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How Pronti.AI Grew from 3k Active Users to Over 80k With a KickoffLabs Waitlist

"I just started searching for ways to implement a wait list in a very quick way. And I was looking for a software that can really help me manage that and that's where KickoffLabs came in."

Mila Banerjee CEO + Founder - Pronti.AI

80k+

Waitlisted

Leads collected for the waitlist during the campaign.

1

Viral Video

Tik Tok video that went viral with 4M views leading to crazy demand.

3,000

Monthly Active Users

Within a month how many people went from waitlist to active app users.

34,000

Customer Interviews

The total number of customer interviews conducted before and during the waitlist campaign.

Key Takeaways

Build a relationship with your email list, even if it’s small.

Market Research

The Pronti.AI team spent countless hours interviewing hundreds of people and taking in all of the responses and reviews the app received.

Experiment

They experimented hundreds of times on social platforms leading to their TikTok platform going viral.

Dig Deep + Understand Marketing

Understand what works best for your brand and know the differences in what content to push for various platforms. Pronti.AI had amazing success on TikTok and pulled a lot of growth from the market they built there.

Be Agile

Start with what you have and continue to evolve with your consumer. Pronti.Ai put a lot of focus on continuous improvement within their app, which created a very communicative environment as the app developed.

I just went out and talked to literally hundreds of people. So by the end of our prototyping and market research iterations, I talk to about 35,400 people.

Company:

Pronti.AI

Campaign Goal:

Build a waitlist while onboarding people into the app.

Key Features Used:

"I would say that emailing people during the wait list is a really great idea because it helps them feel like they're part of the journey and that you're still out there and that you do care about them."

Contest Type(s): waitlist

Interview Bio

Mila picture

Mila Banerjee - CEO + Founder - Pronti.AI

Mila Banerjee is an entrepreneur by nature, as she puts it- she has a hand in every cookie jar. Mila started coding in the 90's and has been an entrepreneur for the last 10 years, creating and selling businesses in 5 countries (including online retail). She is the Tech Lead, CEO, and Founder of Pronti AI and also a Business Advisor- Deeptech/AI at Velocity Incubator. In Mila’s career, she has worked in industry positions spanning: Consulting, Pharmaceutical Sales, Training, Head Office Merger projects, Management, Market Research, and Automation & Analytics. Mila has 7+ years of board experience from 4 different Board of Director roles. She holds a Bachelors of Science, with an English minor from the University of Alberta and an MBA from Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto.

Full Transcript



Josh: I'm Josh Ledgard from KickoffLabs, and this is the On Growth podcast. Today's guest is Mila Banerjee from Pronti.ai, an app that becomes your smart wardrobe assistant. While some KickoffLabs customers use our service to build excitement around an upcoming launch, Pronti found themselves in a position where they needed a wait list to capture demand while they scaled the technology behind their app. They simply had too many customers and a lot of excitement. So they used KickoffLabs to capture that energy, and also 50,000 email addresses along the way. What I learned in our conversation today was how important it can be to conduct detailed customer interviews, develop prototypes and experiment deeply within each specific marketing channel. They didn't go viral because it was a fluke, they put themselves in a position to take off and you could learn from that, enjoy the show.

Josh: All right, we are now recording. Hi everyone. We are live at the On Growth podcast. I am here with Mila Banerjee and she is from Pronti.ai, and they have a really cool app that they built and we will get into that. But before we dig into the app and the wait list they built for the app and how they built the wait list and how large the wait list got to be and how they had to implement it to stop from being so successful. I want to first go back in time a little bit and get a background on you Mila and your journey into building this app. So what kind of background do you have? Tech from marketing world, from the fashion world? What's your background? Tell us a bit about you.

I have a little bit of a hand in the cookie jar sort of philosophy to my life.



Mila: Yeah, I have a little bit of a hand in the cookie jar sort of philosophy to my life. So I have a varied background. I started programming in the nineties, so I do have a technical background, but I also have an MBA and have been doing entrepreneurship for the last 11 years. So I have a bit of the Jack of all traits or a Gill of all trades.

