MediaTechM&A

Carl Wong looks back at his time running LivingLens in two halves.

He co-founded the video analytics platform in 2014 with David Woods before it was bought by leading customer experience tech giant Medallia for $26 million in February 2020.

He exited the business completely in July 2021 and earlier this year set up DCW Ventures with Woods to invest in, support and advise high-growth businesses to scale and exit.

Reflecting on his own time with LivingLens, Wong says entrepreneurs can avoid a lot of pain if they have a clear plan and don’t get their head turned by working with big-name brands.

“It’s really important to have a clear plan that is aligned to a clear set of objectives,” he explains to TechBlast.

“When you start a business it’s very tempting to run as fast as you can, but the danger after a while is you might be running in the wrong direction.

“At the beginning with LivingLens we bent over backwards to work with some of the world’s biggest and best-known businesses.

“We were creating bespoke technical solutions for them that we wouldn’t replicate for other customers so it was an expensive exercise.

“The other big lesson we learnt from the early years was to make sure you build your own technology with your own staff so you not only own all your IP, but you control the quality of your code.

“It is important to develop quality relationships with customers, but you don’t always have to say ‘yes’ to everything they ask of you.  It is absolutely acceptable to take a commercial approach.  Don’t be afraid to say ‘no’ to the world’s biggest companies if it’s not right for you and your business.

“For the last three-and-a-half years we operated to a plan and we stuck to it rigidly. We held ourselves to account and had clear exit goals. I wish I’d done it earlier.”

Startups must remember that cash is king

LivingLens captured and analysed video content via speech, actions and sentiment, translating the content into business insights.

The start-up worked with the likes of Airbnb, Atlassian, Colgate-Palmolive, Dyson, Deliveroo, Hyundai, Kia, Lloyds, Royal Mail, Samsung and Unilever.

Since leaving Medallia, Wong and Woods have set up DCW Ventures to invest in, support and advise high-growth businesses to scale and exit.

 

Wong says: “It’s about sharing our experiences with other early stage businesses so they make less mistakes than we made.

“We focus upon supporting the leadership team to drive the business forwards, whilst bringing constructive feedback and challenge to aid improved decision-making.”