The Virtual CMO Podcast:
This week, host Eric Dickmann interviews Sasha Schriber. Sasha is the CEO of Nanos AI, a machine learning company based in Switzerland. Nanos is a do-it-yourself, pay-as-you-go online marketing platform for non-expert users. With Nanos, anyone without marketing or design knowledge can place paid advertisements (images, videos, and texts) on Google, Facebook, and Instagram, starting from as little as $5, in less than 10 minutes.
In this episode, learn how Sasha started the company, managed her own company's marketing, and built a powerful new marketing automation tool to help other marketers be successful with their digital advertising campaigns.
Transcript: Season 2, Episode 9
**Please note, this transcript was generated by an artificial intelligence engine. It is intended only as a rough transcript and there may be some grammatical, spelling or transcription errors.
Eric Dickmann: [00:00:00] Welcome to season two of The Virtual CMO podcast. I'm your host, Eric Dickmann, founder of The Five Echelon Group.
Our goal is to share strategies, tools, and tactics with fellow marketing professionals that you can use to impact the trajectory of your company's marketing programs. We have candid conversations about what works, and what doesn't, with marketing tactics, customer experience, design, and automation tools. Our goal is to provide value each week with a roster of thoughtful and informative guests engaged in a lively conversation.
So with that, let's introduce this week's guest and dive into another conversation with The Virtual CMO.
Today, I'm excited to welcome Sasha Schriber to the podcast. Sasha is the CEO of Nanos AI, a machine learning company based in Switzerland. Nanos is a do-it-yourself pay-as-you go online marketing platform for non-expert users. With Nanos, anyone without marketing or design knowledge can place paid advertisements on Google, Facebook, Instagram, and more starting from as little as $5 and in less than 10 minutes.
Sasha welcome to the virtual CMO podcast. I'm so glad you could join us today.
Sasha Schriber: [00:01:28] Thank you for having me.
Eric Dickmann: [00:01:29] I wanted to repeat a little bit of the conversation that we were having before we got started here today. You're in Switzerland Zurich, and you've talked about how things have really changed in terms of your company and remote work. Tell me a little bit about the changes that you've made just in your company. We're recording this towards the end of July 2020, obviously, we're still in the middle of the COVID epidemic, especially here in the US. How is all this factored into what you've done as a company?
Sasha Schriber: [00:01:56] Well, first of all, I have to admit, you know, we're still going through all the changes and it's not something that they can introduce in company, even a small company, like Nanosphere currently just 10 people, all technical and we are well distributed in Europe and also have some team members in Brazil and even in Australia.
However, back in the days, if you ask me this questions . Do Sasha ever be up for fully remote work, introduced as a concept on, onto your startup? I would say by no means no, I was very conservative and actually it could never warm up to the concept of fully remote work because I felt it's always better.
To be physically in the office to have meetings and discuss things. Rather than, you know, slacking away and, Writing each other long emails or going into through long VTCs Mark, Tom. So, I have to admit, after observing what was happening in the Europe first. And then of course, when COVID, Got. Spread to the US. we quickly realized, you know, we can't really use their office and office spaces. It's very expensive. It's not only expensive. It is also not. You cannot easily get out of the lease because usually if you rent the office space, you have to sign a lease for five years. And as you can imagine in the life of a startup's, it's a bit of a longer cycle.
You know, So we have this five year lease and we discussed, so you know, how could we cut down on our cost external runway? This is usually a topic that concerns the most startups when something unpredictable happens like global pandemic, for instance, So, early April we realized, okay, we're not using our office anymore. I'm not even for short meetings, everything is done online or the conversations.
All the interactions with our, you know, between our machine learning team development, team, product team, sales teams, they're all moved to online all of a sudden. And we had to really adapt this concept and we said, okay, you know, If we introduced this new concept that we all were from the all be working remote, what does it imply? How much money do we save? How much quality of work do we lose?
And, I have to say after three months we did proof of concept. We realized, okay, it works for us now. Let's really seriously integrate this. Let' s understand exactly how a conversation would work in our own case. And you know, how communication will work, how much of a quality work we lost over the course of the last three months.
