In this episode of the B2B Brand180 Podcast, Linda interviews Dan Melnick of Southlake Consulting. Dan introduces his company’s new AI chatbot product tailored for e-commerce and they discuss the broader landscape of AI technologies. From real-time customer interactions to integrated social media features, join in to learn about the future of AI in e-commerce.

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Linda Fanaras: 0:00
Welcome to the B2B Brand 180 Podcast. Thanks for joining me today. We’re going to talk about everything related to all new things in marketing. And today we’re going to touch on some. AI technology is a hot new topic I brought in Dan Melnick. He owns South Lake Consulting. And he focuses primarily on the e comm space on the B2C side, but obviously they sell on the B2B side. He’s from Dallas, Texas, which is exciting. He can tell us a little bit about that and can share a little bit of his expertise on his personal and professional expertise, as well as his New product. So welcome, Dan. Thanks for joining

Dan Melnick: 0:35
me today. Thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it. Yeah, great.

Linda Fanaras: 0:40
I’d love to hear a little bit about you and your company and maybe a quick snapshot of your

Dan Melnick: 0:45
product. Sure. Yeah. So, I’m Dan Melnick, I guess you mentioned I live in Dallas, Texas. I’ve been here for about three years. I’m originally from the Chicago area, but essentially my company was sort of more out of need. I had a different startup, which was a fitness app. I didn’t really know how to find. Good software developers. So I met my co founder Kassim Masoud and you know, a couple of years later, this is in 2019, in 2021, that we started this company together. We’ve, we’re coming out with this new product as an AI chatbot, really focused on the e commerce space, and we’re really excited for this product. Well, that’s

Linda Fanaras: 1:19
awesome, Dan. It’s great to hear. You know, there’s so many different products coming out on the AI space as you’re well aware. I they’re integrating it with medical devices. They’re integrating it with marketing and content marketing. They’re integrating it with design. There’s so many different strategies around that. So I’d love to learn, a little bit more about how you guys differentiate yourself in the AI space with a product like yours.

Dan Melnick: 1:41
Sure. Yeah. So our vision at Southlake is to really make AI more affordable. Many of our competitors are focused primarily on enterprise. We’re focused on small to medium sized businesses. So our product only starts at 199 a month. And so essentially how it works is from day one, we sit with our clients and have conversations, which we’re doing that right now. Even though the bot is live, we have some clients that are have already bought it and that we’re training them as we’re building it for ourselves. So having conversations of their data. So for example, one client runs an e commerce marketplace, so understanding their products, what they’re selling, if people are asking questions, so from the marketing side, as you probably know, like the reason why most people don’t buy is because they don’t have enough information. So giving people information saying, Hey, if somebody asks you real time, what Why should I buy these jeans? Well, these jeans are high quality that they’re made in this country. You know, all these questions and handling objections on the spot and having live conversations. Also, we have clients that sell internationally, right? So if somebody’s reaching you from halfway across the world, they want answers, right then and there. So I was able to answer those questions in real time and also upsell so if you’re selling jeans, they might say, okay, well, if you bought these jeans, what do you think of buying this shirt? So it’s upselling is increasing the average order value and really just providing as much information as possible. So there’s a lot of sales components, you know, marketing aspects of this tool and the cost only starts at 199 per month for 500 conversations or less. I think it depends on how many conversations you have integrates with Instagram, Facebook, other social media platforms and CRMs like HubSpot. So.

Linda Fanaras: 3:21
When you say it integrates, is it tying it in from the perspective of actually being able to do the chat, or is it tying it in from being able to gain the data that you’re posting as a repository to be able to spit out the accurate information if somebody is using your tool?

Dan Melnick: 3:36
The data is tied back to a database. But it’s, you know, so for HubSpot or for CRMs, it’s tying it into feeding the data to HubSpot, for example, if people are trying to gather customer information, like when it comes to social media platforms, they can chat on those platforms. So if somebody reaches you like an Instagram or Facebook messenger, they can have a live conversation at that time on that platform. And so from that standpoint. You know, it’s definitely a tool that can be a kind of website, but it’s also a tool that can integrate with these different social media platforms,

Linda Fanaras: 4:11
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been frustrated by using some of the virtual chats where you know that the answers are just generic and there’s no value to it. So to be able to have a tool that actually Is able to analyze your products and your services and some of the interactions and use that to to your point to either provide additional product information or upsell is a huge value proposition for I would assume any e commerce even even a b2b company that’s interested in, using it as part of their day to day work life to decrease the amount of interactions that there are. So I think that that’s a, that’s a great tool. Are there any other tools out there that do that type of work?

Dan Melnick: 4:52
Yeah, for sure. Yeah. So we definitely have competitors, um, you know, so there’s one competitor that’s charging, you know, a bit more. We have some competitors that are charging over 60, 000 a year, 25, 000 a year for similar types of tools. So, yeah, it’s definitely a competitive space. And we’re well aware of our competition. I think for us, it’s understanding our customers, having these conversations with them and being available in real time. So if they have questions, we can answer them straight away, get them resolved. And that way we can retrain the bot too. So, for example, some people might have new products coming out or different Yeah. features and saying, Hey, listen, like I need this retrained every month or every few weeks. And we can work with that as well as really understanding what they need. It’s really, they can be able to market their products and sell their products in the most efficient way.