Josh: Perfect. Yeah, I saw that quote. I think that's on your Twitter is the hand in a bunch of cookie jars. And I love that explanation for entrepreneurship because when people ask me what I do at KickoffLab, I say, "Well, just a little bit of everything." But I like the expression of the hand in every cookie jar. And I think there's a certain type of person that just enjoys having their hand in a little bit of every bit of the company.

Mila: Yeah. There's lots of different cookie jars.

Josh: Exactly. Can you tell us a bit about... That's an 11 year journey, obviously Pronti is something that's recent. Can you tell us about some, either other successes or other failures along the way that led you to this point?

Mila: Ooh, lots of successes and failures, both. I had an online furniture e-commerce business in Europe that helped sort of inform the e-commerce side of things. And actually I had dabbled this is a bit my nerdy brain. I dabbled in quantum computing and tried to have a quantum computing company. It was a lot of fun, quantum is so, so interesting. Still not very near term though, so I'm sure there are a lot of quantum people out there who would argue with me. So, Pronti was founded basically on a first interaction that I had with somebody that I was coaching and I love to coach. I call it my business yoga. It allows me to stretch and think about somebody else's situation, industry issues. And it's also my way of giving back. So, in this particular instance, this young woman was thinking about her glass ceiling and how does she break through it? And there was this moment in which she said, "Well, do you mind if I just put together my outfit for the next day while we talk?"

I just went out and talked to literally hundreds of people. So by the end of our prototyping and market research iterations, I talk to about 35,400 people.



Mila: And at the time I thought it was a little bit bizarre. I thought, "Oh, well sure. Why not?" And then I realized as she deliberated that there was something interesting happening here. And so I asked her a few more questions. Now it turned out she spent an hour and a half every night putting together her outfit. And this is from our market research on the far end of things, but what I thought was interesting was that computer vision and machine learning had moved so far in the last number of years, I would say five, six years, it's made huge leaps and bounds. And I felt that this was something that could be solved and alleviated in terms of the burden, but not the objective because the objective of what she wanted to accomplish was to look professional, to self express and all of those things are amazing. So that was the kernel of where Pronti was born, but has also turned into a vision for making that ocean of e-commerce much more manageable and getting personalized shopping recommendation.

Josh: Cool. Can I ask, I'm step back for a second, something you said early in that explanation of your initial product desires, how do you get market research that says how long people spend picking out an outfit? How do you go about figuring that out? Did you do a large survey? Did you contact other fashion retailers online and ask them to talk to their customers? How did you figure that out?

Mila: Yes. So interestingly, there were some existing articles on it, but I just went out and talked to literally hundreds of people. So by the end of our prototyping and market research iterations, I talk to about 35,400 people. And I just ask them questions about how long does it take to get ready when you get ready in the morning? What do you think of? What's your process? What do you do? I just applied a whole lot of curiosity to asking people those questions, and then after I found out a little bit about how they went about it, I would ask them a more standardized question like how long did it take you? How long does it usually take you?

Josh: So you were kind of going, there's a name for it, but you were researching by asking people to give you very detailed step by step. Tell me how you go about doing this, and you were trying to fill in all of the gaps like, "Oh, I open my closet. I look at the outfits, I look at the weather and then I do this and then I do that." So you were going, trying to collect all of that very detailed information at this point, doing the market research and then you ended with a couple of general questions may be of saying, how long did this take? Does that sound accurate?

I was just opportunistic. So, I would use all sorts of ways to get in front of people. I leverage my network, leverage the last person that I talked to, try to plot myself in groups and situations.



Mila: Yeah. Yeah. That's pretty accurate.

Josh: Cool.

Mila: So there was a lot of unstructured questions because I wanted to explore and just be curious, but then there were a few structured questions.

Josh: So I have a couple more questions that came out of this. So the first one is how did you find the people that you wanted to talk to? Because you mentioned talking to hundreds of people, which is not... It sounds intimidating to somebody that has... Maybe I could think of like five people to talk to at first about something, but how did you go about finding hundreds of people to talk to about something like this?

