Ep. #1052 - 3D Commerce
Who’s back in the studio to dive into 3D commerce? The third founder for our Top Kansas City Startups series is in.
In today’s episode of Startup Hustle, Matt DeCoursey interviews Jasper Mullarney, CEO and co-founder of Epigraph. After his previous episode in 2020 about Visualization Technology, he came back to discuss 3D commerce. Learn how to increase sales conversions in your e-commerce store through new technologies.
Interested to learn more about all the businesses spotlighted in our Top Kansas City Startups 2023? Get to know them in this overview article.
Covered In This Episode
The future of e-commerce marketing is in 3D commerce. But what is 3D commerce? And what does the future look like using new technologies?
Get a sneak peek of the future with Matt and Jasper’s conversation. The founders also share insights on how augmented reality can change the game of your sales funnel. And all other exciting techs you can use for your e-commerce business.
Take a journey to the future with 3D commerce. Listen to this Startup Hustle episode now.
- Jasper’s journey (02:51)
- 3D digitization of products (04:05)
- Why are sales stats essential for a seller? (05:34)
- Augmented reality as a tiebreaker in the sales funnel (07:36)
- Major obstacles before getting Epigraph to what it is today (09:59)
- How Epigraph builds the model (12:37)
- How to make Epigraph more user-friendly for the non-tech savvy (14:44)
- The future of smart glasses (16:13)
- All about the Metaverse (17:29)
- Disruptors in the tech industry (19:00)
- Recent developments of Epigraph (22:36)
- Retail media is more critical for brands (24:57)
- Marketing for Yamaha’s Amazon content (29:21)
- How does Epigraph generate revenue? (32:26)
- Is building and managing software easy? (33:17)
Critically important for the steps that I can throw up for our product or if a user engages with us, augmented reality specifically, that’s a 3-5 times increase in conversion rate. And then, also session value tends to increase dramatically as well. So we’re seeing average session values, like one to three minutes.– Jasper Mullarney
Don’t fool yourself, people. Amazon is a search engine, and it is actually, in my opinion, the most powerful search engine when it comes to selling anything. Google’s designed for tire kickers and research. Amazon is designed for buyers.– Matt DeCoursey
Over the long term, it’s very easy to get kind of emotional about some of that tumult that comes at us every day. You know, the more stoic you can be about the challenges that come up, the more you realize that the challenges are there for you to solve.– Jasper Mullarney
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Following is an auto-generated text transcript of this episode. Apologies for any errors!
Matt DeCoursey 00:00
And we’re back! Back for another episode of Startup Hustle. Matt DeCoursey here to have another conversation I’m hoping helps your business grow. Speaking of helping your business grow, if you sell anything, doesn’t it sell a lot better when people have a better view of it? Like you’re trying to buy something wherever it is that you buy stuff. And if you’ve got great pictures, you have great imagery, or maybe even the ability to see it right in front of you, you’re more likely to buy. We’re going to talk about how that test translated into 3D commerce. Before I introduce today’s guests and the accolades that come along with today’s guests, I need to let you know that today’s show is powered by FullScale.io. Hiring software developers is difficult, and Full Scale can help you build a software team quickly and affordably and has the platform to help you manage that team. Go to FullScale.io. There is a link in the show notes to make it easier. If you’re not aware, that’s my company. I love talking to Startup Hustle listeners on our site, so fill out the form. Let’s have a chat and see if we can find some solutions. With me today, I’ve got a return guest and the CEO and co-founder of one of Startup Hustle’s Top Kansas City Startups on our 23 lists. I’ve got Jasper Maloney, CEO and co-founder of Epigraph. You go to Epigraph.us. Don’t try to spell that on your own. Just scroll down to that link in the show notes. Click and take a look at it. You can even do that while I’m talking to Jasper, so you can see the cool stuff that they’re doing. But without further ado, Jasper, welcome back to the show. It’s been a while.
Jasper Mullarney 01:33
Thanks for having me. Great to be here.
Matt DeCoursey 01:35
I think you were actually a guest. Like when we had the very first studio that we haven’t been in for like three and a half years. We had to turn into a conference room after we would record, and sometimes sounded like one while we were recording because there was another conference room next door. So thanks for helping us grow through that. But yeah, I mean, so congrats on being on our top startup list. Well-deserved. And, you know, let’s start a conversation. But I know not everyone’s probably listened to that episode. It’s pretty deep in the feed. But let’s get a little more about your backstory.
Jasper Mullarney 02:11
Sure, sure. So I originally got here at 16 and started my career in ad tech in about 2002. And then, from there, sort of did various things. And ad tech was part of that knowledge. About five years ago, I got into a conversation with my neighbor and his colleague about where 3D commerce might go, right? So what’s going to happen with the future of 3D visualization? And what do you know about what the ecosystem is going to become? That’s now referred to as the metaverse and by all these other terms. But the market kind of came up to meet the idea that we had a few years ago. So yeah, we celebrated five years or are celebrating five years about now, and have grown pretty significantly since then.
