What if you could automate almost all of your social media and content marketing? Would that make your life as a business owner and content creator simpler?
In this edition of the UpTech Report, we meet with KD Deshpande, the CEO of Simplified to discuss how his company is helping marketing teams to design and collaborate more effectively by using AI technology.
Simplified offers “all the content-creation tools you’ll ever need, in one app”. Instead of logging onto all of the various different social platforms and content creation resources on your own, your team can collaborate and create posts for all of these services, all at once.
The technology can generate blogs, videos, graphics, and more.
Are you launching a new product line? You’re in luck. With Simplified, you can pull pictures from a royalty-free service such as Pixabay, write the advertising copy using an AI copywriting generator, and then instantly post to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, and more, all with the click of a button.
KD Deshpande is the founder & CEO of Simplified, the one app for digital content creation and marketing. KD is a seasoned product development alum of Facebook and Uber and having built (and exited) his own company to Marketo. KD founded Simplified with vision “To build a space where marketers can do more with less, collaborate together and unleash there creativity” in 1/10th of time and in fraction of cost.
DISCLAIMER: Below is an AI generated transcript. There could be a few typos but it should be at least 90% accurate. Watch video or listen to the podcast for the full experience!
KD Deshpande 0:00
First it starts with idea. It’s like okay, what should what will resonate with our audience. And it’s not like one formula works every time. You need to come up with like a lot of different ideas, try different things, and then run with the one which are working well.
Alexander Ferguson 0:22
Welcome to UpTech Report. This is our applied tech series. UpTech Report is sponsored by TeraLeap. Learn how to leverage the power of video at teraleap.io. Today, I’m excited to be joined by my guest, KD Deshpande who’s based in California. He’s the founder and CEO of simplified welcome, KD. Good to have you on.
KD Deshpande 0:39
Yeah. Thanks. Thanks, Alex. Thanks for having me on.
Alexander Ferguson 0:42
Now, simplified is a design platform focused on helping create collaborate and scale marketing efforts. So for those in marketing, and this is a, your whole focus is around simplifying it creating one app to rule all the marketing needs. Help me understand that what’s the problem that you see from your perspective and set up to solve?
KD Deshpande 1:01
Yeah, so being in marketing industry for last decade, one thing I’ve seen is everybody needs marketing. And last two years, or like last probably 24 months, when you see that Tik Tok video, or Instagram post, we swipe left, right or like, but you have no clue like how much effort marketing teams put together, that there is an entire village behind putting that content, there was like number of hours, number of variations are put together. That and existing tools are slow, it takes a lot of time. So and it’s time consuming. So that’s where we are building simplified to make this process efficient, collaborative, because post COVID, the whole world is changed. So making it more collaborative. So marketers can do more with less collaborate with their entire team, and unleash their creativity. That’s what we are building simplifying,
Alexander Ferguson 1:54
I, I love just that phrase that we just swipe on around or whatever, and you just see it for half a second, maybe five seconds, you have no idea the effort that was put into it, and if anything more content is being created than ever or the need for it. So being able to create it faster is pretty important. I think most marketing teams get that for sure. Now simplified, you guys launched publicly in March, April of 2021. This year, you guys got started already building the platform last year. But let’s just take a second go back. And I’m curious about the journey. You’ve been on personally that gotten to this point, you’ve met Uber and Facebook, I’m going to say like, what’s the journey that you’ve been on?
