go. It's not that first party cookies go away. You can still be able to log in to websites with cookies. That's needed. But the tracking done with third party cookies across the Internet. There is a point in the near future where that is gone and that is like the core free targeting. So lots of brands are trying to figure out what's the solution to this. This is like they haven't even come up with a plan. It's all so new and it's really important to figure it out now because it's already impacting your business and there's a couple of pieces to it. But [00:11:25] the biggest answer is collect your own data. Stop renting the relationship that you have with your customer from Facebook and Google and other platforms and collect data and build your own data profile, your own buyer profile of your customer, and leverage that and get contact info higher up the funnel, so instead of having to pay for more retargeting ads, renting the relationship, you can actually be sending emails, text messages, messages of any kind with the contact information and the explicit option you've already collected. And Octane AI is entirely built around collecting data and getting more explicit opt-ins and leveraging that data for better conversion rates and better personalization. And [00:12:02] so we are really a centerpiece of the solution for eCommerce brands with this problem while also making for a better experience for their end customer. So instead of like, again, with a conversational pop up, I could find out what you're looking for, like your supplements or tablets, whatever it is. And the first email you get from me is not going to be like, "Hi, welcome to Brand." It could be like, "I know that you're interested in this kind of thing. I have some special recommendations based on the thing I already know about you." Suddenly your email conversion rates go up and your customer is happier and they're less likely to drop off because you actually learn something about them and can leverage that. And that's the whole point of what we've been building over the last year.

Brian: [00:12:41] Not only can you improve your conversion rate on site and be able to tie back pretty directly to the conversational pop up, but you're actually providing additional information for other channels down the road to help improve their conversion rates as well. And so the beauty of having zero party data is that it's something that can be leveraged in any way, because customers know that they've given it to you. I think that to me is like, this is something we've talked a ton about on the show and others that you're partnered with have been beating this drum as well. You know, Klaviyo and others have said you need to own that relationship. It needs to be something that that your customers and your potential customers expect from you, not something that blows up their email feed or blows up their Facebook feed and fills it up with a whole bunch of stuff that they feel like they had no connection to in any way.

Phillip: [00:13:51] It's manipulation at the end of the day. Right? Which you know, certainly we've been very principled in times past about the nature of the relationship of the marketer. You could say that it is like the marketer's job, well, let's actually step back for one second. There's an amazing book that I don't know if anyone's read by Blair Enns, and it's called The Win Without Pitching Manifesto. It's a fantastic read. You can also listen to it for under two hours on Audible. Super quick read. The thing that hit me over the head that when I read it the first time, that just like, completely changed the way that I thought about what like a sales person's job is. Think about classic sales roll and like a you know, in an agency. A sales person's job is not to persuade. A salesperson is not a persuader. A salesperson is a facilitator of next steps. That is the job of a salesperson. And when I think about what all of these bits and bobs, these tools, these apps that we put onto or any tool, even retargeting, marketing, they shouldn't be methods of persuasion. We should see them as facilitators of next steps. They help a customer find the next step that they were already in search of. They're not subversively trying to convince someone to part with money that they weren't already convinced that they would part with if given the right opportunity. And what I think what some B2B SaaS plays are doing better than others, and Octane is one of them, is they've understood that it's about incrementally of next step. How do I help a brand and their customer to facilitate the next step? That is, if we all understood that, I think we would be having different conversations. There's not just about how I reduce CAC, it's about how do I help a customer find the thing that they're in search of. And I think that's very human centric. And here's your soapbox back. Sorry. Thank you for coming to my TED talk. It wasn't even my original thought. It's someone else's. Now I sound smart. But I think it's a really important thing to be saying. It's like these are modern modalities of having the kind of clienteling relationship you would have in store in like yesteryear. So I'm thinking like, tell me more on at least on these conversational pop ups, you know, where the possibility is and where this can go. And like, what are some of the creative uses? I've seen so many creative uses of Octane and other iterations. Like what are some creative uses for guided pop ups? Because I think some marketers would tell you that there's like this truism that pop ups are bad, but everybody uses them anyway. So tell me how they could be good.