Mila: I was just opportunistic. So, I would use all sorts of ways to get in front of people. I leverage my network, leverage the last person that I talked to, try to plot myself in groups and situations in which they were different people because I wanted to get a sense of what it was like across large different demographics, if that makes sense.

Josh: So would you stop people in a coffee shop that had interesting outfits and say, can you tell me how you picked this?

Mila: I will admit that there was the odd complete stranger conversation that usually came out of something else. So I have a golden retriever. She is a great conversation starter. So when I'm walking her, I meet all sorts of people. And so, that's one way to talk to perfect strangers. And then with the prototyping, people can just be curious. So that's another way for them to just approach you. I also did a little bit of a booth at one of the colleges who had a fashion department and in that booth, I got to talk to a lot of fashion students. And that was a very interesting group of people who had some very interesting ideas in market research that came out of it. So, I just employed a number of different ways. Just I figured that the more people I spoke to, the better.

Josh: Yeah, absolutely. You talked about prototyping and how that engaged some people as well. Can you go into a little bit more detail about what you were using? Like how you were prototyping, maybe a tool, or was it just like on napkins? What were you calling prototypes and how were you using them at this stage?

I think probably one of the most fascinating things that I learned was that the influencer era I think has had a huge impact on the way we dress and how much pressure we feel to dress a certain way or not, not even dress a certain way, but to dress well.



Mila: Yeah, so I did everything from your [inaudible 00:09:42] and I can't even remember if I was using... I don't think I was using Figma at the time, but there's many different ones that's envisioned. So you can do some basic prototyping through that, which is very easy, no code stuff, but I also tested a few other technical, more technical ideas around it. And essentially it's just something to walk somebody through and ask them what their thoughts are on screens and whether or not that would address anything or would they use it. And usually what I would do is I would tack the prototype on towards the end and ask a few general questions without them understanding at all what I was interested in before I pulled out the prototype.

Josh: Okay. So [crosstalk 00:10:28] that makes sense. So you kind of weaved this into these conversations that you were having with people while you were doing your market research, you'd start with these general questions where people might not have known what you were after, but you would end with, "Can I walk you through this?" And getting their feedback along the way, what kinds of things did you learn through this process that you didn't know going into it?

Mila: Oh, lots of things. It is so interesting. I think probably one of the most fascinating things that I learned was that the influencer era I think has had a huge impact on the way we dress and how much pressure we feel to dress a certain way or not, not even dress a certain way, but to dress well. And I think in the past, it might have been norms around what you wear to work and the influencer era, I think really changed that. So this had an impact on anybody who grew up with the influencers, as opposed to anybody who was older than that, who had already picked up their structured process of dressing. Does that make sense?

Josh: No, absolutely. I could imagine there'd be a total difference of people who grew up just having no guidance and people who grew up in the world where there's like hyper amounts of information out there that you could spend looking for guidance on a topic like this. I mean, that's happened with just about every space in our world.

Mila: Yeah. But even the idea of seeing people looking a certain way. And I think Instagram especially had... There was this period where all the pictures were very perfect and people had these perfect looks and lives. And I think that became either aspirational or maybe pressure to do the same.

Josh: Interesting. So when you were talking to people and you were walking them through the prototype, at this stage were you signing them up for a wait list for your app? So what was the next phase that you moved into and when did you decide to move into that phase?

Mila: Yeah, I did keep some of the names and it was interesting. I did that more towards the end of the prototyping as I was getting closer because I knew what we were developing would take a little while and you can't really leave people on a wait list for that long. I don't think you can. So, certainly not a year on a wait list. I think that there needs to be something a little bit more near term because our lives changed so much in a year. So really, it wasn't until towards the end that I started keeping some of their names. And what was interesting when I did that is that I would sometimes have people, usually women, come back to me and say they talked about it with their friends. I put my friends on my wait list, which I thought was very interesting. And this is definitely something that Kickoff does in terms of helping people invite their work to it.

