SaaS Founder Interview with Rebecca Clyde, Co-Founder & CEO of Botco.ai
Tony Zayas 0:00
Bringing insight. So, Andy, how you doing today?
Andy Halko 0:03
Well, I think every day is an opportunity to learn and do something cool. And I think today, I am excited to hear from our founder. How about you?
Tony Zayas 0:15
Yeah, no, I’m excited. We have Rebecca Clyde on today. She is co founder and CEO of botco.ai. And botco.ai is an intelligent chat nurturing solution that doubles conversion rates. So I’m excited to hear about this. So let me bring Rebecca on. Hey, Rebecca, welcome.
Rebecca Clyde 0:37
Hi, good morning, everyone, or afternoon, depending on where you are.
Tony Zayas 0:42
Good morning. Good afternoon. So welcome. So awesome. Thank you for for joining the show here today. I like your your swag, you got the best shirt promoting business, which is awesome, great product placement. Let’s, let’s just start with you giving an overview. I mean, I get I shared the one line that I saw on, you know, the LinkedIn company page, but tell us what botco.ai is and does. And we’ll go from there.
Rebecca Clyde 1:08
Sure, yeah. Thank you. You’re exactly right. We’re providing an intelligent chat solution. Right now we’re focused primarily on selling in the healthcare industry, which is really an exciting space. One of the things I get to do every single day is help healthcare providers reduce wait times, and make it easier to consume their products and services. So, you know, that’s my mission every day is making it easy for families, people like you and me to schedule appointments with our providers without having to wait on phone forever and play phone tag.
Andy Halko 1:44
That’s really cool. How do you I always like to start with origin story. You know, and founders are always a little bit of superheroes for what they you know, do everyday. But what how did it get started? Where did the idea come from? And you know, what, what’s your, you know, startup story?
Rebecca Clyde 2:05
Yeah, you know, it’s kind of the is, of course, you know, when two founders meet each other, that’s where the magic really happens. And the way that I met my co founder was at a right here in Phoenix where I live in a group of girls in tech conference. So this was an international conference that was taking here by women tech leaders from all over the world. And she had forgotten a new checklist her name, she had forgotten her charger. So she was, you know, talking to people trying to find a charger, she found me, and I let her borrow my charger. And during that time, while her phone was juicing up, we started talking. And it turned out that we had a crazy amount in common I had been at the time I was running an agency, a marketing automation shop that was focused on helping large enterprises implement, you know, Eloqua, Marketo, Salesforce manage all of their marketing automation campaigns. And she had been previously the founder of one of the early marketing automation platforms in the 90s called rubric. And so we have a ton in common to talk about. And one of the things that we discussed in that charging moment was that, you know, these marketing automation platforms had not innovated and had really not kept up with the modernization of the consumer expectation out there. They were not satisfying any kind of on demand experience. They weren’t 24 seven, they were asynchronous, and they were old. Honestly, they were outdated. And she joked that she said, you know, we built this product 20 years ago, and literally is the exact same stuff that there’s trying to sell today and pawn off to companies. I joke, I’m like, yeah, and they’re so terrible. They have to hire companies like mine, to fix them. So I’m sending my kids to college based on the, you know, terrible product these companies are failing to innovate upon. And so we kind of joked and said, Well, we should you know, we’re the perfect people to create the new generation of marketing automation products. And, you know, that joke that we talked about in that moment actually became a company. And so we started meeting more frequently, she brought in one of her former co founders, Chris Maida, who is our CTO to build the platform. And soon we were off to the races.
Andy Halko 4:16
That’s really cool. I love the idea, you know, people talk about Oh, and you’re lucky. And I always think that it’s, you know, opportunity and preparation. And this idea that you met someone, you know, and you’ve got this experience and pass and it create, you know, it’s not that you’re lucky that you did anything, it’s that you are in the right place at the right time and created this great connection. And just this this fantastic coincidence, so that’s really cool.
Rebecca Clyde 4:43
That’s exactly right.
Andy Halko 4:45
I’m kind of curious. You know, how did you, I guess, go from that idea to a true product. You mentioned bringing on a CTO, but really, what did it look like in those initial stages of trying to plan and develop a product?
Rebecca Clyde 5:04
You know, lots of slides where at the beginning lots of just whiteboarding on drying slide where diagrams, you know, at first it was just us trying to get these ideas out of our head and turn them into a concept. Then before we even wrote a single line of code, we would take these diagrams and take we would kind of foe you know vaporware these products into like a really nice presentation. And we would take them into potential customers, we would say, okay, who would who would we want to sell this idea to who would who would be potentially the buyer of this product? And of course, you know, a new and I had huge Rolodex is already in the industry. And so we would just literally hit up all of our contacts and say, Hey, can you have 30 minutes with me? We want to run an idea by you. We went, we’re testing out some product concepts, can you give us feedback? And we had hundreds of these kinds of calls where we iterated and iterated and iterated upon that idea until we finally got it to where we felt like it was solid enough. And during that process, actually, a couple of companies said, Hey, I know you want to build this thing first. But I want to be your first customer, can I pay you in advance for that product? And can we be the first in line to use it. And that’s when we knew that we had something. So those first two contracts we got were when we literally all we had was flatware, and they knew it wasn’t a secret. They knew that it was live wherever they wanted to be the first to try to get the product. And that’s how we knew we were onto something. And they paid handsomely for it to.
Andy Halko 6:31
That’s really cool.
Tony Zayas 6:35
So, that was the first customer there that that allows you then to build the product from that point?