Ben: [00:17:00] The first thing is [00:17:02] stop doing what everyone else has been doing for the last ten years. My first thing is always I just compare something to the equivalent of what it would be like in store. [00:17:12] Right? So like the quiz is like originally when people would go to the website before the quiz, it was "Hi. There's a warehouse. Good luck." It was just warehouse of things. That's not the experience in the store you want. You want to have like a person there being like, "Let me help you. Do you have a cat or dog?" Or "Are you looking for this supplement?" "What's your size?" And that leads to like a better experience and a conversion. That's the quiz. The quiz is the online equivalent. And then the pop up is the greeting because again, pop ups today are screaming at you to give you an email address. You know, conversational pop ups are pop ups. The Octane AI pop ups are asking a question first, which is like what you would do when someone comes into the store. "Hey, how can I help you?" "Hey, what are you looking for?" "Hey, what's the next step you're looking for?" As you were talking about. And so definitely my most common question I see is like, "What are you looking for?" Because everyone's looking for something specific when they come to a store. And then from there you can go and like make some recommendations to get started or to start customizing the experience. There's some more creative ones where there may be, there's like a binary there, like, "What's the fashion or look you're going for?" Something like that. And I'm seeing like more interesting ones that are just qualifiers for like plants, for example. Like "What is the lighting in your house?" And that could suddenly change the plants you should get recommended, by a lot actually. And so that's like the question. And then you need to always get the, like, "Look, I can send you results. I can give you something of value for email or a phone number. I could send that to you." That makes total sense for a lot of people. A lot of people do that. And then the last step is like once you give an email or a phone number, the pop up in the same thing will start just recommending. "Here's some of the best shoes that we have available since that's what you're looking for." "Here are some of the best alcoholic beverages you're looking for." "You're looking for red wine. I have a list for you." Suddenly, they don't even have to go browsing anything. It's right there at the front for them. That's like the simplest version. You don't have to spend a ton of time doing this. Like, it will not take more than five to ten minutes to set up a conversational pop up. The whole point is add value, make it easy for yourself, make it immediate value for the end customer. Don't do what everyone else has been doing, which is like, "I will give you 30 percent off now, but give me your email address, so it may spam you." You're actually building trust by being like, "I helped you out. I'm helping you out. Allow me to continue helping you out."

Phillip: [00:19:58] It's the scene in Jerry Maguire. I'm showing my age. It's the "Help me help you." Right? Which is something that's been so sterile in eCommerce for the longest time. I really want to hear more about your challenges as a leader. I'm really fascinated with how this exponential growth of customers, which has it's, I'm sure has tremendous upside for sure, and probably comes with a lot of growing pains. And then you've had a tremendous amount of growth as I would say as like a boss, like you're the boss of a hundred people or something now. I'm sure things have changed dramatically since we first met just about two years ago at Klaviyo, Boston. How has that been and how has that been like for you just emotionally in dealing with this expansive and very quick growth? How are you doing and how are you handling your own leveling up as a leader?

Ben: [00:21:07] I mean, first things first, like it's a team sport. And so I'm President/Co-Founder. I'm very lucky to have an amazing best friend, Co-Founder/CEO and match. Our skills very much complement each other. Matt is setting up vision. You should have seen actually... He had his office. He went out 50 different articles across the internet about the data privacy changes because he's just like, I'm going to be the number one expert if I'm going to go talk about this and had them all printed and put on the wall, because it was easier than doing tabs, which makes sense to me, actually. And it's just like, look, I'm looking at all these articles and the vast majority of people don't know what they're talking about and can't actually talk about this technically and what's actually technically happening. And they're like, it's going to be a disaster. But why? Like what specifically happened? What's actually causing the rates? Like, those are just like... That's all to say having people having Co-Founders with complementary skill sets makes it a lot easier. And I think of it as yeah, there's leveling up you do over time, but it's really about like leveling up your team. We announced two VPs in the Business Insider article about us, we announced Alex Gurvich, who was the head of all business operations at Credit Karma. They sold for eight billion dollars and before that he was one of the first 40 or so at Zendesk. He's been through this. He's been through a lot of things that Matt and I and our Co-Founder/CTO Leif have not been through. And that's why we hired him. And he's like doing amazing things we would never even think of doing. And then our VP of Engineering, Vince, was a VP at Campaign Monitor... Bringing structure and process and helping us recruit a lot more engineers. You know, also things that he just has more experience in, and we're adding more of those amazing VPs. And a great leader knows you have to have great leaders under you who are smarter than you in a lot of ways to make the dream happen, to make things happen. And so I think and focus a lot on like, how can I make sure, how can we as founders, Matt, and Leif and I, enable the success of our executive team and the rest of our team? How can we get blockers out of the way? And then what are the things that we can work on that are going to have the highest impact? Because, you know, depending on the stage, it might be fundraising, it might be evangelism, it might be content. It might be something completely out of left field. It might be a fire. It might be recruiting. We are very adaptable when we think about what's the thing that the business or the thing needs the most. And we focus on that and I focus on that.

