In Reviews We Trust

Season 2: Ep. 8 Unpacking Entrepreneurial Success in Ecommerce: Darin Lynch from Irish Titan

September 25, 2023 Season 2 Episode 8
In Reviews We Trust
Season 2: Ep. 8 Unpacking Entrepreneurial Success in Ecommerce: Darin Lynch from Irish Titan
Show Notes Transcript
In this episode, show host Callum McKeefery talks to Darin Lynch founder and CEO of Irish Titan

In this conversation, Darin and Callum discuss such topics as:

  • AI's role in the future of eCommerce 
  • The best environment to produce creativity 
  • Guerilla marketing and entrepreneurial spirit
  • Is focusing on SEO an outdated mindset?
Darin Lynch

Callum McKeefery:

Show notes:
Irish Titan
Big Commerce
Otis Spunkmeyer

Books: '
Start with why' Simon Sinek is a leading online review platform. It's used by over 8,200+ fast-growing brands. To find out more please go to:
Find us on LinkedIn

Callum: So today on the In Reviews We Trust podcast, I have an amazing guest His name is Darin Lynch, and if you don't know him, he's the CEO and founder of Irish Titan, a US based agency, and his industry knowledge and background is second to none.

Darren, thank you so much for joining me today.

Darin: Callum, thank you for having me. I'm excited for the conversation. 

Callum: Yeah, you know, first off, why Irish Titan? Let me get to that brand, because from, you know, from an English point of view, I'm in America right now.

You're, you're in Minneapolis? Yeah, right. Yeah. So why Irish Titan? You're an American brand 

Darin: with this. Yeah, I think so. I do get asked that question a lot. there's sort of a lighthearted answer and a little bit more serious answer. I am Irish by American standards as I like to say, I'm three quarters Irish by what my parents have told me, but I'm never going to take one of those DNA [00:01:00] tests because it only goes down from what we've all grown up being told.

And I can't rebrand my company. I think that, uh, And I'll make this brief. The sort of light, lighthearted answer to the question was I was finishing up my MBA before starting Irish Titan. I had two ideas. This was back in 2004. One was to, go in to work as an e-commerce agency. And one was to build a fitness technology product.

I had both ideas pretty well fleshed out. and so all I really needed to do was, uh, form the company and can't form a company if you don't have a company name. So. I was thinking about this name and that name and this name and that name. Nothing really came to mind until around St. Patrick's day. When I thought I could name it Irish something.

And so then I started to work with that. The first name that came to mind that I settled in on was Irish dragon. But luckily the domain was taken and the guy wouldn't sell it to me. Um, it's a [00:02:00] catchy name, but it sounds a little too much like a tattoo parlour. Not that there's anything wrong with, with ink.

But, um, then I went back to the drawing board. I realized what my criteria were. Uh, around the company name that I did want. And so, I still have the piece of paper where I wrote it down. My three criteria were one, I wanted the name to be open ended and not lock us into what we do because I had those two ideas.

So if I would have named, named us fitness technologies incorporated, we wouldn't be doing what we do today. So one, I want it to be open ended two. I wanted it to be catchy and memorable without sounding forced or cliched, you know, because a lot of tech companies can smash some words together or make up words.

And sometimes it works. Sometimes it sounds a little forced. So that was my second criteria. And my third criteria was that I did not want my name on the title because I wanted to build something bigger and better than myself. that's the three criteria. Those are the three criteria that I have written on that piece of [00:03:00] paper.

And so I knew it was going to be Irish. Something couldn't come up with the right answer. Then one day I was playing basketball. I play a lot of pickup basketball. I was playing with a group of guys I've played with for like 30 years now. I was running down the court. I remember it vividly. I was running down the court East to West on the North side of the court during a fast break and Irish Titan popped in my head.

 so I. Quick ran over my gym bag, wrote it down, check the domain and the corporate entity after lunch. Both were available. And that's all I wrote. I 

Callum: love that. I love that it came to you on a basketball court. 

Darin: Well, I think it's probably a good study in creativity, right? Like you can't prescribe creativity.

