Tech Startup Story: Evangeline Leong, Kobe Global Technologies
What were you doing before Kobe?
I was a business director at PurpleClick. I spent close to 10 years there, and it was the place where I got my years of business and digital marketing experience, which gave me the confidence to start Kobe.
Can you share with us what is Kobe and how does it work?
Kobe is a unique B2B-B2C company that utilises an international PCT patent AI technology system.
Through our AI system, we connect advertisers to relevant everyday influencers, leveraging on their ability to broadcast messages to millions of users so that businesses can get represented in front of their target audience credibly and authentically.
With the use of image recognition in AI, we can get insights from the images influencers shared by understanding the content such as scenes, food and objects.
Often, contextual content (captions) may not be sufficient to tell us about the content; whereas image recognition can generate a lot more data about the influencer.
We also make use of natural language understanding in AI to extract insight such as keywords, categories and concepts from contextual content; even if not explicitly mentioned.
For example, a millennial may not explicitly mention that he or she is a millennial but would express him/herself with words like “YOLO”, “Study Hard Play Hard” etc., and we will hence be able to learn the concepts of these to be likely a millennial.
Other than just studying the influencers’ profile, our system also helps to analyse their audiences profile. We would be able to see how many per cent of their audiences are male or female, which countries are they from, and what kind of contents the influencers would garner more conversation with the audiences.
This robust AI system has helped us to pair influencers relevantly with advertisers, and as a result produce content that is authentic, engaging and impactful to advertisers.
You can watch this video to find out more:
How did the idea come about?
I was visiting a small wanton noodles stall in MacPherson, and I was suddenly curious as to how the store owner managed to remain popular even with other competing stores opening. His answer to me struck me, “我的口碑好” (my word-of-mouth recommendation is good). That’s how I came up with the name Kobe. His response was so simple yet significant as it made me think of how word-of-mouth could be made relevant to businesses everywhere.
Having worked in the digital marketing industry for almost ten years, the most effective tool for marketing remains as word-of-mouth. Social media has liberated the speed of word of mouth amongst consumers where we often see our friends or families sharing their latest experience at a restaurant or an overseas trip.
The adoption of digital innovation and the transformation have always been a concern. There is no lack of cutting-edge technologies in the market, but the adoption has always been slow. A lot of this is due to the unfamiliarity towards something new and intangible. Naming Kobe after the traditional word of mouth Kou Bei 口碑 was intended to help bring the understanding of conventional marketing means and bring this tool to businesses.
What were the initial challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?
The influencer marketing industry has a debatable reputation. There have been many sagas and scandals revolving around influencer marketing. Common misconceptions include influencers being fake or deceitful.
However, Kobe aims to change the perception people have of influencers. With Kobe’s PCT patent A.I system, the influencers chosen will be based on relevancy and authenticity, over the traditional selection method based on popularity or ‘style-fit’. This will help to improve the credibility of using influencers for marketing strategy.
Also, Kobe has introduced the #UNCUT programme, an initiative that aims to promote authenticity. Through #UNCUT, the influencers will be donating part of their money received from the campaigns to charity organisations. Through this initiative, we want to involve our influencers in helping the society together and at the same time, informing people that influencers are not just out there to make money.
We have since had an overwhelming response to the participation of #UNCUT, differentiating Kobe as the influencer platform with trusted influencers.
What were the reactions of your loved ones when you told them that you are going to run your business?
My parents were feeling uneasy at first because I was doing well in my previous job. My life was stable, and there was no reason for me to give up what I was having then to start a new company.
I could understand where they were coming from. However, I have always wanted to test my limit, and at that point, it was to start a profitable company. With the support from my boss and friend, who becomes the sleeping business partner and co-founder respectively, I am even more determined to start Kobe. My parents started giving me their support after seeing how committed and excited I was to start Kobe. And this assurance has given me the strength to push Kobe to where it is right now.
Now that Kobe is up and running, what’s next?
Even though Kobe is up and running, we are still a young company. There are still so many things that we can do. Currently, the priority is to strengthen the foundation here in Singapore and to prepare for overseas expansion. With our international PCT patented AI technology, we are looking to file this patent in 9 other countries.