Rebecca Clyde 6:42
Yeah, exactly. We didn’t take outside investment money from the beginning, it was all bootstrapped from the three of us. And then the East kind of prepayments from customers are what helped us get through that early development stage. Then when we finally were at a point where we felt like, okay, we have a product that we have, you know, that we can now make commercially available, that’s when we started to go out and seek investment. And so, you know, we started the process of, you know, hitting up angels that we knew, going to all of the pitch competitions, I did, you know, 1000 pitch competitions, it seemed like I submitted grant applications to get money from, you know, the state of Arizona has some really wonderful programs to support entrepreneurs. And so I submitted grant applications for all of those. And that’s how we started to get outside money, and to really start to build out the team and build out the company, so that we could properly commercialize our product.
Andy Halko 7:38
Now, were you guys building this while you were running your other businesses? Which is, I know, for some founders that try and do that, that can be extremely difficult, or did you go all in on it?
Rebecca Clyde 7:51
Now, I went all in. I mean, at the beginning, during the first stages, when we were in the napkin phase, I call it Yes, I was still running my other company. But I knew that this is what I wanted to do. And as those interviews advanced and progressed, and I could see that this was starting to come together, it be clear that I needed to put my full 100% attention into this company. And so what I did is I started hiring my management team and elevating my team at my other company, I made a list of all the things I did I, you know, found new people to do everything, I worked myself out of my old job, it took about, you know, a good eight to 12 months to completely move off of that old role, so that I could focus 100% on the startup. And that was really key to being able to do so there’s no way we could have gotten the company to where it is today, if I was trying to straddle multiple businesses.
Andy Halko 8:43
Yes, that so I know.
Rebecca Clyde 8:45
JACK Dorsey, I guess, you know, two companies that was.
Andy Halko 8:50
Well, I challenge it, I’d love to hear more about your thoughts on it is that there are a lot of software founders that are trying to do it either out of an exit, you know, they’re in an existing job, or they’re running another company. You know, do you do you feel strongly that, you know, someone should go all in if they really believe in the concept?
Rebecca Clyde 9:12
Yeah, I don’t know how you can do that. I mean, at the very beginning, when you’re just still trying to gel the idea, that’s okay, like the first couple of months. And actually, my old company was very useful for accessing potential customers, or getting conversations for testing ideas, like it was fine for that very early, early incubation stage. But to really get a company off the ground and moving that’s when, you know, you have to go all in. So the truth is, you know, I look at the I look back and I can exactly tell at what point I went full time because that’s when things really started to move and happen. Because as you know, you know, it’s all about momentum, and anything that you’re starting and stopping starting and stopping just is not going to move up quickly. And so, so you have to put that full energy, full mental capacity into it so that it can really take off. So I’m not a fan of this traveling concept for for too long.
Andy Halko 10:11
That’s great. You mentioned pitch contests. And I’m always interested in that. And I’d love to hear insights into how you approached it, because I work with a lot of founders in helping them with pitch decks. And it’s a hard process to be able to articulate what you do and create excitement and all these other pieces, you know, how did you approach pitch decks and pitch contests and these other things?
Rebecca Clyde 10:37
Sure, so I kind of see my pitching is kind of a two phased, two stages to it. So it was kind of like pre alchemists accelerator, which is an accelerator I completed last year and post. So before I was like, formally trained on how to do these things, you know, I read up on YouTube, and I looked at stuff online, and I watched other founders and I took notes from what I liked and didn’t like, I created my own version of that. But I didn’t have like a great, I don’t think my pitch was that great. But it was still useful to practice. Like, I can’t tell you how great it was, for me to have to memorize a three minute version, a five minute version, the 10 minute version, the 15 minute version, and have slides ready to go for any one of those things. And so it got to the point where I could just I’m like, Oh, it’s a three minute one I could do I even had to do a 92nd one once. So I won that competition, which was actually a great prize, because it came with like $100,000 in AWS credit. So it was awesome. But the whole point is that it was all about practicing and figuring out and I would use it as a feedback opportunity to see like, what, what landed, what didn’t land, what resonated? Where could I see the audience like perk up? And where can I see them kind of wilt, right, I was taking those cues very carefully. And I would take notes every time so that I could learn and get better with every single one. And my goal wasn’t really to raise money. Like I don’t think I actually got any true cash from those I got prizes, which were really great. Like credits, I got tons of credits for all kinds of products and services, which was great. I met a lot of interesting people, I get to see other founders pitch, which was really, really useful. I got feedback, I got to get a sense of what kind of questions investors might ask. And people would ask in the audience, it was more like a training ground for me I did go out to the big leagues, so to speak. It wasn’t my first time around, I felt comfortable, I already had a good sense of how this would go and where I could, you know, make those improvements. So I could really be solid at that point. And then once I went from Alchemist accelerator, I mean, they do a tremendous job, just really training you and putting you through the wringer. And so I like completely elevated my pitch at that point.
Andy Halko 12:50
I really love that idea of it as like a training program exercise, where you’re, you’re learning, you know, and that you took it seriously and took notes, you know, rather than other folks that may do it, and just kind of, you know, off the whim every time and not gain that knowledge, but really treating it like it’s you know, this is a process of me learning and growing. That’s really cool.
Rebecca Clyde 13:13
Oh, Yeah. And I have no expectation that people are going to walk out of a pitch competition and give me cash. Because that rarely happens. And you know, I would love to these other founders say, Oh, it’s a waste of time to waste your time at those pitch competitions. And I was like, No, this is like, you know, I consider what I do as a founder, no different than an elite athlete, right? We are in a very competitive space, we have to be constantly practicing our game. And ask any elite athletes, they train every day, it doesn’t matter if they’re the number one MVP in their category, they still wake up every morning and train. They don’t ever stop doing that. So why would we as founders not practice every single day?
Andy Halko 13:58
I absolutely love it.
Tony Zayas 14:01
Just to go back for a second. Rebecca, I would love to hear just from your perspective, when you did make that leap. You know, you believed in what you were doing. And you when you made the leap to full time focusing on botco.ai? What did that feel like? Was there some hesitation? Was it difficult for you to do? What was going on in your mind?