Matt DeCoursey 02:49
Well, congratulations on the five-year thing because that’s actually a significant number for new businesses. Because if you make it five years, you usually make it right. Like past that, like, that’s the most treacherous. Well, the first year is the most treacherous. The first two years were almost equally treacherous. And then maybe you figure out a little bit more about what you’re doing or how to do it or who you’re doing it with. And, you know, for you, you’re, I would imagine that even just from the last time we recorded or five years ago when it comes to technology. So what your company does is 3D digitization of products and things, right?
Jasper Mullarney 03:25
Yeah, essentially that. So when you think about going to a site today, generally products like furniture, power tools, outdoor power equipment, which are the verticals that we cover, they’ll have photographs, maybe they’ll have a 360 spinner, right. So instead of images that present the product, we actually make 3D versions of those products and find different ways to get them in front of consumers. So augmented reality is the one that’s the big push. That’s kind of a sub-Metaverse product that we expect to really blow up when smart glasses are released. But in the shorter term, being a mostly bootstrap company, we also create solutions for desktops that are very valuable. Such things like 3D configurators, Product Tours, and other things drive session duration session value conversion rates just by capturing a user’s interest and engagement on those product detail pages.
Matt DeCoursey 04:16
But the truth of the matter is that a better picture of our visual experience translates to exactly more sales.
Jasper Mullarney 04:22
Yeah, that’s the whole point.
Matt DeCoursey 04:24
So, you know, are there actual stats that you’re aware of or anything that we can drop there? Like? I know that when we talk to Andrew Morgans, our resident e-commerce guy who sells people and helps people sell more stuff on Amazon, you know, he’ll tell me, yeah, realistically, whenever they bring a new brand in or work with someone, just assume that they’re going to have to redo like everything visual for them. So, like, how important is that for a seller?
Jasper Mullarney 04:54
Critically important for the steps that I can throw up for our product or if a user engages with us augmented reality specifically, that’s a three to 5x increase in conversion rate. And then also session value tends to increase dramatically as well. So we’re seeing average session values, sort of like one to three minutes. If you’ve got a good audience of users, ours are over 10. And in a lot of cases for configurators, it’s higher than that. And the really nice thing about this is we can look at analytics and tie every engagement back to $1 amount using session value. So I can go to a company and say you made 10% more revenue this year because you had our product configurator on your site, and we go for it, you know, the rule of thumb in SAS, at least in ad tech, SAS is it’s a 10x. So whatever you paid us, you should make 10x that back in ROI. It’s proven to be largely true. I mean, it’s if you average everything that we do, but everyone that we work with sees a strong ROI.
Matt DeCoursey 05:50
Remember the first time I ever had to calculate a conversion rate and compare it to ads. And I talked about this a little in my book, Million Dollar Bedroom. We were driving people to a marketplace site where people bought and sold concert tickets. And I remember thinking ahead of that because I’d like to create a hypothesis whenever I’m like, Oh, it’ll take me 10 ad clicks to get a sale, and it took me like 61st off. And then it was really expensive. And it didn’t take me long to realize I had a negative return on those. And I was like, Wow, we had, so that’s not very good. And you talked about increasing your conversion rate by three to 5x. That’s phenomenal. Because that also makes your other numbers. That point is it makes your other numbers a hell of a lot more palatable if you’re paying because clicks can be expensive. It depends on what you sell. But you know, one of them, I was talking to a friend of mine that sells foundation repair products for your home, they pay like 300 bucks for a lead. And those clicks are like 50 to 60 bucks a click, yeah, click so 10 people could click on that ad, and that’s 600 bucks, you might not even sell anything.
Jasper Mullarney 06:56
Yeah, that’s incredibly competitive. I mean, so you think about the other benefits as well. So if you have increased session duration, that improves SEO, so they’re upstream of higher funnel benefits to our product, just from that sort of capture of that final conversion with augmented reality or a configurator. We see it as sort of a tiebreaker. A customer’s researching a product, you know, they’re deep in the funnel about to make a conversion. What we do causes them to be more likely to go with our customer’s product than a competitor who might not have this level of visualization.
Matt DeCoursey 07:28
When you say configurator, you mean me as the buyer or user. I can change colors.
Jasper Mullarney 07:33
Or we actually built one that is an entire bathroom remodel product for a company that pays a lot of money for leads as well. So you can go in and design your whole room. You can pick out all the surfaces, your bathtub, your faucets, and all the rest. We’re also doing it for craftsmen for their toolboxes. And in that case, you can drop it in augmented reality in your garage and make sure it fits when you’re finished configuring it.
