How AI content insights can improve your marketing performance with Johnson Lin

Jun 03, 2022

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are nothing but data and zero and ones without us. They need a human to inform them to do something of value for humans. Tune in and learn from one of Metigy’s main chiefs, Johnson Lin.

Artificial intelligence, while scary, isn’t as much about a Terminator future but more about a future that we are already living. The maps app or chess game you use on your smartphone is specific AI.

But artificial intelligence and machine learning are nothing but data, and zeroes and ones without us. Artificial intelligence cannot exist and function properly without the human touch to inform them to do something valuable. Tune in and learn from one of Metigy’s leading chiefs, Johnson Lin.

Johnson Lin has been the chief technology officer and co-founder of Metigy since 2017. Over the last 20 years, Johnson scaled and led technology teams across telecommunications, internet services, e-commerce, digital marketing and social media. He’s the swiss army knife of software developers!

In this episode you’ll learn

  • What is the one marketing problem that Metigy will solve for businesses with AI?
  • Johnson’s reason for creating Metigy with David Fairfull
  • The feeling of wanting to create something
  • Johnson fav niche productivity tool
  • Three things that AI will do for small businesses
  • and more.

Transcript (or download the PDF here)

Daren (00:04):

Artificial Intelligence, AI for short, while scary isn’t as much about a Terminator future… but more about a future that we’re already living. The maps app or chess game that you use on your smartphone is specific AI. They need a human to inform it, to do something of value for that human. Find out how artificial intelligence can help you and your small business become a better marketer in the future by listening to this episode of Forward Thinking.

Daren (00:31):

Hey, everyone. I’m Daren Lake, the audio content manager here at Metigy. Welcome to Forward Thinking, a podcast by Metigy. In this series, we speak with inspirational business owners, brands, and marketing experts to learn from their experiences on the frontline and uncover what it takes to build a world-class business.

Daren (00:52):

Johnson Lin has been the Chief Technology Officer, aka CTO, and Co-founder of Metigy since 2017. Over the last almost 20 years, he has deep experience scaling and leading technology teams, from telecommunications to internet services, eCommerce, digital marketing, social media, and much more. He’s the swiss army knife of software developers. He’s also a very busy and hard man to get to sit down and talk to.

Daren (01:17):

Here’s what you’ll learn in this episode. One, what is the main marketing problem that Metigy will solve for small businesses with artificial intelligence? Two, what was Johnson’s reason for creating Metigy with David Fairfull? Three, the feeling of wanting to create something. We go a bit deep on that. Four, Johnson’s favorite niche productivity tool. Five, the three things that AI will do for small businesses moving into the future. And a whole bunch more.

Daren (01:43):

Let’s get into it with Johnson Lin, the CTO and Co-founder of Metigy.

Johnson (01:49):

As we transition from startup to scale-up, my role has shifted from, quite a bit, from focusing on more on the tech strategy that drives sales and growth, enabling the engineering team to do what they do best, and guarding us from the current and future risks. So that roughly sums it up.

Daren (02:10):

All right. So, one sentence to sum up where Metigy is at now. Just give me just one quick sentence, if you can.

Johnson (02:18):

I think that it’s an exciting phase where we are looking to grow and expand, taking the product to external markets.

Daren (02:26):

What is one problem that Metigy needs to solve for small to medium enterprises, as we call them, SMEs?

Johnson (02:34):

We are looking to ultimately help improve the digital marketing performance through providing strategies in the form of recommendation and insights. And that even the inexperienced marketer can master and grow their brand.

Daren (02:51):

All right. Let’s shift gears and kind of go back to the past. What was your reason for founding Metigy?

Johnson (03:00):

I remember the feeling when I first graduated from Uni, feeling like I’m now equipped with the skill sets to build and create. I have done a software engineering bachelor. So, me and couple of friends started something. Didn’t turn out well. It’s just one of those young and naive things that some people tend to do and lessons learned from that. Let’s fast forward 10 years, David and I worked in, we are social, leading global social agency and we realized that there’s a huge opportunity to be tackled, to help the SME market by bringing AI and automation and strategy to the SME market.

Daren (03:48):

Tell me a bit more about that feeling of wanting to create something. And if you have any, any stories, if you want to go in detail about that first company, because everyone loves to hear the first company.

