Jackie and I like to work in fun and entertaining questions during our guest interviews for the EVTV Experience podcasts. In fact, we have a pair of giant dice we roll with each of the numbers assigned a particular question. One of those questions is Performance or Environment. This week’s episode explores the perceived importance of environmental topics to more traditional vehicle topics with guest Leland Harden, Vice President, of Predicta, Inc. which automates competitive product intelligence using deep learning AI techniques.
Jackie: Welcome Back.
Brian: Welcome Back.
Jackie: You with your hosts, Jackie Rickard.
Brian: And Brian Noto. We’re adding a new segment. It’s called Meet the Press. Oh, someone already has done that one, haven’t they?
Jackie: Yeah. I don’t think we can use that one.
Brian: All right. So I guess it’ll just be Meet the Guest. So this is our first guest Leland Harden with Predicta AI. I can’t remember Leland, what does AI stands for?
Leland: Well. Originally it was artificial intelligence because we do have artificial intelligence baked into our software and how we go about and do things. However, we found it more effective and more descriptive to now say, amplified intelligence, because that is what our product and the market research that we can provide. It truly amplifies our customers intelligence.
Jackie: So how did you get involved with Predicta? Did you guys write the software? What’s your background? I’m curious.
Leland: I started in the online business in 1985 right out of college. I got a job with a company called Data Times. It was owned by Gaylord Publishing. They were taking newspaper archival information and putting it into a service that you could access and and get online. There was one other company, part of Knight-Ridder, that was called View Text, and so there were two in the country doing that and going out there actively getting newspapers. And I was hired to sell online access to the Dallas Morning News newspaper archives. I carried around a dumb terminal and it didn’t have a screen, so the output was heat sensitive paper, like a fax machine. And it had an acoustic coupler on it. So you would go out and hit that and, you know, it was, it was really fun. 300 baud.
Brian: I remember the days of the 300 baud modem when we all got like, you know 28 K That was a big deal you know that you could, you could see things. Jackie’s father in fact put USA Today online probably in the early 90s and did a product called P.I.M.P. the Personal Internet Mail Processor to do email. I wish we still had the pink hat with the white feather.
Jackie: So we know your background. How did you get hooked up with Predicta?
Leland: Well, a friend of mine, someone I’d worked with in the past, was an investor in Predicta and I had I was just out there looking for the next. Thing to do something fun. And he said, Well, I’m an investor. He actually brought me to opportunities. And I said, Well, I think Predicta sounds like the coolest. I want to do that. So he introduced me and it was history after that. The founder just said, Yeah, I’ll come on board, let’s get this done. I mean, I’ve, I’ve written five books on Internet marketing and had a couple of IPOs. So, you know, it’s fun to build companies and sell them or merge them or take the public.
Jackie: That’s what Dad was really into. Also, like with EVTV, I mean, he was technically retired, but I always say that that was like the one thing he really failed at because he couldn’t just not work and he just started messing around with converting cars back when, you know, the gas prices were astronomical around the bubble.
Brian: Yeah, 2008.
Jackie: And he was like, you know what? Fuck these companies. I don’t want to pay this shit anymore. So just started tinkering around with it and then it it just kind of fell into a business. People were like, Hey, can we buy some of that stuff from you? But that’s really what he liked to do was start with the company and grow it and build it. And then once it got too big, he was like, Yeah, I’m on to the next thing. So yeah, kind of similar mindset for sure.
Leland: Yeah, I can relate.
Brian: And we were really interested in what you did in the electric vehicle market because after we talk about it, we actually her father was famous for making predictions. In fact, we just talked about one yesterday, which was that and this was in 2013, he predicted that Tesla would open up their supercharger network to other OEMs at some point. I don’t think we thought it was going to be a decade. It’s so we have a bunch of predictions. And what you’re going to talk to us about today, I guess is the why. What are the buying reasons? I guess I didn’t get that quite right. But, you know, how are you ranking what people view as their reasons for purchasing electric vehicles?
