November 15, 2018

Creating the Category — Affectiva and Emotional AI

Gabi Zijderveld is no stranger to pioneering new tech industries. As the CMO of Affectiva, she has helped to create an entirely new category in the tech industry: #EmotionAI. While emotional intelligence is not always fully understood, Gabi and her team at Affectiva have found a way to craft a narrative around emotional AI that the tech world could not ignore. From educational summits to simple handwritten notes to supporters, Gabi has found the keys in paving a new frontier for smart technology.

On this episode of Renegade Thinkers Unite, Gabi shares her nonlinear journey to the CMO seat at Affectiva. Her courageous drive to do something that had never been done before led to an innovative breakthrough for emotional intelligence. With the right strategies and priorities, Gabi proves that CMOs don’t have to follow the leader — they can create whole new markets for their product.

Listen here to learn the steps to becoming an innovative marketer.

                 Subscribe on Apple PodcastsStitcher – or Podsearch

What You’ll Learn

#1 – Gabi developed terms and marketing language that was easily understood

“Emotional AI” is an artificial intelligence that can detect human emotion in the form of non-verbal facial cues, body language, gestures, etc. While it is now a well-known category in the AI space, that hasn’t always been the case. When Affectiva and Gabi were developing the technology, they had to overcome the challenge of not being recognized or understood. They combatted these issues by crafting their messages in common language that everyone could easily understand. Everything from expanding the company’s vision to drafting press releases used language that was engaging, yet not too technical.

#2 – The ecosystem of support for emotional AI was critical

Developing the emotional AI industry wasn’t done in a silo. The entire Affectiva team had a support system of brand ambassadors, technology advocates, and media contacts that supported the vision and the product. Gabi tells Drew on this episode that collecting creative, innovative, and loyal people was essential to the industry’s developmental success.

#3 – Measurement of the new industry’s reach and impact continues to be a top priority

Gabi also shares the importance of having concrete measurement and evaluation tools in place while working in a new company with new ideas. This measurement isn’t solely about collecting more leads and sending them down the pipeline – it’s about tracking the overall exposure and awareness of the company and technology. Gabi and her team accomplish this by measuring press activity and coverage, identifying key industry influencers, tracking diversity in live event attendees, and ensuring marketing dollars are allocated appropriately. These 3 keys have been critical to Affectiva’s success, and you can implement these same ideas in your own company. For the full story, be sure to give this episode of Renegade Thinkers Unite your full attention.


  • [0:28] All about Gabi and how she transitioned from art history to technology
  • [4:14] Having a foundation in marketing isn’t the end-all-be-all factor
  • [7:35] Describing emotional AI in a way people understood was critical
  • [13:57] The “Aha!” moment behind the term “emotion AI”
  • [18:45] Implementing a new technology frontier isn’t always easy
  • [24:40] Here’s how you can get over 40 speakers to come to speak at your event – for free!
  • [28:40] Fostering and personalizing relationships through thoughtful gestures
  • [31:34] Measuring the impact of emotional AI is a top priority at Affectiva
  • [36:46] 2 do’s and 1 don’t for CMOs creating new markets

Connect With Gabi:

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Drew

Quotes from Gabi Zijderveld

If you want to get creative and get innovative, then you need people with diverse backgrounds that can come at problems from different perspectives.
Even if you don't have a big team of people, then you should get resourceful in building an ecosystem or alliance of partners around you.
It all comes down to articulating a clear value proposition.
Sales are not always telling. Sometimes, you don't need new companies to work with, but you need to advance the relationships you already have going forward.