Srinath Sridhar – regie.ai – Getting Ready for AI-Powered Everything
Quote of the Show
I do think it won't be the way people anticipate it to be. It's not going to be a drop-in replacement for an SDR where you're going to do calls and emails. It's going to be higher quality, more personalized, and more one-to-one communication rather than bots spewing lots of random stuff. It's going to be more human than automated at the end of the day
- People end up doing new things as opposed to people being “replaced by AI”.
- Creativity will be the last thing AI will touch but will take the mundane stuff away first. The opposite of this has actually happened.
- Personalization at scale has become even more granular with our technology today.
- Focus on keywords where your competitors are ranking and where you don’t have content yet.
- Don’t react too much to what others are doing and fall into a FOMO trap.
Episode 105 – Srinath Sridhar – regie.ai
Jared Robin: Hello, I’m Jared Robin, host of “Revenue Today,” and I’m joined by Srinath Sridhar, CEO and co-founder of reggie.ai.
Srinath Sridhar: Hey everyone.
Jared Robin: Glad to have you here. I wanted to bring you on the show, especially since we officially entered the age of AI a couple of weeks ago. Someone like you, who’s been immersed in this world, knows that the availability of commoditized GPT-3 has brought changes, right?
Srinath Sridhar: Absolutely, things have changed a lot. It’s hard to believe that GPT-3 has only been around for 10 weeks. It’s quite mind-blowing. GPT-3 itself came out around January 2021, and fine-tuning came out in ’21, so it’s been about two years. The progress we’ve made as a community in the last two years and even the last two months is unbelievable.
Jared Robin: It’s indeed an exciting time. People are enthusiastic about AI, yet curious about its implications. Let’s debunk some myths. One prominent myth about AI that you’d like to address?
Srinath Sridhar: Certainly, especially in our context, let’s talk about AI in sales. Many think AI will replace humans, but history shows that new roles emerge due to automation rather than replacement. For instance, in sales, AI can help personalize communication instead of replacing salespeople.
Jared Robin: So, AI can enhance rather than replace. But there’s concern about AI taking jobs. Does it create new jobs or just fix inefficiencies?
Srinath Sridhar: It’s a combination. Take the example of automated sales emails. Instead of replacing sales development roles, tools like outreach have expanded those roles because they offer a centralized platform. Similarly, AI will streamline tasks, but it won’t eliminate the need for human involvement.
Jared Robin: That makes sense. AI’s impact on sales is multifaceted. Let’s explore how it transforms sales processes.
Srinath Sridhar: Certainly. Reggie.ai focuses on writing tools for sales, particularly emails. We might expand into creating sales collateral like case studies or testimonials in the future.
Jared Robin: But what about broader AI applications in sales?
Srinath Sridhar: Here’s a novel idea: personalized voicemail drops using AI. Imagine customized voice communication layered over emails. AI can tailor communication based on prospects’ pain points and value propositions. AI can also extend to images.
Jared Robin: Personalized voice communication does sound intriguing. Now, the big question: Will AI replace cold calling?
Srinath Sridhar: I don’t think AI will replace cold calling entirely. Even from a technology perspective, it’s a bit distant. The vision won’t be a complete replacement. Rather, AI will enhance communication quality.
Jared Robin: And how can companies leverage AI in its raw form for efficiency?
Srinath Sridhar: AI can foster creativity by generating starting points, outlines, and content structures. It’s a game-changer for content creation. It might not do everything, but it can eliminate writer’s block and facilitate content development, like blogs, social posts, and thought leadership pieces.
Jared Robin: Additionally, AI integration with platforms like Google Sheets can be valuable.
Srinath Sridhar: Indeed, early integrations are emerging. AI’s incorporation into various platforms, like Google Sheets, PowerPoint, and Word, will likely increase, making tasks more seamless.
Host: Jared Robin: You made a really interesting point. In the context of the Reggie tool, which focuses on writing sales emails, I think it’s crucial to emphasize that while GPT-3 is powerful, it’s not a standalone solution for every company. It needs to be trained, tweaked, and combined with other algorithms to truly cater to specific use cases, CTAs, or conversions. Can you walk me through this process of building and refining AI solutions like Reggie’s?
