Did you ever imagine that you could generate hundreds of social media posts with the click of a button? Well, Lately can do that for you. It helps you write better marketing content that will reach your customers by leveraging artificial intelligence and software automation. Lately can instantly transform long-form content into tons and tons of social media posts. And that is not it, it has many other interesting features as well such as planning, creating and publishing content for social media. Lately was founded in 2014 by Brian S, Jason DeBacco, Kate Bradley Chernis and Steve Blood.
For the interview, we had Kate Bradley Chernis, the CEO of Lately. Once a rock ‘n’ roll DJ for Sirius/XM broadcasting to 20 million listeners a day, she later started a marketing agency and helped her clients become organized and increase their revenue through her overwhelming number of spreadsheets. With the help of her co-founders, she was able to automate her spreadsheets and create Lately.
Komal – Please tell us and your company Lately.
Kate – Lately uses AI to instantly transform long-form content into tons and tons of social media posts. You could upload a podcast, and we could instantly splinter it into hundreds of video clips. The hard part happening in the background is that the AI learns which clips to pick based on studying the analytics of your Social Accounts and looks for the words and phrases your audience is most likely going to reshare and comment on.
Komal – How did this idea come to your mind?
Kate – I was a marketing agency owner and had Walmart as my client. I was working with Walmart and their many franchises. Together everybody was trying to work on a project to help uplift the poor out of poverty. I came in and thought how we are all gonna do this together. And content creation was a big problem because nobody wanted to do it. The newsletters, whitepapers or press releases were going to waste because nobody would read it. Figuring out how to get thousands of people on the same page was pretty difficult. So, I came up with the spreadsheet system that helped to do that manually. It was a lot of work. I ended up getting them 100% ROI year over year for 3 years. I am a very organized person. I came with the spreadsheet system to unify everything and everyone. There was no cloud back then so I made them the cloud.
Then I met Steve, my co-founder and he said that we can automate this thing and create wire-frames with just US$ 25K. I didn’t understand what he was talking at that time. But he took money out of his own pocket, worked on it and showed me the wire-frames and that’s how Lately started.
Komal – What has the journey been like? What hardships have you faced down the road?
Kate – Many! There are ample reports and statistics that show the difference between male and female CEOs getting funded in the startup venture worlds. It shows that female entrepreneurs only get 2.3% of all the venture funding. That’s white female entrepreneurs. If you’re black you are not even on the map. It is not fair, to say the least. People would say you only need to do this to get the funding. I would do the best work and still get shafted. That has been really frustrating for me. But one of my female investors Joanne Wilson noticed this and said that this is happening to you. It took me a little while to understand the prejudice against women.
Komal – For a company using Lately, does the AI aim to reduce redundancy for humans working on a business’s social media or is it really algorithms doing the whole job?
Kate – We know that humans and AI in marketing at least have to collaborate and work. I robot can’t give you a hug through zoom, but I can. We insist that our customers work with AI for a number of reasons, to give it the human magical spark and also so that AI can learn from the human even more. Lately helps to get rid of the annoying stuff that you don’t want to do, and do the stuff that you do want to do. We do eliminate some positions. We are saving companies on average 8 hours a week per person. We like to think that they are spending that money on the fun and human part of marketing like the ideas.
Komal – How diverse are your clients?
Kate – We have all sorts of companies, medium, large and small across many industries. Our customers have to have at least two social channels where they are posting and also some long-form content like a blog or podcast that they are producing or it is coming to them.
There is this feature where we can sit one account on top of others. Like the CMO can create content for her boss on LinkedIn and a salesperson or maybe HR and every other who wants to say cool things about the company but doesn’t know what to say, she can push it out through Lately.
Komal – Do you think people understand people understand your product? And do you see an opportunity to scale?
Kate – No I don’t think people understand. We didn’t sell AI in the beginning, we sold organisation. We had all these features but didn’t know how to unify them. So, we watched which one of our customers used the most. Later we learnt that people use the AI content generator the most. So, we had to flip things around.
Yes, there is of course an opportunity to scale. Last year was a good year. We grew the company from US$ 25K MRR to US$ 77K in 10 months. We got a boost when Garry V noticed us. We were working with his team for a little while and released a feature and one of his team members made a mock Twitter channel out of it and showed him. That was the video clip feature. We helped Gary get a 12,000% increase in engagement. We could just show people Gary’s Twitter channel making it easier to explain our offering.
Komal – There are many social media managing companies out there, so what makes you different? What is the USP of Lately?
Kate – No other social media platforms have the ability to make AI write the content for you. We are only one who does that. We are about to launch a whole new website with new pricing and new products as well as integration with Hubspot among others. I am so excited for the next couple of weeks.
Komal – You completed your Seed funding in 2019 if I am not wrong. Do you have any plans for further fundraising?
Kate – We did. From 2014 to 2017 we did two rounds and a couple of extensions. That was US$ 2.7M and then in 2019, we did a small note of under US$ 200K from Jason Calacanis. That was a big deal for us.
Now, instead of reaching out to hundreds of contacts, I reached out to like 20. Now I am focusing on raising money. It is hard to say if there is a plan to raise funds further. At the moment I don’t need the money and some time. My gut says sit back, take some time and go for the Series A in the summer. I am turning SaaS inside out and whoever is gonna lead our round is going to psyched to be on that train. I don’t need to convince them.
Komal – What according to you are the most important ingredients for Social Media Marketing?
Kate – There are many but number 1 is to do it, which is hard. You have to do it from the beginning. I knew that because I was a Rock n Roll DJ and had 20 million listeners and a whole bank of fans that I could bring along.
Marketing is the only part of the business that runs every other part of the business. Sales, engineering, HR are all connected by the messaging of the company internally. The consistency is key as well. We use Lately for not only the marketing of the brand Lately but all of the employees’ social accounts because together we are better.
Komal – Lately is surely beyond just social media marketing. What is in the pipeline for Lately?
Kate – The AI, because it learns what the customers want to read, we can apply that to any kind of text, like billboard copies or paid advertising or email copy. So, that is coming. We are now feeding data sets from our customers into the AI so it can learn new things. Like you can push a button and create any voice that you want. Say you want a voice that sounds like Garry V, push a button, or a voice that addresses the hotel industry, push that button.
Lately is revolutionizing the SaaS scene with its unique platform. It boasts a diverse list of clients like SAP, Amerifirst, Husky among others. To know more about Lately and the journey of its CEO Kate Bradley Chernis, watch the full interview on our YouTube Channel –
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