At a time when AI is everywhere, it is important to have a discussion about how it is affecting the younger generation. Today in our remote work series, we will be having a talk with Viven Bresson, the CEO and Founder of Scarlett Panda Stories, an AI storytelling tool that provides highly personalised stories to children.
1. Could you tell us a bit about yourself? We’d love to hear about your background and what led you to where you are today.
I’m from a digital marketing background. I used to work as a teleoperator to support my studies and then I realised that rather than taking phone calls I could use a little thing called SEO to freelance and make some cash. That was 13 years ago, fast-tracked to now, I am the CEO/CMO of Scarlett Panda, AI storytelling for children.
2. We’d love to hear more about your business.
Scarlett Panda is an app that leverages AI to empower children to be their own creators. We create instant ultra-customised content to engage children with reading. The app also permits the extreme representation of all children using AI as a force for good.
3. How would you describe the current state of the AI software landscape?
Booming as we all know. However, outside of being an investment-friendly topic, I think one question a lot of us are asking ourselves is how do you make AI ethical? I find this topic fascinating, especially when you are looking at AI in the children’s space.
4. To what extent do you believe AI will contribute to the realm of remote work, and in what ways does your solution specifically support remote workers?
In general, outside of the product itself, we love AI in our day today for several reasons, first of them is that it is an extra brain that helps speed processes. We’ve trained our staff and our VAs very early on to use ChatGPT in a smart way. Therefore, a lot of their questions turn towards AI instead of us and that saves a lot of time as well as reduces our struggles with timezones (not everyone has to be synced). We have introduced AI chatbots as well so our team can be supported to the fullest.
Our product is aimed at professional parents. We are a nomadic family travelling with our daughter and basically, we offer an on-the-go solution for kids to read and be entertained in a healthy way through a portable device (phone, tablet, etc.)
5. Can you tell us about your current work setup? Are you currently working remotely and/or managing a completely distributed team? And what led you to choose this setup?
Most of our team is between Berlin, South East Asia, and the Philippines. Before founding the company, I was really interested in the concept of asynchronous work and when we launched we decided to apply it. We didn’t have unlimited resources but what we had was a network of top talented people and what we could give them was flexibility. Turns out, people value flexibility more than money. We swapped standups, one-to-one big meetings with Looms, well-organised Asana boards, and trust. This is what works for us!
6. Communication is crucial for a remote team’s success, especially when team members are in different locations and time zones. How do you keep everyone in sync and ensure everyone stays connected and engaged despite the distance?
Our team is united toward the common goal of empowering the next generation. More than half of the team are parents and they really believe in what we are doing. We share a lot of Looms and messages and we also play with the timezones to organise tasks. With teams being in Europe and Asia and customers being in the US, we have the luxury of being constantly one day ahead. We also have a similar system to the classic OKRs so everybody knows how we make prioritisation.
Finally, the team is very hands-on, no matter the seniority so there is little approval needed from management regarding how to proceed.
7. Can you share what tools you have found most effective in promoting collaboration and boosting productivity among your remote team?
I am a huge fan of Slack (if used at its fullest and not just as a chat software), we basically don’t use emails. We use Loom a lot for training or asynchronous meetings and Asana for organisation. Calendly is also great if you have to talk to people while playing with multiple time zones.
8. How do you keep team morale high, boost team spirit, and promote a positive team culture despite the distance?
We meet sometimes when we can and in general, we do nice things for each other, little gestures there and then like sending flowers if someone is feeling down, making a surprise for a birthday, encouraging compliments. We also involve people a lot in decision-making and encourage everyone to share their insights. Positivity brings positivity.
9. For someone who is new to remote work, what resources would you recommend for them to help them get started and be successful in their role? Are there any specific tools, books, websites, or communities that you found helpful and would recommend to others (apart from SIWOM of course ;))?
Gitlab’s All Remote guide can be a good start, Zapier also has a pretty good blog with tips but however, I think a lot of it starts with introspection and trial and error. Indeed, remote work starts with figuring out how to make a fully customizable environment productive for yourself without the help of an external structure. Once you know that, the rest will get in place by itself.