Posted: 20 Dec. 2021

Exceptional entrepreneur: Danny Tomsett, FaceMe

Danny Tomsett made an impression at last week’s Deloitte Private Tech 500 celebration in Auckland. As CEO and founder of FaceMe, a software company that seeks to transform the customer experience with the creation of ‘digital humans’, Danny introduced the audience to his own virtual assistant, and inspired the room to think about the potential of Artificial Intelligence in business.

Later, our Bite-Size News team caught up with Danny to discuss FaceMe, his career journey and the biggest misconceptions around AI…

How did you get to where you are in your career?

My journey started at 8 years old when I coded my first game and tried to sell it to my friends. This was my earliest foray into entrepreneurship. At subsequent career days at school, I developed a dream of becoming both an entrepreneur and someone who used that influence to change lives. I went on to found and exit my own telecommunications company at 25, and had the privilege of being mentored by Sir Richard Branson when in the founding years of FaceMe.

What was the motivating factor for starting FaceMe?

I have a passion for customer experience and I’m passionate about people and how we can use technology to make a positive difference in people’s lives. FaceMe enables companies to reimagine the customer experience of the future through a conversational platform designed around leveraging the ‘human touch’ to create amazing customer experiences at scale.

Also, AI is changing the way we will interact with and experience machines. The world will be significantly different in 10 years as we become even more dependent on digital and machines. The driving force behind this wave of change is connected to our need for improved convenient, personalised and frictionless experience. At FaceMe, we believe in bringing human, emotional connection into digital experiences.

How would you describe your product?

The FaceMe Digital Human Platform is for creators. Using AI we make it incredibly easy for people to design conversational experiences with personality and warmth that bring the human connection back to their digital products.

Digital Humans are a next generation interface that combine the best customer experience influencers from both human and machine, embodying the brand and knowledge of an organization, whilst creating significant value through emotional connection, personalisation and consistency with end-users.

What do you think are the biggest misconceptions of AI?

There are many! One I often talk about with customers is the misunderstanding of what they can achieve with machine learning with limited amounts of data. Additionally, the manual work involved to ensure the right data is used to train effective models.

Companies that will win will be those who have established an AI strategy early - understanding that it is a journey that starts now and requires a strategy formed on what they want to look like in 5 years. They have to invest in technology and data strategies that will support this vision.

Where does the future lie in balancing the growth of AI with our human workforce?

Far from fearing that Digital Humans could potentially take over human roles, FaceMe is excited about how Digital Humans will enable people to deliver great outcomes for customers by supporting ‘transactional’ tasks so that they can focus on higher value interactions.

One of the biggest misconceptions about AI is that AI is designed to ‘replace humans’. Great AI should be designed to enhance what humans do. Our customers understand this, and they’re leveraging the technology as a tool to support and empower their staff.

Are there any specific lessons that you would share with other entrepreneurs?

- Surround yourself with great people - the calibre of people around you will shape your success in the future.
- Be very clear about your ‘why’ - it will shape your actions, strategy and ultimately, your business destiny.
- Don’t compromise on hiring A-grade staff, and then retain them by building a great culture.

Who is your business inspiration?

FaceMe was the winner of the Sir Richard Branson ‘Virgin Business challenge’ and as a result, I was incredibly privileged to receive business mentorship from Richard himself. If spending one-on-one time with Sir Richard Branson taught me anything, it was to think bigger - maybe a trait all too familiar with Kiwis is that we often don't think big enough! Your way of doing business will only grow exponentially if you don’t place any limits on how big you dream and how far you are prepared to go.