Eric Dickmann: [00:04:20] I think a lot of companies are having to make that decision. And I think for a lot of them, it's going to be a very positive move. I want to go backwards a little bit in your career. I'm located in Orlando, Florida. Obviously Disney is a big part of the community here, and I know you spent some time as a Walt Disney Imagineer. Talk about that experience a little bit.
Sasha Schriber: [00:04:40] Absolutely. have to say I've always been intrepreneurial so I've had companies in the past. Nanos is my fourth company. however, at some point in one of my previous companies, Disney research, would you do research laboratory was a client of ours. And, I was personally taking in our responsibility and, handling all the communication, all the operation, so on the, all the work. And, it actually led to my early employment with Disney early in 2013. And then eventually it led to my full time employment 2014. And, I led my own innovation group within this new research that also brought me to Switzerland. So I had to.
You look it from Canada, from Vancouver to Switzerland. and for about a year, year and a half, I was traveling back and forth. I was on a plane every three weeks, 16 hours from door to door, from home in my court to home in Zurich. And nowadays when I think about it, you know, I don't remember last time I boarded the plane.
it was definitely maybe months ago. And I don't know when I'm going to board the plane next time. That's the, that's the most interesting part. Anyhow. I was leading a team of machiners learners, researchers, software developers, UX, UI designers, and we were building prototypes. for the company, the way we worked was we would pose a question. For instance, how would you look like in the future? And mind you, these were years thousand 13, 14, 15. Is it really so that. people will continue to consume a short and other shorts from videos in the, in the way they do now. And then we would put an assumption together and then we would built a prototype based on these assumptions, what people would enjoy.
How would they be entertained in the future? And then they would test those assumptions. These prototypes was user studies, physical, online, depending of course, on the research topic. We would also look into existing technologies and also think of what needs to technologists need to be developed. For instance, for novel interfaces like augmented virtual reality. Again, this was years, 2014, 15.
Nobody was really talking much about virtual reality here. So I was really in this very privileged position, I was at the forefront of the technology. So, you know, machine learning in 2012, 2015, nobody really used that definition yet. So it was just mathematical statistical models. It only started calling machine learning thousand 15, 16. We didn't them in have studies on machine learning, no PhDs. So, you know, we had maybe master students, made the bachelor studies, but not PhDs. And, on all I have to say, experience over the course of six, seven years was extremely, extremely interesting. I learned so much being, working in the large corporation in one of the largest entertainment companies in the world still is the case. And at the same time, having full insight into one of the most prominent research communities, backed by ETH federal Institute of technology here in Switzerland. This is actually also. the main reason why Nanos is not based in Orlando for instance, but it's based in Switzerland in Zurich, just because of the connection to ETH it's federal. So the technology access to students, access to tech talent students work on our, all of our research topics. All of our projects at Nanos.
Eric Dickmann: [00:07:53] That's interesting because you founded Nanos, but Nanos is a very purpose built product, a platform for the marketing community. So how did you decide to take your knowledge of AI and machine learning and build something specifically for marketing users?
Sasha Schriber: [00:08:10] You know, I was always have an opinion during my early, professional career years also when working at Disney. Technology should not take over jobs. Technology should make people's life easier, better or faster. It depends. Depends how you look at it. And early in the years, The first idea of not as the first concept of Nanos.
Came into my head when I was, Talking to, one of the small business owners. So actually freelancers. And I realized how many people all there who actually don't have enough marketing knowledge. So their expertise is in marketing, but they are in desperate need of advertising. I mean, they were not as desperate as they are right now when you know, everything moves online before it was still a lot of physical attraction, physical facilities and, ways of physical way of conducting business. Now it's changing, but, in the past, you know, if you don't have a website and how would people find out about you or how it can.
Always possible to gain new clients. And there are just so many freelancers or business owners who. who did know the needed upset. So there were still relying on old fashioned, you know, offline channels to acquire customers. So they were hoping somebody walk by on my street, then she's my new store and maybe walks in, you know, maybe they, they in the need. What I'm selling here.