KD Deshpande 2:35
Yeah, so you had to go like all the way back because I always like to draw, draw, caricatures and stuff. So always fascinated towards like good design products. And I started my career in mobile marketing or like mobile application development, build some applications, been part of a couple of startups started my first company in 2011, sold that company in 2015. That’s where kind of I got an exposure, like broader exposure to the whole marketing ecosystem. I started thinking like a marketer, that was called vessel. Yeah, yeah, correct. So my second company was vessel.io, which was helping mobile marketers back then. And we sold that company to Marketo, which, which was a publicly traded company, which later got acquired by Adobe. So I was there got really an exposure to all the whole ecosystem of marketing. And one thing I realized over the period of time is like, we see an social it’s actually the social media evolution was happening along the way. So I experienced the firsthand the whole those Facebook, post, Instagram and all that stuff. So why was there for like few years got expanded our product into international markets, then I left Marketo join Uber with Uber is a rocket ship. And I was the part of the, the whole marketing tech team, where we were, we were spending like billions of dollars on marketing. And my job was to bring efficiency in those processes. And got an opportunity to work with like small medium sized restaurants as a part of UberEATS as well as I work with like fortune 500 companies just to understand their needs and how we can help. One thing was common across the stack was I mean is chaos. When it comes to marketing. It takes like village it starts with simple campaign and like first it starts with idea is like okay, what should what will resonate with our audience? And it’s not like one formula works every time. You need to come up with like a lot of different ideas. Try different things. And then run with the one which are working well, that resume. And if you’ve seen like law, so I’ve seen that happening. I’ve seen our teams at over collaborating over, like different tools. And it always like weeks to even get a launch campaign. And when I was meeting with like the small, SMB mid market restaurants and businesses, the struggle was unreal, it was like, Hey, how should I even create like this content? They were they were still like, getting used to the fact that new modern formats are getting lighter. And like super interactive. It’s amazing. What do we what do I mean by that, like, if you’ve seen last, let’s say, four or five years with Snapchat, launching ephemeral stories, then instead of Facebook launched, then it’s tick tock, then Instagram reels, the content which you are consuming, let’s say, one hour, now you try to consume that content in like 1015 seconds. So that’s the, that’s the change that happened, that happened. So that thought was lingering on my mind. And I left, Uber joined Facebook, and I was there for almost for a short period of time. And I that thought was still on my mind. And I started building, then whole pandemic thing happened. And I seen is like, people are a lot more remote. The previously what used to take four weeks to just collaborate and launch those campaigns or creatives, it is now taking like months, or like it’s taking way more. And the company’s as a CEO or as a board, I’m pushing my marketers to put more content increase digital presence, because we don’t have now we don’t have that physical touch point with our customers. So think about this, like, you have a marketer, who is a non designer, non Creator, who been asked to do a lot more in like that one month, whatever you are supposed to do in like six months, you’ve been asked now to do it in one month, with the tools with which are not meant for this light interactive platforms. So you had no option. And in that necessary, I said, Okay, I was always very close to these use cases.
And in that knew as to why I mean, we had Microsoft Paint Brush. And we have now Adobe, all suite of products. They’re amazing. Don’t get me wrong, but the we lost that simplicity along the way, we lost that ease of access. And that’s where that journey of simplified started. And when I started building there is a one thing I learned is creators are new marketers.
Alexander Ferguson 7:57
So what do you mean, break that down? For me?
KD Deshpande 7:59
Yeah, so the access to your social media on your phone is the most powerful device you have in your pocket. It’s like a supercomputer. And barrier to entry to put create content is now it’s there is almost like there’s no barrier to entry, you can just create it and if you’ve seen in last 12 to 18 months, so many people created like dalgona coffee and all those stuff. And then they became famous overnight, like millions of likes. And the brands are now paying a lot more to these people. So for to do influencer marketing, but these and these people don’t have like the the tools to create their plan, come up with ideas, plan their content, schedule, their content, publish their content in 1/10 of time, and fraction of cost. So we discovered this really the needs of today’s marketers and creators. Businesses are almost very very similar.
Alexander Ferguson 9:03
So you’re actually marketing towards creators as well with your Yes, exactly. So
KD Deshpande 9:07
whoever is into content creation that’s where that’s where we evolved into a vision was not just like hey, why not we are not building a product we are building a space so you can do more with less collaborate together and unleash your creativity
Alexander Ferguson 9:26
so for you leading up to then going from Uber and already seeing creating those relationships is seeing the need for this and then also you were at at Facebook for a short while the the launching of simplified was it simple idea like Alright, I got an idea and then investors like Yes, take my money. Actually.
KD Deshpande 9:49
That’s a very good question. So how come nobody asked me that question? I wrote some some somewhere. So when I so this is not my first rodeo, this is my third company. When I was at Facebook and lingering on this idea, I thought, oh man, I can just go there, quit my job going up a funding market, and people will be like, hey, here is KD, he’s back, let’s give like millions of dollars to him. That did not happen for initial few months. It was like, but because people are still trying to understand people, we’re still understanding this concept of okay, what is the one app means? Why we need one app. So when we end, both coming from like these companies, our product bar is also very high. So we do not want it to be and we will not here to build like MVP. So let me put it that way. Like we have exemplified, we decided we are not building MVP, like minimal viable product, we are building minimal payable product.
