This week we released our latest product, Creative Lifecycle. Last month I caught up with the product managers behind the launch, Tash Mamoun and Christian Savarese.
Less than a month out from launch, Tash and Christian are surprisingly laid back. The hard work has been done to get Creative Lifecycle over the line, and now the exciting stuff begins. Today, Tash joins from Madrid and Christian from New York.
Christian and Tash are both product managers at CreativeX. With a background in linguistics and data science, Christian was always interested in marrying the two together, ultimately landing on a focus on machine learning and automation.
Tash has an engineering background, although she admits that “I didn’t want to do anything that involved working with my hands because I’m very clumsy”, slightly hampering the mechanical engineer route. She settled on industrial engineering, working at the intersection of business and computer science, initially joining CreativeX as a client success manager but pivoting towards a product-focused role around a year in.
It was in this first role in client success that Tash was introduced to the problem that Creative Lifecycle ultimately addresses.
“When I first started here, our clients frequently spoke about a problem they framed as ‘global versus local’, or spoke about the issue of having lots of creative agencies but no visibility into what they were building.”
The value of providing that visibility was immediately clear. Clients were completely in the dark as to whether or not core assets were used and how they were adapted. Others described trying to build their own solutions but ultimately giving up because it was such an unscalable, manual process.
In her first 1:1 with VP of product Dale, global versus local was at the top of Tash’s list. As Christian explained, there were other products with an MVP built, but the team decided to take a bet on the value they believed this could drive and began work at the end of 2022.
The journey from those initial brainstorming sessions to now was not exactly linear (or easy). Initially Tash and Christian “were the human matching model, we were the reporting, we were the designers, we were really everything.” Wearing many hats, “it was clear early on we were solving a real business challenge for our clients; but ultimately the biggest question remained to be - how we were going to solve this from a technical point of view.”
Describing the early stages of planning and ideation, Christian admits it wasn’t always pretty. “We had a lot of white boarding sessions, endless debates, drawings everywhere, sticky notes everywhere, it was hideous.” Nevertheless, they were spurred on by encouragement from Kobe (VP of Product, Dale Um’s very excitable dog).
One of the other challenges for the team was determining what clients considered a “match” between a core asset and the localized version. But once they aligned on this, the path to automation started to become a lot clearer.
“At first, we were trying to use existing algorithms, but we realized we needed a true machine-learning approach to the problem. It was less about pixel-to-pixel matching, and more about what was actually in the image.”
Stumped by the problem, and with an end of quarter progress check looming, Christian came back with a new suggestion.
Tash’s excitement over the intervention is tangible even now. “I remember telling all of my friends about the new approach. I was so excited. I don’t know how he did it, but he did. We scratched our original time consuming Plan A and went on to build Christian’s proposed AI/ML-driven asset-matching technology. From that point on, it opened up all the doors and we could finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. ”
Ultimately overcoming the image-matching question opened the door to video matching, and Tash and Christian were able to bring on engineers to get the project over the line.
Their biggest takeaway? Sometimes it does just take coming at something from a new perspective. As Christian put it, “There are a lot of pros to using the tools you have, but sometimes you need to innovate and do something different.”
Tash references the podcast she was fortuitously listening to that morning. It explained that “When you build a vision, your vision should be created in a vacuum of your current technical constraints. In other words, we’ve gotta dream big or else we’ll be stuck in today.”
So when did they both realize the impact that Creative Lifecycle could drive?
Christian reminisces on the early phases of testing, where the pair would get on calls with partners in the beta test with the intention of apologizing about the quality of the matches. But the response was always that they had never had anything like this level of visibility before. To put it simply “the need for the product was palpable.”
For Tash it was showing partners the activation page, which shows how many times a core asset has been used and where. “We could see people’s faces light up when they realized the potential of what this product can do.”
With months of hard work behind them, my final question was “how will they be celebrating?”
Never one to take too much of a break, Tash is hosting her entire family for Christmas in her two bed flat and intends on making a dent in her ‘to-read’ pile of books. For Christian, the launch is a duo-celebration as his birthday falls the week before.
If you’re interested in learning more about the end product of Tash and Christian’s hard work, read more about Creative Lifecycle.