Rebecca Clyde 14:24
Oh, sure. It was very difficult, you know, because the streams to the old life are still are, you know, the threads are very strong at times. It’s so it’s retraining people not to reach out to me constantly. It’s also not feeling pulled into it like oh, I have to go save it or fix it if I see something going on. You know, so mentally it requires a lot of effort to do that. I think for me, it was so exciting. And this was so much what I wanted to do that I overpowered any other emotion or feeling and so it didn’t you know, I’m in a lot of adjustments in my life in my social circle in my family life in my personal life, even my financial arrangements and my personal burn rates, you know, I had to adjust just about every aspect of my life to make this happen, like, the levels that are on it that I could not have imagined before. That those were the adjustments I had to make. And that’s how much I believed in what I was doing. And it was like, no problem. Sure, move into a smaller house, no problem, you know, try have a smaller, less expensive car, no problem. Like all of those things. I just did them because I knew that this was what I wanted to do and focus on.
Tony Zayas 15:36
Yeah, that’s appreciated. reassuring. Would you mind elaborating more on like, the friends and family like the social aspect, people that, you know, you might have had to move some people around in your life? Certainly.
Rebecca Clyde 15:51
You know, I had to go to my parenting partner and ask for a lot more contribution. You know, it’s, it’s really hard to try to still be doing 80% of all the household and children and doctor’s appointments and PTA meetings, and parent teacher conferences, and homework and bathtime. And you know, playdates and organizing every birthday party. I mean, I have three kids, there’s no way I could do all of that still, and try to do a start up at the same time. So because the level of momentum, like I said, an energy required is just tremendous. And so I had to ask a lot of people in my life to step up their game in a big way. So you know, I’m a big village person, I grew up in Latin America, I’m actually not from the United States, it’s I’m very comfortable. With family being involved. In my personal life, it’s a little bit different here in the US, people are very individualistic, but I have no problem calling up my mom and say, Mom, I need your help. For the next two weeks, I got this big thing, you and dad need to come and stay with me, because I need help at home so that I can go focus on this thing. And so I relied heavily on family, I relied heavily on my siblings. You know, my kids, dad had to step up and do way more than he was accustomed to. And that was, you know, a new level of effort for him. And I commend him for doing that. And, you know, just everybody had to step up everybody who’s in my circle friends, everybody knew, like, I’m going to ask, this is the time where I’m going to call in those favors. Remember all those times, I helped you now it’s your turn to help me? Because I need support. Yeah. And that’s in a large way, why I think I’ve been able to be successful.
Andy Halko 17:30
You mentioned you met your founder at a conference for women, you just kind of hinted at the whole parenting balance piece. I’m kind of curious, because we’ve been, you know, trying to feature female founders, how do you see the world for female entrepreneurs and startups and just kind of that, the difference and you know, what’s required.
Rebecca Clyde 17:59
So, you know, a new and I always joke that, the great thing about our company is our product has two mothers, instead of a couple of dads. So, if you think about, you know, the the role that a mother plays, like, in in, in the rearing of a baby, you know, which are sort of was an infant for for many instill is it’s like something it’s like a toddler, it’s like this bumbling little toddler that still bumping into things. It’s like, you can’t just expect it to grow up by itself, it’s not gonna figure out how to get potty trained, right? It’s not gonna figure itself out how to do all these things. Like, you know, mother pays attention to all those details. And because the two of us are mothers, we, you know, she has two kids, I have three kids, you know, we’re really good at the mothering thing. And literally, we treated our startup like, like, we would treat a child in a lot of senses understanding developmentally, what’s appropriate, right? That’s the other thing is like with a company, you have to know what’s developmentally appropriate. When you’re a six month old company versus a six year old company, they’re totally different things. So you parent differently depending on the age of the child, you provide different levels of support. You, you know what the next milestone is, as you’re preparing them for that next milestone, like, hey, you’re gonna start kindergarten soon, it’s time for you to learn to tie your shoe laces, right. So it’s that same mindset that we took into, essentially rearing our startup that we did with our parenting. And so I think that’s probably where the biggest difference might have come. I don’t know. I haven’t been a father. So I can’t speak to the experience from that point of view, but I can speak to mine as a mother.
Andy Halko 19:37
I love it. I love what you just said, because I think, you know, I have to compare and contrast, you know, the fathers that I’ve met that are 22 year old men, that if you never had children and have a different mindset, you know, and how they probably approach a startup versus, like you said, and whether you’re a man or a woman, that parents mindset, I have two kids myself, you know, I just love that like, viewpoint on it as a business as a startup as a, you know, a living, breathing thing that you have to go through stages with. That’s awesome,
Rebecca Clyde 20:16
Right! Like, you wouldn’t expect a two year old to be able to do things that a seven year old can do, right? You know, as a parent that those things are not the same. And so the same thing with your company, but you have to be thinking like, what’s the next stage? What do we need to be preparing for what’s coming around the corner? And you know, the great thing about a new my co founder, she’s done five companies. And so she is intimately familiar with these stages. And so I would always ask her, like, okay, what’s next? You’ve done this software startup thing before, what do we need to be preparing for, and she was so great about coaching me around those different things, so that I could prepare, she’s like, Hey, listen, these investors that you’re talking to, they’re gonna want to talk to our customers. So you need to be prepared customers when advance for how they’re going to talk to your investors when they do that reference call. And so you know, when that happened, when the investor call said, Hey, I need to do reference calls. I’m like, yep, they’re ready. Like, I already prepared them. So call them you can talk to them today, if you need, I don’t need to do any pre work, because they’re out, they already knew this was coming. I’ve been preparing for this moment. All them today, no problem. And the investors are like, Well, that was usually we get a little pushback on that. And I’m like, No, I knew you were gonna ask, we’re ready. So that’s the difference. It’s like we’re anticipating what’s around the corner, and preparing everybody so that when we get there, we’re not scrambling?