Linda Fanaras: 5:42
It sounds like there’s opportunity to use your product and. A multitude of different ways. How would you, as far as use case scenarios are concerned, what is the ideal scenario to use your product? would it be an e com site that, is selling some series or some product line and, and they want to Cross sell more effectively, or, or is it something that maybe they like to integrate with other parts of their company? What would you say, is an ideal use case for your product?

Dan Melnick: 6:10
I would say it’s probably more like on a website. I mean like in terms of e-comm specifically, it’s kind of the niche that we focus on. But I’ve had people reach out to me in different sectors, right? So I have friends of mine, I like, I live in Dallas Texas. You know, and Dallas is a big hub for real estate. I have many friends in the industry and they’re like, I need this product for my property management. So we’re definitely looking at different use cases in different sectors, or for example, pest control. I think it’s more of just a tool that can have like the best use case of a customer facing tool, even if it is B2B, if we have some clients that are B2B, so it’s just really. Making things as streamlined as possible. And they come, when I say B2B, it can definitely be a small business that can be a medium size, but like even large companies, because also many companies today are outsourcing their customer service teams in a sense of. You know, you’re talking to people overseas or they’re only like, you know, available to chat at certain times. This really, minimize like this friction. So if it’s three in the morning, you can have a conversation right then and there, and you can serve people, no matter where they’re located. Right,

Linda Fanaras: 7:14
right. And it seems like that’s just a huge opportunity for that. And especially it sounds like the price point is actually at a really good spot where even a smaller size company can take advantage of something like that and actually grow their business and, and see an ROI if there is, like I said, opportunity to upsell automatically without having to, get a person involved. So I’d love to, when I talk to AI experts, I’d love to get your insight on if we were to fast forward another five years, What do you see in the AI space? how do you see that being used in different applications? Can you give some or illustrate some examples of how you may share that information with, with the audience today?

Dan Melnick: 7:51
Yeah, I think one thing for sure is the humanization of AI. I think that it’s pretty good and it’s pretty humanized, but I’ve seen, for example, of AI tools being able to call people and say, Hey, listen, you know, I’m just following up. I wanted to reach out or. You know, or things like that. And so I think the customer service role for sure is changing. I don’t believe it’s going to be quote unquote taking jobs away, but it’s changing because, you have certain things like cold calling or following up with people that many people just don’t want to do. And you like have it on your account. Like I have to follow up with this person. I just don’t want to do it. But A. I can help solve that problem. You can delegate it to an A. I tool and it can really call. And I’ve seen clips of Of some tools actually being able to sell on the spot. We would go, I’m with an AI call, but I think one of the biggest challenges right now is, is essentially adding this human aspect of it, because if somebody is calling you and they sound like a robot, you can tell. I think it’s exactly so. I think it’s just making it more humanized for sure. I think it’s also, making it more high level. So, for example, it can different applications. So if you’re scanning things, or maybe there’s there’s more applications for robots. But I think once again, certain jobs. are not going away. And we’re still very far away from, you know, robots or A. I. Replacing a lot of these jobs because there’s still a human element and you still have to prompt it correctly. If it’s not being prompted correctly, it’s not going to give the right answer. So it’s important to prompt it correctly and have that human aspect of

Linda Fanaras: 9:23
it. Right. Yeah. No, I noticed that. Yeah. I would definitely chat in some of the other tools. I mean, I think you have to give it proper amount of, you have to give it, it’s always like, you know, it depends what, what information you feed in is really the information that comes out. Right. So if that information that you feed in is validated and accurate, of course, the information that comes out will be. you know, equally as validated and accurate. And I think with some of these tools that we’re talking about, it’s important to keep that in mind because otherwise you’re just, you’re just guessing through this process. No, it sounds like it’s a great tool for frankly, like many different types of businesses. Are there other parts of an organization that could use that? I see it as a marketing and sales tool. Is it something that ops could use or could be used on the finance side? Or is it mostly marketing? Just outreach to current customers or prospects to try to, help with the sales process. Yeah, I

Dan Melnick: 10:14
mean, I think this tool in particular is more focused on that. I think AI has use cases, for example like when it comes to finance, it’s streamlining the finance process. I think really taking some of these manual things and operations or finance of SOPs or typing up documents or things that we’re spending a lot of time on. You know, especially when you’re an entrepreneur or a small business owner, there’s all these tasks. You have so many things it was never ending to do was, but it’s taking those things and automating it, doing it for you because they’re going to good manner. So I think it’s time goes on. Those things are going to be much more streamlined and. Way easier. But I think as of right now, it’s like it’s still not there yet. And it’s machine learning, right? Learning, improving it to be better. All these different. I’ve seen so many different use case. But one thing I always tell people that everybody has to be aware because there are many companies saying their A. I are using A. I. Become this kind of buzzword. But not like I’ve met with people who have AI in their company, but there’s no AI application. There’s very minimal AI involved. So it’s really important for people to understand also, like, just cause somebody saying AI, their company is not AI doesn’t actually mean that they’re using AI, so just everybody, should be cautioned. About that as well.