Leland: Yeah, we put together we saw EV as a really good emerging market and people would have questions and companies who are trying to sell their EVs or break into the EV market would want to know what consumers are thinking. So we basically put together a our data set and started building the all of the things that we need to know. We would we include brands of cars. And basically what we’ll do is our we’ll set it up, tell our, you know, it’s kind of like custom programming on where you want the the AI to go look and it will then take that and start pulling in from thousands of websites and thousands of comments and condensing that into data that is usable oil and data that can create be kind of presented graphically. And so you can learn so much and it’s a very, very powerful tool. It’ll look at what we’re asking for and then it will actually spin off new words and new terms that it will add into the search criteria based on, you know, it’s AI, that’s what it does. Um, so we were looking at our data because people were saying that people who buy electric cars or, you know, their way into the the environment. They want to protect the environment. Right. And we found that that is very much a secondary reason that they want to buy it. You look at, you know, kind of the top tier, it’s like reliability and quality. You know, you think that you want that in in any car performance. And then charging. Those are the things they talk about in all of their posts in the comments online. Reliability and quality is mentioned three times more than environment. Performance is mentioned 2.4 times more and charging is mentioned 2.3 times more than environmental reasoning. And if you in fact go down the list of what is most important to people, what are they talking about most? 69% out there talk about quality, then value is 63% driving performance. And we all know driving an EV is awesome.
Leland: Yeah. It’s 56% in battery range. They talk about then charging, then environmental impact. It’s sixth on the list. Charging which is fifth on the list is talked about by 52% of EV owners. Environmental impact is talked about by 23%. So it drops off that much.
Brian: That’s amazing.
Jackie: So I’m curious, what was the catalyst that brought it up to your guys’s attention? Do companies approach and say, we want to know the data on this or is it like some sort of a notification that, hey, this is trending or it’s a popular search or something like that?
Leland: Well, do you guys know Buzz Smith, the EVangelist? If not, you should get to know him. But we were talking to Buzz and saying, Hey, Buzz, you know, what is most what’s on top of your mind? What do you really want to know? And he says, you know what? They’re all trying to talk about the environmental impact, but people buy their EVs because they get behind the wheel and they punch the accelerator. They’re lost forever. They’re never going back.
Jackie: Never. Yeah.
Brian: That was that was what we found even in 2009, 2010, is that people equated EVs with golf carts. And once we got him into one of our Porsches or the, you know, the cars or the Escalade we converted or the Mini Cooper was like, wait a minute, this is not a golf cart.
Jackie: No, not at all. Not even close, for sure. Yeah, I like to tell people about it because I think that that we get a lot of questions where people just don’t know very much about it at all. So they’re just, you know, wondering about how does the charging work and what kind of range does it get and what kind of factors are involved in terms of maintenance and upkeep. And, you know, I talk about it all the time, but one of the things, too, is that so my car that I my first car that I bought was a Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT. And it was like my dream. And I loved that thing. And then it started having car problems. And I’ve had so many issues with mechanics and just getting the runaround for so long. And I was I just hate dealing with them at this point. And then I got a Tesla and I was like, Jeep? What? Like, it’s not even a question. Like, I don’t miss it. Like, it’s it’s just the best, best thing ever. Once you drive in that thing or even just take a ride, it’s. Yeah. Oh, yeah. It’s over. That’s it.
Leland: Dangerous. Because, you know, our founder drove, at a trade show, got into one of the EVs and drove it. And he almost ran over a pedestrian because he didn’t expect it to go, so.
Brian: Yeah, No, we know. We talk about that all the time. You’re on the highway or whatever and you’re doing 90 miles an hour and you don’t realize it because it’s just quiet and smooth and powerful.
Jackie: People get in it. They’re like, how? It’s. It’s so quiet. I’m just so not used to it. Like, how do you turn it off? I’m like, you just get out and walk away.
Brian: And so, I mean, at at some point then, Leland, even though environmental concerns are in, you said 20 some percent are there factors that need to happen in the EV purchase or does environment ever matter?
Leland: I think and this is just anecdotal, but people, once they get their EV, they realize they’re doing things better for the environment because, you know, they’re not buying fuel. Their costs go way down. And so I think they become environmentalists after they buy their EV. And of course, it skews on different age ranges. If you’ve got people who are 60 and above, they’re more environmentally worried than those younger, I think. So it breaks out on an age range as well. But overall, it’s not that important.
Brian: Okay. That’s really that’s really, really interesting.
Jackie: What other things are you guys finding outside of. You know, the those being the top concerns is there. Anything specific because you said it sometimes spits out new information or new data. New terms or. Um, things that you guys weren’t aware of, was there? You know, we did in particular that was interesting. Stood out.