Andy Halko 21:34
Tony Zayas 21:36
What are some of the other advantages? I think that’s great that your co founder, has the experience along, you know, the founder journey. What else would you say about that experience has been beneficial to you guys?
Rebecca Clyde 21:52
You know, I would say she and I are kind of like that. Well, Chris also has done a bunch of companies as so he, he too, brings this perspective. But they they get to be the I call them the jaded ones in the room, right? They’ve seen all the dirty tricks. Right? They know all of the games that are played, and so they see right through it, right? And then I was still kind of that night, like, oh, but they said this, and they’re like, yeah, you know, I’ve heard that phrase before, like, either the chickens in the mail, right. And so they know all the tricks. They know, all of the games, they know all the lies, they know, all of the, you know, the subtext that what is what they really mean, when they say blank is blank, you know, it’s something else. And so they were providing me with that kind of dictionary that the Interpretive Guide, like, you know, don’t necessarily take what somebody told you at face value, think about a, b, and c, maybe double check this, look into that first. And I still made some of the naive first time errors. Of course, I did, you know, I believed a lot of things that I probably shouldn’t have, or I misunderstood what people said, because I didn’t understand that’s the subtext, truly. But I’m getting better at that. And fortunately, they’re always there to remind me, like, you know, and it’s, I always check with them so and so said this, what does that really mean? Am I hearing it correctly? Am I missing something here? Is there an underlying meaning here that I’m just not watching? What else should I understand about this? And they’re very great about helping me navigate some of those landmines.
Andy Halko 23:29
I’m kind of curious, how do you how do you in the other co founders balance roles and responsibilities in the business as well as kinda, you know, decisions, big decisions about direction and, and how you’re going to go grow the business and the product?
Rebecca Clyde 23:46
Yeah, you know, we have religious founder meetings twice a week that we cannot miss. So even if we’re on vacation, we call into the founder meeting. So that’s like, like I said, it’s, it’s, it’s a protected piece of time that we do not relinquish for anything. So that’s number one. Number two, in terms of the roles, I kind of see it as it’s easy, you know, Chris is a CTO. So he’s, of course, overseeing the architecture and the development of the product from a technology point of view. My job as the CEO, my my number one job is to make sure there’s always money in the bank to accomplish everything we need to accomplish. That’s my job to make sure we have money. So that means I’m the one talking to investors. I’m the one making sure we’re getting big contracts with customers. That’s, that’s really I’m here to provide the oxygen and the lifeblood of the of the company. And then also because I was a former kind of customer of ours in a sense, I can provide my insight into the product, but now we have a great product manager so I don’t have to do that job anymore. Thank goodness because I would much rather have a professional Product Manager than me kind of fumbling my way through it. And a new she is fantastic. She’s like the catch all of everything else. So Like, you know, when we had to run our HIPAA compliance and do all of our get our sock two stuff going, she project manage that whole thing, you know, she helps screen all of our resumes and only brings me the great candidates, right. So I don’t have to go through all these resumes or pay an expensive recruiter to do that. She’s running all of our kind of marketing strategy right now our go to market strategy and making sure we have a great PR program, a great demand generation program. And so she’s kind of filling in all of those gaps. Because you know, as a CEO, it’s like, when you’re fundraising, that’s all you can do, when you’re selling, that’s all you can do, right? These are single minded efforts that have to really require all of your focus, you can’t be like scattered all over the place. So she allows me to do that. And she kind of fills in all the other gaps that are, you know, plenty. Trust me. So it’s been great. I think we have a really, we have a really good, I would say, distribution of responsibilities between us.
Andy Halko 25:59
What’s the rest of the team look like? You know, now and, and how has it changed since you guys, you know, really founded the business?
Rebecca Clyde 26:09
Well, we really have a, you know, much more, much more any more people for one thing. You know, we’re a 20 person company now. And so that means we have, like, you know, an engineering team, it’s not just a couple of engineers anymore, right? We have a whole engineering team. That means that’s about half of the company right there. And then I kind of call it like, the commercial side of the business and the technical side of the business, and then some people that kind of straddle both in between. So um, yeah, we have, you know, the sales team and engineering team marketing team now and a product, a little tiny little product team. So we look like a proper company now. We’re not so so individual anymore, and we’re not so small.
Tony Zayas 26:57
What is the you know, what is the culture that you guys have built? within the business? What does that look like? How intentional Have you been about the scenario that we always love hearing from founders on?