Josh: Yeah. And that's always something we tell people at KickoffLabs when they're running a campaign is if they're at that earlier stage and they're trying to determine whether or not this would be a viable, like business down the road, is it's not just the conversion rate of people that say that they're interested because that's one indicator, but it's like, through the measurements we provide at KickoffLabs, are you seeing people telling their friends or sharing the link? Because if they're not, that's a sign that well, maybe they're just polite or you did a great job advertising, but they might not be actually that interested in doing it, because people tend to share things that they actually find are interesting because it makes them personally look interesting and cool for finding something new and potentially unique out there. And so, that's obviously a great indicator. So, what was next for Pronti? So was it the Kickstarter? Were you building the app in parallel? What was the next stage for you?

I just started searching for ways to implement a wait list in a very quick way. And I was looking for a software that can really help me manage that and that's where KickoffLabs came in.



Mila: No. So the Kickstarter actually only came at our sort of key turning point moment, which you alluded to, which was our viral TikTok.

Josh: Okay.

We did quite a lot of development, several months of development before the point at which our TikTok marketing started to get traction. And so, the 4 million views, it actually started on a weekend at the end of January and it just blew us away.



Mila: So essentially we started building the app and I was leveraging my own funds, government grants for hiring students. And so I started by leading a tech team of student programmers and we started to put things into place. And really, we did quite a lot of development, several months of development before the point at which our TikTok marketing started to get traction. And so, the 4 million views, it actually started on a weekend at the end of January and it just blew us away. At first we thought, wow, this is kind of neat. Look, what's happening. And then we went, "Oh-oh, we're getting more failure rates on the back end. This isn't good."

Mila: And then, "Oh gosh, this is really not good. Our whole entire app is grinding to a halt." And so by the Monday we knew we to do something. So I just started searching for ways to implement a wait list in a very quick way. And I was looking for a software that can really help me manage that and that's where Kickoff came in. So, it was a matter of implementing the wait list really quickly so that we could stop new users from onboarding and getting frustrated and allowing our app to recover. And so then over the next three weeks, what we started to do was scale the app on the back end so that it could handle more people because we really went through the roof. It was that typical hockey stick graph you see.

Josh: That's amazing. So I want to back up a little bit, because you kind of just glossed over like, "Oh, we were doing TikTok marketing." Can you tell me what TikTok marketing looks like to people who've never done TikTok marketing? Were you running like ads in TikTok? Were you just like, did you create an account and just posting random videos and how are you producing the videos? So how did you get to the point before one of the videos took off?

TikTok is a really, really interesting medium and it is a completely different social channel. So I think whenever you decide to use any channel, you have to understand what is that channel about and who's out there on it and what does it value, because you cannot post polished Instagram videos on TikTok.



Mila: Oh, absolutely. And certainly that in itself is a journey, so I'll try not to make it too long. So TikTok is a really, really interesting medium and it is a completely different social channel. So I think whenever you decide to use any channel, you have to understand what is that channel about and who's out there on it and what does it value, because you cannot post polished Instagram videos on TikTok. It does not work. TikTok is a raw, real social channel that has completely different rules. So there is the TikTok algorithm in the background, which it's smart to think about it and what it might be choosing and deciding, and for us, we started to experiment on long or short videos and things. There's music behind TikTok, so you've got to find a song or words or lyrics that resonate with people.

Mila: And it's just kind of about creating maybe sort of funny or clever little bits of content. In the last little bit, since we used the Kickoff campaign, we were really focused on just talking to the people that started to follow us so that we could tell them what was going on. But prior to that, it was a little bit of tongue and cheek, here's this lyric, how does it apply to getting ready. And we would play around a lot with that. We utilize the green screening in TikTok, which allows you to show the app in the background and then basically your floating head. So yeah, it's just from your phone, there is no super polished production in TikTok. And people don't really like it.

Josh: So what resonated there? because I hear the same thing. So I recently talked somebody who's gotten a lot of followers on YouTube and I mean, it's very similar to what he described, which was, he was looking at other successful channels, seeing what they were doing. And then he would just experiment with those different formulas on his channel, like does a longer video work in this space, does a shorter video work? What about a video that with a different headline? What about the different thumbnail images and how should those look? And there's obviously a lot that goes into that. How many videos did you post on TikTok before you had the one that went super viral?