Matt DeCoursey 07:57
So I’m gonna start with the people that are coming tomorrow to just clean my garage. Okay, that’s where I’m at in my life. Yeah, to literally pay people to come and do my rat’s nest called my garage. I know. Yeah, I know. I know. So, folks, this stuff isn’t simple. The other episode, I think I’ve, and I think you probably know, Joelle tap play and Heather over at Canberra. And because they do use computer vision to actually sell an app, they’re their biggest user, paint makers. So you can see that, you know, his story is kind of funny, because he created that paint app and like, put it up and it went viral. And he got like 100,000 downloads or something crazy like that, and like a week, and then, and he was like, wow, so I didn’t get paid for any of these. But yeah, the complexity of that stuff. But he really opened my eyes to it because you know, computers and the display you see on your monitors are 2D, but your perception of what’s on the monitor can be 3D. And to talk about its complexity of it. He’s like, Well, look at the corner of your room. It’s so much more shadowy than this other side that, I mean, there’s a lot of tricky stuff to it. And I was like, wow, this is a lot more difficult. So with what you’re doing, I mean, where’s what’s the major obstacle and everything that you’ve had to climb over to get good at this stuff?
Jasper Mullarney 09:19
Sure. I mean, there’s a lot there. And I’ll say that our approach is a little bit different in that we’re generally using Apple and Google technology to drive the experiences with users on the device level. So we figured that the big platforms are going to create a lot of computer vision technology in terms of things like floor sensing and wall sensing and things like that. So our challenges then are, you know, we have to build a content management system, we have to make sure that it’s set up properly on a CDN, we have to make sure that’s all secure, so Ace Hardware is an exclusive provider for 3D You work with any retailer, you have to have every piece of your security buttoned up, right you’ve got to log visitors to your office, and you know, go through ISO and our sock compliance, and there are a lot of things that you have to go through to get there, you should pay for expensive cyber insurance. So those were major Hill’s decline that gave us a real competitive advantage. The other part is just figuring out exactly how to get users to engage with the product. Right? So right now, we see on a good product detail page five to 10% of people engaged with AR. If that number goes up, it does not dilute the results, but five to 10 percent, is not a very high number. So how do you get it to be 15? Or 20%? Right? And that’s a UI question that we deal with a lot. So it’s interesting. We’ve been having a lot of discussions internally about product market fit. Well, we’ve developed something that people will pay for that user, like at least this the number of users that engage, and that’s, that’s driving ROI. We’ve also had a market that’s moved all over the place in the past three years. When I speak to, you know, VCs or other sorts of advisors and outside parties about our business, I say, Well, imagine you’re the VP of Marketing for furniture or a power tools company. Thinking about it more recently. Imagine you’ve been the VP of a power tools or furniture company for the past three years. What has your life been like? How many decisions do you have to make day to day, what products you’re going to buy, what’s important, and your entire shift, right? There’s, there’s just, it’s been so volatile on the market side of that. So that’s been, that’s been something that we’ve had to pay very, very close attention to.
Matt DeCoursey 11:25
So how do you build the model? Because I feel like and forgive me for I probably should have listened to the episode that we recorded. Actually, do we record that virtually? Or did you come to the studio? I mentioned our studio. It was virtual. Okay. All right. I would be remiss and probably not honest if I said I had a crystal clear memory of the 750 of these I’ve recorded, so it gets to be challenging. I feel like you told me before, were you building those off of like the schematics charts, like you don’t actually have to have the object?
Jasper Mullarney 11:57
That’s right. Yeah. So we are using CAD. We almost never see physical products. Sometimes we need samples for very specific surfaces and things like that. So we do work with RH formerly Restoration Hardware, they sent us some leather samples to scan because their leather is very specific, gotta get bites on their cows and all this other stuff that’s very difficult to visualize accurately. So but most of the time, we don’t need the physical product. So when you think about COVID, and not needing physical products, that gave us a bit of a tailwind, and makes life a bit easier for that VP of Marketing, what makes it harder is when all their products are sold out, or all the stores and they’re waiting for more or more recently, when they have a surplus, a surplus of products. And they’re trying to figure out how best to price them and when the consumer dollars are there. So yeah, it’s been a really interesting time to build this type of product.
Matt DeCoursey 12:47
You know, marketplaces in general are I find them to be really fascinating, because anybody that that wants to build one and you know, for startup founders, that you’re helpful, or you’re getting started, listen to what I’m going to say, because people overestimate the difficulty of populating the marketplace. And you know, and whether you say, Oh, my thing isn’t a marketplace. That’s it. I mean, LinkedIn is a marketplace in some regards, like you have to they sell job ads, it’s like a big driver, what they do, if you don’t have, if you don’t have applicants, and you don’t have people hire in the you don’t, you can have a whole bunch of one and none of the other. And if that’s the case, you got nothing. Now, part of that is often about awareness. And one of the things you said a few minutes ago was like the engagement. And that could be a UI instance, I have actually liked that I was, you know, I’ve actually visited sites and really been researching stuff. And then you’re there like 20 minutes later, you’re like, oh, this would have been nice to know this was here 19 minutes ago. How did you fix that? How do you get because not everyone I know is used to having this kind of stuff? And three years ago or five years ago? Probably certainly not. How do you even know it exists? Like, how did you tackle that issue? Or what do you what do you do about that?