Yeah, all the time. Anyway, sometimes you can create an environment to try to bring it out, but I don't think you can prescribe it. And I think that especially the three criteria I had, I guess, created the structure and the environment and then playing basketball when you have to be sort of conscious of playing, otherwise you'll get hit in the head with a basket or basketball or something.

You know, I think that freed my mind [00:04:00] to, to come up with it. Yeah, 

Callum: definitely. There's so much in that. I mean, I think because you set the boundaries of what you wanted to create first, and then I do that all the time when I'm trying to think of something, like, I'll write my stuff down, I'll set the boundaries of what I want to create, and then, for me, it's the bath.

Weirdly. I sit in the bath, I go and have a bath and I'll, it'll just, it'll come to me, maybe not the first time, but maybe the 10th time and figure this basketball. I love that. I love that. I always think the best ideas aren't the ones where you're sitting there trying to get it. You know, you have to, I was talking to an entrepreneur a couple of weeks ago and his was like, I go for a run.

I go for a run, I find a bench, I'll sit down and meditate for two minutes and I can, you know, that's what his, that's where his brain is most free. And that's beautiful that it was for you on a basketball court for me, I'd really [00:05:00] struggle because I'd be so focused and I'm not great at basketball. You must be that good that you can do it all.

Darin: I don't know about that, but I think that, you know, I'm guessing you're wired like this too, where you might make a lot of decisions instinctively with your, with, you know, with a hunch. And then later you realize what the subconscious logic was to it. and so I think the fact that Irish dragon was not available did really work to my advantage because if it had, if it had been available, that's what I was going to name the company.

I still have the logo and graphics that we drew up. And so I think that the fact that that wasn't available gave me the space to then consciously think about what that subconscious structure was behind it. And that's when I came up with those three criteria. And, and here we are today with a name that, for better or worse seems to work pretty well.

That's easy to spell. I love it. Yep. It's, 

Callum: it's so memorable because it's so different. 

Darin: That's right. And it also lets us get away with a little bit of, uh, with the [00:06:00] craic as they would say, right? Because when we say Irish Titan, people sort of expect us to be a little bit shenaniggy, um, and a little bit full of it.

Right. And not take ourselves too serious, be a little bit irreverent. And so it has worked well for us. Brilliant. 

Callum: I love it. I absolutely love it. So let's dig in. Let's dig into the brand that you've built. Where's your focus? I know obviously your focus is e-commerce. That's what this podcast is all about.

But where's your focus within the e-commerce sphere? 

Darin: Yep. So we build and grow e-commerce channels. That's my answer, my elevator pitch when I'm asked what Irish Titan does. Um, do you happen to be familiar with Simon Sinek? He wrote a book called Start With Why. 

Callum: Yes. I love, I love that book. It's one of my favourites.

Recommended it 

Darin: yesterday. Yeah, it's right here, actually, our golden circle. Um, so I'm a massive fan of Simon Sinek. He's my favorite thought leader by far. Um, and that book, I read it and sort of experienced it at a very impactful time. So our why, excuse me, our what [00:07:00] is we build and grow e-commerce channels.

Um, our why. Is business first, online second, and our how is partnerships, not transactions. So to put all that together, it was really driven by my background before starting Irish Titan. Um, I did come out of it. I was a developer a long, long time ago, COBOL. So I had to be one of the last wave of COBOL programmers to come along, but I learned really quickly.

Through some, great bosses that I was fortunate to have that the real value in technology, unless you're a pure technologist is understanding how technology can be used to accelerate a business's strategic performance. And so I quickly evolved into leadership management positions around really harnessing technology to further a business.

That's what ultimately led to a business first online. Second, you combine that with my, [00:08:00] through sheer luck, early exposure to e-commerce because my very first e commerce project was in 1998. As you mentioned in the intro, when I led the effort to launch office Max's e-commerce very first e-commerce site.

And so way back in 1998, which is hard to fathom in today's world, right? It's just hard to even fathom. How did it even work way back in 98? I thought, I think there's something to this e-commerce thing. And just from there on the convergence of the professional experience and mentorship that I had with the domain expertise experience, I had combined with a little bit of my own personal wiring.

