Welcome to the Use Case Podcast, episode 256. Today we’ll be talking to Natalie from Hour One about the use case or business case for why her customers choose Hour One.
Hour One turns text into video featuring virtual presenters automatically.
Give the show a listen and please let me know what you think. Thanks, William.
Show length: 23 minutes
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Announcer: 00:02 Welcome to RecruitingDaily’s Use Case Podcast, a show dedicated to the storytelling that happens, or should happen when practitioners purchase technology. Each episode is designed to inspire new ways and ideas to make your business better as we speak with the brightest minds in recruitment and HR tech, that’s what we do. Here’s your host, William Tincup.
William Tincup: 00:25 Ladies and gentlemen, this is William Tincup, and you are listening to the Use Case Podcast. Today, we have Natalie on from Hour One, and we’ll be learning about the business case or the use case for why our prospects and customers choose Hour One. So let’s just jump right into it. Natalie, would you introduce both yourself and Hour One?
Natalie Monbiot: 00:45 Absolutely. Thanks so much for having me on the show, William.
William Tincup: 00:50 Sure.
Natalie Monbiot: 00:50 My name’s Natalie Monbiot, and I am with the company, Hour One. I’m the head of strategy and part of the founding team. My background is all around emerging technology, and how emerging technology can serve businesses, and brands, and consumers. And three years ago, when Hour One was founded, I stumbled across it, and met the CEO, and really found the technology absolutely fascinating with a huge amount of potential.
01:22 So what is it that we do at Hour One? We actually create presenter-led video. So you can take any text, any communication that’s text based for your business, and you can instantly convert that into a presenter-led video. Which is possible because our presenters, which are based on real people, are actually lifelike avatars. And because of that, we’re able to program them to deliver content in an instantaneous way, and in an automated way. Without having to actually film content in studios, which takes a really long time. It’s very costly. It’s quite a cumbersome process.
02:11 So we enable businesses of all kinds to bypass the studio process of generating video, and to get right to it directly in our platform. And one of the key verticals that we serve is HR and talent acquisition. And that probably is what brings us to this conversation today.
William Tincup: 02:36 Yeah, indeed it does. And I love the… they are very real-like. So go to the website everyone, because they are very real-like. You have to really look really closely to see that it’s not actually a human being, it’s really, really well done, super well done. Let’s talk about some of the use cases that people have used. We don’t even need brand names and things like that, but just the different ways that HR, we’ll start with them, how they’ve used Hour One in different facets.
Natalie Monbiot: 03:10 Absolutely. So we’ve had HR and talent acquisition professionals leverage our technology at every stage of the process, everything from recruitment marketing. So for example, taking a job listing on LinkedIn, which is primarily text, maybe it has an image, probably not. It’s just sort of bullet points and a job description. And basically our platform will ingest all of that text. And in a few minutes, can generate a video of one of our avatars of your choosing, presenting that job listing in a way that’s more engaging, and in video in the first place. And you can also drop in visuals and all sorts of things to create a finished video. So that would kind of be the beginning process, sort of the first use case that would be around recruitment marketing.
04:13 And then we have clients that use our platform for onboarding videos. So especially in this new kind of remote and hybrid world of work, a lot of employees might not be coming to the office for their in-person onboarding training. So clients use our technology to turn text based onboarding into video that can be consumed on demand in a new starter’s own time. And because we can generate videos so rapidly, and scalably, and cost effectively, there’s also the opportunity to actually personalize the onboarding content to specific cohorts, departments, or even down to the individual level. Then we do a bunch of stuff across L&D. So everything from kind of compliance training to actual on-the-job training content, and we’ve even done stuff around interview simulation as well. So that’s a few examples.