Johnson (04:03):

The first company, I remember that we spent quite a few months thinking what was the idea to do. And back then was when there was a lot of popularity around Facebook and Meetup. But I’m a real fan of squash and chess. So, at that point in time, I couldn’t find some sort of destination or some place where people with similar interests could meet up, like a lot of this stuff. It like… So we came up with an idea called I Meet People, and Mepo for short. And the idea is basically it’s a niche market for people with specific interest, their sort of local area and to have meetups and stuff like that. So I think what’s important is something that you’re fundamentally passionate about, that drives it.

Daren (05:05):

Cool. What do you think you learned from that experience that you’re applying to Metigy now?

Johnson (05:14):

There is always a lot more aspect to starting a business than just the tech part. That’s one of the things, too young, too naive. I guess, finding the right co-founder is super important for a start. We, I started with a bunch of Uni mates back then. People aren’t necessarily aligned in terms of values where they see the future of this product. Are they even as passionate as you are with the idea? So, yeah.

Daren (05:49):

Yeah. That’s very interesting about the alignment and especially it beginning something everyone’s excited about it. And then, a few weeks, a few months.

Johnson (05:58):


Daren (05:58):

Year goes on and you’re always like “Okay, what’s going on?”. And they’re, [inaudible 00:06:03] you know. So finding that early with someone. I guess, here’s another question. What about the SMEs that they don’t have a co-founder to, or they haven’t thought about that? What, do you have any advice for them?

Johnson (06:19):

I think every business is slightly different and the challenges for that business probably varies. I’d imagine that there’ll be some much harder challenge to solve, where you just need a couple of co-founders with varying skill set. And, I mean, there have been people that just do it solo. They are able to cover most areas confidently themselves. Good enough to get it started. I think one of the learnings I’ve found is rather focused on good enough and never to be too perfect, because otherwise you’ll never get started. Yeah.

Daren (06:56):

Yeah, great advice. Definitely going to be a quotable. It’s something, I’m a perfectionist and I’m just finally get to 80% and then I’m just let it go. It will sort itself out. You were talking about skills. What skills do you have? What was your degree at Uni? I know you obviously are the technical CTO, so programming is your background and development. So what, just rattle them off. Give me a list.

Johnson (07:19):

It’s a very, it’s just Bachelor of Software Engineering. So I am from software background. That’s basically what it is. It kind of started from, yeah. It’s just something that I’ve kind of just carried through from high school. Back in high school, I was interested in maths and coding and games, all of those similar kind of areas, that sort of put together and I just carried through and I didn’t even think about what I was going to be doing because it’s just stuff I enjoyed. So, I just sort of carried down that path.

Daren (07:58):

So could one assume, I don’t want to put words in your mouth, that you enjoy the technical aspect of the work you do with Metigy?

Johnson (08:07):

Oh, definitely. One of the thing that I really enjoy is being able to go and explore new technologies that come out and looked for different ways. In my mind, I’m constantly thinking of better ways to solve an existing problem. A lot of existing problems I’ve probably solved, but there are always better or more efficient ways of solving them. You know what I mean? So it’s a continual optimization thought-process and looking to learn better ways to do things.

Daren (08:47):

Yeah. That’s well put, because business is just constant problem-solving and running a business, everything is constantly changing. What experience with programming in the past has led you to where you are with Metigy? It’s kind of, I know we kind of answered that a bit, but this is more specific so it will tie into where the AI is. Have, did you do anything, did you take any courses? Did you play with anything that got you to understand artificial intelligence and machine learning?

Johnson (09:20):

Not specifically, no. But I, what I did start off is some very basic rudimentary rule set, based on a bunch of rules you can predetermine some sort of response or output. And that’s kind of led to our current recommendations that at the moment where we, tying back to the… get it started simple, having a basic list of rules that creates performance and some of the stuff that people aren’t even actively thinking about. 

And I guess a lot of the skills that I now have was not in my background 10 years ago. So over the course of two, three, four years, I’ve had to go and read up on things and explore and play with things and self-teach a lot of these topics. Because in the startup, particularly in tech world, if you always wait for having the resource to hire someone that knows that area better than you’ll just never do that part. So I’ve just tried to sort of skill-up myself in different areas.

Daren (10:41):

Yeah, so a generalist in kind of the software technical aspect of things. Did you… I actually had this question when I first started working here, did… So you created the set of rules around the artificial intelligence, I might be saying that wrong, for what gives the insights for Metigy. Correct?

Johnson (11:00):

Yes. The initial version of it.

Daren (11:01):

That was all you.

Johnson (11:02):

But me and another person in our team at the moment.

Daren (11:06):

Awesome. You want to name them? Can you name them?