So, of course nowadays it sounds probably very funny, but these were the years when Nanos was conceived originally. And then when I started looking more in depth into it, again, posing a research question, you know, trying to find an answer or how to make. it possible that even, you know, non-expert users and people who are not digital natives could very quickly to build the upset and be visible online, which means, you know, advertising online and other deicing platforms are, you know, quite limited, but also having knowledge of advertising thought from the root require quite some time from an individual to learn.
All the tricks and all the tactics send, you know, how can you expect it from somebody who is doesn't first doesn't have time to do it second. Maybe also no interests. No really skills. to do it, or maybe also not a big budget to experiment. And then, I looked into existing, you know, technologies. I also look obviously into the information provided by platforms, Google, Facebook, Instagram.
I still remember this. Book. Google ad words, 600 pages, you know, I took it from one of my interns at Disney and that, because I asked her, no, I want to put an ad on Google. What do I do? And she said, okay, you have to read this book. It wasn't a helper. I thought, okay, I can read this book, but you know, it does my friend Phil answer. That's your, one of your Time to read this book, even if here is. What's next. What's next. Right? So, and I thought, and I was reading this book and I got increasingly excited as hell. Oh my God. There's so many cool things you could automate with technology. And if you only had access to the you knew what the works for a flower shop in, I dont know in Orlando would probably also know what's similar city to Orlando in the US and other city.
That has a similar demographics. what would work for that business owner? And that city would also probably work for another business owner of a same from the same industry in another city. and they're not really competing with each other rise, so it, it it's, it's why not use this knowledge also accessible to anybody. This is how Nanos was born. It's practically a democratizing the knowledge. And, making it, making, online visibility, lowering the entry barrier into online visibility and making it also accessible and you know, not the for free, but, you know, make it. Make it really affordable. That was the idea by Nanos.
Eric Dickmann: [00:11:50] You said a couple interesting things there and one of the things that I noticed on your website is you've created a brand that's a little playful. You use cartoon characters, you've got an explainer video, that's front and center. So behind all of this, you've got AI and machine learning. You've got a lot of powerful tech, but for a lot of your users, I'm guessing they don't need to know about that. That's not what's important to them. What's important to them is about the result. And so you've taken a very playful approach to explaining what that does behind the scenes to give them the results that are going to have an impact for their business. So talk a little bit about how you formed your own brand with Nanos and you're intentional thought there in terms of how you present it to your end users.
Sasha Schriber: [00:12:37] Absolutely. Very good question. So, it actually asks two questions. So I start answering the first one, you know, how important this is and how to measure advertisement. And, I would say for the end user and our cost, our clients, and not only freelancers and small business owners, but also marketing agencies.
And also larger enterprises who use Nanos us internally in order to optimize cost and the safe time and the campaign creation, placement and optimization. So I would say in terms of them, feedback on advertisement then how useful is an advertisement for specific type of business? It really depends. Some of our clients see immediate results from the first campaign.
And, you know, it's just so rewarding to get feedback and, Email sent. Have conversations in the chat with our class. When they say, look a place, this campaign send a spend $50. And I got so and so many clients and I'm about to place another company. Thank you very much for Nanos of that use this and they spend maybe 20 minutes of their time in putting campaigns together and placing it. And then we took the rest optimizing this campaign. There are also cases that, you know, Nanos doesn't work for everybody, in particular, for instance, there's. There are few important criteria so that we observed that a really, really important. One is of course you need to have a website. I need to have an online presence when. when you think of Nanos, the first thing you mentioned, even to me, no, you went to their website and made your informed opinion about Nanos based on information on the website and the videos.
So these are the key elements. So for branding, one is the website. It should really explain what is it you do and why you do it and what does it get you as a prospective client if you use it? How you do it and what is your main differentiator from the competitors? What makes you standing out from the crowd? And actually the best way to do it, it's not through long text because we at Nanos. We always believed text is good but to replace 10,000 words with one image is better. And if you replace thousands of images is even better. So, this is why we really put a lot of effort as part of our branding strategy into videos. And these are not just video tutorials and how to use it so it helps my business better, but it's also what is Nanos all about? What does it give me? And it's also brand videos. I don't like this word very much brand videos but it is also videos about the company, about the team, and the team talking about technology. And it's, it's very funny because, some of our machine learning engineers, they, you know, they rarely on camera. Prefer to be behind computer and working on the, on the research. But, you know, I thought they would say no, but when I came with a request, you know, who do you mind to say a few words about what you do at Nanos.
