Kontent.ai CEO Bart Omlo on $40M Investment From Expedition Growth Capital

Konabos Inc. - Konabos

19 Jul 2022

Note: The following is the transcription of the video produced by an automated transcription system.

[Music] [Music] welcome to the conovers this is akshay sura and this is matt mcqueeny today we have with us the new ceo of content.ai hey bart hello good to see you again guys yeah a bit of title change but yeah you you saw it on the on the press release that we just did it's a bit of exciting time for us absolutely so bart we had you on the cone of verse for your personal story but why don't you speak to what this uh announcement entails that was released i believe this week yeah um and then just you know what it kind of means for your role and for the organization's path forward yeah so very high level um content.ai got an investment of 40 million a 40 million growth investment from a company called the expedition growth capital um so that's the first part of the message and second is what it also means for us is that we from the first of july officially we have separated as an independent company so we have had a carve out we we've had a carver from kentico so since first of july we're an independent company with an investment and we have big plans to grow that's awesome so the the the name of the new brand yes is going to be content.ai based on your press release right um did you guys talk about the name change because like i know that we've gone through a couple of different brandings so what's the reasoning behind content.ai yeah so for us um i think one of the things that for us is really important is also to let's say make sure that we really differentiate ourselves in the market and what we saw in the last years is if you look at content management in itself and you probably remember the tech line that we already used content better faster and at scale you could say that we saw one of the biggest needs at bigger enterprise organizations when they look at content at scale is that they need help with it and help is help means help in the creation of content it means help in managing the content it means help in publishing the content to the various channels and um we obviously know that when you look at ai it's typically some kind of a we would call it like generic theme that you can put as a bit of an umbrella around like let's say everything that you do and we don't really believe in that like ai is a solution for uh for everything but we really talk about composable ai so when we look at ai we look at where can you leverage artificial intelligence automation in that creation phase in that managing phase or that publishing phase to really help content editors organizations to publish their content more efficiently let me give you a couple of examples like if you for example think about creation phase then you should think about the writing of the content how can you do a sentiment analysis how can you write better content you can automate that and give tips advices you can let's really help content editors to create better content that's one part of the puzzle that you can solve some organizations have a challenge there not all of them if you look at the manageability part then you really should think about like how can you really like leverage for example automated tagging how can you organize an improved seo part so how can you make sure that when you create the content that it also becomes let's say more manageable that it becomes like a valuable piece of content for the organization so you could say that is the part where also some organizations struggle and and then the last part around that um let's say that publication well you can all imagine that with large organizations they want to publish the content in every channel in in in like in every language whatever they want to do and also in that aspect there's a lot of places where automation intelligence really can help improving that publication and you can think about content recommendations you can think about automated publishing deep publishing you can think about like anything that is related really to that publishing and part of the content and also sometimes unpublishing so what we see with content.ai and that's why we also really consciously wanted to take that that name is that if you look at our product strategy where we really want to go is that we really see if you really want to use let's say a modular content platform which content.ais then you really should also help organizations to leverage that and we really believe that if you do it good and very specific we call that composable ai then you really help organizations and that's also where the name comes from so bart as you're looking on the road map to leading to this day what were some of the elements that went into looking for infusion of money we all want that right but uh going into looking for that how long has it kind of been in discussion what were the things that kind of led to looking to that and kind of decoupling yourself a bit from um kentico so i think um when we when we started operating as two independent divisions in in february 2020 we already were aware in our organization that it was really important to let's have these two independent divisions with their own product strategy their own marketing because they were offering a different solution for different markets for a different problem in a sense and for us you could say i think it we realized that it was pretty much a bit of an intermediate situation where we had those two independent divisions and we we really saw that uh with both platforms actually they were running their own let's say development and their own show and probably it's good to mention that also kentico kentico experience also got committed capital as part of the investment so they can also tap into to 20 million investment as well so it's 40 million for content.ai and 20 million committed for also kentico experience and um but for us it was important to really let's say leverage our own identity our own product our own positioning in the market as a standalone company to really accelerate that it's better for the brand recognition in the market for both the product it's better for also for the investor actually to invest in like acceleration in both products so for us it was a really logical step to actually uh move forward it allows us to be really clearly positioned as a headless cms which we also want to be it enables us to join for example the mecca lines which we also will apply for obviously so it gives a lot of opportunity to accelerate both companies actually and that's for us it was really logical choice um i think you know that we come from a bootstrapped company yeah we've always been privately funded so we were also really keen on bringing an investor on board that really also matched uh the dna that we had in the company so we didn't we were not just looking for a shareholder that was just like putting some money on the table uh where if you if you do it well then some individual person gets richer that really didn't fit the culture so we were really looking for a company that would also really help us to support the growth and i think with expedition growth capital uh uk based the fund we really found a company that both from let's say a capital perspective but also from a culture and yeah dna perspective really fits uh fits to our company as well uh we're like from a very sixty thousand foot level part like 40 million is a lot of money uh where which are the major buckets you'll be spending that money on initially in the next year or two in order to get to where you want to get to yeah so i think the the first part obviously is really