The Dead Pixels Society podcast

Enabling online sales anywhere, on any platform, with Aaron Day, CEO, Amaze (formerly Famous)

March 02, 2022 Gary Pageau/Aaron Day Season 3 Episode 68
The Dead Pixels Society podcast
Enabling online sales anywhere, on any platform, with Aaron Day, CEO, Amaze (formerly Famous)
Show Notes Transcript

Gary Pageau of the Dead Pixels Society talks with Aaron Day, the new CEO of SaaS eCommerce company, Amaze.  (The company changed its name to Amaze from Famous just prior to the recording of this episode.) In this interview, Day talks about how the company is bringing its decades-long experience in eCommerce tool development to offer a portfolio of simple tools for making online selling easy for a wide array of creators, photographers, entrepreneurs and small businesses.

Founded in 2011, Amaze gives online merchants the power to instantly create,
beautifully branded shopping experiences without code.

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Erin Manning  
Welcome to the Dead Pixels Society podcast, the photo imaging industry's leading news source. Here's your host, Gary Pageau.

Gary Pageau  
The Dead Pixels Society podcast is brought to you by Mediaclip, Photo Finale, and Advertek Printing. Hello again, and welcome to the Dead Pixels Society podcast. I'm your host, Gary Pageau. And today we're joined by Aaron Day, the CEO and board member of Famous. Hi, Aaron, how are you today?

Aaron Day  
Good, Gary, how are you? Great to see you.

Gary Pageau  
With a company like Famous you think everyone would know what Famous does. But you've only recently been the news the last six or seven months? Can you kind of give us a brief overview of what Famous is

Aaron Day  
Famous is a SAS design software platform. At its core. We have software geared towards professional designers, professional agencies, and then we most recently have software that's geared towards novice users. But really, we call them sellers, merchants, people who are trying to sell something. So we're an online software platform with a lot of software tech around designing, creating things that are published anywhere. been around a while been around almost 10 years. So nice, nice company, a lot of tech

Gary Pageau  
companies been around for 10 years. But right now it's kind of becoming more and more to abuse the word famous. It's because and why is that? What what has changed? About the company that's created a higher profile?

Aaron Day  
But do you mind if I give you a little background? Because I think to help help her audience, the content in context of what's happening and how we how we've evolved over the last few years? Is that is that is it? Okay, obviously, sure. Perfect. Okay. So Famous was founded, you know, about 10 years ago, first five or six years of the company's existence was it was a high end design agency. So basically, it was created as an agency that worked with most of the Fortune 500, creating optimized online mobile experiences. So it was in the bay in the Bay Area. And a lot of tech companies, a lot of fortune 500, companies were struggling with finding the people who had the ability to create optimized mobile experiences for digital online experiences. And along the way, investors came in and said, Well, why don't you build? Why don't you build software that will allow people to optimize mobile experiences. And so over 456 year period, they built under the hood, you know, first they built things that were probably comparable to figma, or sketch, then they built software that was more focused on no code, online design. And they pivoted to be more user friendly, as they acted as an agency. So they kept servicing all these clients, they had a large designer base, and they kept trying to build out tools. Well, finally, around 2018, they said, Look, you know what we're going to go all in. And we're going to build software for online design. And we're going to get out of the agency business. So the business pivoted towards the end of 2018. And then they launched the first online software platform called Famous Pro, and 2019. And Pro is really geared towards the professional designer, you have to remember that for the last five, six years, they've been working with agencies and professional marketers, professional creators. And so the software's was launched, it was very, it's a Pro versions of professional software. It's not something that the average person without any any training and design would know how to use. It's

Gary Pageau  
somebody who wants the colors to be precise, not just blue.

