Founders Live Podcast
November 11, 2019
Rebecca Clyde, founder and CEO of Botco.ai was recently featured on Founders Live Podcast after winning the Phoenix Founders Live Pitch competition in the fall of 2019.
Listen here or read below!
Nick: Welcome to the latest Founder’s Live podcast where we tell unique and inspiring stories of entrepreneurship from all over the world. I’m Nick Hughes, CEO of Founders Live, and thanks for joining us today. Our guest today is Rebecca Clyde of Botco.ai. Rebecca’s joining us from Phoenix, Arizona. Rebecca, how are you doing today?
Rebecca: I’m doing great. Thanks, Nick. Thanks for the very lively introduction.
Nick: You’re welcome, you’re welcome. And, you know, for everyone listening, I am joining from London, UK, which is really fun and exciting to be here on my world tour and finally I’ve been able to find a quiet place to hold this interview. I’ve struggled on the road to actually find quiet places. Like it sounds like you’re in a hotel room?
Rebecca: Yes, yes, I am. I’m also on the road, actually.
Nick: Yeah. Where are you actually joining us from, I guess, is a good question.
Rebecca: I’m in Vancouver, British Columbia, which is a beautiful place.
Nick: Yeah, very nice, very nice. But you’re, you’re originally from Phoenix. That’s how you got involved with Founders Live, correct?
Rebecca: Oh, yeah. Yeah, I’m just traveling here for a couple of days. I live in Phoenix. That’s where my startup is based out of, but I’m not originally from there. I’m actually originally from Costa Rica, from Central America, but I ended up in Phoenix as a result of a job. So that’s why I’m there.
Nick: Wow. Well, I definitely want to get to a little of that background but introduce yourself for us real quick.
Rebecca: Absolutely. Rebecca Clyde here, cofounder and CEO of Botco.ai, and we focus on helping businesses harness the power of AI to have better, more meaningful conversations with their customers and close more business. That’s really our focus. Now my story really started, the reason I mentioned to you, I ended up in Arizona as a result of a job. When I graduated from college, I had got a job at Intel and they wanted me to work out of their Arizona facility, their Arizona campus in Chandler, which is just off of Phoenix. So that’s how I ended up there. I ended up finding my roots there and building my life and that’s where I am now. And that’s where my startup originated.
Nick: Yeah, that’s great. I was actually through Phoenix in March. I’m not sure. Were you around — this was Startup Week, PHX Startup Week in March? Were you there?
Rebecca: Yes. Yes, I was there. I’ve been involved in Startup Week for several years now. Absolutely. It’s a great event.
Nick: Yeah, that’s great. We, we held our Founders Live there and, you know, it was great because, so, you know, we had launched in Phoenix and then, you know, we had some events. And then out city leader at the time really said, hey, you know, this is great, totally love Founders Live. Her name was Lisa, and, yeah, she just had so much going on that, just needed to pass the baton. And the event that we held in March when I was through there allowed us to get the activity and energy back going. We, Steven Gurley discovered Founders Live.
Nick: Yeah, he stepped up and jumped on as a city leader and now things are really starting to rock and roll, which we’ll get to in terms of your experience and as a winner of Founders Live PHX. This is so great. But I want to touch on really, I guess, like the question is how did you find yourself starting your company and really embracing entrepreneurship?
Rebecca: Right. It was, I was trying to solve a problem for one of my customers. So, prior to starting Botco.ai — this is actually my second company. I was, I had started my first company, which was a digital marketing agency, about, I want to say 12, 13 years ago, and most of my clients, all of my clients really have been large enterprise companies. We were doing marketing automation work for them. And one of my biggest customers was saying, look, we’re having a problem where our e-mail marketing campaigns are, just aren’t working anymore in many parts of the world, can you help figure out what is happening. And in doing some research, it became very clear that the world had shifted underneath them, and they had not kept up. So, if you go to other markets, like Asia for example, and you look at e-mail open rates, they’re very low, and this is because everybody’s using messaging now. Everybody wants a live, real time interaction, whether they’re interacting with humans or with, with friends, family, or businesses. So, this is what they want. They want a real prime interaction, a conversation. And so opening e-mail was just not a way that their customers wanted to get information anymore. And they had failed to really see that. And so, I came back with this information and then started to research solutions out there that they could use and leverage these huge marketing automation campaigns that they had created in these more messaging-oriented markets. And I found nothing really. There was no solution that worked, that could work at scale. And so, I started creating — I rallied some resources within my agency to start putting together some prototypes, some ideas of what something like this could look like. And I took it back to that consumer. It really hit, struck a chord with them and then I started to realize this is probably not just their problem. I’m sure this is happening in all enterprises. And so, you know, because I’d been working in marketing automatic for over a decade, I have contacts at a very large company and, you know, I dialed them. I set up meetings. I said, hey, I’m thinking of this idea; are you seeing the same problem. I started to validate the idea, and resoundingly everybody said, yes, absolutely. And not only did they say, yes, I have that problem, they said do you already have a solution because I can pay for that like right now. Like I have budget today that I could pay for that. And I was like, okay, I’ll go build this because obviously all these companies need it.