Guest: Srinath Sridhar: Certainly. You’re absolutely right. GPT-3 is a starting point, but customization is key for it to align with specific needs. In the case of Reggie, we integrate with sales engagement platforms like Outreach and SalesLoft. We analyze the data within those platforms: sales sequences, their performance, target personas, value propositions, and pain points. This data informs how we generate content. However, out of the box, GPT-3 doesn’t have this specialized content. The future lies in tapping into private data sources unique to each company. Just as you mentioned, your e-commerce algorithms needed to adjust to different sites, here too, customization is essential.
Host: Jared Robin: Indeed, personalization at scale requires a multi-layered approach. So, for Reggie, you have AI as a broader concept, AI tailored for sales, and AI tailored even more specifically for individual clients like AT&T or Salesforce. Can you elaborate on these distinct levels of customization?
Guest: Srinath Sridhar: Absolutely. Personalization is multifaceted. Initially, we personalize content for a company’s brand and voice. The next layer is customizing for the recipient’s preferences, pain points, and needs. However, the future involves even deeper personalization: writing content that reflects the unique style and voice of the sender themselves.
Host: Jared Robin: This evolution of personalization is fascinating. So, how does Reggie learn and adapt in this environment, particularly in scenarios where human involvement is crucial?
Guest: Srinath Sridhar: Currently, our feedback mechanism relies on the sales development reps (SDRs) to input data. If a call is made and a sequence is stopped, the SDR provides call dispositions. While we’re not fully automated, we work with this manual input to improve. As for platforms like LinkedIn, SDRs still need to compose their own messages, but Reggie assists by offering content and pulling relevant information from LinkedIn.
Host: Jared Robin: The interaction between AI and human involvement is clear. Let’s talk about KPIs. What are some key performance indicators that Reggie focuses on?
Guest: Srinath Sridhar: Our primary KPI is fostering personalized one-on-one communication. For sales teams, this translates to the number of personalized emails sent. We want to enable humans to engage on a personal level. Additionally, we look at the time saved through automation and personalization.
Host: Jared Robin: And what about expanding AI beyond emails? Can Reggie assist in other communication channels like phone calls and LinkedIn messages?
Guest: Srinath Sridhar: Absolutely. Reggie can help write call scripts and sequences, as well as personalized LinkedIn messages. Our goal is to enhance the quality of communication across various touchpoints.
Host: Jared Robin: As personalization becomes more intricate, what role does data integration and AI play in transforming sales and go-to-market strategies?
Guest: Srinath Sridhar: Data integration is vital for building cohesive AI-powered strategies. For instance, integrating AI across sales engagement, CRM, CMS, and even website interactions would offer a comprehensive view. This holistic approach would enable efficient communication tailored to individuals, leading to more effective go-to-market strategies.
Host: Jared Robin: It’s impressive to consider the intricate web of integrations and possibilities you’re describing. Integrating with CMS systems, such as when a PDF is opened, brings in additional signals that might not be present in sales engagement platforms (SAPs). Similarly, the potential integration with website activities, such as tracking blog post engagement and even sending personalized inbound messages, demonstrates the dynamic future of AI in sales.
Guest: Srinath Sridhar: Indeed, the convergence of AI and data-driven tools is an exciting prospect. We’re witnessing a simultaneous evolution of AI and tool aggregation that opens new opportunities. Rather than connecting to numerous tools individually, we can potentially integrate with a centralized operating system like Syncy or Fig that aggregates data. This consolidation offers the ability to answer complex questions using AI and data from various sources, thereby shaping more effective strategies.
Host: Jared Robin: The synergy you describe between AI and data integration is remarkable. I can imagine how this would lead to refined strategies. Speaking of strategies, how does Reggie’s role extend to content creation, like writing blogs?
Guest: Srinath Sridhar: While content creation isn’t our primary focus, Reggie can indeed help with writing blogs. However, our true strength lies in closing the loop between content and sales engagement. This connection is where the magic happens. Optimizing content based on data-driven insights and aligning it with sales efforts is our core objective.