Aaron Day  
Yeah, that's, that's correct. And it really sophisticated around animations and transitions. So when you think about a mobile experience, and I'm going through different templates and different videos, how I animate and how I move from from side to side, or slide to slide, really sophisticated animation engines, also preview engines, like so. So it was geared towards professional designers. And probably, you know, back then is way, way before me, probably not so easy to use. So the onboarding of the software, it would take you a couple of days to maybe a week to learn how to use the software, good user base, lots of positive feedback, and a lot of people use the software. But they realized with the onset of new companies out there, it needed to get easier to use if it really was going to scale. They they had to they had to launch something that was you know, real simple to use for somebody without a design background. So most of this year, most of to excuse me, most of 2021 was focused on building a product called Amaze. I'm really proud to announce just just finally launched last week and full, you know, full and full MVP version, and the Shopify ecosystem, and that's the that's the first iteration of all power under the hood of, of this pro software, but in a new user interface that's simple to use, where you can go in and within, like, you know, two, three minutes create, you know, beautiful online selling experiences with our design engine without having to have any design experience in any design training, right? So.

Gary Pageau  
So you're really sort of the hub of the experience of getting of creating an E commerce business, right in terms of you want to, you want to you've got your your design elements, but you may not have them, have them optimized for mobile, and for all the various platforms and the things like that you're going to take those things and optimize them and distribute them in in an appropriate way. On shopping platforms,

Aaron Day  
is that correct? On shopping platforms, or really anywhere social commerce platforms, social channels, I mean, we are at our core, we are the head of the technology stack. So the way the way Famous works is it's it's a design engine that's optimized to connect to selling channels. So think think Shopify, think big commerce, think tick tock marketplace, think Facebook marketplace, it's a design, it's a design software, but it has because it operates as a head of a technology stack. And it's it's codeless, you can integrate components very quickly. So it's really it's, it's really it's a, it's a next generation sort of idea around how you take a design software and a template, and you allow it to sort of act as the head of a technology stack, whether it be a selling stack, a marketing stack, a social channels stack, that's what it works as.

Gary Pageau  
Okay, in terms of the photo side of it, you integrate with other tools to handle the photo side, is that correct? Yep. So

Aaron Day  
we, if you go into our product, you'll see that we have we have stock photo, we have photo editing tools, but over time, and some of this will come over the next few months, you'll see that we'll actually just open up an API to let additional photo editing and photo AI come into the platform. Because really what you think about we're helping merchants sell, we're helping merchants and the this massively growing crater economy, start to figure out how to sell things online better, you know, with with more beautiful designs, they start with a product they start with, they start with a photo right, that photo needs to be optimized for an online selling experience. And unfortunately, most people taking a photo of a T shirt or Walmart or a product, cosmetic, whatever. They're not really experts in photo editing or photo, the photo retouching piece, right, so So what we'll do is we'll bring in some of the best photo editing tools inside of Famous to allow people to do that, you know, more seamlessly. And then those photos will then be dropped into beautiful templates that will then be shared on social sites or selling sites. So photo editing is a big part of what we're doing. But it won't be we won't build it won't be Famous tools. It'll be third party tools that we integrate.

Gary Pageau  
That's not really your, your core competency, your sweet spot, right?

Aaron Day  
Yes and no. So we won't edit the photos. But when it comes to things like taking a photo and creating animation around the photo, or transitioning a photo into, you know, from slide to slide, we have a lot of expertise there, we have a lot of really cool tech there. But that initial photo editing piece, we will end up being sort of an aggregator of photo editing tools.

Gary Pageau  
Now one of the things that has kind of evolved in online commerce, I think is sort of the storytelling idea, right? Because old ecommerce, eBay days old eBay was you throw a picture of something up there, and you hope it sells and the cleaner the picture, the probably better itself. And I think as people become more attuned to better graphics, animations and things like that, storytelling, I'm putting air quotes around that even merchandising is going to be more and more key.