William Tincup: 05:24 One of the things I love, we’ll unpack a couple of these, the text is flat. So the premise is text is flat, and all of us have kind of moved into a place where maybe our attention span is a little bit less, but also maybe we want more in terms of engagement. And so when we need to explain something or we need to deliver information, text is great. We’re not ever going to get rid of text, that’s cool. But there’s a different way, there’s a better way to engage that talent. And the way that y’all, again, have looked at this and said, okay, listen, you can still post your job posting, there’s nothing wrong with that. But on your careers page, you could also post it and just do something… render it in a different way, that might be a bit more engaging to the audience.
Natalie Monbiot: 06:12 Yeah, that’s exactly it. I think it’s kind of a known fact that video is the most engaging media. Again, to your point, as you said, it doesn’t replace text, but it becomes an alternative to text and it might perform better for you if you are trying to recruit candidates or you’re trying to increase retention. In training content, or compliance content, it can have that effect.
06:40 And the other benefit is that, video travels in a different way, basically if you have your content in video, you can post it to different environments. You can post it to YouTube, you can post it to lots of different video platforms. And then also in video, and especially when you have a presenter in the video, and there’s lots of options as to who this presenter is. And we can go into that in a bit more detail if you like, but you can also present yourself as a company to the outside world or internally with personality. So that’s the other advantage to it.
William Tincup: 07:21 So one of the things that I love about this is, again, you’re leveraging. Depending on who you’re true… Again, with candidates, if you’re going after a certain demographic, video might be extremely effective. I’m just trying to think of TikTok and Instagram reels and things like that. It’s just, they’re just super easy to consume. And you can get lost in them just because they’re fun. And this is an interesting way to put content in front of people that are already consuming that content already-
Natalie Monbiot: 07:56 Absolutely.
William Tincup: 08:02 … and you’re supposed to put that in front of them. Let’s go into a couple of things. One is the scale, you had mentioned scale and pricing. So this is SaaS, right?
Natalie Monbiot: 08:12 Mm-hmm. It is SaaS. Exactly.
William Tincup: 08:14 So give us an idea without real numbers, but just the business model itself. And so that people understand, okay, I love it. Want to do it, how they get started, and then what are they looking for in terms of how do they figure out how many of these we can do, and how long does it take, et cetera?
Natalie Monbiot: 08:33 Yeah, absolutely. So our business model is SaaS and it’s a video subscription. So you can actually go onto our website and you go onto the pricing page, and you can see packages starting I think around $49. You can even start with a free trial and then based on your volume needs and how much customization that you require. Say on a monthly basis, you would pick a different plan. So there’s a few options there.
09:00 But essentially what you’re doing is you are buying access to creating a certain number of videos featuring a presenter, which might be one of our stock characters, we’ve got about a 100 available to choose from. Or you can create custom characters as well, so that’s one of the add-ons and customizations that is possible. But yeah, essentially it’s a video SaaS business. And what you need to begin with is you need the content as in the text. We rely on you as the company to have that content.
09:41 And then what we enable is just that content, which is text based to be converted into these kind of immersive video experiences. So besides providing the presenters, which are these kind of lifelike avatars, we also provide a variety of different 3D video environments. So you can have an office environment, a classroom environment, a newsroom environment, just again, to draw in the user and to simulate that experience that you are trying to recreate for them and to really draw them in.
10:27 And then we also have specialized features, which are kind of geared to the HR professional, such as the ability to take a PowerPoint presentation, and to instantly convert that into a presentation that is actually presented by one of our avatars. And so that could again be a stock avatar or it could be, we can even do things like create an avatar based on someone that works at the company.
William Tincup: 11:05 Oh, that’s cool.
Natalie Monbiot: 11:05 There’s the ability to do things like that.
William Tincup: 11:08 What I love about this is we’re used to interacting with bots. It’s just you go to any website, something pops up, and generally speaking, it’s not someone, there’s technology that’s running that. And so avatars, there’s not anything off putting by it because we’re accustom, but we’re over that hump, thank God. The output. I know people are going to ask this question. The output of the video, I’m assuming is kind of a MP4?