Rebecca Clyde 27:13
Yeah, so I love that you asked that question. You know, we were actually a remote first company. And this was built in this way, there’s a couple of things that I feel like are really part of our DNA. Number one is that the three founders were in three different cities. A new is in Fremont. I’m in Scottsdale, Arizona, and Chris is in Toronto. So from day one, we were a remote company, and pre COVID, everybody I talked to was like, oh, that will never work, you’re never going to be able to be successful. If you’re a remote company. You know, we heard all the stories of how it was impossible to be a remote company and be successful. But then when March 2020 happened, and everybody was freaking out, and didn’t know what to do, it didn’t even have zoom subscriptions and didn’t know how to use slack. And we all have no clue how to be remote. We were like, No sweat off our back. Like this was another day in the life of walk away, I was no big deal. So we didn’t waste any time trying to figure out those things. And we were fine. You know, we had one of our best sales months in April. Everybody else was still like having existential crises. So you know, we didn’t. So I would say that’s number one. So we’re, we’ve already figured out how to deal with collaboration remotely, because we’re a remote first company, we have people all over, you know, from many different cultures. And so we’re already a very multicultural companies to begin with. And we celebrate that multicultural background. And then the three founders were multicultural, you know, Chris, Chris is, you know, his mom is from the Midwest and his dad is from Japan, you know, so he was raised in a multicultural household. So was I, you know, I was raised in Latin America, with an American father, but a Central American mother and outside of the US so and then a new also, she was raised in India, but then studied in the united in the US. So all of us have this, like international melting pot already flowing through our veins as it is. So we’re perfectly comfortable working with developers and engineers, DevOps people, product people, no matter where they come from, we can appreciate many different cultures and many different backgrounds and we love it. So I would say that kind of defines us from from the get go. And I kind of alluded to diversity too, as being part of our DNA is part of our cultures. You know, of course, having two female founders and having so many international, you know, genetics running through us, as it is, you know, we are just more in tune with different things. You know, if you think about they’ve always said people who speak different languages or who are native speakers in multiple languages are generally going to have different kinds of creative processes and problem solving approaches because we can think of things from a different cultural point of view and from different perspectives much more easily. And so because the three of us have straddled multiple languages from our birth, we also have the capacity to think about problems, challenges from many points of view. But I think this is really what’s at the core of Bocconi is our ability to understand and quickly appreciate new and accept new and different points of view. And so how does this translate into everyday work, it’s, you know, being able to be cohesive as a team collaborate, remotely, really dig in with customers to try to understand their problems and what their pain points are emphasizing with those pain points, and then building a great product that helps them support those pain points.
Andy Halko 30:44
We just had a conversation with a founder the other day, and, you know, I’m kind of a big believer that the word culture means a little bit different things to everybody. I’m just kind of curious to start asking, you know, what does culture mean to you? How would you define culture for a company?
Rebecca Clyde 31:04
Right, I think of it as the DNA that runs through our veins, like, what is that guiding force within each of us? And unfortunately, I think because of the whole Silicon Valley thing people started thinking about culture is, you know, critical here and ping pong tables and video games. But when you’re a remote company like us, those things don’t matter. Right? It has, how am I going to do that? How am I going to send craft beer to everybody’s desk? I mean, we tried to like, we’re gonna have a Cinco de Mayo thing where we’re trying to ship stuff to everybody. And it’s complicated. But, you know, that’s not going to define our culture. A culture is really like, who do we show up? As in that moment of truth? That’s what culture is. And to me it’s, do we have the ability to think from the customer’s point of view? Do we have the ability to have an open mind about a problem or situation? And can we truly, truly embrace the occasion that we have to rise to in that moment? To me, that is what culture is. And if a company and the people who we are hiring, can’t rise to that occasion, and can’t show up in that way, in those critical moments of truth, then that’s when our culture is weak, or doesn’t exist, or has failed us?
Andy Halko 32:23
Have you ever had everybody on the team that hasn’t? You know, fit with the culture? And how did you, you know, handle that?
Rebecca Clyde 32:33
You know, it’s really interesting, those people tend to self select themselves out. They just, they show up, and they realize that a lot is expected here. This is not an easy ride. There’s nowhere to hide. You know, when you’re in an early stage startup, it’s not like you can hide behind a team or a bunch of work that other people did, like, in five minutes, it’s easy to realize where the problem is, and often they kind of let themselves out the door, I don’t even have to do anything. That’s how, you know you have a good culture.
Andy Halko 33:05
Right? Any you mentioned, I want to explore and you you kind of talked about it a little bit. But I agree with you, you know, we’re mostly remote and we used to be on an office. And we’re, we’re really gonna dive in to the remote work piece. And that idea of the, you know, we used to have an air hockey table and skee ball, you know, these things that now don’t matter? You know, how do you see building a culture in a remote environment?
Rebecca Clyde 33:38
Right, I think the biggest thing is making sure that we’re still spending time together, whether it’s on zoom or Slack, that we’re still connecting with each other, right? That’s super important. We can’t let people just be islands, and feel abandoned and unsupported. And so and, you know, I think there’s a little bit of, you know, some people just try to, they think, well, let me just try to solve this myself. I don’t want to burden other people and it’s usually coming from a good place. But one of the things we really reach out proactively and make sure hey, don’t don’t deal with this problem alone. You know, team effort is always going to trump individual effort. So, you know, in fact, I just had a one on one with one of the members of my team who I coached on this exact topic, I’m like, don’t go this problem alone. Like, number one pulling people think about who here in the company has experience or skills or perspectives that can help you happen to them, please, like, never try to go it alone. That’s like the number one thing and so making sure that people have trust in each other, feel comfortable reaching out, feel comfortable asking for help. That’s where the magic happens. If that is not happening, if people don’t feel like they can reach out and they can get help from the team. That’s when things in my opinion can start to fall apart.
Andy Halko 34:56
What do you think about the remote trend? Do you think we’re gonna see that continue and more people embrace it. I do. And I, you know, I have. So I’m curious, what do you see with how people are going to continue to work moving forward?
Rebecca Clyde 35:13
I don’t see how we’re going back to not being one of the most fantastic things is that, you know, we have done most of our hiring in our company during this period after March 2020. So I have not even personally met two thirds of the company. And that’s this the new reality, and I men never beat some of these people who knows, right? Like, we don’t know what I still can’t go to Canada, I have a huge team in Canada, and their border is so close, I still cannot visit them. I have not met my VP of engineering, I have not met my product manager, I have not met my UX designer in person. I’m not half of my developers. But we get along great. And I love them. And I talk to them every day, and we have an amazing relationship. And that, I don’t know why I would not have that. Like, why would I not choose the best product manager in the world, no matter where she or he might be? Right? Why would I go back to only picking somebody who happens to live in my zip code, or in my geographic area. And I just think that that idea that you have to be physically located in one place to work together is just no longer. I never thought it was true to begin with. But it’s especially not true now.
