Epi. 60: How Regal.io uses real conversations to convert calls to customers – Alex Levin, Co-Founder & CEO of Regal.io

Learn more about Regal.io at: https://www.regal.io/

Find Alex Levin on LinkedIn here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/alexlevin1/

JC: Welcome, everyone, to another episode of The Future of BizTech. I’m your host, JC Granger. And I have another fantastic guest on the show today. And listen, if you end up loving this episode, please show your love and appreciation by following the podcast wherever you are listening or on YouTube, be sure to give it that five-star review, firstly with some nice comments on there, because that’s how techies like you and I can find cool podcasts like this. So today, I have the absolute pleasure of interviewing the co-founder and CEO of Regal.io. Alex Levin. Thank you so much for being on the show. Tell us a little bit about yourself and regal and what you guys do.


Levin: Yeah, thank you for having me. So I’ve been in the technologist industry for a long time now. And my co-founder and I started regal just over two years ago now to build software for b2c sales teams. And people are a little shocked when I say that sometimes they go well, there’s no such thing as a b2c sales team, you know, don’t you mean b2b? But no, it turns out actually that, well, there’s been a lot of software builds for teams that do sales on the b2b side, you know, where it’s a very complicated sale, very low volume, you know, you pay salespeople quite a lot of money. There’s a massive under investment in using the phone, using SMS, having a conversation with your customer in the b2c side. And there’s just an under investment in the software for that. So in industries like lending, insurance, health care, education, local services, it turns out that if you, if you build a website, without having a human conversation with the customer, your conversion rate drops way down. And so these are complicated decisions, these are longer decisions, you’re making more considered decisions. And it’s critical to have a moment where your admissions agent is talking with you, it’s critical to have a moment where your healthcare provider is talking to you before you make those decisions. So the software has worked amazingly well. And we now are proud to announce that we have reached over a billion dollars in revenue driven by our first 100 customers. So I think it’s just a small sign that this is something really working for our customers.


JC: Now that’s awesome. So now, it is interesting, like you said, because we do see a lot of software out there for b2b. So how, like, who’s your main client base is a lot of ecommerce companies, I imagine. I mean, kind of who are the main people or companies that are buying this type of software from you to help with their b2c side of things?


Levin: Yeah, I’d say about half of the consumer economy is retail. So you know, buying clothing, shoes, pencils, things like that. And about half of the consumer economy is more complicated things like, you know, like I was saying health care, education, local services, insurance. So things for you know, your health, your wealth, your kids, your pets, your car, your house, think about that world. While fun says works, actually, in all of those sorts of industries, we’ve particularly focused on the more considered industries, because we find that there’s faster uptake there. In retail, I think people have been taught for so long that customer service is a call center talking your customers a call center, that we see, businesses don’t want to provide a higher quality of service to their customer today, because they see it as a call center. On the other side, in these more considered categories, they already understand that key part of the decision making process is to have a conversation, and they’re desperate for software that will help them have more conversations with the right customer in the right moment. And so I’d say we focus much more on that side, there’s probably some 50, 60,000 businesses that are, you know, 100 employees, or above, in the more considered side that need our software.


JC: So how, what kind of results have your clients been seeing with that? I mean, what kind of standard, you know, if they’re doing X, you know, conversion rate, after using your systems? Where are they usually ending up? I mean, is it massive here? Or is it more like smaller percentages, but on volume, it makes a big difference, what kind of results we’ve been seeing?