Linda Fanaras: 11:28
What do you see as far as a I consideration and potential risks for using the product in the future, especially when it comes to, you know, legal issues or policymakers and other things? Because. You know, it’s kind of relatively new, right? We’re just kind of getting going and figuring this out. And, you know, the more something grows, the more people they want to get their hands in it. So I guess I’m just wondering, how would you envision some of that playing out in the future on the, on the, maybe the government side or the legal side or the policy maker side?

Dan Melnick: 11:59
For sure. Yeah. I mean, I think that we’ve seen this already. I mean, there are certain companies like, you know, I’ve seen, I’ve heard stories of, you know, companies like Meta and Amazon firing people for coding and can chat GPT because chat GPT people have to say is open AI, right? It’s not like an LLM. It’s very similar, but you need to have your own LLM in order to not expose your data. So if you’re going to use chat GPT, something is confidential information. If you have an NDA, they should not be used. They can chat GPT. So I think from that standpoint, for a government or a legal perspective, if you have confidential information, you have to understand that chat GPT, you know, the current version as it is, is an open source platform and you’re Basically putting all your information out in the open. Now, if you’re using, like, there’s, I think GPT 4 or different models, like if you’re paying extra, you can keep that data enclosed. But still, there’s concerns of how secure is that really? I mean, where’s the server being hosted? So that’s something that you’re really concerned about. You should have your own LLM and not worry about those things. So I think that’s a concern. I think one concern for sure is, I think people still need to be involved in it. So as human beings, we have to be thoughtful and use AI as a resource, not as a crutch doing things for us.

Linda Fanaras: 13:10
No, that’s a great point. I mean, sometimes, you know, we utilize it, the tool and. I think it helps build the foundation of what the final end product will be, but not necessarily be the exact end product. So I just want to take a moment and thank our audience today for listening in. If you like what you hear today with Dan, please like, share, subscribe. We want to increase our followers and we would love to have you help with that process as well. I also, I’d love to Dan learn, ask you a question just for the audience that maybe doesn’t really understand AI. If you were to simplify it how would you explain AI to somebody that’s like, I don’t know what chat is. I’ve never used it. I have no idea what AI is. Can you illustrate how you would communicate that in layman terms? Yeah,

Dan Melnick: 13:52
sure. I would say it’s just having human conversations in real time. Using technology, right? So I guess, you know, just to simplify it even more. It’s like if you’re the same way that you’re texting, you’re able to do that with a machine, but it’s very high level and it can, you know, actually answer your questions in real time as opposed to These chatbots I got in the past where, you know, when you’re calling customer service and you’re like, just keep pressing zero. And by the time that you actually reach somebody, you’re just so annoyed. So it’s really just changing that narrative and improving the customer service and also sales and marketing experience.

Linda Fanaras: 14:28
Yeah, it’s such a amazing space and it continues to grow and change, which is super exciting. You know, I love to learn about, I love to learn from AI experts and the perspective that you have on that. Do you want to tell the audience a little bit about your business, Southlake?

Dan Melnick: 14:44
Sure. Yeah. So I’m Southlake consulting. We do software development and our focus right now is helping e commerce companies. So we do and work in high level technologies like blockchain, AI, machine learning, we build out custom products as well really helping our clients scale in different ways. So we are working. with marketing as well, you know, running Google ads and running Facebook ads and helping our clients scale in whatever way possible,

Linda Fanaras: 15:10
right? So you’re definitely focused on the growth aspect of your clients as well. Are you a national or are you more regional or statewide company? So,

Dan Melnick: 15:19
so we work with people mostly in the U S my co-founders in Pakistan, but we really do focus on the U S market. We’re a U. S. Company that were based in Dallas, Texas.

Linda Fanaras: 15:29
That’s great. So do you mind sharing? We’ll probably just wrap up here shortly. Maybe share with the audience where they can get in touch with you. Maybe, I don’t know if you’re going to be having this product on your Southlake website, maybe the URL around that and how they can connect with you on LinkedIn, Dan.

Dan Melnick: 15:44
Sure. Yeah. So it’s going to be live on our website, and on LinkedIn, I’m just Dan Melnick and also like on Instagram and Twitter at Dan P Melnick. I’m pretty active on both those platforms. So just reach out to me. More than happy to chat more about our services and our products.

Linda Fanaras: 16:00
Well, thank you for joining me today. It was great to have you. It’s exciting to learn about your new product. I think that’s going to be a huge development to help with those customer service process, help with the sales process, help to cross sell. I mean, it sounds like a dream come true to me. Thank you for joining me. And just a shout out to the audience. If you liked what you heard today, please like, share, subscribe. And thank you so much for joining me on the B2B Brand 180 podcast. Thank you. Thank you.