There's a 99.9% chance you have, or you currently are, analysing and interpreting your data, really. As we all know, data is very valuable and can really empower entrepreneurs and businesses to make the right decisions and formulate the right strategies, if interpreted and analysed correctly. In this episode, Ahmed Elsamadisi, CEO of Narrator.ai, narrates how Narrator.ai works and how it helps entrepreneurs view and analyse their data in a completely different and efficient way.
Ahmed also shares the most common pitfalls that entrepreneurs get into with data, and how Narrator.ai can help you avoid that or get you out of that hole. He also shares how data can empower you to create better decisions and strategies, and how their tool can help you make these decisions as well through the prescriptions that Narrator.ai. And lastly, how Narrator.ai's magic creates its own magic of getting noticed.
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Post-production, transcript and show notes by XCD Virtual Assistants
The UnNoticed Entrepreneur is produced in the UK by the EASTWEST Public Relations Group.
Hello and welcome to this episode of The UnNoticed Entrepreneur. Today, we're actually going to Austin, Texas. And we're going to talk to Ahmed Elsamadisi, who's going to talk about the definitions, game, and about data, and why people make bad decisions with data. And why he's passionate about helping entrepreneurs to make the right decisions using their data. Ahmed, welcome to the show.Ahmed Elsamadisi:
Thank you for having me, Jim. I'm excited to be here.Jim James:
Look, well, I'm excited to have you because a whole new area—data. Not my strong suit. Now you are the Founder of a company called "Narrator" and you help with data. Why don't you explain the pitfalls that entrepreneurs and business owners get into with data and how they can use data to build a better business?Ahmed Elsamadisi:
Great question. So we'll start with the pitfalls. Data is one of those fields that everybody's talking about and everyone is trying to sell you something. So, even me, I'm trying to sell you something here, too. So like, "Take everything I say with a grain of salt." But the first thing about data is a lot of misinformation, and everyone is trying to say, "Use data." So I think the first common pitfall is that entrepreneurs use data earlier than they should. I have this really interesting view where using data that is bad is pretty much way worse than not using data at all.So here's an example:
when people have bad data, they are more confident because they think they're data-driven. So they actually run faster in the wrong decision. When people don't have data at all, they're more cautious, they're more aware, they're more alert. So they're not running the wrong decision, but they might be starting the wrong decision, and they might notice something and change their decision. So unless you're ready to really invest in data, I recommend just keep your bottom line metrics. And then, as data evolves, you want to kind of invest more and more in doing data correctly.Jim James:
And, you know, you said that about data and investing in data, most entrepreneurs try and have a dashboard at some stage, whether it's for marketing or for sales, for logistics. You've talked about the definitions game in data and how that leads entrepreneurs to make the wrong decisions based on definitions of data that aren't really accurate. Can you help us to explain, you know, what you mean by that? And what risks are we taking by making decisions on bad definitions?Ahmed Elsamadisi:
Yeah, awesome. So every company that is packaging data for you in a beautiful little bundle, that's like where you simplify data, are doing something that you don't realize, which is they're abstracting away data and putting words to express data. Often, these words sound like something, but they mean something different. Or they sound like something and it makes sense, but when you think a lot more deeper into it, it doesn't. This is very notoriously known for, like, in big examples, like Facebook, which has been sued almost every single year for misleading customers with words like "total watches." You're like, "Of course, I know what a watch is. Somebody watched the video." Did they? What have they scrolled past it, did that consider it a watch? If they click on it, it starts and they pause it in one second, is that a watch? How Facebook defines a "watch"? Same thing happens with ROI. People see return on investment. Or people say, "This person came from AdWords." What does that mean that they were attributed to AdWords? Google will tell you how they figured out their attribution model is proprietary. But how did they know that you came from AdWords? Because you bought and they're like, "These kind of comp..." When you look at funnels in tools like amplitude, is that the first time funnel? Is that the recurring? There are all these questions that when you start thinking about, you start realizing that data doesn't mean anything. We actually at Narrator do this really fun analysis, which is saying, "How many times have you double counted?" And we run this analysis for customers where we show them that a single sale can be reported four times in your Clavio, or your email marketing tool, can be reported like six times in your ad tool, the same sale can be attributed to Facebook, Google, and like other ad sources, and your email clients. So everyone is getting credit and thinking that they got this sale when it doesn't make sense. There's like a joke, if you sum up all the sales of all your ad companies promising you and all your email marketing tools, you're going to get way more sales than you actually got because definitions are being manipulated and you're missing that key place. So whenever you look at data, and this is a big thing about entrepreneurs, like, and it's something that data analysts are incredible at, like they're used to questioning. Well, what does it actually mean? What does this actually mean? Do you know what it actually means? Because so often, we don't. And companies have taken advantage of that incredibly for them to make a lot of money and for you to make the wrong