Jasper Mullarney 14:04
Sure. So like with ace is a good example, you know, their demographic trends are a little older, a little less tech savvy, we built in some educational content on the PDP to actually show what was going to happen when they click that view in your space button. Another part of it is just making sure that button is visible, making sure people are actually there engaging with it, we have another customer furnish, who has that button twice on their PDPs. And that did a lot for engagement. So as the user is scrolling and learning about their product, they’re getting more opportunities to engage with our technology because we know how valuable that engagement is. The other piece of it that’s helpful is you mentioned Amazon, they are building out this product, we are a partner of theirs. So we have five brands that live on Amazon. The more companies that propagate things like augmented reality, the more users will engage with them, the more used to it again. So it’s sort of the consumer population that gets educated outside of Epigraph and then comes up to meet us and engages with our experiences when they see them. And those experiences are becoming more and more standardized. So view in your space is kind of the term of art for it, which we did trademark, actually. So that’s going to be fun. But so there is some standardization occurring and we’re seeing more and more consumers engage. All of this, though, is preparing for smart glasses. At the point smart glasses are released, then it becomes table stakes for anybody selling any three dimensional sort of hard object or piece of furniture. And that’s sort of what we’ve been building towards since we started five years ago.
Matt DeCoursey 15:31
When is that common? We don’t know. I feel like I’ve been hearing about it. I asked. I’ve been hearing about AI. I remember like when Google Glasses came out, and that was a decade ago. Yeah. Yeah. And I don’t ever see anyone walking around with them.
Jasper Mullarney 15:45
Google Glass or the Palm Pilot, right? So a pilot came out, you know, it was a great smart device that did a lot of things but it didn’t read and reach a sort of critical mass in terms of consumer maybe because you had to learn how to use a specific graffiti language to really be fast at it.
Matt DeCoursey 15:55
And I know that because my sister actually learned it and I was like, really? I’m not going to learn how to write hieroglyphics like I struggle with the English language enough on Sundays. But yeah, so So I mean, as that I cuz you are here. Here’s the thing. We’ve had a lot of episodes we did last year. Watson and I did a 10 part series about NFT’s. If you want to get to the start of that, it’s really easy to find the episode WTF as an NF T. And we traveled down, you know, we did 10 episodes with a, there was a lot of Metaverse stuff in there. And you know, I think there’s a lot of people waiting for this widespread adoption of some of that, but at the same time I think the people that are into it are into it. And then there’s everyone else. So how are we getting everyone else in there?
Jasper Mullarney 16:49
Yes, I agree. And Metaverse has been thrown around and means lots of different things depending on where you are on the market. I’ll say that I met with VML here recently and they were talking a bit about some of their investments for their advertisers in metaverse. I’m not convinced the metaverse as the term is generally used is not Farmville, right, we all saw that glow up Farmville was huge for a few years. It was this virtual world, people spend real money in it, and then it just kind of died. I think there are much broader uses of the technology similar to sort of crypto and NFT, as well, where you’ll have bubbles and sort of a lot of enthusiasm around very specific use cases. But they don’t become mainstream. I think there are mainstream use cases out there for those things. And I think there will be them for AR as well. So think about your walking around the city. So I went to Italy over the summer . If you’ve ever been to Venice, it’s amazing, right? I don’t know how people found a way around that thing prior to having any kind of technology. So I’m walking around holding my phone trying to figure out how to get to the restaurant, I’m going to imagine I’m wearing smart glasses, and there’s a heads up display overlay for maps that shows me exactly where to go, I don’t have to pull anything out of my pocket. And I can experience the world I’m in a bit better. That’s the easy, low hanging fruit use case. There are plenty of others like that, you know, mapping the interiors of buildings and stores. If you are out shopping, and you’re trying to find something, it’ll guide you to where it is and store. So those things will push the mass adoption that will get us to, you know, critical mass of this being a really important, you know, dominant screen. So eventually, the prediction is that instead of holding up a phone in our hand, most of the time we spend on the screen will be some kind of smart class or contact lens. At that point, you’re buying a couch. Why would you look at two dimensional images of a couch when you can look at a photorealistic 3D one. That’s where we think it’ll go. There are rumblings all the time about Apple releasing their products. This rumbles that there’ll be one this year, you know, Magic Leap has a ton of investment in it. Facebook’s Meadows got their own investments in it. Amazon has a bunch of patents that are really interesting, interesting as well. So I’m not sure when we have to build value in the meantime, like I said, but there’s always something that breaks the dam.