Mila: Ooh, that's a good question. A fair number. The other thing that we noticed was, so one of my co-founders Andrea was... I had started the TikTok channel and then went down to visit her family in Ecuador. And while she was down over Christmas in Ecuador and was posting, we started to get Geotag to Latin America, which was very, very cool. I loved it, actually. It very interesting to see the comments from Latin America. We even got blessed, which was really funny. They said, "God bless the people that made this app." I thought that was so fun because it was very cultural to the area. But then we also realized that maybe Geotagging to Latin America wasn't the only place that we really wanted because frankly we didn't do as much market research in Latin America. So I had no idea if it would really resonate because there's the concept of the app and then there's the more detailed of how it's executed. Oh my goodness. Who has a real phone nowadays? Me, it turns out

Josh: You have the gamut you're on TikTok and you have a real phone.

Mila: Yeah. I know it's very strange. Oh no, they're going to continue. This might be one of those places you want to edit. How do I stop this thing from...?

Josh: Don't worry about it, we can. It'll absolutely... We can edit stuff. I'm surprised I haven't had a dog start screaming yet, so...

Mila: Yeah. Mine's [inaudible 00:21:24] patiently lying down right now, but she might kick off at any point too. So where...

Josh: So we were talking about how many videos you did before you did the one that went viral. You mentioned-

Mila: Thousands. I would say like, I don't know between maybe 50 and a hundred videos.

Josh: Okay. And that's a fair number of experiments going through. And then, do TikTok videos have a call to action? How do people know to go from the video that you're doing? When you have this video go viral and then your app is overwhelmed with signups, are you encouraging people to sign up for the app and the video and the just description or is it just they see the name of the channel and then they look it up and it works that way? So tell me how that works within the TikTok space or how at least it worked for your team.

Pronti AI website

Mila: Yeah. certainly tick TikTok is not designed for a call to action. So there isn't a smooth click and go. So we have a link to our website. Admittedly, we changed it for the Kickstarter campaign. And then I'm just realizing that I changed it back for the direct link to our website. But what we were actually doing is putting in our URL genius link and that link helps understand what browser the person's using and then based on that routes them to the correct location. So straight to the Apple app store or straight to the Android play store, or to our desktop version, which is just basically our website. And then that helps you understand what devices are out there. What are people interested in? And from our standpoint, it helps us allocate resources between iOS and Android as well.

Josh: Okay. So then this video goes really viral. It overloads the onboarding process that you have in the app, you search for ways to implement a quick weight list. You find KickoffLabs. How did you find... Was that process easy for you? When I looked at your KickoffLabs campaign, it looked like you had gone with, as you described, you're looking for the quickest way. It looked like you set up just our contest box solution, where you just set up a really quick box. I couldn't tell if you embedded it or put it on the website, because you've changed it at this point. So I'm guessing you kind of embedded that box on your website so that in terms of like... Did you stop the app downloads or did you stop the onboarding of a new app user in the app? How did you divert people from taking the action that was causing stress on onboarding to signing up for the wait list? How did you divert people there?

Pronti Contest Box

Mila: Yeah, so this was actually a hard thing because we couldn't just pull the app from the app store because then the users that were on the app currently couldn't get updates. And we were pushing updates every few days just to try and help the ones that had already gone on. But what we did was within the app, we stopped... We basically hid the registration button so that you couldn't get through registration. So unfortunately you could still download it, but you got stopped at the first screen to register. With our website, I removed the two buttons that linked you to the app store and the play store. And I just put the wait list in there.

Josh: You just invented the wait list there on the website.

Mila: Exactly, exactly. So I mean, I'm the one doing our website. And as I met mentioned, I push code every once in a while, so I was doing that myself and it was relatively easily. You had all of the code that you needed. So I can't even imagine that someone who is maybe less inclined to do website development couldn't put your code in their header. I think it's fairly easy.

Josh: Cool. So you found the process of setting it up and getting that going pretty easy?

Mila: Oh yes, absolutely. Absolutely.

