Tell us about your role and journey into Marketing Technology. What inspired you to co-start Pickit?
I was in the Advertising department for a full-service creative agency in Stockholm and saw for myself how the relationship between brands and consumers is becoming increasingly complex. And, more often, it’s closely connected to the product experience, so in order to create really effective marketing and effectively harness creativity, I had to shift my role. I have always had an eye for digital solutions and used to create WordPress sites for friends or SMB companies just for fun, but making the leap to a SaaS startup was all about timing.
Pickit contacted me at a time when I felt stuck in my career development and was thinking about how to create my own startup but had not figured out how to secure the right distribution for my ideas. It turned out, Pickit, just had that. So, I went all-in at an early stage in the company.
Initially, what were the biggest challenges and opportunities that you faced at Pickit and how did you manage to scale those?
Our biggest challenge was the platform dependency, we had to deal with being an add-in for Office 365 users, tied to the Microsoft ecosystem. The platform has an amazing network of users, but the bottleneck for us is that users need to find the little icon in the menu that opens the door to a world of third-party apps where Pickit resides. And, most users never find that icon.
Also, the platform made it hard for us to get really close to the users and understand their drives and behaviors. The way we have dealt with this is to approach Microsoft and work together with their development team for Office third-party apps. We also established a web channel so, we can work across the other channels.
What is Pickit and how does it fit into a modern CMO’s MarTech stack?
Pickit is a 2-in-1 hybrid image service, combining both an Asset Management tool with distribution into Office 365 and a royalty-free stock image bank including unlimited photos, icons, and clipart. The accessibility of the app makes it perfect for organizations to upload and share their company image bank with co-workers. Not only does it help employees make more impactful and stunning presentations, but it also helps them stay on the brand by using the most updated assets. And the service removes any compliance issues as all images in the service are 100% licensed and legal to use for anything.
Several customers report a 400-600% increase in the use of their company assets after switching to Pickit, for distribution inside Office 365.
According to you, which businesses have been the fastest to adopt and benefit from your products and services?
What we see is that most companies with a large proportion of information- and knowledge workers benefit immensely from Pickit. But they seldom realize the problem we are solving, until they try the service. We have law firms, engineering companies, tech companies, public offices, life science companies and many more that use Pickit on a daily basis.
Which markets and geographies are you currently catering to?
We cater to all markets, but our UI is currently in English only. Our strongest support in terms of where our servers, sales reps, and support are located in the US, Canada, Mexico, and Europe. However, we currently have users from over 180 countries.
Tell us about the new-age integrations that Pickit offers with other Marketing Technology platforms such as Contacts, Contracts, Email and Customer Service.
The Pickit service is integrated with the apps that knowledge workers use the most: Office 365, PowerPoint and Word. Pickit adds a high-quality tool to the modern workplace with an entry-level Digital Asset Management (DAM) system. There are other DAMs on the market, but ours is very easy to use and get started with because it focuses heavily on the capabilities of the end users, rather than those of the administrators.
Which Marketing and Sales Automation tools and technologies do you currently use in your current roles?
We primarily use Hubspot, Hotjar, North Star Growth Hacking app, and Livestorm webinar app.
What are your predictions on the most impactful disruptions in your domain caused by AI and Machine Learning?
A large part of our industry is images that are expected to be completely computer generated by AI. This will sweep the floor with conventional stock image photography and probably change the way we perceive photos as well.
Another thing, maybe slightly more near-term, is image-tracking. I believe that within two to three years from now it will be impossible to steal a photo online and not get caught using it somewhere else.
Something we want to push as well is how marketing departments relate to their co-workers. We want to give them the tools to act as a service provider rather than a more traditional police role from some brand departments.
What startups in the technology industry are you watching keenly right now?
I think Slack is continuously interesting to watch and how they relate to Microsoft Teams as they grow rapidly. I also think Chinese startups are interesting overall, given their momentum and size of the domestic market. I mean, they will probably run most of our business in 20 years.
How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a Marketing Technology leader?
We plan both for the long and the short term when it comes to strategic alliances, distribution, and product features. AI is both real as much as it is a buzz phenomenon. We need to take it seriously, which means breaking through the clutter of pretending to be AI. Having said that, Pickit has worked with image recognition and Microsoft Cognitive services from day one. We aim to use AI for relevant tasks and make sure we use it to serve our users to enable their impact making presentations even more in the future.
How do you inspire your people to work with technology?
Well, we are a tech company, so the inspiration is often not necessary. But, I do tip my colleagues, or they tip me, about new productive apps or features from time to time.
One word that best describes how you work.
What apps/software/tools cannot you live without?
HubSpot, Hotjar, Teams, Microsoft PowerPoint, Microsoft Excel, Sketch, Planner, OneDrive.
What is your smartest work-related shortcut or productivity hack?
Well, I do almost everything in Teams nowadays. The way it reduces internal email and workflow, team productivity is really great.
What are you currently reading?
Audiobooks! I am always listening when I walk or travel. Right now, I am reading ‘Sapiens’ by Yuval Noah Harari. I strongly believe that one should read non-fiction literature, even if the objective is to get better at what you do.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
Always walk the extra mile for creativity and quality in the delivery.
Something you do better than others – the secret of your success?
I am not worried about letting processes have their own way for parts of the project. Many leaders claim they believe in creativity, but then they expect a creative process to go from A-B-C-D in a predictable manner. In reality, we all know that a creative process might take its own route. My strength is to be able to capture that and reach the end and deliver on the project anyway — often with a better result, thanks to the deviation.
Tag one person in the industry, whose answers to these questions you would love to read:
Thank you, Rob! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.
Rob facilitates the growth processes and culture for companies, brands and business offers.
Today he runs the marketing department and the growth team at Pickit. In 2008, Rob founded PlannerFed, an account planning network and remained as a senior partner.
Rob holds a masters degree in Social Sciences, Speaks a bit of Spanish, won’t mind a chat and always orders something new when he goes to a restaurant.
Pickit is an all-in-one image service that lives inside Office 365, enabling organizations to store and share company assets right inside PowerPoint. The award-winning add-in also gives employees access to unlimited photos, clipart and slide designs; 100% Legally Cleared™, compliant and free to use for anything.
Pickit was started in 2013 and has offices in Seattle, USA, and Visby, Sweden.
The MTS Martech Interview Series is a fun Q&A style chat which we really enjoy doing with martech leaders. With inspiration from Lifehacker’s How I work interviews, the MarTech Series Interviews follows a two part format On Marketing Technology, and This Is How I Work. The format was chosen because when we decided to start an interview series with the biggest and brightest minds in martech – we wanted to get insight into two areas … one – their ideas on marketing tech and two – insights into the philosophy and methods that make these leaders tick.