Alexander Ferguson 10:57
Interesting minimal payable product. So you want to just start immediately with something that people will say, Oh, wow, I love this, I would pay for this.
KD Deshpande 11:05
Exactly. And for that, like it’s not just like that minimal payable product is if we are living in 2021, we are not in 2011, where you can just fabricate something and give it to people. People, if you’ve seen the consumers behavior today, you expect certain things to be in place, when you use the product like those are given. For example, collaboration, like basic collaboration has to be there, you will be able to invite people proper transaction system payment systems, ease of ease of usage. So we said okay, why not like first bake it. But but we do not want to build this product in vacuum. So what we did is like, I started recruiting, I literally posted a few jobs on fire on in March last year, and said, Hey, I want to talk to you, I’ll pay you, I want to talk to you if you’re like creating these social media posts and stories and videos, but hardly probably five people showed up, I paid them to just understand, like, how they use it. And so we interviewed them, and then that journey started that journey, we embark on that journey. So every two weeks, we were building the product, fixing the bugs, showing it to users listening and then iterating repeating we are going to be or if you’ve seen exemplified, we ship fast, we ship every two weeks. And this is like if we were listeners wants to go to simplify.co What’s new, you will see the entire rate is locked. So our users are used to like that pace of execution and pace of innovation. That’s kind of the ritual we’ve been following for almost last one and half year. And that’s where we got here we are still early in the game. We are building that’s kind of the
Alexander Ferguson 13:02
mentality of this concept of of minimal pail products and and shipping things fast to get it feedback is definitely a smart approach. It sounds like it took you a little bit to get a buy in from VCs but you got there you were able to sell the vision right What what are you would you say is kind of the the biggest hurdle for people to recognize this one up mentality like what’s what’s the roadblocks that are in your way?
KD Deshpande 13:35
I think I’ll be because this is there is a new way of functioning. See the if you look at typical organization, you have copywriters, you have social media planners, you have performance marketers, if you are like a decent sized company, or you’re outsourcing that whole thing to some organization, people are not used to the fact that you can do things fast and like collaborate together enough seamlessly. So when we started giving this product to users, the first reaction was Wow, can I do this can someone in my team cannot also do so we we decided we the people are used to point solutions like point products like oh I want to create like this Instagram post this is that I want to schedule this is the another app. But when we we said simplified is simplifying your process. Simplified is you get more time back on for things that matters for your business. So when we started giving it to more and more people, they were naturally it was overwhelming response since we launched our public beta in July, like this year, July 15. And more than 100,000 people already signed up for simplified in last two and a half months. And we are sprinting we are just like spending money. Making sure that we deliver amazing experience.
Alexander Ferguson 15:04
Now there’s there’s other design products out there like like Canva, that’s one thing you talked about that you’re you’re very narrowed in on marketing versus Canva could be used for anything.
KD Deshpande 15:16
So we know Canva I’m in the they are even though are there they are our competitors, or like, we’ll be competitors. We are nobody can always like a really massive company, we would love to compete someday. I think what Canva did is phenomenal. Like they change the way people design online. Because if you’ve seen like last probably Canva days 2010 before or like last five years. These tools were accessible to only few people who are very, very skilled in their section, what can what it is like they open that. But now it’s a design tool for horizontal stuff. Where we are taking is like, can we use more AI ml in the ecosystem and build more like more collaborative tool? So our focus is more like can we build it more collaborative tool, which fits into your marketing stack.
Alexander Ferguson 16:18
Some of the things if I understand correctly in in the platform, you can create imagery. That’s one big thing, right? content for social media or ads, but also for writing content. And you’re plugged into GPD three, so people can help. Yep, IDT have new content. Is that correct?
KD Deshpande 16:35
Yes, absolutely. So today, using simplified as a part of your marketing process, you can use our AI system, we call it as Loki, you can use SST and Loki, for coming up with ideas. Then once you’re in, we already have a very deep relationship and partnership with open AI. So so you can generate like different ideas that are well that resonates with your brand with your company. And it does really, really good job. Then you can use our AI designer, which we launched like this week. You just give like certain keywords and what you want. And simplified is able to generate like even Instagram posts for you. In like one click in 30 seconds, you’ll have like a gallery of five, six post. And you can pick and choose which which one is more relevant to your audience.
