An exclusive Tech Tribune Q&A with Mike Gunderson, the founder and CEO of Respond Fast, which was honored in our:
Tell us the origin story of Respond Fast – what problem were you trying to solve and why?
Great question. I run a boutique advertising agency in San Francisco named Gunderson Direct and we’re always looking to bring innovative ideas to our clients. I’ve been an early adopter of voice, and wanted to integrate a call to action into a print campaign.
I searched the web to see if there were any easy plug-and-play solutions, and came up empty. I thought to myself, I should just build it! I assembled a team of developers and got to work. In addition to filing our patent application, we had a beta version Amazon Skill within 3 months and rolled it out officially to both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant a month ago! So far traction and adoption have been positive!
You asked, “why?” – voice is one of the fastest growing consumer technologies since the smart phone, and we’re right on the cusp of mass adoption. Respond Fast is primed for success by allowing marketers to easily bolt on a Voice Activated Call to Action™ (VACTA) to any new or existing campaigns they have in market. You can have a custom VACTA for your campaign up and running in less than 5 minutes with our platform.
What was the biggest hurdle you encountered in your journey?
So far, it has been the tech we are supporting. Players like Google and Amazon can change direction in an instant, and we need to adjust our product to support those changes. This can make it difficult to support our customers, so it’s important that we are up on current trends and product updates to ensure the best customer experience.
What does the future hold for Respond Fast?
World domination… just kidding. My main goal is to be on par or take over web and phone as the default CTA channel when a consumer responds to an offline offer. I want voice to be a natural way for consumers to respond to offers. Right now, the largest call to action channels are web (URL), call (phone), text (SMS), or brick and mortar (in-person).
I am striving for an easy and seamless interaction for the consumer since voice is the most frictionless way to get information from offline media such as radio, TV, print, packaging and direct mail to a consumer. If a customer wants to learn more about what you’re offering, they simply ask! It couldn’t be any easier than that.
If your readers would like to learn more about Respond Fast and create their first campaign, they can just say to their smart speaker: “Launch Respond Fast” and use keyword “Trial”.
What are your thoughts on the local tech startup scene in Hayward?
I have always had an affinity to Hayward. When I moved up from southern California, I called Hayward home about 25 years ago. Hayward has always been a diverse community located in the heart of the Bay. We chose Hayward for its eclectic downtown, its support for small business, and its proximity to BART/freeways. We also think Hayward is the next big tech hub, and the city seems to be supporting this with a new downtown development plan to attract both businesses and residents alike.
What’s your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
As Einstein once said, “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with the problems longer.” Often I think entrepreneurs throw in the towel way too soon. It’s a long game that very, very few people have the stomach for. The levels of emotion combined with the uncertainty of cash flow can discourage most people. However, if you stay focused, stay with it, and sprinkle in a little luck, the chances for success are on your side.