Host: Jared Robin: Your approach is about holistic alignment. You’re optimizing content generation and distribution, taking it full circle to impact sales engagement and other aspects. Given the transformative potential of your work, what’s your perspective on the current state of AI and its future implications?
Guest: Srinath Sridhar: It’s truly a remarkable time to be in AI. We’re fortunate to be operating in this pivotal period, where AI’s maturity and tool aggregation are creating unprecedented possibilities. The key challenge is to stay focused on our unique path and not be swayed by reactive tendencies. Keeping the big picture in mind and leveraging AI for original strategies will be crucial in achieving long-term success.
Host: Jared Robin: The balancing act between innovation and the pull of trends is undoubtedly demanding. The fact that you’re shaping your unique path in this evolving landscape speaks volumes about your commitment to your vision. Thank you for sharing your insights on AI, its application, and the exciting future it holds.
Jared Robin: The, the FOMO trap is is a good thing if you’re not getting into it, from the sense that it, [00:39:00] it’ll take care of your competitors on its own.
Srinath Sridhar: Yeah, exactly. And it’s a long game. Like, look, everybody is looking at Chad g p d last 10 weeks that it’s been out, and everybody’s like, what’s my Chad G pd?
Realistically, you know, this is going to play out over the next 10 years, so sure you can react to it in the next 10 weeks. You can react to it in the next 10 months, but let’s see where everybody is in the next five years, because the good stuff will take time to come out. It’s not gonna be
Jared Robin: instinct.
What, what do you think is the future of. Chat, G P t ai, I mean, I, I, I know G P T four is literally the future, but like, what, what do you think is gonna come out with all of that?
Srinath Sridhar: Yeah. One of the big advances that will happen is logical and math reasoning will get dramatically better. So, you know, the beauty of the AI systems that we have today, , [00:40:00] it has been very, very hard to teach ai, English grammar, if you think about it.
And Grammarly, the state-of-the-art system really actually doesn’t know too much grammar. All that it, for the most part does is look at four words at a time, count the frequency and try to see if the four words that you have in sequence is less frequent than the most frequent. And if so, they have a human annotator to look at all combinations of four words and tell.
Why, why? This is probably grammatically incorrect, but we could never teach computers grammar. But the beauty of it is we need, did not need to teach computers, grammar for it to write long form content. It just learned it by itself, right? Like we didn’t teach it anything. If you look at open AI and GB three, we just circumvented the problem altogether.
Same thing will happen to math. We have been forever trying to do these techniques of theater improving and so on, where we have been trying to teach math to computers. And we made very incremental progress. Exact same thing that ham happened to. Grammar is [00:41:00] gonna happen to math and logical reasoning where the computers will just start picking it up as opposed to you trying to teach it addition and multiplication and all of this stuff, it’s just gonna pick it up.
So I think math is gonna see a lot of advance logical reasoning is gonna see a lot of advance. So those are immediate. And this is where again, we will be caught off guard because you don’t know how they will I. with the language tools that we are building today. Right? And those are the kind of cool things where you will have these intersections of things that’s hard to see today, but that’ll happen in the very near future.
And then in the medium term, you’re gonna have multiple modalities for sure. So, images, videos audios. all coming together simultaneously. Those are all gonna happen.
Jared Robin: The images is an interesting one cuz my partner is a creative director for a major magazine. Mm-hmm. . And it rubs her the wrong way for a couple of reasons.
One, because it really could put people out of business in mm-hmm. in, in that [00:42:00] space. Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. , but also because to create a new image. Mm-hmm. , you need to infringe on copy. That’s right. Mm-hmm. . Okay. They’re taking images that are copywritten to create either inspiration or pieces of something else and cutting out the other folks.
And and it’s a very slippery slope. That’s right. Mm-hmm. with, with, with, with art in particular, like math. That’s right. Mm-hmm. . Writing. Sure. And, and, and with math, like if you were to ask it the hardest question ever and there’s no citation or anything and, and Yep. People don’t know it. How do you know the answer’s?