Phillip: [00:27:55] That's like... God, I'm super inspired right now. You share the credit with your folks. I mean, you could have just talked it all for yourself. I feel the same way with Brian and I on a much smaller scale, obviously. This is the Wayne's World "We're not worthy." I wouldn't want to do this with anyone else. And I think it's hard to find that kind of partnership where there's implicit trust and like such an amazing sense of fitness and compatibility of your skills, where one of you tackles and augments the other. Tackles the other? No, tackles... Overcomes the shortcomings of the other.

Ben: [00:28:34] Head butts the other.

Phillip: [00:28:35] Yeah, that happens right?

Ben: [00:28:36] Give him a concussion.

Phillip: [00:28:36] It happens.

Brian: [00:28:38] Pretty much.

Phillip: [00:28:38] Brian and I get along most days, except for when you bring up Dave Matthews Band and then Brian becomes very unreasonable and kind of a jerk because he doesn't like Dave Matthews Band.

Brian: [00:28:52] Because I hate them. {laughter}

Phillip: [00:28:52] Yeah, Brian's a strange man. I don't know. I don't get it. He doesn't like anything.

Brian: [00:28:56] That's not true.

Ben: [00:28:57] What do you like then?

Phillip: [00:28:58] Russian literature from the 1700s.

Ben: [00:29:01] Mika... I mean, yeah. Mika's great. Been trending around TikTok recently, but that's a whole different story.

Phillip: [00:29:06] I don't know. If there was a TikTok for Boomers, Brian would be on it probably.

Brian: [00:29:10] No. No. I don't like Boomer stuff. OK, fine.

Ben: [00:29:14] Led Zeppelin?

Brian: [00:29:16] No.

Ben: [00:29:16] Paul McCartney?

Phillip: [00:29:16] Oh now you're... There you go.

Ben: [00:29:18] Maybe. {laughter}

Ben: [00:29:20] Frank Sinatra?

Brian: [00:29:21] No, I agree with you Phillip. I wouldn't do this with anyone else either.

Phillip: [00:29:24] This is the best.

Brian: [00:29:25] And Ben, I think it's super cool to hear you say what you said about how you work with your Founders and your team. And I think that's huge. Culture is everything. And you're setting a good example right here. And I love that. I think about this in relation to our customers too. Right? Like and for us, that's like our audience and our sponsors. And, you know, for you that's your clients and their customers and how this actually comes back around to them ultimately. Because, you know, I think that the engagement between people when you treat your employees and you treat each other and you treat those around you with respect and care and kindness, it will flow out and over into your customers. And we had Melanie Travis on the podcast a couple of times now. And I just think about the ethos that she brought to Andie and like how that has flowed out to their customers, and it's like an inspiring story and community that they've built. In fact, their customer service is practically driven by their community, which is just mind blowing. And I can think of some other great brands and software companies out there that have accomplished similar things by investing in employees and investing in product and investing in community and treating everyone with respect and well and building them up and sort of that almost that open source mindset to things, you know, and even though it's not open source anymore. But it's like this is something we're all building up together and it flows out to the end user ultimately. And so I love it.

Phillip: [00:31:17] Open source is dead. No, I'm just kidding.

Brian: [00:31:19] You don't believe that. I know you don't.

Phillip: [00:31:25] Is Andie a customer, Ben, or they target?

Ben: [00:31:29] I have to go and check. The honest truth... No, the honest truth is shit is happening like all the time and there's a bunch of names also... There's a bunch of names on one of the lists and then suddenly they're on the others. So also depends on like in the week. So I'm not 100 percent sure on them in particular. There's been a bunch of like big ones that have joined and started using Octane, especially for the conversational pop ups. It's just such an easy way to get started. And you're like, I need to dip my toe into this zero party data pool. Conversational pop up is just like the way to go and dip your toe into it. And then there's a couple of interesting case studies coming out pretty soon, too. But it's a larger and larger percentage of Shopify that's starting to use us.