Uh, I always knew I would start my own company. I think my mom and dad probably thought that when I was in elementary school or before that, you know, I don't always take direction super well. Um, so that's what led to Irish Titan and where we are today. 

Callum: That's interesting. You, you talk about like the why and the how and the what, and, and I love [00:09:00] that you've thought about that at such an early stage, I speak to a lot of young entrepreneurs and I always recommend that Simon Sinek book because It's not, it's not thought of in the early stages.

And I think it makes life much easier in the process of developing the business. And I think if you can do that in those early stages, it can give you that direction. when you talk about 1998, cause I love that. I love that you started so early. Cause I started probably a year later, 99. I think I started, and there really wasn't.

E commerce, you was building the platform, you, there wasn't any Shopify, you was build it having to like, you know, I can remember, you know, my first site was built in ASP. NET, I think, um, with a C sharp backend, uh, using the admin panel as a C sharp admin panel on Windows, and [00:10:00] You had no, there wasn't that many sites you could really look at and go, I mean, this is, this is the direct, you had, you was like sort of foraging through the forest on your own, you know, because there really wasn't a path, a path well worn 

Darin: then.

Right. Um, yeah, we, you know, that phrase blue ocean strategy or blue ocean might not have even existed back then. Yeah. But. It was a blue ocean. I mean, at that point, it was a globe that was nothing but water. No land had even formed yet. You know, um, and so the technology stack was very primordial. Um, the concept of secure checkout hardly existed, you know, because it was, it was so early stage that you weren't.

I mean, you knew that there needed to be secure checkout. We didn't use that phrase, but it was a form, 

Callum: wasn't it? It was literally a form. And then you had the, the PDQ machine. Really? 

Darin: Right. Right. Um, [00:11:00] and site speed was a totally different kind of concept then compared to now because people are on dial up, you know, um, so it really was a different world.

I, I wish that there had been, I mean, there weren't even cell phones, right? The iPhone 

Callum: wasn't Google. There wasn't Googling 898. So it was AltaVista or Yahoo, really wasn't. 

Darin: Right, right. Like it's really hard to fathom. I wish I had video recording of, of the work that we did. Yeah, just us sitting around a table, but like a recording of the keyboard and the computer screen.

I would love that. I would love that. 

Callum: Honestly, because I think back to what I did then, I mean, I can remember going home and going to my dad, dad, I'm going to come out of university and I'm going to, I'm going to work on the internet and I'm going to work in e commerce and I'm going to do this. And he was like, what are you doing?

What are you on about? And I can remember going to the [00:12:00] CEO, there's an appliance company called Smeg. Smeg fridges, they make these fridges in coffee machines and things like that. And they're the biggest Italian appliance manufacturer at the time. And I can remember going to the CEO of Smeg UK and saying, I want to sell your products online.

And he told me that the internet wouldn't exist in five years time. Right. And that's the CEO of, I mean, they were at the time, they were probably a half a billion dollar business. Um, and he basically, I always remember this because I walked in his office and he looked like Frank Sinatra. And I was like, he looked like him.

And I was this young baby faced kid who's just come in and said, right. And I actually. Owned the domain or kind of his business online at the time. And it wasn't what, and I was like, I've got this domain Smeg [00:13:00] appliances and your Smeg appliances. There was no, I can ruling at that time to get the domain back.

I've got the domain. I want to sell your appliances. This, you know, kid who didn't really understand the law. They could have sued me into oblivion really quickly, but they didn't. And they didn't provide me. They didn't sell anything to me. They said, no, we're not supplying you because we don't believe the Internet's going to be about in five years.

And I remember getting on a plane, and my friend had just done a two year course in, in, uh, speaking Italian. I remember getting on a plane and going to Italy, and I took my friend with me who could speak a tiny bit of Italian, and we waited outside SMEG's head office. Until the CEO, I knew what the CEO looked like, I knew his name.

And literally we, I kept ringing and ringing and ringing, I waited till I could get him. Literally, I literally door stopped the, the CEO of the main company in Italy. And uh, I’ve got those guys to supply me with um, [00:14:00] fridges in containers in Lira by bypassing the UK corporation. I mean, massively, probably, you know, it was his, Oh yeah, I can supply you directly via my son's business, here's his contacts.