Srinath Sridhar: That’s right. No, not just that. I mean, uh, to a certain extent, Math has similar problems as well. Like, I come, I, I guess I didn’t give my introduction at the beginning. You know, I,
Jared Robin: my, I was, I was about to go into tell me more about
Srinath Sridhar: you . Go into a little bit of my background. You know, I come from the academic world.
I did a PhD in computer science from Carnegie [00:43:00] Mellon, so I come from the ai, computer science side of things as opposed to the sales side of things. in academia, people would get pissed off when you do not cite them. Like pissed is like an understatement, you know? And so that is a, that is a little bit of problem even there, like if it, it’s where you draw the line.
Nobody’s gonna be pissed off if you used a simple, well known fact in. , but everyone will be pissed off if I actually came up with a theorem that you used to prove your own theorem, but you did not cite. I will be pissed off as hell. So the same sort of copyright stuff applies that as well. But it’s, it all depends on, you know what, just because you use yellow or red doesn’t violate copyright.
But if you took my picture and you ripped it off, you know I’m gonna be pissed. Right? So that is a line, [00:44:00] I think all the agencies are gonna have to figure out where that line is clearly. . And that’s also where
Jared Robin: it’s gonna be hard to trace cuz if there’s 200 pictures to make one mm-hmm. , two people might recognize and, and 1 98 might never realize that they were infringed.
Srinath Sridhar: Yeah. Same is true even with citations and so on. And yeah, academic bit like, you know, because niche communities. That you may not cite somebody. You, they may have already proven it before. That’s the other thing. If somebody has already proven this before and you actually pretend as though you’re proving it for the first time, they will be pissed.
You know, and these fights get fought all the time. But, but now it’s
Jared Robin: the AI. Correct. Serving it up exactly correct. To more than just one person who’s a renegade. Exactly. Correct. Serving it up to dozens of people. That’s
Srinath Sridhar: exactly correct. So I think a bunch of regulatory bodies will have to figure some of these things out on the general purpose side, [00:45:00] but that’s also where I think specialized systems are in the clear.
Srinath Sridhar: If you’re an internal system within a large pharma company, most of the specialists are internal to the company, so they have a deep understanding of the in-house processes. On the other hand, if you’re an academic attempting to publish something, you’ll need to be cautious about what you copy and paste.
Domain specialization can assist in navigating these challenges. However, general-purpose systems face more significant issues in this regard.
Jared Robin: Your journey has been quite remarkable, starting from your early days as an intern to your present position. Can you tell us more about your journey?
Srinath Sridhar: Indeed, it’s been an incredible journey. I began at Facebook during its early stages, which was a highly idealistic and uncertain time. Despite the initial uncertainty, Facebook has evolved into a trillion-dollar company, and I’ve witnessed its transformation. Initially, the focus was on building a community, with little emphasis on monetization. This period marked the start of the vision to connect humanity. After a few years, I left to establish BloomReach, a big data and AI infrastructure company. I’ve experienced multiple shifts in these high-demand trends, which has provided me with valuable insights into various technological domains.
Jared Robin: It’s interesting to note your laid-back West Coast demeanor juxtaposed with your significant AI expertise. On a lighter note, you mentioned road trips with your wife. What’s the most remarkable road trip you’ve experienced?
Srinath Sridhar: I have a deep appreciation for California, from the majestic Sierra Mountains to the stunning beaches. However, if I had to choose a dream destination, it would be New Zealand. The natural beauty and friendly people make it an appealing place to visit.
Jared Robin: If a trip to New Zealand isn’t feasible, watching “The Lord of the Rings” films might offer a similar experience.
Srinath Sridhar: Absolutely, the films capture the allure of the landscape. I’m endlessly captivated by natural beauty and find it difficult to tire of such places.
Jared Robin: Transitioning back to Reggie AI, I’m truly intrigued. How can people learn more and connect with you?
Srinath Sridhar: Anyone interested can reach me via email at [email protected]. Additionally, I’m active on LinkedIn and open to discussions about AI, Reggie, and related topics.
Jared Robin: This conversation has been insightful, and I believe our audience will find it valuable. Your insights have shed light on several important aspects. Thank you for your time and participation.
Srinath Sridhar: Thank you, Jared. It’s been a pleasure being part of this conversation.