Andy Halko 36:26
It’s funny, we have an employee that has been, you know, working with us for seven months. And about a month ago, we met for a client and another city. And I joke, I’m like, a wave isn’t a handshake, is it a hug? Because, you know, I’ve known him for seven months, and, you know, interacted with you. But this is the first time we’re like, in person. So it’s interesting, but I I’m totally on board with you.
Rebecca Clyde 36:53
Yeah, I just don’t think I mean, there’s still a beauty to cities and people living close together love to get together, we’re still trying to plan like lunches every couple of weeks with the team, the micro teams that still are in the same cities, we try to encourage people where it’s possible to get together. But in some countries, you know, this is the other thing is we tend to be again, I grew up outside of the US I have a typically a different point of view on these things. But we think that everything is great here in the US because like stuff is open and restaurants are open and the beaches are lively and spring break is happening. This is something that is very unique to the United States, you know, we’re having this kind of first world advantage of, you know, the vaccine roll out here having gone well, but I have colleagues in India, I have colleagues in Canada, and their world looks very different than ours. And so I think we have to be mindful of the fact that in the United States, we’re kind of in a little bit of a bubble right now. And we need to be empathetic to the fact that, you know, some of our team members are not having it quite as jolly as we are right now. And so I try to think about the world from their point of view, not just what does it look like here in Arizona, which is like a party out there. Right, we have I have coworkers, I have team members that are not having that situation where they live. And I have to be very mindful, I need to be very supportive. And, you know, we just, we just have to be there for each other during this time and not think that our experiences everybody’s experience.
Tony Zayas 38:30
Shifting gears a little bit to the product. You know, I think the whole idea of you know, the more conversational type dialogue that can be powered by bots using AI, I think that’s fascinating. I think there’s a ton of potential there, where do you see that trend? You know, going in the next five years? Let’s see.
Rebecca Clyde 38:55
Yes, you know, and that was one of the I, you know, I hate to put like silver lining on terrible things, but you know, COVID, that healthcare industry, and so many of these industries have really dragged their feet on digital engagement, you know, they had a million excuses of why it could never happen in healthcare or in some of these industries. And as a result, you know, there was very little innovation that took place, there was very little investment that went into those categories. And there was a lot of, kind of, I guess, dismissiveness about that industry really advancing. And the fact that we kind of were open to supporting the healthcare industry during that time and the fact that we kind of went in and said, Hey, we see you have a problem. We have a great product and I actually got a lot of cool from that industry. Cuz a lot of the reason we ended up there was because people were calling me saying please, can we use your product? And so we quickly got our HIPAA compliance and all of that stuff going so we could support their industry but you know, we have to think about the future. I mean, I don’t know you mentioned Annie, that you have two kids and what every time I make a health care appointment, which is a lot with my kids between the physical the annual physicals, immunizations, the dentist appointment, the orthodontist appointment, the specialist appointment, the therapy, the, you know, whatever the 35 things that each kid has, sometimes I call them, it’s a 45 minute wait to talk to somebody. And I, I’m busy. And so we’re all the other moms I know, I don’t know, a single mom, that’s not busy like crazy. Why is the system still still forcing us to wait on hold for 45 minutes to make an appointment? It’s ridiculous, especially when we know that all of that system is sitting in a software product at an EHR that literally a receptionist is answering the phone, typing and looking at, like, all stuff that can be handled through API calls, all of it. And so we’re basically just bashing through that barrier and saying, let’s connect the parents, the families who need to make these appointments directly into those systems of records, so that they can put in their request, get the appointment they’re looking for, or get whatever information they need, whether it’s insurance, verification, or maybe it’s a referral or just a recommendation about what they need to do next. You know, because these systems, all this information is locked up in these systems that have been closed off to consumers. And so, you know, we believe that when we can open up those systems and make them accessible, we’re going to make the healthcare industry and all of the other industries that have the same issue, more productive, we’re going to unlock tremendous amounts of value for the consumer, for the families, we’re going to make these products easier to consume more accessible. And in the end, it’s about creating better outcomes for everybody, healthier families, happier families, individuals that get access to the help, they need immediately not have to wait three months, because they’re playing code tag and getting stuck in some queue, which I find to be ridiculous. So the GD is not going back in the bottle, these innovations that kicked off, they’re moving forward, companies that don’t adopt them will just be left behind and new ones will come in and replace them. And that’s exactly what we need.
Andy Halko 42:13
Yeah, very cool. So what’s it like building an AI product? You know, how do you how do you think about that approach? Because I think, you know, for most of America, we’re software people, and we’re in tech, but AI is kind of this black box idea. So as a founder, what, you know, even from a non technical standpoint, what’s it like, approaching building something with the mindset of AI?