decision. Because you see something, and like you end up making a decision that takes your company in the completely wrong way. Maybe I'll give another example of that quickly of the wrong decision. Let's say we were just talking about people's behavior in, like, purchasing. So, like you look at a funnel, somebody comes to your site and buys. Now, if that funnel, if you're looking at funnel over time, people are coming to sign buying 80%. If it's looking at their conversion rate from any person whenever they first come to when they first buy, then as time goes by, your conversion rate can like look the same, but it could be people who are currently buying or people who have bought in the past, or it could be early funnels. So you could be actually getting way worse, but your overall looks the same. If it's based on every time someone comes to your site, then if someone comes to your site four times in the same day, and then they buy. Is that good or bad? Then the conversion rate is 25%. It's these kinds of questions that when you're looking at something as simple as a funnel, you want to know because it can tell you that you're good. It can tell you that you are good. It can tell you that you're doing something bad right now. Or you do something much better right now. And because you don't know what that funnel is telling you, you can make four different decisions to go back and undo, or redo, or change. And that will lead to something outside of the ordinary happening.Jim James:
Well, Ahmed. So you've now made me feel pretty insecure about trusting any of the data I've gotten in any of the systems. But tell us then how do you get transparency? And what's Narrator's point of view? I mean, I know we've said that, you know, everyone's selling something, but you know, this show, we are not in sales mode, but we are trying to find the right tool. So what does Narrator do? What's your approach that makes it different?Ahmed Elsamadisi:
Yeah. So we allow people to... we standardize all of data into a simple format that humans can understand, which is your customers' doing stuff in time. At any given row of data, when you're kind of assembling your data to try to think about this funnel, we show you all the raw data and allow you to zoom in on any single row and see exactly what that customer did in time. We call this "Building Intuition." What that means is that, as you see, you can refine your question by seeing a bunch of example customers and what they did, and you're like, "Oh, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, no, no. I don't want to count this one because this person came in like..." And by seeing example customer journeys, not just total aggregations, by being able to get down to the root level, you will refine your question. And by us making the way you connect data to be standardized, we use this thing called "Relationships," which is human way of combining data. It allows you to control what you're actually getting and get that transparency. So you're able to look at some piece of data and say, "How is this actually defined? And how is this assembled?" With one click you can see that. You can dive into example journeys to fully understand what the customer really did, and you can refine and iterate. And that's the key thing. We don't just give you a bottom line metric, like total sales, and you have to figure out, like you have no way of knowing what that means. So that's kind of a couple things that Narrator does to really empower you to understand your data.Jim James:
Okay, so you've talked about being able to understand the different parts of the journey, presumably, you know, where they first maybe saw your advert, or maybe read an article, or clicked on a link somewhere. One of the challenges with dashboards and data is that they give you a metric, but not necessarily any prescription on what you should do with that data. And you've talked about helping humans to make better decisions. Does Narrator help at that next level? Because for many entrepreneurs, you've got the data and it's kind of like, "So what? I know I've got this. Do I do more of that? Do I do less of that?" How do you solve that central problem of strategy?Ahmed Elsamadisi:
Yeah. So I really believe that nothing has led to more bad decisions than dashboards. Like, I think it's the enemy of all the data. And the reason dashboards are really fun because they allow the tool to kind of be non-responsible. So companies that sell you dashboarding tools, BI tools, they're not responsible for anything. They're like, "Hey, I just gave you a tool. You put the data in there, you put it, you can do whatever you want." And that level of 'it's not my fault' allows people to, like, it's all subjective to how people are using it. And their nature is to make you build more dashboards and more plots. Like, that's how they make money. So they kind of the UI and everything is nudging you to do that. When I started Narrator, I was very angry at the dashboarding world. And I vouched to do it differently. So Narrator, our objective is not to get you to view dashboards. Our objective is to get you to take action. And when we flipped that objective to get you to take action, we learned a bunch of stuff. One, for you to take action, you must be able to read, similar the best way we've all learned to take actions, which consultants have been doing for a while, is by telling coherent, consistent fact, evidence-based stories. And that's what a narrative is. When our narrative starts with a real question, it gives you a clear recommendation that you can actually do something with it. It's not like get more leads. It's move people from this campaign to this other campaign. Like it helps you understand what you're going to learn. And then through English, where it gives you the conclusion upfront, explains to you how it's making decision, gives you the plots and the visualizations as evidence in a consistent way, helps you walk through the story and learn why Narrator is making that recommendation. It feels like someone literally wrote a story for you. And what we see our customers do is that they're able to do two things. One, they're able to get actually action done based on the data, because they're able to explain to the rest of the world how like that data was came to be. "So we did this. We did this. We did this. We checked for this. We checked for this. We checked for this." Computers just can do all that stuff for you faster. And we spent a lot of time helping you be able to read it and interpret it. Two, people literally print them out. Like you don't print out dashboards, but you print out stories. And you say, "Here's the story that explains to you why I'm thinking of making this decision." And that's kind of the biggest uniqueness of Narrator is you're not getting dashboards, you're getting stories, and you can see that in all sorts of things.Jim James:
Yeah. So when you say a story, on the whole, an entrepreneur will have a, an instinct or maybe have a consultant, or an agency, or an in-house person saying, "I think we should do this next, invest in this trade show or this virtual show us some." Are you saying Narrator actually kind of gives some prescriptive advice in a format that might almost be a topic of discussion amongst a management team?Ahmed Elsamadisi:
Yes, exactly. Exactly that. And Narrator doesn't, again, Narrator, doesn't ask questions, doesn't give you like, "Hey, by the way, here are some fun facts." Narrator is letting you ask questions. Like as an entrepreneur, you are an expert. Like, you are doing this business and your intuition is pretty damn good. Like there was this... my mentor used to always say, "If data is super surprising to the person who's on the ground and the data's wrong." Assume the data's wrong. Because the person on the ground has really good intuition. What they're really bad is quantifying that intuition of like, how bad or how good something is. So what Narrator allows you to do is helps you take those intuition, and as you ask real questions helps you understand how to quantify it, how to understand its impact, and how to observe it, and how to monitor it in time. So it's doing all that work for you so that you can actually have that discussion and can make the best decision.Jim James:
And, what's the source of the data that Narrator is acquiring? Are you plugging into multiple ERM CRM systems? Is that where the data is coming from? Or you expect people to, you know, upload spreadsheets themselves?Ahmed Elsamadisi:
Yeah, so one of the benefits of Narrator is, Narrator actually is not about taking your data at all. So we actually do everything without data ever leaving your system. Where watcher are called "Warehouse Native." So what does that mean? Your Shopify, your CRM tool, your Salesforce, all has the data you use. Narrator helps you narrate it through our partners, helps you take that data and dump it into like a big database. Imagine like a big folder structure. And you own that it's in your system. You can use that data now. And what Narrator is doing is taking that data and restructuring it so that it makes sense so you can use it to answer questions. And we're providing a way for you to ask and answer questions with that data. All that data still stays in your system, you can see everything Narrator is doing - you can turn it off, you can control it. Anything it's done, you can keep going and not use Narrator, but we keep the data in your system using your data. There's no external data being used and there's nothing outside of data that you already have. And you'll be surprised, as I don't know if you know this, but you have a lot more data than you think. Because every system that has your data has a way to get the data out, and there are tools available that can take the data out for you instantly. And if you use Narrator, we can help you take all that data and move it to a place that you control.Jim James:
Wow. Ahmed, what we used to call sort of almost "Middleware," right? So you're, you're aggregating data into a super layer that you can actually use. That's absolutely fantastic. Now, you yourself are an entrepreneur. You've been named in the Forbes' 30, under 30. How have you been building Narrator as a brand? As you know, I love what you are doing, but I also love to find out from entrepreneurs, how they've been building their own brand. So do you want to just tell us a little bit about how you've been doing that?Ahmed Elsamadisi:
Yeah. So Narrator is very unique in this case because we are super different. And our brand has always been on like doing something that people thought was impossible. Like whenever we demo Narrator, people think it's a magic show. They will like, they're like, "What's the catch? What's going on? I'm going to try to break it." And we've leaned into that. We've leaned into the world that people have. So, for all who don't know what Narrator is, I'll tell you what it does, and you can tell me if it sounds magical or not. Imagine an Excel sheet, okay? So we're going to take all your data, and we're going to put it into one Excel sheet. Not a million columns, just 11 columns. We're going to take all your data and put it into 11-column Excel sheet. And in that one Excel sheet, any question you can come up with, we will answer using that one Excel sheet. And it will work whether your data is in any industry - in e-commerce, in banking, in crypto, education, in media - we have customers in all those sectors. And it'll work when you have thousands and a hundred thousand rows of data, or a hundred billion rows of data. It still maintains that. And you can answer any question. And it doesn't get any adds to output of the core things. It gives you the data first, allows you to see example journeys, and then it's able to generate full analyses to help you make a best decision.Jim James:
And so you've been out, you said, doing lives. One of the things about data is you mentioned that you've got narratives. If you are doing live demonstrations, what kind of narratives? Because what we haven't touched on is the different kinds of narratives that people might use the data. Because obviously there's a, there may be a logistics narrative, there may be a cashflow narrative, there may be, as you say, a CRM narrative. You want to just tell us what kind of narratives you're able to answer on the stage. Maybe give us a case study or something of how you've done that.Ahmed Elsamadisi:
Yeah, so we do this all the time. I hop on stage, I ask the group of audience or data people. And we use this also in our sales closing deck sometimes. And I say, "Ask me anything. And I'll use my tool to answer any question you have. Give questions that are hard."Jim James:
Like what sort of question? Yeah, what sort of question would someone, you know, what sort of question would someone... was it like, you know, "Should I invest more in logistics, support?" sort of questions are people asking?Ahmed Elsamadisi:
A questions like that. So questions, what people ask the questions like, "Okay, I have a chat bot. Like, does that help me get more sales?" And they'll ask questions like, "Okay. are people actually, uh, who submit a ticket actually engaging with our FAQ site? And when people who engage with FAQ site, are they more likely to actually complete the ticket?" Questions like that are really, really open, really hard questions that you could imagine. They're questions that are multiple systems, multiple sources of data. That's usually how they stumble you.Jim James:
Yeah. I'm already thinking, "Oh, chatbot to support tickets, to, you know, FAQs and community." That's a lot of different places where sometimes you're logged in, sometimes you're not. Different devices, so yeah. So then you go on the stage, ahmed, you're saying you answer a question.Ahmed Elsamadisi:
Yep. So I'll take the data and I'll show you how you can go from like your 'start a session', which is the data tracked on your website, to someone who actually, let's say, buys and then did they, in between, actually engage, submit a chat, or start a chat. And then the narrative that I always use is we have this really generic narrative. It's called, "How does X impact Y?" So it's like, "Okay, how does the engaging with the chat bot make your likelyhood to order more?" And then narrow to generate said full story that says like, "It does work. It doesn't work. How has it been working over time? It might have worked in the past, but now it doesn't. It might have not, but now it does." And it explains to you and it quantifies, and it says, "If you got 10% more people or 50% more people to engage with your chat bot, you can actually increase your conversion rate by another 10%." It actually gives you that detailed description and allows you to simulate that impact. So as an example question that we can do live and super confidently, and the benefit of having done this for years, like is that, I think, until today, we also have like an internal bounty for people that can find questions that we can't answer. So there's only been two questions that Narrator has not been able to answer. And both of them were found by our internal data team in Narrator, and it's been only two. Which has been years of running Narrator. So it's actually kind of fun to see how once people learn Narrator so deeply, they realize like how to like, possibly, break it. But if you're going that far and you've answered like probably a million questions at this point, it's fine. You can go try it and you can see the vastness. And the best part about it- keep in mind that Narrator is standardized. That table is a stain table for every company. And that enables such a unique world that people... So you asked me about how I get noticed. So one thing is that level of like, "Oh my God, I can't believe this. And people want to talk about it." Two, people get excited by, what it will enable? So we say. "Why is this important? Why do we standardize all data? Like who cares? Like sounds awesome, sounds like cool magic show, but why does it matter for the world?" And then people realize that, "Wait, wait, wait. This is the first time ever I can share analyses, and even dashboards, and anything across companies." That means that, because everything that underlying structure is the same. I can do an analysis on LTV and share it. I can open source my work for the first time ever. That means instead of you having to go to a consultant to get an LTV analysis, after, there you probably have like 30 of them in the Narrator store that are rated, that are options, that you can read, and we're just, we haven't launched a store yet, but we do have templates available for you to use LTV/CAC and all these common ones. We're in by experts that will run on your data that not just give you the answer, but explain to you in English, how to think about these situations.Jim James:
You can switch from company to a company. Oh, sorry. Go ahead.Jim James:
No, no. So, so that's wonderful. So you've mentioned about doing live. And, you know, my shows you've kindly come on as well to explain a little bit about data and about, you know, data transparency and this great term about the definitions game. Ahmed Elsamadisi, CEO of Narrator, you know, we only have 20 minutes. We've already run over a little bit, but if you want to find out more about you and data and how you help to find true answers, where can they find you?Ahmed Elsamadisi:
I'm very active on LinkedIn. So follow me on LinkedIn. That's usually a good place where I share a lot of like information about data. And check out our website, of course. And if you ever want to email me directly, feel free to email me. I'm just email@example.com.Jim James:
Ahmed, thank you so much for joining me today on The UnNoticed Entrepreneur show, and illustrating a whole area of running a business that was well out of my purview. So thank you so much for sharing your insights.Ahmed Elsamadisi:
Thank you, Jim, for having me. I really love this conversation.Jim James:
Yeah, well, me too. I've learned so much and I'm sure that my fellow unnoticed entrepreneurs have too. So thank you for joining us. And for those of you listening, thank you once again for joining me on this show. If you like this too, please rate it, review it, and share it with a fellow entrepreneur. And let you know that your comments and reviews really do help me to get more great guests, like Ahmed, to come on the show. Thank you for listening. And until we meet again, either invest in your data, or do like I do, and maybe just use your intuition.