growing our sales and marketing organization i think we really can leverage the opportunity that we have we really want to invest a lot in our core regions in the us in europe but also in australia new zealand so we really want to enforce our sales and marketing machine that's where you could say where the biggest chunk of our of our investment will go but secondly what i also already mentioned is that we really have strong ambition to really take that composable ai to the next level and so we will also keep investing in a product to really create those you could say specific unique features that are capabilities around that composable ai that will help those organizations to also use the automation there as well so another part of it will go into into our product development as well so you could say those are the two biggest places where the investment will go so again i'm going maybe i'll go 90 000 feet right now but uh at that at the other level very interested in how do the mechanics of the company change with something like this um you know a lot of the core team is still involved i know you'll expand but do the mechanics change is it just a different name on the paycheck or how does what is what happens there well um i would say partly i i think uh we should like i think we developed our company over time and we definitely shouldn't throw away the good things that we already had i think we had for example an awesome playbook in the company well when we started the new company on the first of july we announced it internally we we created our own new playbook but it's not like a brand new playbook that with completely different set of values so that's i would say something that that we will keep it adjusted a little bit to be our own brand um when you look at the organization obviously we are like operating now as an independent company i think one of the things that that you will see changing is that we for example in the us are moving our headquarters to new york because that's where our strongest client base is but the other headquarters you will see we had them in the past in london we will keep it we have it in amsterdam we will keep it but those will all be content.ai specific headquarters so it will be really separated entity um so i think from a like from a structure and dynamics perspective we will not really change um i think what you will see is that we will change in size of scale so if you look at for example our us operations and our european operations for example from a sales organization we're establishing also two really dedicated sales teams we already had sales people in the different regions but we now establish stronger sales teams also with their own vp of sales for the region specifically where we normally manage it from an umbrella but you can imagine that we will grow the company immediately from around 120 people in 2022 when we start to round to 220 people so we want to add 100 new people in the upcoming fiscal year in the upcoming time so you will see like the scale growing very quickly and that's something where you also obviously will see a bit more layers in the organization but fundamentally we're not really changing the organization or the way how we do things so bart um how do you this is an envisioning question so how do you envision this investment affecting your customers and your partners yeah so i think that so first of all i think for the customers i would believe that uh that they will get like if i talk about our existing customers i would expect that they will get more attention that we will have more employee employees we will have more people in product development so we will have let's say a quicker turnaround on new releases new functionality i think we can help the clients better we will have a bigger customer success organization so that's where we scale up obviously we will set up our own 24 7 support organization we actually already started by the first of july it was always a shared one now we have a content dot ai only uh a team um for new clients i think uh what what you will typically see is that we will like obviously uh we will make more noise in the market we will will be more present on events we will be more engaging with gardner and forrester so we i think they will see us more which obviously makes the buy-in for some uh heads of marketing and and ctos and organizations easier so that's i would say the benefit for the clients so it's on the product side it's on the level of attention i think with with the partners what i would expect again obviously when we grow that we don't grow on our own we grow together with partners you are one of our premium partners you know how how we do business so if we are successful and are able to make more noise in a certain market it's also good for our partners because we don't do implementations the clients do the implementations or the clients do implementations with partners so i think also for our partners that acceleration that content of the ai will have in the market will also really have a positive benefit on on them and i think also that the fact that we are now standalone company with a clear proposition a clear product a clear organization uh also if there was still any confusion between like product a and product b uh that shouldn't be there anymore it's very clear you're dealing with content.ai and that's the product and you're a partner for content.ai so i think it also adds a level of clarity as well so how do you envision things for bart with the uh with the change in terms of maybe what you were doing internal facing versus external facing what's kind of exciting you other than the big announcement but just personally yeah so like uh personally for me and it's the announcement itself the fact that we were that we are able to to get it that is i would say one of the biggest i think uh the happinesses are where i'm really proud of and that's really not my effort it's really an effort of the team because we couldn't have done it with the team without the good products and everything so that really makes me proud i'm really proud that i can be the ceo of that amazing team to be honest and for me how i look a bit at the change i think it's important for me specifically to spend more time outside of the company the last two years when we had a split there was still a lot of internal focus on getting the engine running to get our organization foundation really well it was obviously effort and time that we did on the fundraising and i think that's really important we currently have good working teams i don't have to manage them on a day-to-day basis but i think it's really important also for me to visit our key clients to have talks like at events to to sit with the analysts from gardner and forrester and with g2 and so i would envision that i will be a little bit more on the road uh that i will be a bit more out sharing our composable ai story and that's something that i'm really looking forward to because i think uh when you're proud of the company and the product it's it's an amazing opportunity just to go to go out and talk about it and now with the calvin times that travel is possible again uh i'm really looking forward to that so yeah that's what i think will be a big change for me and then bart as part of separating yourself from uh kentico are there gonna be any branding changes i heard there's a color change and your t-shirt kind of matches the color [Laughter] well you saw the new color change in the in the press release and the new website uh well we decided to obviously to really have our own identity so we have a new color this is more accidental because this is not the company color it's a little bit greener but