Josh: And do you mind sharing how many people you captured while you were waiting for to ease the onboarding?

Mila: I think it was 52,000 people.

Josh: And how many people had you had in the app before then?

Mila: 3000 was our monthly active users.

Josh: So 3000 was a monthly active users. And then after, at the end of all this, you did the wait list. You had the wait list to pause people out. And then obviously you probably started slowly opening the door more to people. So at the end of all this, did your monthly active users go up, I assume.

Mila: Yes. Now we're not certain how many are kind of stuck in a limbo, but our data shows us somewhere around 80,000, but it'll remain to be seeing whether or not we still have to do some work in emailing people and making sure that nobody got stuck in the process.

So it was very interesting because people were excited. They were angry, they were vocal, they were anxious and they were really wanting to get on the app quickly.



Josh: Those are some amazing numbers in a relatively short amount of time, like you said, the kind of hockey stick. The hockey stick projection. When I was doing some research, so how did the Kickstarter come into play and what role did the Kickstarter play in all of this?

Pronti AI Kickstarter page

Mila: Yeah, well, so it was very interesting because people were excited. They were angry, they were vocal, they were anxious and they were really wanting to get on the app quickly. And so, we were just trying to figure out within our sort of tech road mapping, is there any other way we could make this faster? And we are a tiny, tiny team. And so we thought, you know what, actually, we could probably employ some software development help and that could go faster. Okay, that's extra funds. Maybe we could run a Kickstarter and this list could become valuable in that. It turned out unfortunately, I think a lot of our messages went into junk. So, that's something that I don't yet know how to solve, but I've been since getting, since the Kickstarter closed, I've been getting a bunch of messages saying, "Oh no, I found this in my junk. I still want to contribute."

What actually I thought was also interesting and your customers might want to think about this as well, because people were so desperate to get on and had high anxiety levels around this, I ended up having to turn off the gamification of it.



Mila: It's over, but it's so lovely. People have been so passionate, but... Yeah, I can't say that we've done everything perfectly in this three weeks, but we tried our best. What actually I thought was also interesting and your customers might want to think about this as well, because people were so desperate to get on and had high anxiety levels around this, I ended up having to turn off the gamification of it. I thought the gamification would be fun, but in actual fact, it was causing people way too much stress. They were refreshing the browser, upset about where their number was, where they were. So I actually removed it because my intention with the wait list was to gather emails so that I could communicate with people and tell them when it was ready. It was not an intent to try and cause a frenzy or just like over hype it.

I would say to people, really, really think about your communication around this stuff.



Mila: So I removed that element of it. Definitely, I would say to people, really, really think about your communication around this stuff because I ended up having to kind of backtrack quite a lot, say, no, no, no, that's... I want you to share if you want to share, but it is not a requirement and we're going to get everybody off this wait list. And your spot in the wait list didn't matter. And I really wanted people to just relax, don't refresh the page. We will get to you. Now the whole thing about it going to junk was not planned. So some people missed it. There's still a little thing up on our website about the wait list because of that. But we tried our best.

Josh: Yeah. I mean, at least you're capturing some of the energy that was going into it. You were giving them something to do with that energy, whether it was the Kickstarter, whether it was just at least entering their email address, they know they could be on a wait list. And so it provided you with an outlet to take that energy that you weren't able to bottle into active users in your app right away, but at least you were giving them something [crosstalk 00:30:08].

Mila: Yeah. And I would say that emailing them. Oops, sorry.

I would say that emailing people during the wait list is a really great idea because it helps them feel like they're part of the journey and that you're still out there and that you do care about them.



Josh: No, I was just saying, that's the sense I had from what we've talked about.

Mila: Yeah. And I would say that emailing people during the wait list is a really great idea because it helps them feel like they're part of the journey and that you're still out there and that you do care about them. So I would still highly recommend that.

