I kept reading article after article about how AI will be replacing all of our jobs. I realized at some point that AI could replace my job as a reputation consultant, so rather than become a statistic, I decided to go back to school and learn how to code. I started some online courses at MIT. I built Objection Co without much validation, knowing if it didn’t go gangbusters I would still use it myself in the foreseeable future to help manage my own customers. I brought in the first few hundred customers from my consultation practice. We haven’t raised any money but we plan on doing our first round of fundraising in May, this has been bootstrapped from day 1.
Our target demographic are reputation management suites, review publishers and medium-enterprise level businesses who want review fraud analytics. Right now as a startup we are happy to serve any size organization.
The funniest customer request we had was from a dog kennel, who houses dogs while owners are on vacation. They had a bad review from a customer because they wouldn’t accept their potbelly pig into the facility. We all had a good laugh about that.
How did you fund the idea initially?
Right off the bat, I knew I was going to bootstrap this thing. I started with an offshore team based out of India and wasted about $20,000 and a year. I met another dev team out of Ukraine and finished the first software iteration in about 3 months, and we are still working together today. I found them on Upwork, and have found it easy and convenient to use.
When it comes to finding great employees, hire slow and consistently and fire fast. I also recommend starting slowly with new employees and then building things into a more full-time role.
What motivated you to start your own business?
My entrepreneur story started when I was in nursing school. I was in my last semester, $30,000 in debt, and was rotating through the ER where I was precepting.
One of the doctors came into the Emergency Room to do a consultation. He was in a bad mood because a patient left him a fake review that was really hurting his practice. I followed suit and started to complain about my student debt and he made a comment about paying it off if I could remove the bad review. I followed up with him personally and asked him if he was serious, he was. I spent the next 3 days trying to remove the review and failed. I did everything I could but I could not get it off.
With $800 in my bank account, I booked a flight to San Francisco during the weekend to see if I could meet someone who might be able to help me. I figured if I asked around and was genuine with people, they would try to help me out. I was determined to get the answer. I ended up meeting someone who helped me understand what I needed to do in order to get the fake review removed. A few days later, I had a check for $30,000 and a CPA to start my Online Reputation business. That was 7 years ago. Everyone I knew supported me and thought I had a great idea for a business.
What motivates you when things go wrong? What is the end goal?
Things are always going to go wrong, which enables us to be more successful is our ability to solve problems as they come. What motivates me is the opportunity to serve my customers better and solve problems for them in a way that mutually enhances our lives. The end goal for us to prevent review fraud from affecting the lives of consumers and business owners in a major way. Word of mouth has always been our best sales driver, second to that is organic inbound leads from people looking for us.
How do you protect yourself from competition?
Right now, we are starting the process for patents. Right now, the only thing that protects ourselves from our competition is our datasets. We have been collecting fake reviews for years and have datasets large enough to be useful for neural networks. 6 years ago, I had no idea I would be going back to school for AI/ML, but I recorded tens of thousands of fake reviews along the way.
What are the top 3-5 apps Objection.co could not run without?
Python. Python allows us to work with AI/ML in a way that no other application can do. Without the automation, the data collection and data analysis that python does, we have what it takes to make our clients extraordinarily happy.
Intercom. Intercom is a customer service chat/crm application that allows us to educated, interact and communicate with our customers effectively. Satisfaction scores have gone up and customers get responded to almost immediately.
Upwork. Finding great talent is tough, but Upwork has allowed us to hire abroad, save money and find a team really easily.
Trello. Staying organized for all departments, whether its sales, customer service or development. Trello allows us to communicate, collaborate and stay focused on priority tasks.
What are your favourite books and podcasts?
Some of my favorite books include works from Malcolm Gladwell, Eckhart Tolle and my personal favorite – the Bible.
Right now, the only PodCasts I listen to are TedTalks.
What are the next products you’re working on?
The next products we’re working on are our review fraud detection API services. Some of these include Review Pod Analysis, Distance Matrix Analysis, and Reviewer Image Analysis protocols that will quickly allow companies to make their own judgments and determinations about the legitimacy of online reviews. I will be discussing these products at the 2020 Dearborn AI Symposium at the University of Michigan on May 1st, and demonstrating the technology live on stage for the whole audience to see. Several MU PhD (computer science) students will be publishing some peer-reviewed articles about the accuracy of our technology when detecting review fraud.
I see the company becoming the “internet watchdog” of online reviews, helping businesses and reviewer publishers like Amazon and Google maintain more honest and legitimate reviews.
What is current revenue? If you don’t mind sharing
We currently at a 50k monthly run rate.We’re 8 months old and we have about 1200 paying customers. If Objection Co reaches a certain valuation/offer I would sell it.