Levin: Yeah, it’s pretty striking. So I’ll start by going back to my own experience for a second. And then I can talk a little about current customers. But my co-founder and I were at a company called Angie that owns Angie’s List, and HomeAdvisor and handy and all these home services brands were actually the largest home services provider in the world. And we found that we had built a great digital experience. And we were doing you know, a billion and a half in revenue on that digital experience. But we found that for a lot of services, our conversion rates online were worse than the offline conversion rates. So like, stop for a second. So like you think of technology is building a better mousetrap, we actually built a worse mousetrap. Meaning if you just went to an old school paper and pencil guide to install your fence, you buy that at a much higher rate than when you went on to the Digital site that we had built. What we found though, is if we call somebody and got them on the phone, we could get back up to that same conversion rate. And so it just like opened my eyes at the beginning I think this is kind of like a twilight zone like, why would anybody answer the phone right? But it turns out that for these more considered things you know, people really like it and so when we call them and say hey, you have a house you want to fence installed, they go oh my god internet company and wants to talk to me, that’s fabulous. And so it really opened our eyes to this opportunity. So today, on average are calm Customers see about 25% increase in conversion rate, and a lot of our customers are already doing phone sales. So it’s not, you know, from nothing, they’re already doing it. But we’re able to give them tools that give them more levers to get customers on the phone to convert them on the phone to drive higher average order values. And that’s really why I think we’ve been so successful is because we represent incremental revenue for the brands we work with. I know a lot has been written out about customers, I’m sorry brands, lowering their marketing spend, and they are, they’re not going to spend inefficient dollars to get people to their site. But of the people that are coming to their site, that middle of the funnel, they’re massively investing in how to convert more of them. And they’re massively investing at improve retention. And that’s why I think we have such a good fit with brands today is that they, they are pulling for software like ours, that’s going to drive higher conversion, higher retention.


JC: I mean, 25%. And that’s, that is pretty amazing. I mean, you look at any kind of company doing a 10 million bottom line. You know, that’s another 2.5 on the books.


Levin: And I’d say, you know, it, when we go to conferences, and we go meet customers, I’ve been doing phone sales. So let’s say you’re a big, you know, a life insurance company, and you’ve been trying to call customers, the story we hear again and again, is that customers have been, you know, have been anti phone calls, or that the brand has been having a hard time getting customers on the phone, even though once they get them on the phone that customers like it, and once they get on the phone, it leads to more revenue for the brand. And so they for a long time thought their only option. And in the old software, it’s kind of true, their only option was to call the customer faster, or call them more times. And that’s a negative cycle, right? The more you call somebody, the faster you call somebody less likely they’re gonna answer over time, the lower the answer, it’s going to be over time, and it becomes spam. So we teach brands to do the opposite. We’ve built software that allows them to use real time data from the actual behavior of the customer from first party data to drive personalized cadences personalized messages that would change what the channel is, you know, brand the call, so that you’re engaging people at a much higher rate, on average, our software people answer about 30% of the time, versus the industry average of a 10% answer rate on the phone, so much, much higher answer rate than email and SMS and even traditional calls. And then we can help the brand, make sure the agents who are in our product using our product, convert people at a much higher rate in that actual conversation.


JC: So what made you want to start this? I mean, you’re the co founder, right? So I mean, tell me, what’s the villain origin story here? Right? Like, what proble were you dealing with him? It’d be some corporate job or something. And you’re like, Oh, we’ve got to solve this problem? Or was it just something from inception out of nowhere? What brought you to this idea?


Levin: Yeah, so a little bit sort of I was talking about, you know, we live this like I was a marketer at Angie, my co founder and product. And you know, we really had this experience, we saw how powerful was to be selling on the phone. And when we went to the current omni channel, contact center software we use so we use for awhile Genesis, and then for a while now, Five9 and a while nice and contact, we are big account, and we went to them and said, great, you guys are fantastic. at customer service, we built the omni channel, customer service software for customer service, great. But we have this other use case where we have teams that are proactively reaching out. And here’s the set of features, we want to improve performance. They told us to go pound sand, like actually. And they said, look, it’s just not our business, we have a great business doing customer service, you happen to use one of the features we have for sales, fine, we’re not going to take it away from you, we’re not building new features for you. So I think those customers, sorry, those companies sort of just made us realize, like, you know that there just wasn’t anybody going after this opportunity. And so it led us to sort of from a place of necessity, go and start the business. I think the other big realization for both my co founder and I was that when we started in this home services business, it was doing a million dollars in revenue, it was 20 people. You know, at the end, we were doing a billion and a half in revenue for thousands of people. We weren’t having as much fun at that scale. You know, we love being builders, and we wanted to go back to the beginning and start. So it’s a nice match of a situation where we had felt this problem ourselves. And we knew we wanted to go back and build something. And you know, it just was good timing.