Matt DeCoursey 18:59
And you know, like so chat GPT obviously kind of took the world by storm. And it’s not that I was new. It’s not that actually what it does was new, but it was useful. It was easy to use as it produced something that didn’t require a bunch of added in when it came out. And now that I say break the dam, I feel like it broke the dam on a lot of stuff because all of a sudden beings trying to compete with Google again, Google is releasing more and it’s like in here it comes because I it’s I don’t know, there seems to be I don’t know what that’s going to be with that. That technology. I mean, honestly, from my perspective, I’m not like a big gamer. You know, like when I bought a PlayStation five I played it three times, and now my kids have a PlayStation five because it was for me it wasn’t for them in the beginning but yeah. But you know, without the part of you that you talked about like the AR and the VR stuff like I just haven’t been able to adopt the whole concept of wearing a giant headset. You know, like, that’s still just like, I don’t know, but you look at something like a pair of glasses, which I went for two years of my life to not require. And now I can’t read my own phone without them. Like, that’s a lot more tangible. And some of those regards. And I mean, it’s common. It’s common, like you mentioned, even like a contact lens, like it’s common, because it just everything gets smaller. Right? And what Elon released in that what the thing? I don’t know if I want to be the first user of the thing you attached to your brain? No, I’m definitely or maybe I do. Who knows? Like, I don’t know, like, if that’s like the limitless pill than anywhere, do I? Where do I get my refill on those? Speaking of refills, if you need to refill are fine software developers for your team, we make that quick, easy and affordable at Full Scale. And now all you gotta do is go to FullScale.io. Click that button that says hire developers, it takes less than two minutes for us to ask what we need and pair you up with people that are hopefully the experts at what you need them to do. You know, that’s always a challenge for so many technology providers. And we’ll get the people the process and the platform to help you with that. All right. So when it comes to like, the like, we talked about this a while ago, so I looked back at the notes, and I apologize. So it was a year and a half ago. Time flies, man, I thought that was like four years ago. Entrepreneurs are like dog years. So if I add in entrepreneurs, I’m approaching like 300 years, I think. Yeah. So look back a year and a half of the timeline. You’re just kind of you’ve already gained traction, but I know you were really trying to get the product out, get more business and whatever. How is that? How’s that? How’s that changed to your business? Yeah.
Jasper Mullarney 21:56
So I think we spoke last time, we built out the products themselves, and we were able to put them in front of consumers usually through brand sites, right? So ego, who makes lawn mowers and lawn equipment? Yeah, yeah, they’re great, great product, really great team as well. So we started with them on their brand sites. Some consumers when they’re researching will go to a brand site, and they will look there, and they’ll click where to buy or a store location button. So the next phase after that was how do we get these valuable experiences in front of as many people as we possibly can? So we started doing sort of strategic partnerships with these larger companies, retailers. So ace was the first. So they adopted a pilot in 2021, and signed a deal with us in 2022. So now we’re just almost a year into us being their exclusive provider. And they’re carrying content that no other retailer has. They’ve got 3D product tours on their site, not on every product. We’re working our way through the catalog.
Matt DeCoursey 22:55
That’s smart, because I would imagine the retailers the pipeline to all the other people that are some year that they’re selling for. Yeah, yeah, I like to be smart.
Jasper Mullarney 23:04
So I’m from them. We started working with companies like Milwaukee. We’re in the early stages with Bosch, we’ve Trager Weber, Big Green Egg. There are few others that I’m forgetting that are all that all kind of came to us through that style of standard Black and Decker DeWalt craftsman as the other big one that we got there. Then we have this set of brands, we go to the other retailer. So we started working with Lowe’s innovation labs around the same time that we started building for Ace. Now we are pretty broadly spread on Lowe’s site, Lowe’s and Stanley Black and Decker are tied pretty closely together just as companies. So we’re doing all the SPD stuff for the wall to craftsman and Black and Decker on Lowe’s, working with Home Depot as well actually got an introduction to their CIO from my tech venture studio group here, which is great. And trying to get our technology integrated at home. That’s going to take some time. And then looking at the third party companies, companies like San Diego salsify. inRiver, the pins that sit between the brands and the retailers. So essentially, build these experiences. Let’s get them in front of as many consumers as possible. Now, Amazon’s The other big one. So we are part of Amazon’s beta program because they saw a couple of things.
Matt DeCoursey 24:16
Yeah, yeah. Well, it sounds to me like when you have some advantage there for you, when we are at one place. And it sounds like the other place is like, well, if they’re using it, we probably should do it. I mean, I don’t want to get too into the weeds with your deals or whatever. But I mean, good for you.
Jasper Mullarney 24:38
Yeah, it’s a bit of FOMO there. The other part of it is, you know, if you’re a brand using us on one channel, you have a lot of reasons to use this on the other channels that you’re selling through, right. So it gives us some sort of a good competitive mode.