You know what I mean? Pay him and he'll... And I was buying these containers of fridges at 21, bypassing the Europe, you know, the UK subsidiary. Um, and, and it, it was massive, it was massive.

Darin:. I love early stage company stories like that, you know, when we're all scrambling to, to hustle. Right. And like, I think that, a similar story I have, it's sort of different in the sense that it wasn't all that related to our business.

But, um, when I started Irish Titan back in 2004, There wasn't a lot of e-commerce except for at an enterprise [00:15:00] level. By that point, um, enterprise level retailers, were, were investing in e-commerce. And so we had a little bit of that business going, but I needed more than just that. And so you have to cast a wide net at the beginning of your business.

I think that all businesses go through three phases. First, you're everything to everybody because you have to, uh, get, get a check to pay the bills. Secondly, you become something for everybody. You know what you do, but not necessarily yet who exactly you do it for. Third, you become something for somebody.

You know what you do and who you do it for. So our first phase, um, are, are, are what? If we would have had it back then, and we did towards the end, I'll spare those details, but the first phase when we were everything to everybody, we weren't just e commerce. We were doing everything we could digitally and website, um, and so our, our, our, what at the time was complex websites with a focus on user experience.

So we had to [00:16:00] cast a really wide net and, and to feed that funnel, I started going to trade shows, um, sometimes local business trade shows, sometimes digital trade shows, technology trade shows, et cetera. Well, what I started to do at these trade shows, I would bring my own. I'm not sure if you would know the brand, but Otis Spunkmeyer.

cookie oven and I would get cookie dough at the grocery store on the way there and I would make cookies at my booth and I wouldn't ask for any permission because this always violated the conference rules, right? Yes. 

Callum: Yep. The, uh, 

Darin: right. They want their food and beverage concession, the unions, 

Callum: the unions had 

Darin: full control of which I totally understand, but I'm going to just plead ignorance, right?

You've got to try bend the rules. So I would bring this cookie oven, I would make cookies and then the smell would waft through the, the, the convention hall and people would backtrack the smell to come talk to [00:17:00] me. Cause everybody loves cookies. Yeah, right. Um, those days are long gone in practice, but in spirit, I still definitely have that attitude.

I asked for a lot more forgiveness than I do permission. Oh, and 

Callum: I think that's a big quality in entrepreneurs. I think entrepreneurs have that in them that they entrepreneurs, I think true entrepreneurs will always bend the rules.

Um, and they will find a tiny advantage and get in via that little bit and expand it. And that that's so, you know, entrepreneurial stories are always doing that a great entrepreneurs will always find one little thing, boom, and expand it outwards. And like you with the, the, the, um, The cookie oven, you know, like that.

And then, you know, you probably did that at one expo and you're like, well, 

Darin: I'm going to do this [00:18:00] more and it became a thing. And you're going to be known as that 

Callum: guy and like, I, I have a difference where I couldn't even get into the expo. Um, I couldn't afford to have the first stand at the expo. So what I used to do, I used to go out the night before and spray the floor with my logo.

Love it. Love it. The streets of London are pretty dirty. So we used to have this template of the logo. And me and the guy who still works for me now, Kian, used to go out and jet wash the logo into the street everywhere, all the way down where they'd be queuing to come into the expo centre. So all you'd see is this thing.

Um, another little, you know, we used to get a van and we'd have it all covered in our logo and then we'd have You know, we put the hazard hazard lights on and just leave it there for the day and get loads of parking tickets, but it'd be great promotion. It cost me like 70 [00:19:00] instead of, you know, and it, you know, some of it didn't work, but I only needed one call back then.

I only needed one, one thing. And I didn't, I didn't have any seed capital. I didn't have any, uh, you know, venture or anything back then. And you went to a bank and said, you wanted to work in tech, get left, left out of the, uh, bank, the 

Darin: branch. Yeah. I think that. We have to engage in that gorilla marketing at that stage in our companies, because we don't have the capital or the reputation, right?

Like the longer you're in business, the easier it is to be in business. And so when you're early and young, um, as a company or as a person, you don't have that, that, that tenure to lean on. So you got to do that gorilla marketing. But I also do think it's a big part of spirit that people like us share, you know, because I mean, Irish Titan is a lot different company than when I was taking that cookie oven to the [00:20:00] expo.