Brian: [00:32:25] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:32:26] Are there things that are... I know you're very Shopify centric. I'm curious what the world domination plans you might have could be. Are there other eCommerce platforms that you see as being strongholds where Octane can go widen its economic moat against its competitors? And if you could name names like what are some target platforms out there that you're keeping an eye on to see how they go?

Ben: [00:32:57] I feel like other platforms is table stakes.

Phillip: [00:33:01] Especially in your business, right? Yeah.

Ben: [00:33:02] Every SaaS eCommerce company from Klaviyo to Recharge, our friends over at like Shogan and others... You expand platforms. We have customers coming and prospects coming from other platforms. Exactly the timing and which platforms first, I'm not sure, but there's a lot of them. But there's some obvious companies and names of your big commerce and all that sort of thing. But I think there's just so much also opportunity in Shopify that we want to make sure that... We believe in making sure that we've built the best thing possible before moving on to something else. So we'll see on that front. I think more about the long term vision and can't share everything, but with this... It's interesting because Octane AI has now collected, I have to go check the latest number, but it's many millions of data points for our customers and very structured data, very unique data. Like skin tone, preferences, and allergies and things like that that are really critical to your shopping experience. [00:34:16] There are interesting use cases where we'll really leverage the AI in Octane AI in some stuff that we're building and going to be building that would help really leverage it to make it easier for merchants to understand their customers, to make it easier for them to gain insights automatically from their customers, and to use AI to be predictive about their customers and to give the customers a better experience by using some of that technology. Because the center of great AI is collecting data and have a great data set. And we happen to have an incredible data set, which is step one. And there's some super, super cool things. And that's also still tip of the iceberg of some of the other things that we want to do over the next couple of years. That's just like one thing I'll hint at in terms of like some of the super interesting products will be doing in the near future. [00:35:03]

Brian: [00:35:04] Do you feel like you're going to be incorporating data that could be associated with a given attribute to help assist companies in the usage of that attribute? For instance, if someone finds out that someone's eye color is green or whatever, and there's a lot of implications to having the eye color green that  might be interesting. If they're buying a shirt and a top and they want it to match their eyes, there's a whole bunch of implications around complimentary colors or whatever it is. Are you going to be bringing in like that kind of data? Like what kind of insights are you talking about specifically?

Ben: [00:35:47] I mean, that's like a piece that depends on the brand, what they're collecting. Right? There are certain questions that every brand of a category asks. Fashion brands ask about size, ask about shape, ask about fit, ask about colors. Beauty brands ask about skin tone, ask about experience level, ask about allergies. Food: allergies, taste, all sorts of preferences. But they're consistent across a lot. So there's interesting things that, yes, there's correlations that you can go and build both with like there's some that are obvious, but also there's correlation you build using artificial intelligence. Like we will probably be able to tell you, like someone takes a quiz, what the likely LTV of that customer is as an example. Just because there's so much interesting... With that data, you can go in and do that and match that. And again, that's like there's so much stuff that we are thinking about. And I'm trying to balance between, like here's like the entire farm, but also the like I want our customers and prospective customers to know there is some super crazy, innovative things that we're going and building. And like, if you are imagining it, it's probably something that we have imagined or are actively building, plus a couple that you probably will not imagine.

Phillip: [00:37:04] But I couldn't possibly imagine...

Brian: [00:37:06] I'm imagining a lot right now. {laughter}

Phillip: [00:37:07] Yeah, I mean, I'm imagining Brian buying...

Ben: [00:37:10] Keep on saying them. I will say nothing to confirm or deny.

Phillip: [00:37:15] His mind as a steel trap, Brian. Can't be convinced. {laughter} He's a sliding out of frame. Brian, I just realized like you shop by eye color, which is not a thing I've ever heard anyone ever express as like a need. Like I really need a shirt that brings out the thread of green in my otherwise brown eyes.

Brian: [00:37:38] Oh, you know that I do that.

Phillip: [00:37:39] Oh, I know. I've seen you shop at Costco. You kidding me?

Brian: [00:37:43] One of the things that I wanted to clarify is so will you be using the aggregate data to drive the insights or will you be using additional data based off of other people's analysis? So like the implications and correlations that you talked about, will those be based off of the aggregate data that's collected from Octane, or will that be based off of like outside analysis that you can apply towards the data that you have?

Ben: [00:38:15] The only thing I say of that is there's interesting applications for both. And like everything we do, we always have like some kind of opt in kind of component.

Brian: [00:38:24] Gotcha. Yep. Cool.

Ben: [00:38:27] You control your data.

