In this week’s Entrepreneurs Feature, we speak to team Botbot.AI, an enterprise productivity solution that uses chat as an interface to automate business processes and optimize workflows.
Botbot.AI is currently incubating with STARTUPAUTOBAHN Singapore, a corporate co-innovation platform powered by Mercedes-Benz focusing on several domains including Customers, Automotive Retail, Aftersales, Corporation and Infrastructure Management.
1. What is Botbot.AI and how did the idea behind it come about?
Botbot.AI is an enterprise productivity solution that uses chat as an interface to automate business processes and optimise workflows. Our team has been building enterprise systems and solutions as part of 2359 Media for the past 9 years, but after realising that many executives still defaulted to chat as a way to get things done, we decided to build systems that used chat as an interface and a platform for work to be done. At the heart of our business, we are always driven by our principles of maximising human potential by automating transactional, menial and repetitive work so that people can do high-cognition, high-value work. Boosting enterprise productivity and elevating the level of engagement in our workforce are the ways in which we quantify our success.
2. Where do you see Botbot.AI in 5 years?
Botbot.AI in 5 years would be the automation solution of choice for dynamic, innovative organizations of the future. We’d be solidifying our APAC presence through expansive acquisitions and partnerships, and creating more engagement throughout the workforce by automating low-value work and maximising employee potential. Ideally, we’d also be running our very own CSR programmes to help research, contend with and execute solutions to underemployment, as well as our very own fund to help employees jumpstart new ventures of their own. This is something we’ve always wanted to do, and the vivid vision of us being able to achieve that drives us every day.
3. What differentiates Botbot.AI from its competitors?
Botbot.AI was built with the Asian enterprise in mind, which led us to building chatbots that could reach people on a platform that they’re familiar with, in a language that they’re comfortable in. The optimisation for language creoles across a wide range of Southeast Asian languages and platforms commonly used by locals, allowed our chatbots to be learned and adopted by users quickly.
With our intentional practice in building chatbots that failed faster and failed better, we realised that chatbots were just the interface — the real capabilities came from the automation that happened once we connected these interfaces with real-world working systems. As such, we began pre-training chatbots in certain target industries, especially in back-office functions and HR. This meant that companies could buy our solution off-the-shelf and require minimal customisation for it to be enterprise-ready. Of course, this meant many hours poring over processes from different clients, but now that we look back, that particularly arduous exercise was worth the time.
4. How did Botbot.AI build its customer base?
The team from Botbot.AI hailed from a software house that had already begun to delve deep into enterprise mobile apps, and as such, we already had existing expertise in understanding, dissecting and analysing all sorts of enterprise workflows. This knowledge had us running as soon as we hit the ground, because our first client was a global FMCG that wanted to employ chatbots as a vehicle for knowledge transfer and neonatal education for parents-to-be. Since then, we’ve come a long way: from financial back-offices to food delivery, from conglomerates to cafes, we now serve a diverse range of business needs and clientele, and we’re constantly surprised and excited by the dynamism of our projects!
Ultimately, we believe that enterprises are always looking for new ways to communicate with their clientele and their own employees. Just like the website was a channel of communication at the advent of the dot com age, we foresee that chatbots will be a new medium through which companies can engage clients, both internal and external, more effectively and efficiently.
5. How do you measure the success of your start-up?
We do have revenue targets, lead generation goals, even hiring objectives, but at the end of the day, what success truly means to us would be creating real impact by enhancing business processes and augmenting human productivity. If we had to put a number on it, we’d say that if we managed to automate 1 billion conversations, and we do really have a counter for this statistic, we’d pop ourselves some champagne and celebrate!
6. What are the benefits of joining the Start-up Autobahn accelerator programme?
Startup Autobahn gave us a very unique opportunity to look at the automotive industry. It’s one of the industries that we’d always been very interested in but never really had the network to reach out to. We’d say that the accelerator has given us the network, connections and exposure and built confidence in what we’ve built for automotive use cases. It’s a form of validation, you could say, that our product can be applied across a variety of heavy industries and sectors and still perform. We weren’t so confident of that ourselves initially either!
7. What was your most memorable moment in BLOCK71 Singapore?
The networking and introductory sessions at BLOCK71 have given us the opportunity to interact with startups that are tackling some very riveting problems, and being surrounded by such company does inspire us to take our innovation to the next level too.