Natalie Monbiot: 11:41 That’s right. It’s a video file. So there’s a couple of ways that you can access the videos that you’ve essentially purchased. So first of all, the videos that you create and use are actually yours. So that file is then yours to use however you like.
William Tincup: 11:58 Got it.
Natalie Monbiot: 12:00 And you can either download the videos as an MP4, or you can actually embed them from our platform. So it’s completely up to you whichever is more convenient. For clients who are making thousands and thousands of videos, it can be more convenient not to download them and embed them, but it really depends on what your processes are on your end.
William Tincup: 12:24 And to what end, right? If it’s learning or onboarding, et cetera, they just have a different use for it. You had mentioned about who the presenter is, and the personality. And of course, I’m a very sarcastic person. So how do you get the flavor? I mean, again, it’s text first, you’re using an avatar. How can they manipulate that to make something I guess more funny or more conservative? Or in my case, really, really super sarcastic.
Natalie Monbiot: 13:02 Yeah, no, that’s great. So a lot of it really is in the text itself, in the writing itself, that’s where a lot of the personality comes across. I think your analogy that it’s not that far away from the experience of talking to a bot, but it is much more human than that, and it is video and it’s more immersive than that. I think in a large part, it’s a really interesting and good way to think about it. It’s kind of like an upgrade on that.
13:33 So it depends on what your priorities are. If you want to make videos really quickly and in a fully automated manner, and as cost effectively as possible, the videos won’t be quite as expressive as they can be, which is another service that we offer. Which is the ability to create the most lifelike character. And one that sort of is as expressive as possible with as much realism as possible. So if that is your priority, then we can dial that up, sometimes at the expense of speed and full automation, but there are various options depending on what your objectives are going into it.
William Tincup: 14:22 Is it natural language processing on the back end that’s actually doing some of this, or machine learning or AI, without getting too far into the weeds, what is that?
Natalie Monbiot: 14:32 It’s definitely AI. So what we do is, behind each of our 100 avatars on our platform is actually a real person who has licensed their likeness to Hour One and to Hour One’s customers. And AI comes in because what we do with our talent’s permission is to basically capture a little bit of video of them sort of being expressive in different ways. And from that, a few minutes of video, we’re able to generate their likeness, and so there’s AI involved in that process.
15:13 And just as a little bit of context, we actually pay the talent, or the talent get paid when their likeness is used in commercial videos. So it’s this really interesting kind of business model, and sort of new line of gig work, essentially that is emerging as a result of our technology. Anyway.
15:34 So that’s where AI comes into place is first of all, in generating the avatar based on actual footage of a real person. And then the other time that AI comes into play is when you are then generating tens or hundreds, or thousands of videos in a very quick and automated fashion, AI is involved in that process. The input is text and a voice, and you select a voice in the platform. And so that text becomes voice and then is matched with the avatar that you have chosen, or the avatars that you have chosen. So then it all gets assembled almost on the fly within the experience.
William Tincup: 16:25 One of the things I love about that is you could easily as a marketer, you could AB test something. So you run the same campaign, but with two different avatars.
Natalie Monbiot: 16:33 Absolutely. Yeah.
William Tincup: 16:35 Just to see what the audience is responding to, what sticks and what doesn’t. We didn’t talk about language, but I’m assuming that’s also something that y’all tackle?
Natalie Monbiot: 16:50 Yes, I was just about to jump in with that. Exactly. So you can have the same avatar speaking many different languages. So if you are a global company and you’ve got employees or you’re trying to recruit candidates in different markets, you can customize the video and the same message, but localize it.
William Tincup: 17:12 Oh, that’s cool.
Natalie Monbiot: 17:12 Yeah. So that’s definitely a really popular and important feature in the platform.
William Tincup: 17:19 What’s your accent?
Natalie Monbiot: 17:19 I’m Brett from the UK, it’s a British accent.
William Tincup: 17:21 I know, I know. In general, it’s a British accent mixed within that-
Natalie Monbiot: 17:25 But it’s sometimes American, it’s sometimes American depending on what my avatar feels like speaking.