About. Why you're passionate about developing this technology? What exactly would it bring to, to Nanos clients? There were also happy to talk about it. And then the, we, the only challenge we had was that they really, really use. The language so that, you know, how would you talk about technology too?
Eight years old daughter, to explain what does it, what does it do? That was probably the key. And, I would say videos probably make , the best, Is the best delivery medium for that purpose.
Eric Dickmann: [00:16:05] There are people in our audience that are familiar with a tool like ad espresso, for example, where you can run 16 permutations of a Facebook ad you can change the headlines. You can change the images and over time it'll pick a winner, based on which ones got the most, interaction.
Eric Dickmann (2): [00:16:23] How does a tool like Nanos differ from that, which is just a little bit more of a brute force tool, right. It's just trying different things and then saying, okay, this one had the best interaction. How does AI really make a difference.
Sasha Schriber: [00:16:35] Yes. So Nanos is aiming to be a full stack marketing platform. So it takes the whole process of art creation. So if you, look in very simple terms of what does it mean. To be visible online you have to create an ad . I need to create a certain media format then make it available and make it visible online so you have to think, okay, what are these text only, as a text and images, and maybe text and video. Then you have to decide where to place it at which budget and also which platforms. And then you have to continuously optimize it depending on the best performing criteria. Which age range work better? Which platforms work better? So they maybe a Google works better for you. Maybe Facebook doesn't work for you today and tomorrow, maybe it's different story just because it was something in the news that came out. So there are a lot of external parameters that could influence your ad. But what Nanos does really well is taking care of all these three pillars at creation level, at a placement level, and also ad optimization level. And the use AI in all these three pillars, for instance, for ad creation. Very interesting. We're very, very proud of this new technology that was developed in house, at Nanos.
Just to live, it conducted the user study and what we showed was, Five sets of ads to ads each for each asset and a website. So for instance, a website about a tea products and then two ads that were generated from that website. I'm at Nanos. And, then we would ask our, survey participants to pick which ad the first of all, like better second, which they felt this grammatically correct. And the third one was.
if, add is, truthful to the continent of episodes. So if it corresponds exactly to the content of the website, And, you know, what. Correspondence didn't know a survey participants didn't know that one of the. ads was created by human marketer and another one was created by machine.
So believe it or not 80% of all studies or study participants picked ad created by machine, what does it mean? It means that we can create an unlimited number of ad creatives. I mean, I will use this definition because we have technical audience here so we can. Create unlimited number of ad templates and test those, for instance, on Facebook.
And then, you know, pick the one that is best performing. This is something that it was not possible before. And this is what Nanos does in the background. On obviously unbeknownst to the user because we pick the best templates already. when we introduced it to the user and then the user have to just, you know, decide with which they want to go further and go ahead and place.
Eric Dickmann (2): [00:19:21] We'll be right back to our interview following this quick message!
Eric Dickmann: [00:19:26] Marketing is the engine that drives demand, but too often it takes a back seat to other priorities. Awareness, fails to materialize demand drops in sales falter. Don't wait until it's too late to build your brand awareness and demand generation programs. If your company is struggling with their marketing strategy, we want to help let's schedule a call to talk about your unique situation and what options might be available to get your marketing program back on track.
To learn more text C M O to (407) 374-3670 that's C M O two four zero seven. Three seven four three six seven zero. And we'll reply with further details. We hope to hear from you soon.
Users have so many options right now to be able to do paid ads on multiple platforms and get very targeted with those. But there's also a lot of organic things that they can do on these various social media channels. And I know that for many businesses, especially when they're starting out, they don't always allocate a lot of money to marketing. And so some of these organic channels are great for them to start to build a brand presence. And I know you've got a YouTube channel and you give businesses advice on what to do. What are some of the thoughts that you have and could share with business owners about how should they use a mix of paid and organic channels to grow their brand.