JC: That’s awesome. So how have you guys been growing? I mean, how old is the company and what have you been doing for your own internal growth? Maybe marketing or marketing guys, so marketing wise?


Levin: Yeah. So we’re only two years old. We’ve had quite a run of it so far. So we went from 0 to 100 customers, and I don’t know if it’s been released publicly exactly what the AR is, but quite a bit of an AR in two years. And it’s not been through marketing. So that’s what’s interesting, like we, the first year was only founder-led sales was just me for the first year and the second year we added some A’s and so they’ve been very successful and we just hired our first marketing hire a month and a half ago. So next year now we’re going to start learning and marketing. Again, just an indication of like how much demand there is. And with our current funnel, we see about 30% of the sales qualified leads, we get closed. And on average, they close in about 35 or 40 days. So it’s just a sign of how much product market fit there is that the close rate is so high and and so quickly, and we have a pretty large average contract value. So, you know, between a $50,000 and $100,000, average contract value. So that’s a very fast close for that size contract.


JC: That’s awesome. Well, let’s talk a little bit about the future here. Right? So it’s called The Future of BizTech. So let’s we’ll dive into that. First question is, where do you see your industry going in the next, you know, five or six, seven years or whatnot, and you know, like you and your competitors combined, the people who are in that kind of b2c software space now that there’s a lot it sounds like, right, but just where do you see that evolving?


Levin: Yeah. So you know, I think there’s a very heavy investment currently on the b2c side, in marketing technology, selling to a marketer, you know, doing marketing automation has become very pervasive, and people have gotten the message that you shouldn’t be sending random blasts to people-  should we be doing that. On the sales side. To your point, there’s not really much out there. So we don’t see much competition on the side today. I expect over time there will be but you know, we’re out there bringing that sort of that mission to people and saying, you know, you’re a sales professional, but you should be using more sophisticated technology that allows you to identify the right people to talk to you have the right message, you know, use AI when necessary, use automation when necessary to drive better outcomes. And so I think all of this sales software for b2c is our opportunities ours for the taking, you know, if we do a right, you know, we could be the default CRM, that sort of Salesforce, so to speak, of b2c sales in the same way, Salesforce has become the default for b2b sales, we do think there’s an opportunity to build out a lot of software, different sort of aspects of this part of the the go to market motion for b2c companies, I’d say if I fast forward, like our biggest goal is to help these brands have more conversation. So today, we drive about three and a half to 4 million conversations a month for the brands we work with. So that’s incredible, like those are conversations that would not have not happened otherwise, that are leading to a better experience for the customer, more revenue for the brand. And so we hope that one day, everybody has that. So, you know, I hope that one day when I’m going in and booking a flight, and I make a mistake, the airline automatically calls me goes, Mr. Levin, we know you’re trying to really book a flight to New York, we see you made this mistake, let us help you solve this, or if I’m going into health insurance, and they see that I get stuck, because I don’t know some information about my old health insurance, they call me and they go, you know, Mr. Levin, you know, I know everything that there is to know about this product, I’m here to help you. So think back to 100 years ago, perhaps when people walked into a hotel or a club, and they’d go, oh, we know you, sir. You know, or ma’am, here’s your favorite table, here’s your favorite drink, they could do that. Because they sort of got to know you one on one online, we have better advantage, we can take all the information at scale that we know about a customer and do things that are really personalized for them. And we can start making service differentiation in online instead of it being something that people think of as the Boogeyman. So stop thinking of customer service or human touch as a call center and start thinking about it as a differentiator.