Alexander Ferguson 17:31
What’s What’s this the post? What does it look like? Is it is it image and text on it like that? What does that look like?
KD Deshpande 17:38
Yeah, so the way it works is you come in and you say I want to generate the Instagram code. You give let’s say I’m a let’s say fitness club. Motivational quotes for athletes. Ai generates like certain quotes you choose which which one you resonates with, and also tells AI saying, hey, I want my images more like athletes or shoes or gym, and AI assembles finds the right images, fonts, brand, everything and generates three to five, like collection of three to five Instagram posts for you, then you can you have it use you probably boilerplate, which is really 90 to 95%. Then you can just change colors or like maybe adjust certain parameters, put your logo and you’re done. So what like yeah,
Alexander Ferguson 18:35
you try to goes back to that root mission of speeding up that whole process. And instead of you going to an assistant saying, hey, I want to do something, here’s some ideas. And I’m going off doing it now that AI system.
KD Deshpande 18:49
And we have seen very interesting use cases from our community. People not only created designs, we launched just for design, but now using simplified video, people are turning those posts into videos. So we already like the influx of users and the request. There are possibilities are endless. People are asking us to like create YouTube thumbnails to reduce Instagram reels because it’s no brainer. You know what exactly resonates and AI is giving you on brand, really nice looking creatives. It saves them time. Imagine like I have motivational Monday’s, you just come in create those creatives schedule for publishing. Then you come on, let’s say Thursdays where like customer testimonials. you rewrite them you do nice thing, and then you have five posts ready. So that whole ecosystem is we are speeding up that whole ecosystem.
Alexander Ferguson 19:51
The promise of AI and what it can do to speed up is wonderful. There’s always the reality check as well. What what are you seeing as some of the constraints that you’re working against that way we one day will won’t be there anymore, but are is a reality check.
KD Deshpande 20:08
Yeah, I think in general, video processing is getting like already failed better. But I think there’s still room for improvement. So that way we you can have like, much like larger videos, even create a tic toc style and telling even summarization problem is solved to a certain extent. But I think context aware, AI needs lot more effort. So just to train, the make sure that okay, what exactly this person is looking at, and what the output, I think generic AI is still easy. For general use cases, when you’re, if you want to learn the lingo of that particular persona, and create the content of like to generate the content, which resonates with their audience is still a hard problem. And it takes investment, it takes a lot of data, to just train those models and prepare, be prepared for that. I think, best example of a or like, the more personal use example is like the smart replies of Gmail. Like that’s so unique and subtle. It adopts your style, because Google is already sitting on your all personnel data so they can predict those stuff. So I think those are hard problems. And the other important thing is keeping it simple. You don’t because the kind of audience we are dealing with these are likes small lesson women, marketers, agencies, freelancers, creators, how can we visually tell that story to those users? How can we make it simple? So it feels like, yeah, it’s part of my, it’s, it’s part of my thing. I don’t need to learn anything new. I think that’s more than technology challenge. Visual challenges bigger here. You don’t want to give like a Swiss knife to your users and saying, okay, we can do everything. And here are the models, here are the levers you can find your attitude when people will be like, Okay, what exactly I’m supposed to do with this?
Alexander Ferguson 22:17
I feel like you’ve taken the insight from all of your product design experience. Yes. There’s that Uber at Facebook and say, Okay, that’s that’s the wisdom right there. You just describe a building a product, you don’t you don’t do a build a Swiss army knife. You you build a here’s one specific use case for what is kind of on the roadmap for you coming up? What are you excited about? What can you share?