Um, but just this summer at the big commerce partner summit, they're one of our best, most valuable partners. I know you guys do a lot of work with them. Um, some of your team was. was at the summit. It was in Austin in July, hot as hell. Um, and I had the idea before the summit to bring some Irish Titan deodorant.

And so I've seen 

Callum: it. I saw it posted on LinkedIn. Yeah, it 

Darin: became pretty big hit. And so we ordered 200 bottles or, uh, sticks of, it was Irish spring deodorant by chance, but we needed a green bottle. I had custom labels made at our, um, uh, marketing, uh, promotional supplier here that prints up all of our stuff.

So we had custom labels made to the dimension of the labels on this. Uh, Irish spring bottles that said Irish Titan. Um, we had a QR code that took people to a specific page for us at big commerce at the summit, [00:21:00] the ingredients were, uh, um, uh, centered around Irish Titan and e commerce, like everything about it was custom.

So I, I logged. a backpack full of 200 sticks of Irish Titan deodorant to that hotel. And then I planted them in the bathroom and around in different places, sort of like you, the story you just shared. And that was just this year. So I think that that spirit never really gets extinguished in people like us.

Callum: saw a photo on LinkedIn, nothing, you know, like I didn't really know the Irish Titan brand then, and that was not one of the first things that me. Having an encounter with the brand was someone sharing that picture of this deodorant and saying, you know, great marketing. And it's brilliant. You know, we're talking about it now, we live in

is very different. Obviously you've got, [00:22:00] uh, e commerce players like Shopify and big commerce going up against each other. And you spoke about big commerce there. And I love big commerce as a brand. I think there are, I think there are sleeping giant in many ways. Um, and I and I and I think there's great potential with that platform.

Is that the primary platform that you work within? Or do you are you agnostic and 

Darin: work within all of them? we're agnostic in the sense that, we have multiple platforms. so one quick comment I'll make about Irish Titan, it's not a commercial, but I think it will frame the answer I'm about to provide.

One of the things that makes us unique is what we refer to as a Titan only model. And that means we do all of our work with just our Titans, AKA our employees. We don't use any contractors, freelancers, or offshore resources. And. Even our Titans themselves aren't offshore resources. So, because of that, we had to commit to a [00:23:00] platform in our early stages when we were too big to be servicing or too small, excuse me, to be servicing multiple platforms.

So way back in 2009, we built our very first Magento site and we were Magento only until 2016 because we sort of had to be, we weren't big enough to have some people that Could legitimately service, Magento and some that could legitimately service Shopify and Big Commerce, et cetera. In 16, we added Shopify to our stack in 17.

We added Big Bommerce to our stack. And then this year we added Shopware to our stack. So the four platforms that we're officially partnered with are Magento. Slash Adobe slash Madobe as I refer to it, Shopify, Big Commerce and Shopware. quite honestly, we don't do a lot with, Magento anymore. I think that big commerce and Shopify comprise the bulk of our work right now, because Shopware is new to our stack.

I'm very [00:24:00] optimistic about their business model, their solution, uh, the, the future that they're imagining. Um, I think that Big Commerce and Shopify are also platforms that were very supportive of invest a lot in. I do think Big Commerce is a little bit of a sleeping giant. Shopify has such incredible brand recognition.

There's sort of like, if you knew that saying about IBM, nobody ever gets fired for choosing IBM. Shopify has that same kind of brand awareness. It's a great, solid platform, isn't it? It is. It's a great platform. And you know, their value proposition is there sort of a payments solution. If you think about their different, their commerce, their POS, et cetera, it's like, it's like this payments solution.

Big Commerce is sort of the inside out of that. And I shouldn't say inside out of that, because then it sort of grounds Big Commerce in comparison to Shopify and Big Commerce has their own vision. their open SAS API forward sort of a best of breed that promotes, integrating easily integrating, I should say.