Leland: We were one Elon Musk can be a controversial character. Um, and we had so we started asking folks who own their Teslas and we found that, you know, his antics are buying Twitter or whatever didn’t just don’t matter. It doesn’t move the needle. They’re still in love with their cars. It does not mean that they’re not going to buy a Tesla. Because of these other factors. Um, that’s very interesting. I’m remembering we did a release and we compared the Bolt. And the Leaf and found some very interesting data in comparison to those two. So that’s on our website at predictive.com. So in our blog section.
Jackie: Nice plug. Okay.
Brian: Yeah. There you go.
Jackie: I love it.
Brian: And and what is that website Leland.
Jackie: Yeah we’ll check that out. Well I was on it there earlier but I definitely want to dig into some more.
Brian: What else? I mean, is there anything else that you can think of that we didn’t that we didn’t cover?
Leland: Uh, not right now, I think. You know, we’re going to see more and more discussions. There are so many. There’s a lot of fake news around EVs. I’m sure you’re aware. People saying, you know, these pictures of a battery mine. You know, and there’s not you know, it’s a bogus. And all the conservative media talking about how it doesn’t really save anything. What are you going to do with those batteries? Well, when you recycle the batteries and make more batteries.
Jackie: Or they’ll talk about, like, the cost and like, the environmental concerns involved in producing and transporting or whatever, but I feel like it’s a lot of gaslighting.
Brian: There’s nothing is free. I mean, that’s. That’s the way that is.
Jackie: Does the AI filter out any of the fake news or is that just kind of.
Leland: It looks I mean, um, we’re not really just jumping into general things like that, but the AI can determine between a positive comment and a negative comment and it can look at it can go down on a sentence by sentence basis and look at what is being said and what’s real and what’s not. So that’s what we’re very proud of. We just continue to fine tune the engine and it’s working out well.
Jackie: Are you able to, in like the search terms, have it identify the sources and pull those through? So it’s kind of at the forefront?
Leland: Yeah. In fact, your initial your initial page when you log on tells you where all the data came from, the sources, and then you can on an individual post basis, we can even break it out in one of the sections. And you can see that this person talked about this topic more. And so it’s very, very interesting to see when you can really you it’s so much, you know, it kind of all clusters together. Yeah. You have to break it out. And then there’s a way that you can just take all of the dimensions and you can choose the ones you want to look at specifically. And so you can customize your dashboard at any time. You can customize it based on what car you’re looking at, what brand you’re looking at, comparing the things within those brands or comparing one model to another model and another brand. You can just do it side by side and break it all out and look at the positive and the negative and just figure it all out.
Jackie: Yeah, that’s that’s awesome. So you can essentially take a look at what people are saying about different brands and manufacturers versus pulling paid for sources that were like sponsored or placed specifically.
Leland: Right? Yeah, we’re not we’re not we’re not getting into that at all. We’re we’re looking at the legitimate, you know, what consumers are saying. That’s what.
Jackie: Other search engines that you plug into Google or whatnot, you just get one thing after another of something that’s been sponsored or paid for and you’re like, All right, I have to sit through all this stuff.
Leland: So like I said at the beginning, it is a very much bespoke data set that looks at the things that we tell it to look at. If I find a few additional things, but we’re we’re really controlling where that data is coming from.
Brian: Interesting. You know, Leland, I am always looking for words to use in a sentence, and I’m going to have to use Bespoke soon. That’s that’s a good word. We we worked in homage the other day. So we’re, you know, ebullient is another one I need to use, you know. Awesome.
Leland: Yeah. Bespoke is a great word.
Brian: I love bespoke. Yes.
Leland: Yeah. One one. My wife and I would visit London. I’d go to Jermyn Street.
Brian: Oh, yes.
Leland: For a bespoke shirt.
Brian: Exactly. Yes. Yeah. Savile Row, huh?
Jackie: I love it. So is there more interest specifically in Tesla or just EVs overall? Is there any kind of weighted basis off of the perception of different EV manufacturers.
Leland: Obviously, because Tesla’s been out there the longest. There are more comments and discussion around Tesla’s than there are anything out there. So it is there’s a lot of Tesla data out there, But, um, Ford, GM, Nissan, they’re coming right along. They are jumping into the fray. So I really do believe that you just see more and more comments about these other brands. And I mean, one thing I discovered this a week ago, I was just, you know, on the Ionic forum and I just happened to the go in to our data set and look and there’s one graph where it just presents lots of little bubbles and it’s the dimension that they’re talking about and what’s positive, what’s negative, or the other way around, depending on what mirror you’re looking at. But the Ionic. What’s all in the 90% plus. And that’s the only one we have in the entire dataset of any car that has that much positivity. It’s just amazing.