Matt DeCoursey 24:52
If you know, I really want to, I don’t know if it was intentional or not, but the approach to the retail side of things is going to expose you to all of the differences. I mean, how many people sell stuff through this hardware? Because it’s a lot, right? Yeah, it’s a whole lot. Yeah. And I would imagine you get one signed up, and then they see results. And at some point, it’s probably feasible to say that brands and sites and marketplaces like that might not even let a brand sell if they don’t have these kinds of displays.
Jasper Mullarney 25:22
That’s a really good, really astute observation at Lowe’s.
Matt DeCoursey 25:25
Is that true? Well, I mean, I mean, is that possibly headed that direction?
Jasper Mullarney 25:28
I know like so with Lowe’s, they have required a certain level of content and they will scorecard certain young product detail pages.
Matt DeCoursey 25:35
So if you’re gonna get downgraded your SEO might suck on Amazon or something with it. Right? Yeah.
Jasper Mullarney 25:40
And that opens up another conversation here, too, that we’re looking very closely at, which is the retail media space. So Amazon rolled out their ads program a few years ago, you can buy ads within Amazon for your own products. That was a billion dollar business basically, overnight. I think it did 3 billion in its first few months or something. It was crazy. To sell books. Yeah, yeah. So every other retailer that has traffic is rolling out their own version of that. And that’s retail media. So Walmart’s building theirs. And they’re still bigger than Amazon, which surprises them, but they’re rolling out their own retail media market, then you’ve got all the other companies thinking about what retail media means. If I have content within those retailers that helps people sell, does that become a retail media ad unit? Brand? And is there a retail participation in that? So I’m not sure if that’s?
Matt DeCoursey 26:34
Well, let’s back up because I don’t think everyone’s gonna know what you’re talking about. Okay. So I used to work for rolling. It’s the world’s largest maker of electronic musical instruments, in certain cases, when we had vendors that sell a ton of stuff. And we may give them Co Op of sorts, we mean cooperative payments, rebates, something to incentivize them to actually use our products. And they’re in their ads. Yeah. And so it’s, it’s just a form of the past. But with that, I mean, the conversation was always well, first off, will they actually do it? Because you can give someone a co-op and they sell a shitload of your products at the store. And it doesn’t mean that they actually use it to advertise. Yeah. And then you know, where are they going to use it? And then also, are you going to create a so without, in that in the musical instrument industry, this, this as ecommerce head came in this level of undercutting got him seen. So then we had to introduce minimum advertised pricing? Yep. And a whole lot of different stuff. It got really complex. Now go, I’m gonna go back to Amazon for a second because Amazon, don’t fool yourself, people. Amazon is a search engine. And it is actually, as in my opinion, the most powerful search engine when it comes to selling anything because it is completely Google’s designed for tire kickers. And research. Amazon is designed for buyers, right. And that doesn’t mean that people aren’t researching and buying it. But that is the primary it like mission there, which is a little different than Google. And Google needs to have multi faces and tears and facets and stuff like that Amazon does on some levels. But Amazon’s very interesting because a lot of its search engine capability favors things that are hot and trending, the more you sell, and the less clicks it takes the higher and it knows it’s going to put you up on top. And that’s why some people have to buy ads, because that’s how they got to get the momentum started. It’s a very interesting dynamic. And yeah, I mean, it’s crazy that selling ads inside your own store, and it’s a billion dollars.
Jasper Mullarney 28:41
So before this, I had an agency that ran all of Yamaha’s Amazon content, and we used to regularly do conquesting campaigns, which means you’re buying an ad on a competitor’s product and sending it away from Marantz or wherever the competing product. Yeah.
Matt DeCoursey 28:56
These are complex and tricky things on many days. And yeah, it’s what you mentioned, Yamaha so Yamaha is the world’s largest maker of new school instruments. And so many people don’t know that if you have a Yamaha motorcycle, look at the logo. It’s three piano tuning forks, intertwined. Yeah. And a huge company, but with that huge product catalog. And you know, some of it. So at one point when I was in retail, I just started as a this is so long ago, worked for a company that wants at 250,000 skews. And the very first meeting I went to just happen to be the day when everyone was like, Okay, we cannot have 250,000 skews. Most of those were actually there as a musical instrument retailer. Most of those are actually sheet music. And we actually determined that it was far cheaper to sell out all of our sheet music no longer carry it because we saw it going digital. We sold it all off by the pound and now it’s just right because dude hit that many skews is a lot to keep up with. So, is that what your team does? Cuz like you took it part like, I don’t know, dude, you got to have a lot of people that have a lot of skews like is do you make it easy for like how? Okay, I got 100,000 skews Jasper, I’m ready to digitize this does is that like, does that make you like in a Pavlovian way salivate? Or does it? You’re like, Oh, God?
Jasper Mullarney 30:27
Well, I mean, it’s doubtful a company would have 100,000 individual like unique SKUs that we that our product was acquired through, right?