JC: Yeah, it’s almost like a personalized, you know, assistant in a way, right, you know, like a customer care, personalized assistance, you know, you get an employee reaching out. Sometimes you get that from like, depending if you’re like, got a certain status with an airline or a credit card, but you’re saying this could be this is something that could be applicable and scalable toward all customers, regardless of status, essentially.


Levin: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, the example that I sometimes give is in the gaming industry, people know about the idea of Wales. And there are, you know, casinos that specifically assign someone to help a whale and make sure that they have a great experience. Casinos are unable to give that experience to everybody today. And it’s a shame they would love to, but they don’t have the software that allows them to provide everyone the same level of personalized support. So you know, if they had the right software, they could start giving more people that level of personalized attention. So I think it’s just an example where the industry as a whole understands is valuable, but doesn’t have the technology that enables them to do it for everybody.


JC: Well, I mean, do you have casinos as clients cuz that seems like a pretty damn good idea right there. 


Levin: Yeah, we have online gaming clients.


JC: Yeah, of course so I mean, I could see you guys talking Vegas pretty hard with this that like you’re suddenly they’re all about the personalized care and if they can offer that to everyone, that’s even more amazing. All right. Well, so then we went over, we went over a little bit of this in in your explanation here, but focusing more specifically on your company. Where do you guys see yourself the next kind of three to five years? You know, what’s coming down the pipeline, roadmap wise for my very information-greedy audience that likes to hear things first?


Levin: Yeah of course. I say a few things. When we started the company like we did, like I said, because we were builders, we want it to be back early. And we love this opportunity. And when we bring employees are committed to two things, one, that we’re going to build a big standalone company in this space, because there’s quite a unique space, there’s a lot of opportunity. And two, they’re going to make the equity they have worth a lot, meaning we’re going to increase revenue and keep dilution from raising money love. So like at a very high level. That’s how we think about the goals internally for people. Both those sort of opportunities accompany and the opportunity for individuals. I think that, you know, the Northstar to what I said is we hold ourselves to how many conversations can drive for our customers, how much incremental revenue do we drive for them, if we’re driving more, more revenue, more conversations than great we did our job if we’re not doesn’t matter how sexy the technology is. So I should I start that way, because it’s not that we’re doing this because the technology is sexy, we’re doing this because it really has an impact on businesses and on their consumers. From the technology side, you know, we’re lucky, a lot of businesses have understood that they should be moving to an event-based infrastructure internally to be you know, using the things that customers are doing to drive personalized actions in marketing channels, what they haven’t done is done that same work for sales.


Levin: So when you think about our technology stack, we continue to deepen our integrations with systems internally, both to receive the event-based data and for us to send all the interesting information we get like the conversation that was just add the disposition, what channel the customer likes to talk in, and send that back into the brand. So they can continue to in other channels personalize the outreach that they’re having. If in a conversation, we learn that you’re looking for plumbing, well, the next time you go to the site, it should show you plummet, right, so we can actually marry from a data perspective, all that information. And we play a very critical role, because in many of our customers cases, the identifier that they get first on a customer is a phone number, and then the system that gets the most information early on that customer is regal.


Levin: So we actually have the best accurate, most accurate source of data on that customer for any other system internally. So like that puts us in a very good place, and we continue to invest in that side of the business, I’d say the second thing that we’ve been we’ll continue to invest in is the journey builder. So we have a pretty sophisticated journey builder that’s been built out for conversational use cases, there are plenty of Journey builders out there for one way marketing, you know, whether it’s HubSpot, or Salesforce, or, you know, braze, or iterable, all built for one way emails, one way SMS, in-conversations are very different dynamic, you have to change things constantly based on what’s actually happening in the back and forth. So we continue to invest in the journey builder. And then I think that we’ve started now to make bigger investments in what I call intelligence or in AI, in taking the information that we get, and using it to help the brands do smarter things, using it to help the agents do smarter things. And as you’re starting to see now, even the ability to automatically suggest, you know, a language for what should be said next. And some of these new models from open AI, I think there’s massive opportunity for us to, you know, keep the human loop but enhance the ability for that human to do things. So out of business hours, well, how do you make the you know, the customer still feel like somebody’s engaging with them? Or if the agent can’t respond right away? Because we’re doing something else? How do you send them a text that’s very personalized to that person, so that it feels like the agent is still engaging with them. So there’s a lot we can do to continue to enhance the capabilities of an agent. So that in the end, our goal is that one sales agent can double the number of conversions they’re making. If we can use technology to make them more money, then everybody’s happy.