Their [00:25:00] platform with whatever tax payments, shipping solution you might want to integrate with. So I think that the e commerce landscape has evolved so much over the years that we find ourselves now finally in a position where. Merchants have at their disposal different, viable platforms that can be best suited to them and don't have to just choose the existing from the existing options that are the only choices and then you have to adapt to them.

Callum: Yeah, it's such a shame what's happened with Magento, I think. I, you know, I think it's such a shame that they're... Just shows how our brand can lose market share. If it doesn't keep on evolving. I did, I did a tweet yesterday talking about, you know, you've always got to be listening to your customers and shipping products.

That are two things in SAS that you've really got to do. If you listen and ship, you won't go out of business. [00:26:00] And I don't, 

Darin: I like that. That's good. 

Callum: I like that. I don't think that, Magento did either of those and that, that's what's killed that brand such a shame. 

Darin: yeah, I think that, you know, for a long time Magento was one of the, only pretty girls or guys at the dance, you know, there were really only a few to choose from and they rode that wave for a long time and it was good for our business.

And a lot of my best relationships in the ecosystem are from people that I originally met at Magento or at least during the Magento era. I think that one of my philosophies is that we're entering this e-commerce 3 0 era. Magento, Hybris, Demandware, etc. were those e commerce 1.0 solutions. You had limited options to choose from.

They were very monolithic, legacy systems, heavy lift, almost no matter what your intentions were as a merchant or as a SI. You had to invest most of your energy and budget in technical upkeep, [00:27:00] upgrades, maintenance patches, et cetera. You really very right. Right. Right. Exactly. because those were all on premium solutions.

And so, merchants really didn't have the luxury of spending much time, energy, mental bandwidth, or budget bandwidth on growing their e-commerce channel was mostly on building and maintaining. Then we moved into e-commerce. 2. 0, that era around Shopify and Big commerce, SaaS based solutions of immense capability could handle a wide range of merchant situations and continue to increase their uptime, their reliability, their complexity and sophistication, which then started to give merchants the opportunity.

To spend more energy, whether it's budget or mental on growing their e commerce channels. Now we're in this 3.0 era, the very beginning, maybe towards the end of the 2. 0, where I think Shopify and Big Commerce are still really well positioned. But then there are these other, more recent mock native platforms.[00:28:00] 

And I think that that sets the table well for a company like reviews, because merchants, I think now really should expect to spend, I keep saying it, but mental energy and budget energy on growing their e-commerce channels, not just building it. And so you can lift, you can launch a site, which still can be a heavy effort, but then spend your time on the best practices around acquisition, conversion, and retention, like user generated content, reviews, personalization, whatever it might be.

And I think in years past, eras past, I really just couldn't rightfully expect to do a lot with that. Yeah, no, I totally 

Callum: agree. I totally agree. I, you know, you speak to, when you look at the people who are leading the industry on the retailers, the e-com retailers that are leading right now, you know, they're all doing that.

They've all kind of put together these small teams that are really focused on growing these separate channels, but [00:29:00] also doing it in a way where they probably wouldn't have been able to do it before they probably would have had to focus a little bit. I'm seeing a lot more Shopify retailers definitely go multi channel go, you know, they're now selling obviously the deal the other day with Amazon quite a big thing Obviously, they've got the deal in place with Walmart you know  and then obviously you've got the different channels on Google, your AdWords and your Google shopping and various things like that. and you've got, I mean, I was talking to somebody the other day and they were saying, should I do SEO? And I was like, don't know. I don't think so. In this current market, I just create good quality content pages.

And, you know, I I'd be a thought leader on, on your social channels of choice. Yeah. I probably wouldn't focus on SEO. I don't know what you think about that. 

Darin: Yep. I would agree with that. I think that focusing on SEO, is a little bit of a dated mindset, you know, because the platforms [00:30:00] and the tools handle a lot of that technical SEO now.

 I think you gotta, maintain a certain level of proficiency there, but if that's where you're, if the technical SEO, and the generic content writing is where you're spending your time and energy, you're probably. operating under a dated mindset, I think the user generated content, your social thought leadership, the more brand intensive you are, the more focused you should be on user generated content and social.