Sasha Schriber: [00:20:51] Sure. I can share. Well, based on my experience and I have to say it proved to be successful so far. So I would be very happy to share, with, because the podcast listeners. first for most is what we did at Nanos. We said, okay, let's plan for the next two years. I mean, again for startup, but it's a, it's a long, long term, but still that's what we just said. Okay. How much money we prepare to spend on a marketing over the course of three years? And how much time and effort are we prepared to spend the spend on our brand awareness, visibility marketing overall in general as well, including my personal time. And then, we came up with some monthly figure and then based on that monthly figure said, okay, Sounds so much from this budget, monthly budget we could put into paid advertisement. So we would always tend to advertise Nanos thru Nanos
It's called recursive marketing. So your others. As yourself through your own product and, in how much time and effort and also resources. So we go, we are to spend on content creation and we've developed a very distinct complication pipeline. And we were trying to automate as much as we could. For instance, we repurpose a lot of the content. I would write a script or an article. And then this article obviously would be CRE. put into a video as part of pipeline that, or the shorter social media posts. And then, Purpose then a video would be required and so on. So I would say the best results we achieved. The one we use the combination of paid performance. paid campaigns plus organic campaigns. So when we ask our clients, who come to Nanos or how did they find out about us? It's both it's organic, but it's also paid advertisement.
Eric Dickmann: [00:22:35] One of the things that I thought was really interesting, too, that you shared on your YouTube channel was the difficulty that you personally had putting yourself out there as a brand, as a personality, attaching your own image to the brand, and this is something that I think a lot of business owners or people who are trying to establish brands struggle with because. You don't want to pound your chest too hard and say, Hey, look at me. But at the same time, you're trying to build credibility. You're trying to build a presence that people can trust. Talk a little bit about your process there as you build out your own personal brand, and then tied that to Nanos.
Sasha Schriber: [00:23:16] I love this question because if the goal is really deep into, you know, my, my most fears, so I have to say for me, And I speak a lot with other business owners. People, co-founders who run companies are about to start finding companies about the importance of them being visible, being online and being approachable. So, one thing is about you talk about your product, but another thing is when you talk about you about your companies,
It's two different videos, right? And some feel quite comfortable talking about the product and the company, but not talking about themselves. So I feel this is a bit, wrong. assumption to start, I would have, I have to admit bit talking about yourself, being out there and being open and being approachable, which means being.
you know, vulnerable. It's not for everybody because, It's it's just difficult. First for most, it's difficult to put yourself in front of camera and to not lose all the words and. Still find something that you want, you could talk about it and you know, to speak in a way that, you know, audience would want to listen to that, the interest is also in what you're talking about.
But importantly, it's also to, you know, to not get discouraged by maybe first feedback from, for instance, from investors who say, okay, while you're talking about yourself, On social media. Why don't you talk about the product? And so on. So I would say these are the first few milestones. You have to go through and to not, you know, to keep, just to keep on going and producing content and to put, to not be afraid to put yourself your face out there.
And because if you don't do it, you know, if you just do it on behalf of the company, Your company may be exist, but it doesn't have enough trust for your prospective clients because nowadays there's just so much information out online, out there and, you know, user. 10 of your attention is so de saturated and it was all the content that is being constantly produced. So if you don't have this more personalized approach and you are out there and you're talking about your product and why are you passionate about it and why you're doing it? What's the backstory.
Of your company. How did you come up with the idea and what are the benefits of your product then, you know, you easily get lost in this sea of information.
Eric Dickmann: [00:25:31] Have you seen big changes since you started to be more aggressive about putting yourself out there?
Sasha Schriber: [00:25:36] If I put the numbers, our revenues doubled from month to month.
Eric Dickmann: [00:25:40] That's pretty impressive. So, what advice would you give to a marketing professionals? Especially as they're looking at tools to bring into their organization. I'm sure you've seen that, chart that shows all the marketing automation tools that are available and how it's just grown exponentially year over year There's so many different things that people can choose from as they're preparing for the future. What are some things that companies really need to be looking at right now as they prepare for the marketing over this next year, these next two or three years, what should they really be evaluating?