Josh: Yeah. That's a huge commonality between people that run successful campaigns. And when I say a successful campaign, I don't just mean people that collect 50,000 emails. I mean people who collect a set of emails and then they get those people to take whatever action it is afterwards, whether it's downloading the app, whether it's purchasing something at the store, or buying a subscription to a Box or whatever it is that people are more successful getting that ultimate action if they're communicating along the way during a wait list, because otherwise, like you said, it makes people feel involved. And then I think also people just forget about it, even if it's two weeks, a month or in some cases like six months later, if you just, your communication was nothing and then all of a sudden you send an email that says, "We're live, we're ready for you." That's just a recipe for some nobody hitting delete on their email because they have no relationship with you, and they don't [crosstalk 00:31:27].

I think it's so important to not arrogantly think that they remember the name of your company — I don't expect you to remember. You were excited from TikTok, but hey, this is what we are.



Mila: Right. And I think it's so important to not arrogantly think that they remember the name of your company. So like, "Hi, we're that wardrobe assistant you signed before." I don't expect you to remember. You were excited from TikTok, but hey, this is what we are. And actually there's one of the teams that I coach who has been... They're a startup, they're very successful. In their emails to investors at the bottom, they say, "And just as a reminder is what we do." [inaudible 00:32:05] you might have invested in us and we communicate with you often, we're just reminding. And I think that's a very nice thing to do. There's so much information thrown out and it's hard to remember everything.

Josh: Yeah. I think that's super important in terms of communication as constant reminders because you, as somebody who's into your company, don't think it's important because you're working on it all the time. In fact, you might even think that, "Oh, I'm annoying. And I'm talking about this all the time." But if you look at the average person, they might be looking at a small percentage of the messages they're getting. So when they do open one of your messages in whatever medium they're opening the message, having a little bit of context is really helpful or can be really helpful. And it's not going to annoy the people who really care about your product, even if you think it might, because you're just living in it. You're like, "Well, of course I know what this product is. And of course I know what it does."

Mila: Yeah. And I'm sure you're not alone in this. I receive email communications that I have signed up for and I'll look at the company name and just blank. I have no idea what they do. And even after I look at their email, I'm still confused. So, I think it's handy. And I was the one who signed up for it, there's just a lot of information out there.

Josh: No, I'd signed up for a wait list on a product. And I was really interested in, and I had the experience recently of just forgetting, I was like, "Oh yeah, I'll bet that product launched by now." Because I hadn't followed their emails along the point and I couldn't remember the name. So even my searches and my email, I couldn't find it. And I was like, you know what, they're really good at communicating, I'll bet next week I'll get an email from them and It'll jog my memory and then sure enough, I just let it go. And then next week they sent an email and the email was exactly that. It was like, "Hey, just so you know, we do this kind of service." And I was like, "Great. That's what I wanted." I had to go back.

Josh: And again, like you said, even though I'd signed up for it, I'd known what I wanted to do. I couldn't find it in my own history. And so, but thankfully for them, they were communicating every like two weeks and I had a... And now that I got a subscription from them, but I'm sure that customer journey is probably not a typical... There's this.

Josh: Yeah. I think the people have this belief that people go and they see an email and they go and they take action right away from something, but I think it takes a lot longer to build that relationship before somebody commits to... Especially purchases or something like a larger commitment. So what I want to talk... I mean, I just want to go into next... Just a couple more minutes remaining. What is next for you guys? When I was clicking around, obviously you have like the Pronti.app site, which is like an end user, like your smart wardrobe assistant. But when I was looking at the Pronti.ai site, it looks like you're positioning it. You've got two paths where one, you've got a path for people who are maybe fashion retailers and one, you've got a path for people who are interested in the app as an end user. And so, how does that relationship work? It looks like you're maybe trying to build a two sided marketplace. What are you guys doing next?

Mila: Sort of. So within our Pronti app, we have two sides. We have what to wear and what to buy. And so, the what to buy is really about personalized recommendations for e-commerce. And we have a really neat feature in it where we pull items from your closet and we pair something new. So the whole idea around this is using what you already have, but also, we all need to refresh items, whether we've worn them out or we have something that we want a bit of a change. And so, the retailer side is a way for the retailers to send their inventory to our machine learning and then for that to go towards the app.