Aaron Day  
It's very interesting. If you look at the platforms out there that are expanding rapidly, Shopify, big commerce, Wix, a square online, great, great tech platforms right there. They're allowing, they're allowing merchants to come on and sell products in an easier way. They're aggregating all the tools you need to sell online, but they're still based on design engines that are very rigid. You know, if you if you go and you put something in this box, you you you add text to this box, the look and feel of all the sites are very similar. The approach we've taken is like look open canvas. So when so when you think about storytelling, you want you want the story to flow the way the story wants to flow. You want the video and the contact content and the pricing the shopping cart to flow in a way that's just just more natural, right, right. And you're when you're when you're restricted because you've got to put a photo in this boxes right corner. And you got to put text in this box over here because everybody has this wireframe framework, that's all the same, right? Storytelling is kind of kind of becomes kind of bland, right? I mean, it's so what I'm really excited about with our, with our platform is that we have an open canvas text sort of philosophy where you can create whatever you want, and you can split it however you want to blend it. And then you share that into a platform, right? So I'm an expert, when I see a mobile selling campaign launch, I can tell you that was built in Famous because it's, it transitions on a mobile experience. And it's not blocky, and it's not sort of like right, squares that are being manipulated, it's very open. And it's it's and I think that's something that's the creators are gonna love as they go forward. They're gonna they're gonna take they're gonna take their creative genius and and use our software to sell sell stuff online in a better way. So what are the

Gary Pageau  
metrics that you're able to demonstrate to your users that this method actually works? And it is actually better than the wireframe template approach? You know, I mean, maybe cool, maybe great. But if it doesn't increase sales, then what's the point? Yeah, we

Aaron Day  
have very good data here. So we can see from from the basic stuff, like when you embed video, into a selling experience, how it up how it lifts or uplifts, the conversion rates of people actually checking out the product in a cart, we can see that when you add certain types of animation, and transition between a product and a video of a product and a explanation in it seamless how uplifts, you can see where the inventory that is, is linked into the design, and how it's placed, allows for conversion into a shopping cart to be that to happen better. And the thing is, is that now the testing, the testing, because of the way our software, it simplifies the layout process for selling experiences, you can actually test faster. So I can run a B test is this green backpack is this is this blue backpack selling better, isn't selling better embedded in the video isn't selling better out of the video, it just gives me the ability to iterate really quickly online, which before was a very complicated process.

Gary Pageau  
So the user has some sort of dashboard that they're using where they can monitor these things or run these tests. Is that independent of their Shopify environment? Or is it one, look.

Aaron Day  
So the dashboards are all sort of integrated, depending on the platform that you're hosted in? So we have our own tools that you can see, like, you know, like what's performing better, but you also have those tools that are provided by the selling channel, right? The nice thing is that those that you can respond to those tools faster. Now, you can, what we saw on the fall, which was amazing was that with other supply chain issues happening, a lot of our merchants or small companies, they may have four or five, six products, if Product A was out of stock, historically, it would have taken them two or three weeks to get product B back up on all their sites, well, using our software tools, and you know, using the Amaze product, they were back up in 30 minutes, and all they did was just use our ShopLink our inventory connecting pieces to just drop in new inventory. Now, that wasn't data, it was just pure need. Because they were out. They were out of supply. And they had nothing. They said nothing, right. But what they saw was that, hey, they were able to get back in front of their their customer very quickly with new products with the same beautiful selling experience. And customers kept buying, right, because customers didn't leave and go elsewhere. And that was as important to them as some of the testing data that they were getting back. Right? Pretty, pretty, pretty powerful.

Gary Pageau  
Can you kind of describe briefly without doing too much of a sell job, what the Famous offerings are, I mean, you you've kind of done a rebrand with the Amaze branding that the end users going to see. But you've got the landing page product, you've got different levels, what are those,

Aaron Day  
we really have today, four products. So we have Amaze Pro, which was formerly Famous Pro, and that's a very high end professional design engine that professional designers, agencies, professional craters are going to use to create mobile selling experiences, landing pages, websites, email marketing campaigns, social campaigns for for other clients, you know, it's not a b2b tool, right? I'm going to create, I'm going to create things that are going to help someone sell something online. And it's got a lot of sophistication inside of that product. We have something called custom domain. And what and that's a brand new software we've launched and what custom domain does is I can create a selling experience. And I can then share that through a custom domain. So I can share it with my domain, my URL, my website, but I can also share it through multiple channels. So it allows me to create something once and publish it. And a lot of locations publish it anyway, right. So that custom domain is another product that we have. And we have a lot of resources going into sort of connecting it in more locations, right? Then we have Amaze free, which just launched. And that's a free, free landing page builder, free selling page builder. And what what it's really optimized for is for the merchant who needs to create an immediate selling page, I want to put something on Facebook marketplace, tick tock marketplace, and I want to promote my product. I'm maybe I'm not, maybe I'm not editing my entire website, maybe I'm not creating a new, you know, I just want