Callum: A hundred percent, a hundred percent. How do you see e commerce changing with the rise of AI? I'm sure I have to ask everybody an AI question at the minute. I I'm it's what it is. how do you see that changing? And do you think there's going to be any really novel thing that's going to be coming out of AI with, within e commerce?

Darin: Yeah, I think that we're definitely on the cusp of, developing an understanding [00:31:00] of how AI is going to impact e commerce, let alone experiencing it, right? I think that most of the time when we talk about AI, we're talking about generative AI, because Depending on your definition, AI, we're already all using AI because to some degree, AI is kind of fuzzy math.

 and we've been using that with increasing computing power and software, et cetera. but I think that gender, the, the power of that kind of AI combined with generative AI, where we can ask questions and the content's going to be generated back to us is going to. Have a dramatic increase in productivity.

I think that it's going to have a dramatic increase or impact. I should say in what merchants look for from either the platforms and tech providers or the SIs. I think that right now. I'm not seeing AI used to a large degree, anywhere outside of content creation. That's where I consistently [00:32:00] see it used the most.

I think that's going to change. I think that I do too. I do too. Cause I think that was the low hanging fruit where people pretty quickly realized, generative AI to create an email. Posts to create a social post or excuse me, an email campaign, a social post, et cetera. And then they can scrub it, add some brand voice and get that out in a fraction of the time.

That's smart to do. I think that some of the platforms and tools are starting to use AI for questions that a merchant submits around reporting. What's our best seller? What should I change around my category page? You know, I think that. That's still pretty nascent, pretty early stage. I think when that takes a little bit more shape, we'll start to realize some gains there.

And I'm not sure what's after that yet. That's what's still very murky. Yeah. So 

Callum: I've been thinking about this for the reviews to IO business. And I think that, so we we've worked on an AI project [00:33:00] for the last since January probably. and we started to build out that team and we've now got that team fully functioning and we're looking at how can the reviews that are coming in via our platform, but also the reviews coming in by multichannel going everywhere. 

So we're monitoring not just our clients reviews, but our clients competitors reviews on other platforms. And we're, you know, looking at the product reviews and we're trying to analyze, use AI to help merchants develop better products or give feedback, better product feedback to the manufacturers.

 and hopefully that will help, well, one, it will provide better products, but also it will help, the businesses grow. And we're doing the generative AI, so you can ask, you know, reviews to IO a question and it will give you back an answer based on all your customers feedback. Now, that's great when you've got [00:34:00] to.

You know, several thousand reviews. It only really kicks in once you've got enough data in the platform to, to really grow. So you could say, you know, what's my highest rated product? Now, actually, you know, there's so many five star reviews out there on the platform. Probably that's not a useful thing to be able to just do the maths and work it off the rating.

But now we're looking at actually the sentiment within the reviews to actually come bring that back. Those answers back. So, and then you could say, what do people love about this product? And actually, some of the answers that come back, brands didn't realize, right? We work with, we work with a boxing clothing brand called box for all.

And actually it's the strength of the product. it gets for, you know, obviously with that, that we could wear a cloud that or whatever, but it's actually how. Consumers get to when the consumers are writing the review, [00:35:00] how they're writing it and how they're getting to that answer. Now we're learning a lot more about what it is, why people buy and what people actually like on that product and how that's helping them promote that product and sell that product in a different way, which is interesting stuff.

Now it's starting to get the insights. I've seen the insights in six months ago from okay. So like really, really strong, 

Darin: right? I think that's a great example of the, what will become the real power of AI. and that is, providing answers to conversational questions, right? Like I think if I'm Google, I'm a little worried or a lot worried about AI because we've all grown up and been trained on how to ask Google the right questions, right?

AI is going to enable tools like yours, and other search engines in general to, respond to just much more conversational questions, you [00:36:00] know, and when merchants. Or industry professionals such as ourselves can harness that to improve merchants businesses. That's when scale happens, efficiency, growth.

And I think that's what AI is really going to unlock. 

Callum: Yeah, amazing. So coming to the end of the podcast today, what's next for Irish Titan? What's like the, the, the, what's next for you guys? 