you saw it on the website i think it's it's good and important for us to really uh differentiate ourselves so obviously new branding new logo new color which i think is is really great if you look um we will have a big uh global launch event uh uh with the whole team uh in brno on the 9th of september so we bring everybody uh over to bruno probably that's the only moment in the content dot ai history that we will put a bit of an announcement on our support telling everybody well only if if it's really urgent then you can can call us but don't disturb us too much on the 9th of september but for me it's really important because we now have the opportunity to do so i think we will then we already hired a couple of new people so i think we will then be at around 150 people and i think it's really important to really like give our whole organization a big push towards our new let's say three to five year horizon really discuss and talk about our strategic goals do something fun celebrate a bit of what we did and that's uh that's something i really look look forward to yeah i'm gonna be there for the september ninth part for the nba summit so yeah well i'll tell you oh yeah you you'll probably be there but you will definitely then be on the party in the evening so that would be a really good good for you now but i think it's probably also good to to know that uh we are planning for our horizons again our content or ai horizons conference um we're not sure how to exactly uh how we're exactly going to do it but definitely it will be probably a combination of physical virtual uh probably somewhere two sessions one in the states one in in europe somewhere uh i think in november but but again we need to plan it there's a lot going on these days with a bit of a different priority but but it will come so please keep an eye on that and i think that also uh gives a good opportunity for both clients and partners to really meet and talk a bit about the future of our product and where we're going also with the composable ai and really how we see it what what's on the roadmap and things like that so that's a moment that we will uh definitely ask everybody to mark in their agenda as well apart from that event for mvps and employees and things like that yeah bart i think my final question and you brought up the the covid things kind of being lifted mercifully and being able to travel i'm kind of interested in what it's like to be setting up i guess a new york office coming out of covid and in these times um with the excitement of your announcements but what what has that process been like yeah so that's that's a really good question actually a bit at the end so one of the things that we decided and it's a result obviously of covert time so we were used to work pretty hybrid there people going to the office people being remote but we actually said uh that as a company we want to be a hybrid company from like a way of working we will also publish our playbook probably in the beginning of september publicly and one of the things that we put in there in a sense everybody is working in the hybrid models and what it means is that people are able to go to offices it can be like our headquarters for example in brno but it can be a co-working office so we make sure that if people want to go to an office they're able to do so but we will never enforce people to go to an office and so in a sense it means that people are free to work together when they want work online when they when they want it's not so easy you can easily say it but it's not so easy to execute because it means something in culture it means something in way of communication means something in your heart and software you need to support it in many places and one of the things that we we want to do with all the remote offices is that we most likely we're currently looking at like one of the global providers of co-working spaces could be wework or regis or any of those examples and allowing people that work remote always to come together in an office whether it is in the new york office where we can book meeting rooms and sit together and even work dedicated if people want to be in the office more than once like i know for example in sydney australia that a couple of people really like to go to the office every day well then we will have an office there which is more dedicated and fixed for us so that is how we look at our new way of working and we also said that if we then reach a certain size in a certain location where really a bigger group of people constantly wants to come to the office for example what we have in our headquarters at the moment then we obviously will have a more fixed space that we say well okay this is our fixed office but but we try to really solve it in a different way because we also believe that people like to work remote like to come to an office but not being enforced to to go to an office and also it's very difficult to find talent so why should we limit ourselves to to find talent just in a specific location and try to solve it only there so that that's how we how we look at it and that's why we are setting up an office in new york uh but it will be one of the like for example we work addresses that we like which is close to our clients and if we don't meet them we will meet over there and uh and if we but if we have meetings in los angeles we will go and find a we work space in los angeles or wherever we want yeah it's funny because we talk about composable business right it's the ultimate kind of living manifestation of composable business exactly exactly but it's like it's the same with composable some some vendors say that they're composable they're not really they are like they say that they are we try to do it pure so also with this approach we really allow everybody to decide it for themselves and we mean it um i think we can enforce people to come to the party on the on the 9th of september probably but even if somebody would really say no i don't want it i think we would have a bit of an internal discussion whether we would really then try to push somebody or not i think then it's more about seduction of the great party but but that's how how we really want to live it and we saw in the kovit times it doesn't compromise how you can deliver service to clients or partners or but you need to ensure that you have your procedures and your way of working set up in the way like that and yeah we learned that over the years obviously and bart um final question for me is peter still involved if so in what capacity in the new company yeah so peter will be the the chairman of the board so probably of course peter will still be one of the founders and uh also still one of the owners so so peter will be the chairman of the board and he will be actually in the board for two companies so i i will see peter uh uh at least on a quarterly board meeting but but uh peter and i have uh regular uh conversations whether it's like uh once uh every uh month or once every week or that's something that we need to figure out a little bit what what works but peter will definitely be engaged but in a more uh like a distant role as a non-executive member of the team yeah well bart thank you for giving us this opportunity to share the news with the world with you uh congratulations again that's awesome news we didn't know until we got on got on the call yeah um so this is really cool thank you so much yeah thank you and uh looking forward to see you in in september well probably you on the 12th of september then as well uh i met you but we'll we'll see if we can make it but thanks guys and yeah let's let's stay in touch awesome [Music] you

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