Matt DeCoursey 30:35
There’s a long tail there where it’s not what companies that have that would be like an auto parts place like, right? Yeah, yeah, like AutoZone, probably. But think about this, think about you are Rh and you have a configurable sofa.
Jasper Mullarney 30:43
And the number of combinations of those sofa configurations are in the millions, right, because you’ve got about 25, different finishes and all the different layouts. So essentially, you’ve got millions of unique products that can be sold to consumers. So you need a way to catalog all of those and to make selling them easier. So now that usually requires a consumer to go through and hit checklists, right? I want this product in this color, and you’re going through kind of a form, we visualize that. And then that’s the configurator, the user goes in and builds it, and they’re able to select their finishes, pick the one they want, and then it’s done. Right. And they can say, our product ties into ERP as well. So we know what’s in stock, we know what’s not, we can do pricing at the regional level if we need to. So there’s a lot of features to that product that solve that problem. Although it’s not making 200,000 unique skews.
Matt DeCoursey 31:46
How do you generate revenue? Like what is that? I mean, you don’t have to get too far in the weeds. But I mean, where does Epigraph and once again, there’s a link in the show notes. I love what you do, man, I think it’s so cool. I mean, I just like anything that helps people sell stuff. Yeah, like, I’m just like that, that I get kind of goofy and nerdy about that. But so with that, when you sell stuff, is that like a subscription? Is it a service? Like? I mean, what, how do you generate revenue?
Jasper Mullarney 32:10
Yeah, so there’s some services on the front end of setting up an onboarding in our platform. So there’s a setup fee content creation fee. And then after that, it’s a subscription.
Matt DeCoursey 32:21
Okay. So they’re, they’re subscribing to your engine, and they choose where they’re going to put it or how they’re going to use it afterward.
Jasper Mullarney 32:26
Yeah, we help them implement it in all those different places. And we run the analytics for them, make sure that we’re keeping up with updates from Apple and Google and then basically the different devices of the world. And this eventually has to run on.
Matt DeCoursey 32:37
So sorry for having to deal with that. That’s a pain in the butt. You know, people will talk to us at Full Scale. And this is how I know you. You’ve never built software, when you say well, how long will it take to build and when will it be done? And how much will it cost? And I’m like, you’ve never done this before. He never does. And sometimes people I don’t really say that I say look, you don’t build software that just leaves in perpetuity on its own peacefully. Because I’ve had people say, Well, if it’s built well, it shouldn’t break. Well, that’s also not true, because you can build something great. iOS 14 was a good example. It broke half of the App Store. Right? Yeah. Yeah. Did you get some issues with that, because that was one that was the main update that made all the changes related to privacy concerns. And a lot of stuff like that, which in some cases, people that had build outs just needed to be just needed to maybe be the terms of service and click a button here. But a lot of people didn’t do that. And it literally broke half the App Store, man, if not more, and, and Google doesn’t call you and tell you they’re changing something in Chrome AWS does. So AWS will go or any server company might go and you know, they’re putting in security patches or changing frameworks, you’re doing something updated. And it just, it just, there’s just something in your software that might not agree with it. And that’s what software developers do. And a lot of days go in and fix these little problems and make these little adjustments. But it’s a lot to keep up
Jasper Mullarney 34:08
with. Yeah, on our side. We’re all web like. So we’re not actually within half. In any case, it is something that we do support. But we see most of the eyeballs being still on the web and browsers. So that’s where our technology runs. So we’ve avoided some of those issues. But Google did an update, maybe a year or two ago, a year and a half ago or so, where they changed what was allowed in a 3D model for the AR platform. And it broke a bunch of stuff and we can go in and catch it and fix it and all the rest. And you know, sometimes our customers will ask, well, you’re just making 3D models and putting them out there. Why do you have to pay subscriptions like well, they have to be maintained to be updated, their improvements to visual fidelity and stuff that become available as file sizes increase. And as the technology platforms change, when smart glasses are released, that’s going to have its own other set of hurdles around.
Matt DeCoursey 34:57
That sounded like a rookie question about Hey, why do you subscribe? Well, I mean, if you want to just deal with it on your own, right forever, I mean, that’s yeah.
Jasper Mullarney 35:07
And companies do try to do that; they’ll, you know, get some models and put them out there on servers on the web. And then they’ll load very slowly on users’ devices. And they’ll have security holes and all the other things that go along with trying to home build something that’s complex. Thankfully, we’ve got a lot of larger companies that see the value in what we do and subscribe.