Phillip: [00:38:28] You control the data. And, you know, as their friends at Klaviyo say, "It's whack the track." I ate a cookie that...

Ben: [00:38:38] Oh they sent you one of the cookies?

Phillip: [00:38:38] They sent me like six of the cookies.

Ben: [00:38:42] They didn't send me the cookies. I was going to complain and be like, I want the cookies, you know?

Brian: [00:38:46] I'm not sure I got the cookies. What's up with that?

Ben: [00:38:49] Were the cookies good?

Phillip: [00:38:50] What's the next question here?

Ben: [00:38:51] No comment?

Phillip: [00:38:52] They were very pretty. I had... It's funny, Curt Elster had a tweet talking about the breakdown of the cookie experience. Like the box was a nine and a half out of ten. The cookies were like very beautiful. Their flavor profile was chalk. The execution was very... {laughter} It was...

Ben: [00:39:14] I'll be sure to remember this when we send him our upcoming package. Also you guys when we send our upcoming package. I know what it is.

Phillip: [00:39:20] I love it. Influencer seeding for B2B is a big deal.

Brian: [00:39:24] Nice.

Ben: [00:39:24] It's more important right now, I think, and maybe it was always important and I was just blissfully unaware, but there was something to happened during the pandemic shut down last year. And depending on when you're listening to this, that sentence could still be relevant. We had this shutdown and everybody's on Clubhouse and it was like this in group of these B2B influencers. You know, folks who have great Twitter followings who people look to as being some sort of like trainspotter or maven of some kind. That is one of the few things that has stuck around as a concept through post, you know, post pandemic is getting these people to rep you is like the make or break in some cases. I suffer from being, never having been ever a popular person, and the fact that I got these cookies is like a small miracle in my world. I don't deserve these cookies. And I feel like I'm part of the cool kids now, quite frankly.

Brian: [00:40:36] You got the cookies. It's a new euphemism.

Phillip: [00:40:39] I was Bella in the first Twilight for the longest time. And now I'm Bella in the New Dawn, Part 2 with these newfound powers.

Ben: [00:40:51] And I'm going to argue a little bit that, like, we've been doing it for longer than the pandemic.

Phillip: [00:40:58] I'm sure you have. I said very clearly, I don't know what I'm talking about. {laughter}

Ben: [00:41:04] Also a complete aside, there's a place like outside my office and they were part of like the campaign in LA for Ted Lasso, where you would pay a dollar for any of the coffee you would have and they'd give you last biscuits. And they were delicious. They were so good. Like they lived up to the hype. I wanted more of them. And now I have to figure out how to get them.

Phillip: [00:41:29] Well, I mean, you have a...

Brian: [00:41:30] I feel like offering the cookies to your customers at the end of the quiz, that could be a good way to go.

Phillip: [00:41:39] And very expensive way to go for sure. Shipping perishables.

Brian: [00:41:43] You know what Avalara used to do... Avalara used to send apple pies and they would have a whole story about how the apple got taxed, apples in the pie got taxed from state to state.

Ben: [00:41:56] Weren't they just acquired?

Phillip: [00:41:57] No they're public.

Brian: [00:41:57] Avalara? They're public.

Ben: [00:42:01] Not Avalara.

Brian: [00:42:01] Tax Jar was acquired.

Ben: [00:42:01] Tax Jar got acquired. See, everyone's getting acquired. Can't even track.

Phillip: [00:42:06] No. You can't keep track of it. It's a lot of M&A, a whole lot. What a time to be alive. It's kind of amazing. I'm curious. This has just been... First of all, thank you for coming on the show. It took us only, I think, seven tries to get this to happen. And here we are. I've had a lot of fun. What are some of the things that we should be asking? I mean, we're talking about sort of a point in time for Octane. Maybe I should just ask, out of curiosity, fundraising at your stage, I think is it's like the skill that you've developed. And I see how you help others acquire the skill to... You're not doing a whole lot on Clubhouse these days, but you are helping Founders with pitches, giving a disproportionate amount of your time to helping others. You are doing, you know, site critiques and drive bys. And I think that those things are really powerful in the way that you're helping others in the community. I'm sure there's probably some folks that are listening that are just looking at you and saying, like, man, "I knew that guy when..." And you have a storied career. I mean, this is not your first rodeo for those people that might be listening now, from your perspective, do you see yourself as like having a responsibility to steward another generation or are you giving back just of your own accord? Where does that come from for you to help others? And how are you going to continue that here in the months and weeks to come?