JC: That’s awesome. Now, this is. See, this is why I do this podcast, because it’s really interesting to have such a different type of innovative softwares that come on. And again, like you said, there’s so many for b2b. And you see, e commerce is one of the biggest online drivers of economy, that there is, right? And when you attach something like this, especially that personalized touch, you know that that conversion rate, like you’re saying you’re running 25% increase conversion rate. That’s insane. So I love this. I want to ask you a more personal such business question. It’s more, you know, you guys are newish, right? Couple years. Startups are chaotic, right? You’ll learn a lot in the process. If you could give one piece of advice to any other startup, you know, kind of entrepreneurs techies listening, you know, what’s something that like, what was one of the biggest surprises you had? You’re like, crap, I did not see that coming. And how would you maybe, you know, anticipate that what just going down that road to help people out?


Levin: Yeah, so we’ve been very lucky like things have gone to plan so like, I don’t have much Let’s knock on the planning currently in this company. But I’ve certainly in other companies had situations where things have not gone to plan. I’d say you know, first and foremost, if you’re the founder, you know, deal with somebody else, you know, they really trust they really can spend time with because this is going to be a roller coaster, there’s gonna be great times, and they’re gonna be terrible times, and you have to have somebody who can go through that with you. Can’t do it alone, it’s really too hard. So I always start there. I think in terms of the business, our opinion or perspective, is that execution is what differentiates businesses, especially these days, and so, you know, if you’re a founder, you know, exercise that skill, get better at execution, if you’re going to work for a founder, go find founders are great at execution, it’s fine if they have a big vision, but they don’t know how to execute it, you’re not going to go anywhere. So emphasize execution as an example, you know, find people who understand how to break down very tactical goals under, you know, find people who know how to make decisions quickly how to use data, to make decisions easier, how to empower organizations to be successful, how to hire the right sort of people, you know, if they don’t know how to do those things, or if you don’t yet, how did you notice things like golden practice? Because those are the critical things that make companies successful. Again, it’s fine to have a big vision but if you can’t follow through, you’re not going to go anywhere.


JC: Yeah, and the hiring part, I can relate to that one, you know, I think a lot of companies, they don’t put as much emphasis on the vetting of higher level positions, you know, they maybe just look at, you know, where were they previously? And are they available? It’s like, that’s not enough. You got to have culture fit, dry fit. So there’s a lot of there’s a lot there. Well, listen, I’m glad you’re on the podcast, thank you for coming. How can people reach first, the website or you know, your company? And then secondly, maybe you personally somehow if they’re trying to do some higher level deals?


Levin: Yeah, so you know, if you’re, you know, b2c marketer or b2c sales team, and you’re very interested in driving more revenue, check out our website at Regal.io. You can always email me at hello@regal.io. And if you’re, you know, a new founder, I’d say you know, number one piece of advice, make sure you’re you’re building b2b SaaS, I was in the b2c world for a long time and b2b SaaS is much better. I wish 10 years ago, somebody had told me that. Feel free to reach out if there’s anything that I can help with. 


JC: Awesome and for everyone listening out there. Again, if you liked what you heard today, be sure to subscribe to the podcast or YouTube, give it a five star rating, preferably some writing behind it. So the other techies like us can find and enjoy learning all about these amazing and helpful software’s out on the market today. Alex thank you so much for being on the show. And I actually look forward to that to check me out and maybe doing a little a little demo with you on your on your software there and check it out.


Levin: Great. Thanks for having me.


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