Rebecca Clyde 42:42
You know, I just think about first, the first thing you always have to do is, and I’m sure you’ve done this, you’ve done this, and every other software you’ve built is like, what is the current process today. So if I am calling my healthcare provider to schedule my annual checkup, what is happening there? So you know, I pick up the phone, I call, I wait on hold for 45 minutes, somebody finally answers the phone, you know, after catch alert, listen to the same message 35 times. And then maybe I hang up because I get tired, or I need to go do something else and sample call four times before I finally get through. But okay, I finally get through to somebody. And you know, the first thing they ask you, what’s your date of birth? And all they’re doing is typing in your date of birth into a screen or accessing a scheduling system? They’re typing in your date of birth? What insurance are you on? What’s your group plan? You know, they’re asking you all these questions, they’re literally just typing them into a forum into a field. And then, you know, boom, they can see Oh, are you an existing patient? Are you not? Is this your first time they can see all that? Oh, you’re looking for your annual checkup? Have you been in before? You know, they pretty much already know that? Because they can see, you know, they’re just asking you a series of questions, and looking inside their system of record and seeing where they’re gonna fit you in. And then they’re like, oh, the next availability with XYZ doctor, do you want the first available? Or do you want a specific doctor? Right? They always ask you that. Usually I say first available. And then they’re like, Okay, first available appointment for XYZ checkup is, you know, may 3 at 3pm. Do you want the appointment or not? Like, that’s pretty much all they tell you, right? They don’t give you all the options. They just tell you next available, and you say, Okay, and then they look you for that appointment? And then you know, they may send you some paperwork to fill out, right, that’s pretty much Sorry, I got into a lot of detail. But that’s pretty much the process. Just about everything I just described, can be automated through software, as well what we are doing so we’re thinking about each of those steps, breaking them down, and then saying where can software come in. And the AI piece is challenging because it’s all about the intent. So if you think about that conversation that takes place, when the person on the line says what’s your date of birth, I may say for 2821 I may say, you know, whatever, I may use numbers or I may use dates and so the the thing that humans can do so well is understand information and interpret it right? Even if it’s given to us in many different formats. And so AI comes in right there, right? How do I understand the myriad of ways that a person might describe a date of birthday? Right. And that’s, that’s the AI is understanding all of those different ways, and then building into the system, the ability to interpret and to classify those variations so that when somebody says, you know, July 3, or seven, three, we know that the system can still understand it.
Andy Halko 45:36
You know, it’s funny, as you were describing that, as a parent, I just picturing, you know, the before is Zootopia. With the slop. That’s like slowly pressing a button every time, you know, something. So that’s kind of the old way. But what why when, you know, we can move so fast and change what we’re doing. Where do you see? Where do you see the thought industry going? And how do you see three years from now, people utilizing this type of technology to change and improve their lives?
Rebecca Clyde 46:14
Right, so you know, there’s two sides of the coin, right? One is really around efficiency, like, how do we make this easier and more accessible? Right, no matter when it doesn’t just have to be in the healthcare industry? I’m describing that one, because it’s very top of mind, but it can be in any product or service that you consume? How do we make it more accessible? How do we reduce the friction in terms of accessing those services, whether you’re trying to book a vacation for your family, or take them to a doctor’s appointment? Right, you’re still having to do that tedious effort on both sides. So there’s that the there’s the efficiency and their ease of use that we focus on. But more importantly, I like to think about how does this help elevate the experience? How do we make better products and services as a result of that? And that is the goldmine here, really, when our providers and our customers use our product? The number one thing they tell us is like they’re like, yeah, yeah, it’s great. You’re helping us get more appointments, improve our profitability, as reduce cycle times, you know, all those wonderful things, efficiencies, spending a lot of efficiency. But the thing that we’re getting that we didn’t realize we were getting was a window into the heart and soul of our consumer that we never had before. And I’m like, tell me more about that. They’re like, Hey, we’re understanding that people are asking for things that we had never even thought to provide. They’re literally telling us. And before all of that was was in a see like nothing if it was being captured. So when somebody was saying on the phone, oh, by chance, do you provide XYZ service and the receptionist would be like now that none of that was being captured. Nobody knew nobody was collecting that data, and making it accessible to the management and saying, Hey, we’re getting a lot of questions about A, B, or C, we should really consider offering after hours, weekend appointments. You know, we have one customer that told us, we had no idea so many people had acne, were calling us with their acne concerns, and we never marketed our services around acne. And now we know people think about acne is when they’re calling us. And now we can introduce a whole new line of services that addresses that need. And so that is the biggest benefit is because of the product like ours customers, you know, the the providers and the businesses that use us can elevate their experience can elevate their products to create an introduce new lines of service that they didn’t even know that their customers wanted, or were needing, because they were unaware, they weren’t listening. And now for the first time they can see it, they can address it, and they can deliver a better experience for all of us.
Tony Zayas 48:45
Very cool. So Rebecca, what do you see as kind of the roadmap the plan for like the next, let’s say, the next year or so the next 12 months? And where you guys are gonna go?
Rebecca Clyde 48:57
Sure, I mean, right now, we’re just focused on putting like, one foot in front of the other, right? You know, we have lofty goals for the, you know, our world domination plan that’s out there, but you can’t get there in one shot, right? It’s all about just that. What’s the next thing we need to add to our roadmap? What’s the next customer we need to bring on? What’s the next hire we need to make to help us build this great team? And so, you know, I kind of we kind of break down those big lofty goals into small achievable quarterly monthly weekly attainments. And we’re just kind of like, you know, chipping away at it a day at a time. So I would say, you know, for us, the big thing is really focusing on breaking into some of those bigger EHR systems that can often be you know, very, very, I would say closed, you know, we’re trying to open up the healthcare industry and open up those that world so that it can become more accessible. There’s a lot of what’s called Old School thinking in healthcare IT that we have to come up against fortunately, there’s also a lot of innovators in there. I always say if there was more of these healthcare IT people were moms, they would have broken down those barriers a long time ago, because they’re the ones experiencing the pain point on the other side of waiting on home 45 minutes every time they have to make a health appointment. So we need to subject more of those people to consume their own champagne, so to speak, that they can understand the urgency of the problem.
Andy Halko 50:26
How is customer acquisition evolved? And how do you guys do it today? Because you mentioned in the beginning, you get a lot of phone calls, and you reaching out to people and you got customers ahead of time for the you know, slide wares, but how is that evolved and changed? Have you had to build a sales team? Do you focus on marketing? Are you as the CEO still out there pounding the pavement and making it happen?
