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Startup CEO, venture capitalist discuss growing Taiwan's AI-powered marketing tool

GoSky CEO Fash Chang, Taiwan 500 Principal Shawn Chu discuss messenger-based marketing technology

File photo of mobile applications. (Upsplash, Dole777 photo)

File photo of mobile applications. (Upsplash, Dole777 photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Marketing technology firm GoSky CEO Fash Chang (張聿瑋) and entrepreneur mentor and investor Shawn Chu (朱軒逸) spoke with the Startup Island TAIWAN podcast on Jan. 13 to discuss Chang’s business model and how Chu helped GoSky grow.

GoSky, an artificial intelligence-powered data analytics and communication tool for businesses, was part of the first batch of Chu’s 500 Global Accelerator Taiwan program with Taiwan Tech Arena, which was funded by the Ministry of Science and Technology. The product attracted the most attention from investors while in the program.

‘’After the program, our investment team realised that GoSky has much bigger potential," said Chu, who serves as the principal of 500 Global, a venture capital firm.

Chang told host Uly Su (蘇祐立) that GoSky addresses digital marketing and customer retention problems that businesses face.He said that while most businesses are willing to collect customer data, it is often scattered across many different websites, making it difficult to do so efficiently.

GoSky's business model leverages in-app customer-business interactions facilitated by China's messenger app WeChat. “Zara, or Uniqlo, when they went to China, they didn’t launch standalone apps. They launched mini-apps. Why? We found (it was because users were) already on WeChat,” Chang said.

Using existing instant messaging (IM) services to market to customers enables businesses to simultaneously collect data and tailor interactions to specific customers. GoSky directly collects data from where people already spend most of their time, and provides a way for businesses to build apps without coding on any IM or social media platform, which can be done within 30 minutes, according to Chang.

He added that research shows customer retention is better when users are offered loyalty points they can use to redeem goods, and GoSky found success by providing customers with loyalty points for interacting with social media content.

GoSky has applied this technology to basketball teams, sending fans a message with the starting five lineup, information about the game, and ways to interact while watching. After games, fans receive highlights based on their in-app behavior.

These were all done through existing IM platforms.

From noodle stands to 500 Global

Chang said he initially began providing marketing consulting for small businesses, namely noodle stands. “The problem was that many customers would visit in the evening but not so many at noon. We helped them to analyze the market, their audience, and helped them to do digital ads.”

While doing this, he discovered there was no affordable way for small businesses to develop ongoing interactions with their customers. Even though he conducted workshops for business owners, Chang said he found it still difficult for businesses to reach their customers in a scalable way.

He was thus inspired to build a software product to do the work.

Chu said that he was able to help Chang grow GoSky through his startup accelerator program by encouraging him to focus on a specific market.

“I felt he wasn’t really focused on a specific area," he said. “I asked him to focus; what was the main sector?”

They turned out to be boba shops and sports. Getting specific helped GoSky to grow fast, according to Chu.

“Everyday we hear the words ICP, meaning 'ideal customer profile,'” Chang said. “Before 500 Global programs, most startups in Taiwan didn’t know what this meant.”

He added finding his business' focus showed him that once a business has penetrated a specific market, it is better equipped to expand to different sectors.