Gary Pageau  
that real quick SELinux banner, it's a one off, or it's something like that. Yep. And and

Aaron Day  
I'll come back to that in a second. Because I think there's a lot of data coming out right, now that we'll talk about that one off experience. So I want to come back to that. But then the last product we have is called ShopLink. And to me, this is like one of the coolest things that we do. And I'm trying not to sell too much of your gear. But so what we do is shop like is we allow the merchant to connect into their inventory or their SKU system. So if I let's, let's say I sell T shirts, right, and I've got my inventory of all my all my T shirts I want to sell well, ShopLink allows a merchant to connect into that inventory system, that SKU management system, and not only import the content of the physical product, but I can import the content of the written, you know, the description, the product overview, the sizing, and I can also import the shopping cart, or the checkout experience that goes along with that product. So as I'm testing something online and seeing what's selling better, I can use shopping to grab all that that SKU data and bring it into the design and very quickly publish something. And to me, that's probably one of the most valuable products we have today. Because it allows that merchant to not have to go back and say, well, here's a blue t shirt that I want to sell, man, here's the product information, I don't have to recreate it over and over and over again, I just update my SKU system, and that imports into the product design. So those are the four products. So Pro, Amaze Free, custom domains, and shop and shoplink. Those are the things that we're promoting today. And really try to help merchants and creators and entrepreneurs sell sell things better online.

Gary Pageau  
I'm really intrigued by the quickie landing page thing, because I see a lot of opportunity for like our audience, for example, maybe a camera retailer who's having a lens manufacturer coming in, and they're doing a special sigma day or Tamron day or Nikon day or whatever. And they need a way to promote that without having to redo their whole entire website. And whereas they may have gone to a Wix or something like that, it's not really as graphically as appealing as they probably should be. You call it

Aaron Day  
landing pages, we're kind of trying to change the nomenclature a bit and call it selling pages. And the reason we're doing that is that a landing page has a lot of a lot of specific integration needs, right? A selling page can go can be viral and live anywhere. So we so we can very quickly create customized landing page with Amaze. But what we want to do is that take that, that that camera manufacturer who's doing a promotion and say, create a selling page, and that selling page can live on your website, as it as a published page landing page, right. But also that selling page can be shared to all your social channels. Right, right. And because it's got all the links and built into it to the shopping cart and the product, you can go into Facebook marketplace, somebody can open it up, and they can they can they can check out right there. Right. Right. And so it's very, it's very immediate. And to me, that's the excitement around this because the landing page isn't usually I mean, you can you can share it, you can promote it out there. But it really isn't thought of as something that's supposed to be shared as a selling page anymore.

Gary Pageau  
There's no transactions expected that yes, yeah, emotional thing. So what you're trying to do if I can put my own finger on this, is you're trying to turn every touchpoint into a transaction point.

Aaron Day  
That's correct. Yes. Yeah. And if you think about this now, how often do I update my website? If I if I'm a small business, and I own a website, once a year, twice a year, maybe four times a year, I go in and update my website, but how often am I posting something on social channels? How often am I running an email marketing campaign? If I can, if I can create selling pages that can link into all my daily promotions, that then my focus goes into that. And as I see what transforms better, that's the data that drives how I update my website. And it's I mean, so so this is not a new concept, but the ability to actually do it quickly is something that we feel is very new with with the Amaze

Gary Pageau  
product. So people would be amazed at how fast they can do these things. Yeah,

Aaron Day  
this is I hope it's not too corny, but about the name. We deal with so many small merchants, so many small creators, we want you to amaze yourself with what you created, right? We want you to amaze your customer with the, with this beautiful experience, right? So we just kept thinking about, like, you know, can we amaze our consumer? Can we amaze our user. And that's where the name came from, we want we just feel like there's this ability to amaze yourself with what you just did very quickly, you know? So