Sasha Schriber: [00:26:12] again, I think there's two questions. First of all, as a marketing, individual, if you are planning, you know, as a professional, if you're planning your career, what, what. to what should you pay attention to? One thing is, I think there will be more and more marketing automation tools out there coming up now with, You know, technology's picking up also, we have a much more. Let's say faster way of acquiring data and also analyzing the data. So it's not an issue anymore to cloud services, you know? I've become more and more affordable. And, Oh, faster ways of processing data, I would say for marketeers is very important that they, acquire more other hard skills, you know, for instance, you know, coding, believe it or not.
I feel this is one of the first would be my one of the first to devices to any marketeer. And, when I talk to candidates for marketing position, for social content creation position. That was the one of my first 10 knots.
My first question would be open to, would you be open to learn coding? Because I feel this is the. The hard skill of the future. But you should learn coding in the future and also, speaking additional languages. Picking up on languages, I would say probably would be the second skill and acquiring a soft skills on top of that, because nowadays we are moving towards the new era of predominant virtual communication. So, you know, everything, you, it's not about physical meetings anymore, at least for the next little while.
Everybody should really, really. pain, stop paying much more attention to the rules of business conduct. Of, you know, running business, and building relationship and building contact base online. So it's, it's all type of channels. I mean, it's not just emails, but it's also, you know, how you present yourself on LinkedIn.
How you conduct, how will you behave yourself during the video calls and so on? So it is something that maybe not interestingly, Within some of some of the professionals and they have to quickly acquire the skill, swiftly as possible. And for the companies who are in the midst of making decision towards either of the automation tools available online is. You know, technology will be, slowly, ultimately everything that could be automated. So all the repetitive monotonous tasks, in particular, in the third pillar, as I mentioned earlier, At com ad creation, placement and optimization. So the optimization part, there will be more and more tools available. Obviously there would be also high competition and prices were going to go down. That would say always a screen, the horizon, the halls always scan the surface. What else is out there? And, of course switching from one software to another, for large company, you could be really painful.
But you might end up saving a lot of, a lot of resources.
Eric Dickmann: [00:29:04] I think that's great advice. And I especially liked the piece that you were talking about, with coding, because if I just take that to the next level, I think one of the challenges that I see right now in marketing is there are so many things that marketers are being asked to do. And many times it's in different tools. And so building workflows is incredibly important and that takes a certain logic to be able to build a workflow. And I think that's the kind of logic that you get with a coding background to be able to put things together in a series of logical steps.
Sasha Schriber: [00:29:35] I couldn't put it any better.
Eric Dickmann: [00:29:37] I would love to know more about where you would like people to find you online and where they can get more information about your solution at Nano.
Sasha Schriber: [00:29:46] Absolutely. Well, the best way to reach me would be on LinkedIn. just find me there. send me direct message or, Also my YouTube channel subscribers, YouTube channel, or, just being these through the contact form on our website, Nanos.ai.
Eric Dickmann: [00:30:03] That's terrific. And I will have all of those linked in the show notes so that people can find you. This has been a fascinating conversation. I think you're really on the cusp of the future of marketing with AI and machine learning. I think we're going to be seeing so many big advancements in that over the coming years. So I think there's a bright future for Nano out there. And I encourage everybody to go check out the website and the great explainer video on the front page.
Sasha Schriber: [00:30:25] Thank you so much, I appreciate it.
Eric Dickmann: [00:30:27] Thank you for joining us.
that wraps up another episode of The Virtual CMO podcast. As a reminder, if you'd like to learn more about Virtual CMO, strategic marketing consulting services, or anything else discussed here today, please visit us at fiveechelon.com. There's a link in the show notes. If you'd like to send us comments, feedback, guest inquiries, and your five-star reviews on Apple Podcasts are always appreciated.
If you'd like to reach me. I'm @ EDickmann. That's E D I C K M A N N on Twitter. If you'd like to connect on LinkedIn, please let me know. You heard about me through The Virtual CMO podcast. I look forward to talking with you again next week and sharing some new marketing insights on The Virtual CMO.