Leland: So that was a shocker to me.
Brian: Yeah, it’s almost like they’re like a Volkswagen or Subaru back in the day and they’re developing like a cult around their vehicle. Yeah.
Leland: Yeah, exactly. Oh, yeah. People love their Ioniq. Okay. And I want an Ioniq six. That is such a beautiful car.
Leland: Yeah, Yeah. And it’s got the lowest drag ratio of anything out there. Something like that. I mean, it’s like built. Put it in a wind tunnel. It’s better than anything.
Brian: Oh, that’s amazing.
Jackie: Yeah. Do you drive an ev?
Leland: Not right now. No. I’m saving up when I was six years old. When I was six years old, my parents were in a Mercedes dealership buying. It was 1968. It was my birthday. So for my birthday, I got a Mercedes, 280 ES or something. But I was six walking around the showroom and I saw the Mercedes Benz sports car and I fell in love. And so that was the first goal I ever set at six years old was to buy a Mercedes Benz sports car. And I got one like 30 years later or less, a little less than 30, but, An SLK. But you just love that car.
Brian: Knock that off the list.
Jackie: Brian’s a Mercedes fan, too.
Leland: Yeah. But I’m looking at, you know, I like that EQS450 SUV, but that’s a little, you know, it’s a $110,000 to get started.
Brian: And that’s the thing. I mean, they’re expensive because people want range and range anxiety. Obviously, people are always talking about it. But you know, we’ve been talking to telling people for a decade or over that most people don’t drive that far and that’s driving the price of EVs are keeping them inflated. Is battery pack in a lot of cases.
Jackie: What do you need that much range for if you’re only driving like 33 miles a day? It might be a little bit different now.
Brian: Well, great. This has been awesome. So were we’re trying a couple of things. We answered one of the questions what do you drive? So we’ve got another one. On a scale of 1 to 10, Leland, how weird are you?
Jackie: How would you rate yourself on a scale of weirdness?
Leland: I don’t consider, you know, just depends on the perspective, you know. And I met and married my wife in San Francisco, so I know what a weirdometer looks like.
Brian: I’m from Southern California, so I understand.
Jackie: Should we do the Jeff Bezos question?
Brian: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. And we may not use this, but we may. So go ahead.
Jackie: So you find Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk in water drowning. Who do you save?
Leland: I think I’d say Bezos.
Brian: Well, we’ll put that in our data set.
Leland: Yeah, I like I like Bezos. I mean, I respect him. He created Amazon. That is huge, right? It’s huge. Of course, Elon was one of the guys that created PayPal, which is huge, you know, and it’s a great brand. And then went on to Tesla. But I just, I admire Bezos and his wife drove from New York to Seattle. I think they stopped in Texas to see family. And he wrote the business plan for Amazon in the car.
Jackie: Oh, I love that. Interesting. How many people were in transit? Like J.K. Rowling was on a train when she thought up Harry Potter. The guy that started Otterbox was driving down to Denver in the car with his wife when he thought of, you know, developing these cases to protect these new phones and whatnot.
Leland: Yeah, the epiphany comes every now and then, you know, and you just take it when it comes.
Jackie: It’s like a breath of wind. Also, Elon, when he was 11, developed his own game and then he sold it the rights to it for like 500 bucks and then later on went on to PayPal. But yeah.
Leland: You just I love these stories about since I’m an entrepreneur myself, I love entrepreneur stories. So it’s just very fun to think about.
Jackie: Oh yeah, I got tons about Dad. You do too.
Brian: A lot of stories. We could keep going.
Jackie: A lot of shenanigans.
Leland: Yeah, we can. We can do that on another show.
Brian: No, no, exactly. Exactly. No, this has been. This is absolutely been a been a blast. Leland, our guest Leland Harden with Predicta AI. Thank you very much, Leland.
Leland: I really loved meeting you guys thank you so much.
Brian: Our pleasure. Thank you.
Leland: All right. See you.
Predicta automates competitive product intelligence using deep learning AI techniques. Gleaned from thousands of sources, Predicta delivers Amplified Intelligence to marketers less expensively and more quickly than traditional market research. Predicta enables marketers to avoid mistakes and save money by illuminating what their consumers think, feel and talk about. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org.