Gary Pageau  
now your background in the photo print world, that's where you've come from? Where do you see the links to that world and the Amaze product? How could someone in that world best use your platform,

Aaron Day  
I, you know, you read all about the creative economy. And if the person out there doing something, you know, like I, I'm at an event, and I take this photo, and I go, Wow, this photo would look really great on a canvas, it would look really great on on Walmart, or maybe this is the the next trending, you know, ball cap or trucker cap that might happen. And but how do I What do I do with it. And if we can go, Hey, creator, or a photographer, you know, just download our software and take that photo and drop it into a beautifully selling template. And oh, by the way, it's already got a connection to a shopping cart or checkout experience. And all you have to do is just drop your image in, add a few pieces of type, explain it, and then publish it. We've now empowered that creator to sell something, sell an individual product very quickly, online without having to go through the complicated process of of all these inventory systems and CMS systems, we just allow them to simply sell something, right? Right. They still have the awareness factor where it's got to be you've got to create awareness of the product. But it's it's it's simple, right. And I think that's the first part of this is like allowing this to be created and sold and promoted online quickly. And then the viral the viral piece takes place. So

Gary Pageau  
since me like the platforms that have done well, over the last few years, the kind of the SAS Type businesses are the ones that really take pain points, and bring them down to a manageable level of pain, if you will. And so it sounds to me like that's what you folks have done with with the Amaze platform.

Aaron Day  
Yeah, we are completely whatever person focused on empowering or an eight, enabling anyone to sell anything anywhere on any platform. That's, that's our that's our slogan. That's what we're doing. And it starts with a design software, right? I create something I want to put into a selling template, and I want to put it online. And every step along that process, we want to simplify it as much as we possibly can.

Gary Pageau  
You're known as the partnership King, how does someone partner with you folks to become either a, an endpoint provider or some in some other way?

Aaron Day  
Yeah. So that's, it's a really good question. And we thought about this a lot. Because from my background in partnerships, you have content partnerships, you have integration, partnerships, you have distribution partnerships, you have co marketing partnerships, right. So we've actually started to build out, we took our VP of Engineering, and we made her we put her in charge of VP of partnerships in integration. And we said, look, because of the way our tech is built, we're going to have technology partners that come in that integrate into our platform to make, you know, because we're not going to build everything ourselves to make this better. So we have integration partners. And then we have distribution partners, where we actually take our software and we and we we allow it to be distributed in other platforms, other ecommerce platforms, other social platforms. So really, what we're doing today is we're opening up these four channels of partnerships, where we want to enable the product editing, partnerships, we want to enable distribution through partnerships. So how you get there with us is you just basically reach out on us, you'll see on our new website, at the very bottom, we have a little tiles as partnerships, partnerships, that Famous that CEO, you connect to us, and they will walk we'll walk you through all the ways to partner. But if this is really cool, because people who might have been viewed as a competitor in the past, looking at and going well, you're you're getting to hundreds of 1000s if not millions of merchants, people that want to sell something, and we could actually make that merchant or that that creative person aware of this new photo editing tool, or this new video editing tool or this new style tool. And we're just we're aggregating it into into our platform, right, so So partnerships become really important inside of Famous because not only are we integrating with other third parties, we're actually bringing we're becoming a distribution engine.

Gary Pageau  
So exactly like you said early, you can't build everything. We can't build everything. Yeah. Well, it's good to recognize that because those who have gone down that path and learn the hard way if you've got to know what you do well and do it well. Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Well Thank you Aaron for your time today. I appreciate the the bringing us up to date on the latest with Famous amazing yourself and look forward to seeing you again, hopefully in person in 2022 sometime.

Aaron Day  
Likewise, Gary, I love the work you're doing, keep it up and anything else we can do to support you. We love the Deads Pixels Society.

Erin Manning  
Thank you for listening to the dead pixel society podcast. Read more great stories and sign up for the newsletter at www.thedead pixelsociety.com

Transcribed by https://otter.ai