Mila: So yeah, shopping is definitely one of the things that is on our mind next. We have so, so many beautiful ideas from our users, from the campaign and then from onboarding and trying it out that we have a long list of features and things that we need to implement within the app on the what to wear side as well. But both those things I think are very... There's going to be some exciting changes in the next six months.

Josh: Cool. And are you still self-funded at this point? Or have you raised funds? Are you looking to raise funds? What are you doing to keep that company going in this time?

Mila: Yeah. So the Kickstarter was not intended to fund us. We only had a thousand dollars goal and that is certainly not enough to pay software developers in this day and age, but software developers are getting very expensive. So we are thinking about it because one of my mandates is to keep the what to wear side of the app free and to really fund this through retailers and the sales of the shopping items. So that requires a bit of runway. And so we've been thinking about fundraising and we've been talking to a few venture capitalists as well.

I definitely think that customer validation piece cannot be understated enough.



Josh: Cool. I mean, you've got the active users, it sounds like you've done a lot of market research and you understand the customer and the need, and I could totally see a need for this in this space. And so I could imagine a lot of great relationships with venture capitalists and influencers as well, because you kind of alluded to that earlier in terms of getting them on board and talking about how it makes their life to choose easier. So what's some advice you'd have for somebody thinking about launching an app that we maybe haven't talked about? Because I know you coach a lot of people and whether the advice comes from your experience with Pronti or just general advice, like what's something, if you were to give one or two pieces of advice to somebody who's thinking about going down this journey?

So when they [customers] finally have something in their hands, they do different things because they just never imagined otherwise.



Mila: Yeah. So I definitely think that customer validation piece cannot be understated enough, but the thing about customers is if the only thing you do is market research and just talk to them, you never really know for sure what they will actually do, so when they finally have something in their hands, they do different things because they just never imagined otherwise. And so, I think the other thing that's really important is to implement an agile methodology where you're really developing and testing before you go full board into it. So for example, for us, shopping is kind of in a test mode right now and there's a pop up that says, "You can take a peak, but it's not really finished." And part of that was to understand a little bit about what happens when people take a peak and where do they go and what do they do? And are they having any feedback so that when we invest more significant time into it, it's doing the right things so that you don't end up going down a path and wasting time and money doing something that nobody wants.

Josh: Absolutely. So I sort of view that [inaudible 00:39:26] to like you guys don't see... It doesn't seem like you are afraid to just throw something out there and you don't, not to say you don't have shame, but you're not worried about how it looks necessarily to throw something out there and test the idea.

Mila: Yeah, absolutely. In fact, I think it's important to be thoughtful about how you're testing it too. So we have a lot of things that are sort of on our roadmap that we're incrementally testing people's appetites for. And I think as long as you tell people this is under development or take a peek, give us feedback, we'll keep iterating, we'll making it better. I think people are excited to be along that journey. We actually had one user who took our screens into camera and completely redesigned them and I thought that was incredible. So I think testing can give you some really amazing bright sparks along the way.

Josh: Absolutely. I want to thank you for your time today. I think this has been a great conversation. I've learned a lot about TikTok, about some customer validation and I'm sure our audience would get as much out of it, if not more, as well.

I think it's important to be thoughtful about how you're testing it too. So we have a lot of things that are sort of on our roadmap that we're incrementally testing people's appetites for.



Mila: That sounds great. It's been really fun and I think I've learned a lot too and I always learn a lot every week. Certainly, we didn't know anything before TikTok. And I think that before we started on our TikTok journey and I think that's kind of part of being an entrepreneur is that you just have to sort of put yourself out there and know that you have to learn something new.

Josh: Great. So speaking of putting yourself out there, how can anybody listen to this, if they want to ask you a question, find you online?

Mila: Oh, for sure. So if you do download the app and you want to give us feedback, there is a method through the menu where you can send us a message. There's also support@pronti.app and I largely man support@pronti.app. I do have a Twitter handle, Mila Banerjee. I am not on Twitter that often, I should be. That's another way to reach out to me.

Josh: Great. Thanks again for your time. And I look forward to helping you guys out down the road.

Mila: That sounds wonderful. Thanks Josh.

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