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Corporate executives, entrepreneurs and authors discuss corporate finance strategies, growth tactics, leadership journeys and other management topics to drive value creation. 

Oct 23, 2023

Jacob Bank, founder and CEO of Relay, combines AI with Human Judgement to automate repeated tasks in modern workflow.

Show Notes

[01:11]  Jacob provided an overview of Relay which is a workflow automation tool that aims to save you time on repeated tasks and help automate the components of repeated tasks that computers are really good at while still letting you apply human judgement and insight to the parts that need your assistance.  It is essentially a modern and collaborative version of Zapier, Microsoft Power Automate.

[01:59]  Jacob discussed how he got the inspiration for the company which traced back to his academic roots of computer science/social science research and product management experience at Google.  There are 3 key insights during the initial ideation stage of the company: i) repeated process requiring human judgement ii) AI capabilities increasing dramatically iii) workers use many digital tools

[06:32]  Jacob discussed the market opportunity of Relay which operates within a sub-category of workflow automation ($~70-$80bn market)

[08:53]  Relay's competitive differentiation is discussed: i) human judgement added to automation ii) AI integrated directly/seamlessly into the workflow iii) cross functional collaboration

[13:47]  Jacob provided couple use cases of Relay.

[14:52]  The current market focus of Relay was discussed.  Currently, the company is focusing on fast growing tech companies (10-500 employees). Jacob touched on the use cases (relatively high frequency) where Relay can be most beneficial to customers.

[19:48]  Jacob contrasted his current journey vs. his experience at Google.

[28:12]  Conversation on fundraising.  Jacob discussed his earlier experience at Timeful where he worked with experienced cofounders which made the overall process relatively easier.  In the case of Relay, the company was able to raise its seed round relatively smoothly as the market was hitting its peak in 2021/22.  The company raised 2 seed rounds which is higher than the Series A of Timeful.

[34:06]  Discussion on Jacob handled difficult investor questions.  Jacob’s high level approach is: never try to oversell something we haven't figured out yet; Acknowledge the level of confidence in how much we have it figured out.

[36:21]   Discussion on operating metrics: The primary goal is to save time for customers and the best proxy for that is how many automations the company executes on.  The company is tracking usage of its differentiators. (e.g. How often does an automation take advantage of a human in the loop or an AI in the loop?)

[41:44]   Jacob discussed the grand challenge of a startup: no one's actually telling you what to do. Do we have the right combination of product led adoption versus sales led adoption? Are we pricing the product right? Are we targeting the right customers?  The startup leaders have to constantly iterate and question the hypothesis.


Book mentioned on the show

Endurance by Alfred Lansing and Nathaniel Philbrick