Rebecca Clyde 50:51
Yeah, all of the above. So exactly, exactly what you said. And it? No, it’s exactly right. I mean, we we have a set of segments that we know need our help right now. And they told us like, we need your product, our industry needs your product, we want your product, these are segments that have funding and budget and interest in our solution. And so we can go in and have really great successful sales conversations with them. So we have a very clear view of those different segments within healthcare, because healthcare is so big, you couldn’t like tackle the whole thing at once. So we have to like be micro focused, and we know who those targets are. And we have very rich conversations with them, we actually have a webinar tomorrow with a great organization that’s in the Senior Health space, which is a very growing strong industry. And they’re gonna be talking about how they use our product, to help them grow their senses. So you know, we’re doing just phone call outreach, we’re doing a lot of LinkedIn outreach, we’re doing a lot of content, provide our customers with helpful information that can serve their business, you know, I always like to give first before asking, and so we’re constantly thinking about, you know, what can we offer the industry of value, so that they can do a better job every single day. And so, you know, that’s where our marketing and our content marketing program really comes in. And then yeah, I mean, I can’t go to live events, because most of them have been canceled, but I, you know, love to speak at different webinars, events, conferences, there are a couple of things happening, that there’s a group of women in health IT that are putting on these, like races all across the country. So I’m participating in that it’s a fantastic group of houses, the new gathering place, so I spend a lot of time in clubhouse with my community there. And I often just drop into Listen, like, I want to listen to what my customers are talking about, like what is on their mind, what is their pain point? What issues are they’re struggling with? So for me, that’s one of the best air of places to just get educated on. You know, where they need help. Because if I don’t understand that, and if I don’t understand the pain point, and if I don’t understand what problems they’re grappling with every single day, then you know, we can’t show up with great products for them. That’s not how it works.
Andy Halko 53:11
I think it’s interesting, you owned a marketing agency prior to this? What what would you say for early stage founders, they’re just getting started for that they should think about as the priority for marketing or exposure for the company, you know, as that insight of the marketing agency owner, and now a founder that has grown a company, for those early stage, folks, what would you say?
Rebecca Clyde 53:43
You know, for me, it goes back to building a community and building a village. Right. So I believe that the best companies are the ones that have been able to successfully create communities and build communities or tap into other communities. And so I always think about, you know, how are you using social media? How are we using, even our business communities that we resided more effectively to give and to get right, so how am I showing up and I have invested my entire career in this in this capacity. And then that’s one thing I would always advise my, my clients when I was in the marketing world, I’m like, how are you building community? And they’d be like, you know, but I’m like, until you have a community and until you’ve invested in the community that you’re serving, don’t expect anything back. Like, why would somebody, why would a community come and trust you with their biggest problems if you’ve not served them at some point? And so that’s my philosophy. There might be others out there, but that’s my philosophy and the way that I approach things. And so I have built that into, you know, typically other companies. I’ve advised that’s the guidance I’ve given them and then I’m certainly trying to follow that advice myself too.
Andy Halko 54:58
Yeah, that’s awesome. So just kind of a final question that I like to ask everybody that’s on the show is, if you were able to go back in time, and have coffee with yourself, before starting the company, what is the one piece of advice that you would give about the future?
Rebecca Clyde 55:28
You know, the biggest thing I’ve learned through this process that I didn’t understand at the beginning, was how loud the naysayers would be. People had told me that they would be loud. But the naysayers have been largely wrong. Just like the naysayers said, a remote company could never make it that a remote company could never be successful. How many unicorns do we have now that went public, or they achieved a billion dollar status completely remotely? That was, Oh, it was categorically false. And yet everybody was saying it in Silicon Valley. And so that’s like, Exhibit A, the lies that you will be told by the naysayers, you know, there’s a million more just like that one. And so I I would have given I would have had coffee with myself back then, and just said, you will be told, like, really smart people with Harvard MBAs and worked at McKinsey are going to sit there and tell you that a remote startup could never make it, they’re going to tell you that the healthcare industry will never open up its doors to you, they will tell you all of these things that they believe are indisputable truths, and all of them are untrue. So I would say you know, listen to your instincts, because they’re right, my instincts, and my co founders instincts have always been right, like, listen to the instinct, and just double down on it. Because those people out there even if they went to Harvard and worked at McKinsey forever, they actually do not know because they have not walked in your shoes. They don’t know the industry the way you do. They don’t have the conversations you’re having. So believe in it. Like that’s the number one thing I would tell myself.
Tony Zayas 57:03
That’s very cool. Rebecca, that. So before we sign off, where can where can our viewers go to find out more about you and botco.ai? That is pretty obvious, right?
Andy Halko 57:23
Rebecca Clyde 57:24
Sure. You know, LinkedIn is is my community in the sense of like, where I so clubhouse and LinkedIn are where I hang out. So LinkedIn, I’m always posting my team is always posting, we’re interacting, you know, I love to have rich conversations with other executives, in my industry, in the startup community, that’s where we kind of virtually hang out. I’m always posting comments and feedback and challenging people and all these things. And so that’s that’s probably one place. And then there are a couple of different clubhouse chats that I that I participate in Tuesdays and Thursdays. There’s one called hcit hit healthcare IT which stands for girl, which I think is funny hit like the girl, but it’s actually a lot of men that join because they realize that that’s where those where they’re really good ideas are happening. So it’s not just for women, please come no matter what gender you identify with, or don’t identify with. Please join us. It’s a very inclusive group of people. And we have some of the best conversations. So those are a couple of where you can find me if you happen to be in Arizona, come say hello. It’s beautiful out here. We’re going to hike and have, you know, a nice beverage outside because the weather is lovely.
Tony Zayas 58:40
That’s awesome. Well, thank you so much, Rebecca, for joining us here today. Everybody go check out botco.ai and connect with Rebecca. Again, thank you for your time. And…
Rebecca Clyde 58:54
It’s great talking to you, Tony. And Andy, thank you so much for organizing this. And good luck to you to let me know if I can help with anything. Anytime.
Andy Halko 59:01
Yeah, thank you, Rebecca. We really appreciate it.
Rebecca Clyde 59:04
All right, bye everyone.
Andy Halko 59:07
Everybody, see you next week.