Roland Polzin is the CMO and co-founder of Wing AI and a 2020 MBA of the Paul Merage School of Business at UC Irvine.
Wing is a 24/7 mobile assistant powered by humans & AI that handles anything as long as it is legal and possible. Wing automates the process of getting things done on-demand for users with cutting edge technology and a strong partnership network. Wing is the only mobile on-demand concierge service app in the space that learns about the user and leverages AI to improve its service. Wing is also the only service that offers a monthly subscription for unlimited requests, at a price point that is affordable to the mass market.
Before his business career, he served as an officer in the German military for 12 years where he held several leadership positions such as Chief PR Officer for the German Army and Chief Communications Officer for the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission MINUSMA in Mali.
In an exclusive interview with AsiaTechDaily, Roland Polzin says:
Make sure you are certain you know not only what you are offering, but also what you are not offering. Make strategic tradeoffs regarding your value proposition so that you do not dilute your branding or stretch yourself too thin. It’s often very tempting to offer the world to your customers – but saying “no” is sometimes much more important than blindly accepting business requests.
Read on to know more about Roland and his journey.
Please tell me about your background, and what are you working on currently?
Roland Polzin: During high school, I decided to become an officer in the German Army and joined the military after graduation. I served for 12 years, including training, university education, and deployments to Afghanistan and Mali (Africa). When my 12-year contract ended in 2018, I wanted to start something new, so I went to the US to do my MBA in California! In early 2019, I joined ‘Wing AI’ as a co-founder to bring my broad skill set as an experienced leader and decisionmaker to the table and grow the company to levels never seen before.
What motivated you to get started with your company?
Roland Polzin: Wing will change people’s lives. Where we all know Google as the search engine nowadays, people will recognize Wing as the DO ENGINE in a few years. Being part of this incredible venture to democratize the ability to have an on-demand personal assistant is what motivated me back then, and what gets me up early every morning!
How have you attracted users and grown your company from the start?
Roland Polzin: We just launched a couple of weeks ago on Product Hunt where we became the #1 product of the day globally! On this day alone, we received hundreds of requests and user signups, which we could barely handle. But even before that, we spread the word through our personal networks and with presences at large tech events, such as TechDay LA, which grew our waitlist of people that are eager to join our service as soon as possible. Going forward, our viral value proposition ($9.99 for an assistant that actually works) and the fantastic user experience we provide will carry user growth to new frontiers.
What’s your business model, and how have you grown your revenue? What strategy worked best?
Roland Polzin: We offer monthly subscriptions of $9.99 for Wing’s Standard plan and $19.99 for Wing’s Plus plan as well as discounted annual plans. We support our subscribers with hybrid intelligence by merging our Wing AI with human intelligence, which enables us never to say “I don’t understand.” We actually do anything legal and possible – and that is the ‘secret sauce’ that makes customers subscribe and drive revenue!
How much money (funding) have you raised in total so far? When was the recent funding round? (Additionally, any plan for the future?)
Roland Polzin: At this time, we cannot disclose our total funding amount. However, apart from winning various competitions and leveraging our university’s ‘Wayfinder Incubator’, we have raised initial funding from angel investors as well as from a reputable accelerator program in the Bay Area. This enables us to accelerate growth further and raise a significant seed round later this year.
What are some marketing tips to help maximize the success of a product launch?
Roland Polzin: First of all: Don’t wait until you have a ‘perfect’ product – such a thing doesn’t exist, and waiting for it means wasting valuable experiences with early users that you can leverage to improve your product. Now, when you market your imperfect product, make sure you have an idea who you are targeting (customer segment) and what these people are expecting from your product. Try to meet your users in-person and have them try your product so you can partake in their experience and learn what inhibits them and how you can better communicate with your customer segment.
What is a good product launch checklist?
- When you make your MVP, be close to engineering as well as to your customer segment
- Learn from in-person meetings with individuals and with focus groups what people are saying, doing, and thinking
- Refine your product and messaging and repeat the steps mentioned above
- Launch where you find a large number of potential customers as well as national or even global reach to create buzz
- Make sure you nail customer service as well as you can but don’t let that hold you back
What’s the hardest thing about product launches?
Roland Polzin: Finding the right timing and coordinating all activities so that every stakeholder is utilized best and everything culminates perfectly on the day of launch (however, this will probably never be completely mastered ☺).
What are the most common mistakes founders make when they start a company? (or What should all first-time startup founders know before they start their business?)
Roland Polzin: Make sure you are certain you know not only what you are offering, but also what you are not offering. Make strategic tradeoffs regarding your value proposition so that you do not dilute your branding or stretch yourself too thin. It’s often very tempting to offer the world to your customers – but saying “no” is sometimes much more important than blindly accepting business requests.
What do most startups get wrong about marketing?
Roland Polzin: I don’t claim to know most startups. However, I see many people, even advisors and investors, make superficial judgments about customer segments. When I developed Wing’s marketing strategy from the ground up and based on scientific research, I received push back from those people.
They kept demanding to see “easy-to-understand segments” based on age and occupations rather than my more complex psychographic division of user groups. What they were getting wrong is that demographic variables such as age and income alone are not sufficient predictors for customer behavior. Rather, it is the needs and desires based on personality traits that will lead marketers to understand consumers.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? And What advice do you have for someone who is interested in doing similar things like yours or in a similar direction?
Roland Polzin: My parents taught me to always be truthful not only to others but also to myself. I still find this advice incredibly helpful, because not being truthful will come back to you most of the time, or, at the very least, you fool yourself and will never realize what you can do better. My advice is for anyone to take this at heart in whatever they do.
What are the one or two things that you would do differently if you could go back to 10 years ago?
Roland Polzin: Be less fearful of what others think of me and embrace failure as an opportunity to improve.
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