Darin: Yeah. So, I do have pretty significant growth goals. we're always trying to evolve, our offering both in terms of what services we're providing and the sophistication and experience that we offer.

 so we already morphed. Years ago from a focus on building sites to both building and growing. We want to continue to elevate both of those. I think we're always evolving the tech stack. That's part of that. I'm also. A little bit old school in, like I said, we have a Titan only model. And I think that's one of our points of [00:37:00] differentiation.

So some geographical planting, some flags, geographically, is, is part of our future because I think you can invest. Where are you thinking? We're headquartered in Minnesota right now, and that will probably remain. we have a, an outpost down in Texas, a team of Titans down there. We don't have a physical office yet because speaking transparently from a business owner perspective, there are a few milestones I'm challenging us to reach before we get an office.

 and so we'll probably do one more outpost in the U S. but then we have some international aspirations as well. I think e-commerce still has a lot of growth, in front of us. So I think there's still a lot of opportunity for those of us who, um, have the interest in growing a business and the temperament.

Callum: Yeah, definitely. Oh, that's amazing that you're looking to grow. When you, when you move into Europe and the rest of the world, give me a shout because I've, I've 

Darin: done it and 

Callum: it's not easy, but. I can just tell you my mistakes and just don't do those. 

Darin: Yeah, [00:38:00] I have more mistakes than successes. That's for sure.

I think we all do. 

Callum: I do. I tried to break America three times and failed each time. 

Darin: Oh, yeah. 

Callum: And, uh, I nearly quit on Germany and now it's my fastest growing market. 

Darin: Oh, really? Interesting. Yeah. Interesting. 

Callum: It's really strange. I know. And if you want to, 2001, I was like, I've got to shut Germany. And I stuck with it.

Believed in the staff. I, you know, the only reason I didn't close it is because I believed in my staff and they did really well. So at the end of podcast, I ask one question. Which is, do you have a book, podcast, blog post that you can recommend to the listeners? Now I'm hoping it's going to be related to the one that you spoke about at the start of the podcast, because no one has ever recommended that book and it's one of my 

Darin: favourites.

Well, then I will absolutely recommend it. I'm kind of surprised. so, at the highest level, anything from Simon Sinek, I would highly recommend. Leaders Eat [00:39:00] Last, Infinite Mindset, and Start With Why is the book that we talked about at the beginning. I think So what's your favorite 

Callum: out of that, that bunch, 

Darin: quickly?

I think Start With Why, because there's a little bit of an emotional attachment to it for me. I think that The books that matter the most to us are the ones that hit at the right time. And when I read, start with why, and I actually had the opportunity to meet Simon Sinek in a small group setting about 40 of us.

 that could be a whole different podcast. So I'll leave out those details, but that was really impactful. and so I drew our golden circle in the first five minutes of hearing him speak because we had already trademarked business first online second. So that was our why. we already included partnerships, not transactions in our sales materials.

That was our how, and at the time I was saying that, uh, my elevator pitch was that we build complex websites with a focus on user experience. So meeting him, seeing him reading that book, hearing his talk was really impactful with how that gave me a framework and [00:40:00] it's evolved since then. And I love how, you know, he, he can talk about how, if you take that golden circle and pivot it to look down.

In your brain that relates to how your brain is structured and our lizard brain and our neocortex and all that sort of stuff. So yeah, that's book. I would recommend. 

Callum: I love that book. I love that recommendation. Honestly, I still have it here. It's so good. You know, like I'd probably bring it up, you know, start with why at least once a week when I'm talking to people.

Honestly, you've been an absolute fantastic guest. I think definitely we've got to do a part two on this podcast. 

Darin: I would love that. This was a great conversation, Callum. 

Callum: In a couple of months, we'll definitely do a part two because we've got so much to cover. I appreciate you so much for being a guest today.

I know you're a busy person. Darin, thank you so much for being on the podcast. I really 

Darin: appreciate it. You're busy too. Thank you for inviting me on. And I loved the conversation. Looking forward to the next one. Brilliant. Let's do it. [00:41:00] Bye everyone. Sancha. 

Callum: Thanks Darin. That was brilliant. I appreciate that so much.


Callum: Thank you for listening today. In reviews we trust is a bi-weekly podcast where I hope to be bringing you advice and insights from brands that are taking the e-commerce world by storm.