KD Deshpande 22:45
Yeah, I think, simplified video is we already launched the first version of it, we are investing a lot more in that area. Also, by the end of this month, there are two big products which we are launching you already, we build in public. So the we love to build in public, engage with our community. So we are launching full AI writing assistant. Because SEO is big. And a lot of content marketers who use simplified today, they use the right because today’s content process, the way it works is you use probably Word docs Excel sheet, notion or something else for just creating content, then you go somewhere to create your visual content, and then you go somewhere to publish that content. And then you share links in like JIRA are like other places. I think we need we need to live we are in like, we are heading to a better future. We are heading to a simplified future where we can view do everything in like one platform, where so that’s it as a part of our vision. We are enabling this AI full Long Form Editor. So you will be able to generate like entire blog in less than 15 minutes with images with videos, SEO ready. That’s one product which we are really excited which will launch it later early this week or early next week. And the other thing is publishing I think if the content is created and it is still residing in your platform, it has no use. We want it we want our users to be like the customers to publish that content flawlessly. And again, we are not I was talking to our team yesterday and the whole philosophy which we are following we are not rebuilding what companies built in 2011 in 2021. We are building it for future we are looking at like next 10 years and saying like okay, if we have to build like HootSuite or Buffer or like other like this scheduling products, what is how can AI make it smarter? How can AI assist you while scheduling your content? How AI can help you in writing your content better. So those are like, simplified video and simplified publishing are the two big things which we are currently working. And I’m really excited to unveil them fairly soon.
Alexander Ferguson 25:16
I can definitely see your passion as you describe this simplified future. How much did the domain cost you simplify.
KD Deshpande 25:27
So we know that one simplified.com simplified.co have some friends over the years, that’s the advantage of hustling for last 15 plus years, and failing so many times that you know, where to spend money and where not to spend money. So yeah, we got it at a decent price. Interestingly, our company official name is still TLDR technologies.
Alexander Ferguson 25:55
KD Deshpande 25:57
Too long, don’t redo it.
Alexander Ferguson 26:01
There’s also that in the root of it of, of the mission itself, and everything ties back to it. So you’ve got a mighty future and, and a small but excited team of 20 people is that right?
KD Deshpande 26:14
Our our engineering team is still like less than 10 people. We have, and we are 100% remote. We are currently in Canada, Mexico, US India. 100% remote team, we are having our first off site, like first in person off site. In Mexico, by end of this year, you’re flying everyone to just meet because this company is founded during pandemic. We haven’t seen each other just like zoom. And building the hustling already.
Alexander Ferguson 26:46
These connections for these folks previously are
KD Deshpande 26:49
Yeah, some of them I knew. Because these are the engineers, friends. I work throughout the years. And some of them we just hired who reached out to us express desire to because we act simplified, there are a few things we don’t compromise on nice people is P zero. I simplify this. So if our people, first employees first, more than they are our partners, first 10 employees are like almost like co founders, then our customers, making sure that people we do that human touch because we buy products like as a human we buy product. So we say like a comfort product, but stay for support and community and the experience.
Alexander Ferguson 27:38
Like I like that mentality. I like them until a lot for you. I’m always because we have a lot of leaders, business leaders that listen to this. What was the last constructive feedback you received? That is helping you improve as a leader yourself,
KD Deshpande 27:53
I think I would say more than feedback is like now, I have two beautiful daughters. One is like four years and other is like three months. So being a lot more patient. Because it takes it takes time. I think one of the best feedback or like not direct feedback, but the kind of I follow a bunch of like really amazing leaders on Scott Scott Belsky who is a Chief Product Officer at Adobe. He did something like like you need to be ruthless with your execution. Like but be patient with your reserved for results.
Alexander Ferguson 28:37
Ruthless with your execution patience with the results. Yeah,
KD Deshpande 28:41
I think that’s the and we are if I mean think about this, like right. Last, we as industry also changing creators are becoming creators or new generate generation marketers. And CMOs are almost like that role of is blending into the chief creativity officer also. Because if you have seen last, let’s say 18 months, most more and more companies are hiring chief creative officers. Because content is not seen as like a liability or expense. It’s seen as like investment. As considering like number of people are coming online. So I think that’s fundamental shift is happening.
Alexander Ferguson 29:29
There’s a lot of wisdom there. If you’re looking to simplify your marketing, you may want to check out simplified.co and look like anything you can sign up still for free and just be able to test it out and explore it right.
KD Deshpande 29:41
Yeah, simplify it is free forever. So anybody can sign up and use the product. Lead growth.
Alexander Ferguson 29:47
I love it. Thank you again, KD for your time. It’s good to have you on.
KD Deshpande 29:53
Yeah, thanks for having me.
Alexander Ferguson 29:54
And we’ll see well on the next episode of UpTech Report. Have you seen a company using AI machine Learning are other technology to transform the way we live work and do business go to UpTech report.com and let us know