Ben: [00:43:36] You ask the light hearted questions.

Phillip: [00:43:39] Yeah.

Ben: [00:43:39] I try not to think too hard of what does that look like for me. I'm mostly just like, oh, they need help. OK, I know this topic. Let me go and help. But like what I think about responsibility, I kind of like think like I have immediate responsibilities. I have responsibility to my customers to make sure that they have like the best experience and product possible. And it pains me if and when we don't do that, I have responsibility to my team. And I want to make sure that they are able to live good lives and to feed their families and that I don't screw that up. Responsibility to myself to take care of myself, which is a really hard thing sometimes as a Founder and to make sure to take care of myself. And then, yeah, there's responsibility to the world, but it's more nebulous. It's hard to describe, like, what is that? And so, you know, I have had the same phrase since I was in college. And it's a very corny one. But a lot of my friends have heard me say it. And it's a motto of mine which is like, "I have the ability and thus the responsibility to change the world for the better." And like what that exactly looks like changes up all the time. And I don't always see it as like everything I do has to help the world. Some of the things will go and like help me reach those points. Right. Like, you know, being at Mashable in my early days helped me build a network and build companies, join boards, gain insights, help nonprofits, whatever it looks like. So I try not to get into my head too much about that. I just try to just be like, what do I need to go and do today? Or like, who needs help? Or someone comes in and is like,"We're looking for some mentors." I'm like, all right, I think I have enough time. Sometimes to overextend myself and I have to be cognizant of that, too.

Phillip: [00:45:41] It's rare to find someone who's had the career that you've had and who is building the thing that you're building, who is still as approachable as you are. It's been an honor and a pleasure to watch you do it and really glad that you would give up any of your time to come on here.

Ben: [00:45:57] You just don't see the bodyguards.

Phillip: [00:45:59] I don't see them.

Ben: [00:46:00] There's supposed to be a bodyguard right here. One right here.

Phillip: [00:46:03] There there. We know this.

Ben: [00:46:05] And then, you know, like the three publicists and, you know, the fifteen forms.

Phillip: [00:46:10] But do you have a bag man? You need a bag man. You need someone that whispers the person's name into your ear, you know, can hand you your Evian face spray. That sort of thing. That's what I'm looking for.

Brian: [00:46:21] It's in his Air Pod.

Ben: [00:46:23] That was very specific.

Phillip: [00:46:23] It's extremely specific. It's my bucket list goal. I'm going to have a bag man. Brian's going to have a butler. Brian has a whole thing about butlers.

Brian: [00:46:33] Oh yeah. Butlers are better than bagmen by far.

Ben: [00:46:37] Is that just like a PA versus like an EA? Which is like a role for like a Hollywood star is like... Well I guess that is different than a bag man, actually.

Phillip: [00:46:46] Yeah.

Ben: [00:46:47] I didn't know that was a term.

Phillip: [00:46:48] OK, this has been great. Thank you for listening. And hey, if people want to go grab Octane and get some zero party data of their own going for their own eCommerce outfit, I'm going to guess that you'll know where to tell them to go.

Ben: [00:47:02] OctaneAI.com. On everything, @OctaneAI. I'm @BenParr on everything. But really, you know, you're a store, you're like I have this problem which is most stores, you know, we're here to go and help. We were amazing team that's there to help. I just say random things. Maybe once in a while there's a gem. A bunch of times it's irrelevant. But feel free if you are curious to follow me too.

Brian: [00:47:30] Awesome.

Phillip: [00:47:30] I think you should. Thanks for listening to Future Commerce. Hey, lend your voice to the conversation. We know that you have thoughts. We want to hear them. Drop us a line at Hello@FutureCommerce.FM. There's always more episodes of the podcast and great insights to be had. If you go to the aforementioned FutureCommerce.FM, grab our most recent piece of research over there that's called Service is The New Storefront. Got a new one coming out called Nine by Nine. The 2021 edition. It's going to blow your mind, Nine by Nine, and the way to find out when that drops... Hey, sign up for the list at FutureCommerce.FM. We have a pop up. It's not conversational. Might have to change that night.

Ben: [00:48:12] Yet.

Brian: [00:48:12] Yet.

Phillip: [00:48:12] It's going to be. It's going to be. Thank you for listening. And that's it. Go listen to something else. You've got time on your hands.

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