CEO of Pico, Asaf Nevo: Personalizing Fan Experience with AI

Enabling unique fan experience with latest AI technologies.

Yuliya Sychikova
COO @ DataRoot Labs
28 Sep 2020
6 min read
CEO of Pico, Asaf Nevo: Personalizing Fan Experience with AI

Asaf Nevo is the CEO and Co-founder of Pico - Get Personal, a data-driven fan marketing platform powered by AI. Pico helps brands and organizations communicate more effectively with their digital audiences to entice greater levels of connection to franchises.

Asaf co-founded Pico in 2014, which has since expanded in clients and in offices with locations in Israel, the United States, and Europe. Today, Pico is trusted by leading sports teams, music venues, and brands around the world such as the St. Louis Blues, Borussia Dortmund, the LA Clippers, and more.

With what purpose in mind did you start Pico?

Pico was originally started as a photo-sharing app. The idea was actually brought to life after my wedding where we saw hundreds of pictures being taken but no easy way to share the images with everybody. We’re talking 2013 - before selfies and Instagram. So we created a photo-sharing app, which allowed people to share photos and aggregate albums from events. This, you could say, was the very first version of Pico. It might sound far off from what we’re doing today, but it is an important part of our journey, current market choice, and where we are today as a team.

When we started to really fine-tune Pico, the disconnect between teams and leagues and their digital fans became apparent to us. At the time, we saw the need not only to engage their fans but to identify them as well. We wanted to help paint a better picture of who these big organizations are engaging with on a daily basis and how personalizing their fan experiences helps both parties.

Pico's technology allows to label the fans correctly based on their interactions and decide on which questions to ask them and which content and offers to put in front of them. All of this is done automatically - driven by AI.

Asaf Nevo

CEO @ Pico

Prior to founding Pico, at some point, you were running a bar. Were there any lessons learned from running a bar that came in handy when building a startup?

Definitely. Firstly, the customer is always right. Secondly, the need for great consumer experiences. When we owned and operated our bar, we were always looking for tech-savvy ways to make the experience at our establishment much more fun and cool for customers. So we’ve taken that strategy and incorporated it into Pico's business model and mission.

Pico’s technology essentially turns an anonymous audience into, identified fans that can support the brand’s objectives. How does AI help you achieve that?

Our technology is based on allowing teams to have data-driven fan management decision making. Pico's technology allows to label the fans correctly based on their interactions and decide on which questions to ask them and which content and offers to put in front of them. All of this is done automatically - driven by AI.

How does your AI actually work? Where does the data come from and how does the algorithm help increase the team’s motivation and productivity?

The data comes from the fans' interactions across different digital channels. It can be done over social networks or inside the app/website of the team. We are able to connect to any digital channel the team currently has and work on the fan interactions there.

The outcome of our technology is an actionable data set that teams can use across every aspect of their decision making process. Whether it's for tickets, merchandise, sponsorship or customer service purposes - teams need to know each and every fan.

Whether it's for tickets, merchandise, sponsorship, or customer service purposes - teams need to know each and every fan.

Asaf Nevo

CEO @ Pico

For big brands, knowing exactly who your fans are and understanding how they interact during the game is key to unlocking larger revenue streams. Could you provide an example of how Pico did that for one of your clients?

Sure. Let’s take the Nashville Predators of the NHL. The Preds wanted to understand which of their fans would be more likely to purchase last-minute ticket deals. After running 8 weeks of Pico activations across their social channels, they were able to segment more than 10,000 relevant fans. They received valuable data points with a promise that these fans would be interested in the Predators' last-minute ticket offer at Bridgestone Arena. Pico’s AI solution then took the data and segmented it into 3 types of different groups, which led to delivering more than 2,500 tickets to qualified, ready-to-buy fans.

Putting fans first by providing them with the most relevant offers and info is a huge part of what you do and why brands love you. At the same time, users increasingly value their privacy and care about how and what data is collected on them. How do you strike that delicate balance?

It’s a good and important question. We make sure that we are complying with all of the latest GDPR guidelines and regulations. In addition to that, before our activation begins, users receive a message that explains that the information given in the conversation is saved to better serve them in the future, i.e. relevant offers, messages, etc. User data, and keeping it protected is of big importance to us and our clients. Our easy opt-out options for users, ensure that fans don’t feel spammed or inundated with irrelevant news, messages, and content. We make sure they actually want to hear and receive updates from their favorite team.

In the early days of Pico, you were the startup’s CTO. What was the technical biggest challenge for you back then?

Correct. And in 2017, Pico made a big pivot to where it is now.

At the beginning of this journey, Pico was a mobile app. There was no platform. The challenge was to create a great UX for app users and drive downloads.

What features are next for your clients? What do you hope to achieve 3-5 years from now as an organization?

We have some cool new features very close to launching. One of them is an automatic activation generator. Here, our clients paste a snippet of our code into their website, and the code scans and understands the content of the page, and creates an automatic activation. For example, if a team is publishing an article about a new player on their website, they can implement the code and after the user finishes reading the piece, they have the option to play this fun, engaging activation. It provides more data for our clients while eliminating unnecessary work for them.

Teams that are willing to invest in digital technologies will have a huge advantage with what the market has to offer to enable a unique fan experience.

Asaf Nevo

CEO @ Pico

AI + Marketing + Entertainment is transforming fan experience in many ways - from offering more relevant events to providing a better fan experience during an event. What will we see in the next 5 years?

The industry is now going through an important digital transformation. The first step was when teams announced that they were moving to digital-only - meaning that ticket sales and communication would only happen over various digital platforms.

The second step is now when teams understand that they must have a deep understanding of each and every fan, alongside owning all of the data about them.

Teams that are willing to invest in digital technologies will have a huge advantage with what the market has to offer to enable a unique fan experience.

What is next for Pico?

We are currently at the beginning of a big round of funding, joined by strategic investors.

Our main expansion is deeper into the teams - building more and more tools for every department within the organizations of our clients. That would allow us to leverage the data and get to know the fans better - which in turn would lead to better, and more informed business decisions.

In addition, we are partnering with the biggest CRM/ERP platforms in the world to provide integrations to our datasets - directly into the team infrastructure.

Have an idea? Let's discuss!

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Yuliya Sychikova
Yuliya Sychikova
COO @ DataRoot Labs
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Yuliya Sychikova
COO @ DataRoot Labs
Yuliya is a co-founder and COO of DataRoot Labs, where she oversees operations, sales, communication, and Startup Venture Services. She brings onboard business and venture capital experience that she gained at a leading tech investment company in CEE, where she oversaw numerous deals and managed a portfolio across various tech niches including AI and IT service companies.
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