Matt DeCoursey 35:26
So once again, with me today, I’ve got Jasper Milani, the CEO and co-founder of Epigraphy, to go to Epigraph.us. There’s a link for that in the show notes. Jasper is the CEO and co-founder of one of Kansas City’s top startups on Startup Hustle is 2023 list. We take that seriously, folks, so listen to the rest of the episodes. This whole week is all about my hometown, our hometown here in Kansas City. As we arrive at a thrilling conclusion of today’s show, I just want to remind everyone that today’s show is made possible by FullScale.io. If you need to hire software engineers, testers, you laters Full Scale can help. We have the people, the platform and the process to help you find and manage a team of experts. Just go to FullScale.io and answer a couple questions. And we are platforms gonna give you some matches, I do not have 3D models of our actual people. But a lot of our profiles actually have an animated GIF in the header. And we encourage our team members to do something that is just showing them moving in the header and like something that we’ve had people do magic tricks, we have one lady that has a sign that says free hugs. Yeah, there’s a lot of fun and interesting personality things. And that just even something that simple really brought to life. What I mean is that resumes are boring. I mean, it may inherently be finding ways to spice it up. When I record my episode to Startup Hustle, I like to end my shows with what I call the founders freestyle. You know, these shows go fast for us here recording that and and here we are in our 37th manner to the show. And so I like to give everyone my kids here, freestyle Jasper, you can do whatever you want. I’ve had people rap and do poetry. Talk about the things that they forgot to mention. Who knows, man, it’s your shot. So here’s the mic, man, what do you want to say on the way out?
Jasper Mullarney 37:25
I’m not going to rap or do poetry, probably best for all of us.
Matt DeCoursey 37:27
But I think for the fellow founders out there, you know, it’s been a tumultuous few years.
Jasper Mullarney 37:31
I’d say the one thing that’s benefited me the most is just the focus on self-care. I work out every morning, you know, try to meditate when I can, you know, pay close attention to diet, all those things add up. I do acupuncture from time to time, which is amazing if you haven’t tried it. So over the long term, it’s very easy to get kind of emotional about some of that tumult that comes at us every day. You know, the more stoic you can be about the challenges that come up, the more you can realize that the challenges are there for you to solve. If they weren’t there, you wouldn’t have a business just makes it easier to sort of get through the day and overcome and get to the next one. So take care of yourselves out there.
Matt DeCoursey 38:15
No, I wasn’t where I was going with my free stuff. Well, first off, look, use if you sell stuff, use the tools that are available out there that can help you sell more stuff. And that’s what Epigraph does. If you can show me, I will tell you right now. I am looking at the actual soundboard here in our studio, which I bought because it actually had a good view. And I was able to see there was a system. I wanted to see the back of it, and I wanted to see underneath it, and that just was what I needed to see to buy it. I’m not even sure that was a 3D model yet that some of its just like, and I remember looking at something right before and just had one picture of it. And I’m like, dude, yeah, like, what can I plug into this? So here are sales now a couple of things on self-care. And I agree with everything you said. You know, I hired a mindfulness coach and the fourth quarter of 2022. And when you say mindfulness, you know, there’s a lot of responsibility and just things that go through your head. And I have people say to me because I’m a higher energy person, which at 48 is a huge asset. Yeah, that’s how old I’ll be this year. So I turned 40. And I’m almost 50. And I remember when I was eight, people like you had way too much energy to calm down. And then when I got to be about 28, people were like, Dude, I wish I had your energy. When I got to be 38, people that were 38 were like, Okay, what’s going on here? But with that, what are your thoughts? My thought process sometimes feels like I equate it to a blender full of bottled cows. And he talked about mindfulness stuff, like learning how and my coach is great. She’s actually not a technology person, but she always was First through our programming and just being able to reset herself sometimes because it’s easy to let little things bother you. And, you know, regardless of how you want to look at it, those things are distractions. And in Congress with the mindfulness coach, I’ve spent a whole lot of time over the last year having discussions, doing research, and learning about the traits of genius. And they’re very definable, and they’re all very palatable. And so some of that, but one thing I learned is that we all get a chance to step into our own zone of genius. But the two things that are guaranteed to tether your ascent to where you do your best work, or negativity and self-doubt. So you talk about mindfulness and getting rid of the negativity. And I don’t know, man, it’s easy to feel upset or mad or frustrated or disappointed because entrepreneurship is all of that, right? So, regardless of how it is like meditation is great, I actually get massages because I’m just a big guy, and my body hurts. I beg people for problems, so that helps. And then also, when I’m in the Philippines, it’s like 10 bucks for, like, a two-hour professional massage on that. But, yeah, and these, but that’s important, and you know, take care of yourself, because I don’t know, I mean, your personal, professional, and physical state all need to have some form of cooperation with each other. That’s what my book, Balanced Me, is about: if one of them’s way out of whack, it’s going to come back. It’s like I’ve been working on letting the pandemic and everything else weighing on me. And I’m like, now I gotta get rid of it. And it’s a lot harder at my age than it was when I was younger. We’ll save that for another episode. Once again, Jasper. Thanks for reading. Thanks for joining me, and congratulations on being one of Kansas City’s top startups.
Jasper Mullarney 41:48
Thank you. Congrats on the growth of the podcast.