Johnson (11:09):

Yes, I can. It was basically me and Jeffrey. The two of us built that. That’s the very first rudimentary version to get all started. If you haven’t done this and this is now trending up, you should be doing this etcetera. So I’m very rudimentary. And now we’re applying more advanced, predictive analysis on top of that. So it’s all an incremental improvement sort of process.

Daren (11:39):

That’s cool. I’m learning more about artificial intelligence working here. I know very little about it. I know it’s not as mystic and vague as everyone thinks it is. And you saying it’s a set of rules, it’s not…

Johnson (11:53):

Oh, that’s just one part of it.

Daren (11:55):

Oh, okay. So is it The Matrix? Is it Cybernet? Are you talking to a robot that’s talking to you back?

Johnson (12:05):

Well, the way I see AI impact SMEs in digital marketing is… I’m mainly looking to achieve three things to help them. One is to help them impact their bottom-line or improve their performance, getting better results. One is automation and the other one is just building a smart app. As you go through the application, it might tailor the interface to be simpler or more complex, depending on your experience. It might, it will help you every step of the way by providing you options of that [inaudible 00:12:44] in decision-making. So it’s basically those three areas: improved performance, automation and smart app.

Johnson (12:51):

I’m just thinking, currently we do bits and pieces of each of those categories. I guess, into the future, I like to see a bit more automation and predictive analysis, helping the users generate, or curate, or generate content somewhere in the future, analyzing behavioral or predictive analysis. Yeah, these are some of the areas I’m thinking of towards the future.

Daren (13:20):

Awesome. I, speaking of predicting, predicting things and analysis, you somehow answered the next question that I was going to ask. So you must have AI built into you, and that was actually, how does AI help SMEs? And you just answered that and how you’re looking to do that. And that was great.

Johnson (13:38):


Daren (13:40):

Do you see any changes on how AI works now versus one to two years from now?

Johnson (13:49):

I think in a lot of areas they have kind of just started. And one of the areas that I’m thinking of is chat bots can certainly do a lot more improvement to be smarter and in terms of responding. As like I’ve seen a lot of poorly implemented chat bots out there, where it’s just very dumb and just answers to particular questions. And we often see, we currently use this platform that has some sort of chat bot built in and you just monitor the conversations, and it just feels like it’s not actually answering the question that the customer is trying to ask.

Daren (14:39):


Johnson (14:40):

And I can certainly feel that the user will be frustrated. You know what I mean? So I can only guess at sometime in the future, this chat bot technology will get smarter and feel more human-like.

Daren (14:53):


Johnson (14:54):

More intelligent.

Daren (14:55):

I agree the, yeah. I’m not going to name names of one, but every time I get those chat bots, I know it’s a chat bot. I know it’s not a real person and they just, they give you this set of answers. And I just feel like it’s the same 10 answers.

Johnson (15:08):


Daren (15:08):

It’s frustrating. So, yeah, I’m looking forward to definitely you guys improving it, Metigy improving it. I think that’s about it. Did you have anything that you wanted to say about Metigy app, about yourself?

Johnson (15:21):

I keep thinking back to one of the quotes that David has mentioned a few times about… We have a lot of things that we, in our mind, on what our ultimate version is, and it feels like we’ve only built such a small part of it. Fundamentally, our ultimate goal is to try and transition the thinking of marketing spend into marketing investment, where everyone can visualize, therefore every dollar spend you’ll get this much in return. So that’s a completely [inaudible 00:16:00], completely different perspective of looking at it. So that’s sort of the direction we’re going down. Exciting features and products coming ahead.

Daren (16:12):

Great. Well, thank you so much. Where can people find you online? I know you’ve written some blog posts for Metigy.

Johnson (16:18):

The best way to find me is probably just LinkedIn.

Daren (16:19):


Johnson (16:19):


Daren (16:21):

It’s always a good place with business. Thank you so much, Johnson Lin. You have a good day.

Johnson (16:25):

Thanks Daren.

Daren (16:28):

From Metigy, you’ve just listened to Forward Thinking. Again, I’m Daren and Metigy hopes we helped you find more insights and tips into your business. To find out more about Metigy and get a listener-exclusive three-month free trial, visit us at And while you’re there, go and check out some more episodes. If you like what you heard, please share a link to another business-owner or marketer who you think could get something from this. Also, to help us out, it would be great if you left a five-star review on your favorite podcast app. Last, never missed another episode by following or subscribing to us on your favorite podcast player. See you on the next episode.

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