William Tincup: 17:33 So I was getting into the Cockney accent. Could you make it that specific if you were targeting that specific-
Natalie Monbiot: 17:42 Yeah. Yeah, so actually what is pretty interesting and in many places, it’s not just about the language, it really is about accent and regionalizing, and localizing. You do touch on something that’s really important. In the UK, the accents vary a lot, so I’m from the South.
William Tincup: 18:00 Yes.
Natalie Monbiot: 18:03 But even within the South, there’s many different accents. And then you kind of have Northern accents and Midlands accents, there’s all various types of accents. So yes, you can start to get really nuanced and localized even within the same country. And that is definitely something that has come up quite a bit.
William Tincup: 18:22 I see that in America as well, just the different regions, and the different way people speak. In New York, people speak faster, they use the same… We’ve butchered the English language, but basically they use the same language. They just go faster than let’s say someone in Birmingham, Alabama. I mean, the same language, same words, it’s just different pace.
Natalie Monbiot: 18:48 Sorry, if I can jump in here. A lot of it is really about making people feel really comfortable, and being really personable, and striking up a relationship. All of that plays into the level of engagement that you can strike, and the feeling that you want to communicate as a company that’s engaging with its own employees or with external candidates. So all of these little nuances which are possible in presenter-led video come into play.
William Tincup: 19:19 That’s right. Text doesn’t do that, text is flat.
Natalie Monbiot: 19:21 Exactly.
William Tincup: 19:24 Okay. So we’ll do some of the buy side stuff, questions that buyers should ask Hour One, what are some of those questions?
Natalie Monbiot: 19:33 So what are some of the questions? I guess technically speaking, what assets do they need to start with, in order to get a project going? And by and large, the answer is text. And if you have that text, then you are in a really, really good position. What else would a buyer ask Hour One? What are the different video templates and options available? Other than also obviously the characters, what are the range of different characters or avatars available? What are the different languages that are available?
20:13 And a question that we would ask the buyer is, well, what are your priorities in terms of turnaround times, scale. Do you want videos with the backgrounds and fully immersive? Or sometimes customers want just the character themselves. So we kind of start with a discovery call to understand some of these things. And then based also on volumes of video anticipated, kind of help direct what kind of plan or what kind of service might be most appropriate.
William Tincup: 20:55 I love that. All right. Your favorite customer success story without names, without brands or any of that type stuff. Or even your most recent one that you’ve fallen in love with.
Natalie Monbiot: 21:06 Yeah, so the big one, one of my favorites is, we’ve helped the world’s largest and oldest language school convert its classroom based content into, on-demand learning.
William Tincup: 21:27 Oh, cool.
Natalie Monbiot: 21:29 So yeah, it’s a really big deal in that we developed more than 18,000 videos for them so far. And kind of rolling out to different languages, and more various virtual instructors and different levels of learning. So I’d say that, that is probably one of my favorites. And it really relates to more, that’s kind of a flagship example, but I really do love just the ability to help just make content more engaging, kind of on an everyday sort of basis inspired by this big kind of flagship example. The fact that you can take something that it has been traditionally an in-person kind of learning experience, and be able to scale that in a video, in a way that’s as close as possible, but way more scalable and achievable.
William Tincup: 22:27 Oh, you modernized their business.
Natalie Monbiot: 22:31 Right, yes.
William Tincup: 22:32 Oh, that’s lovely.
Natalie Monbiot: 22:34 It’s been very rewarding.
William Tincup: 22:36 Thank you so much for your time, Natalie. This has been wonderful.
Natalie Monbiot: 22:39 No, thank you so much. Thanks for having me on.
William Tincup: 22:42 Absolutely. And thanks for everyone listening to the Use Case Podcast, until next time.
Announcer: 22:47 You’ve been listening to RecruitingDaily’s Use Case Podcast. Be sure to subscribe on your favorite platform, and hit us up @recruitingdaily.com.
William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.