Nick: That’s great. And, you know, I want to just jump into, you know, we say this a lot, which is you have an idea. You, you see a problem in the world. You have this idea. You think it’s a solution, but it’s really about validating it with potential customers. How did you specifically go about that?
Rebecca: So, I used, I used my LinkedIn network, and, you know, over 100 marketing executives that were willing to meet with me to walk through the concept. They gave me their feedback. I was able to gauge, you know, how big of a problem this is really for you. How much would you be willing to pay for it. Does this fit into your marketing stack, a solution of this kind? What would it need to have for it to work for you? I asked all of those questions before even starting to embark on the product and actually building a product. And so really armed with those 100 interviews, I had a very clear picture of what my market needed, who my customer was, and how we were going to go about solving this problem for them.
Nick: Yeah, that’s, exactly. I mean you even said 100. So, you know, basically having 100 customer interviews, seeing the similarities, determining what they would actually pay for, you know, that, that was, that’s absolutely the, that’s the, like that’s what you’re supposed to do. And how long did that take initially?
Rebecca: You know, it took about four to six months, I want to say, because, you know, I would do a batch of interviews, maybe like 20, and then I would say, you know what, maybe I need to think a little bit more here. I haven’t thought enough about this thing. You know, I would kind of recalibrate a little bit and then I would go back out and solicit another, you know, dozen, 20 interviews and go through those and take the learnings from those. And then, you know, with each set of interviews I would refine the idea further and further until I would say the last few ended up being so strong, that those actually ended up becoming some of my early access beta customers. The conversation evolved to the point where they said, hey, we would be willing to actually help pay for this if you are willing to build it on our dime. And that’s essentially how those couple of companies were in a way my earliest investors.
Nick: You’re right. Yeah. And, okay. So, on, on your website, you know, you said, you have a conversational marketing platform that enables meaningful and intelligent conversations between businesses and their customers. And then you have, you know, you have Messenger, Skype, Kik, Slack. You know, walk us through like the, what really — how does this product work? Because you have these brands on here, do you integrate with those messaging platforms? And, and dive into that a little bit.
Rebecca: Right. So, we consider ourselves to be platform agonistic in the sense that we believe that as a company you should be able to talk to your customers wherever those customers are. And so, our solution is the engine powers the conversation and then we can deploy those conversations on whichever channel you want. So whether you want to talk to them on your website through LiveChat, you know, through an AI-enabled LiveChat, if you want to talk to them on Messenger or on any other, the other messaging platforms, we can deploy your solution, your conversations to any of those places. Because you really need to tell us where your customers are and then we help you reach them there, right?
Rebecca: So that’s, that’s our approach because what, what we’re continually telling businesses is the model has changed, right? The new on-demand expectation of customers is that you go where they are. Stop trying to make them come to you all the time ’cause they’re just not going to. Right? They’re not. And so you have to be able to find them where they’re already spending their time, where they’re preferring to be. And this change depending on where you are in the world. One of the things I always do is, especially with global companies, understand the messaging landscape around the world. You know, if you’re in Japan, you know, your customers there are using LINE. If you’re in Canada, they might be using Kik. If you’re in Europe, they might be using Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, you know. And you need to understand that as a business. And for many marketers there are now, especially at the executive level, you know, they’ve been doing this for 20 years. They don’t, they came of age during a time before messaging even existed, these messaging apps. And so, these are not familiar concepts to them. And we kind of helped educate them as well in terms of how the world has really shifted in that direction.
Nick: Mm-hm. And so, the name is Botco.ai. So, talk to us about what aspect of that is some, a bot activity and what aspect of that is some AI activity.
Rebecca: Right. So, we have this self-serve environment where we allow our customers, who are all business enterprise marketers usually, who come in, they can author their conversations and then start to train their AI. Because I’m a marketer by background, right, I’m not a technologist. My CTO is a technologist, but I’m not. I look at things more from a user-friendly point of view. So, when we created our product, one of the things that we had to do is to make it super seamless and super easy for business, businesses to use. And so, you know, when — I kind of like to consider us like the WordPress of bots in a sense. If you want to create a bot, deploy it, and train it on your content to understand your products, to be able to answer questions about your, you, your brand, our platform is going to be the easiest one to do that on. And then you can deploy it to which ever channel you need to deploy it to. And the AI component comes in — when I really talk about training, I’m not talking about training humans. I’m talking about training the technology to understand your domain. So, if you’re selling widgets, the AI needs to know everything about your widgets: how much it costs, what are the different specifications, where to find it, what the warranties are on it. You know, anything associated with the purchase and ownership of that widget that a person is going to have in order to make a buying decision. And that’s what we’re really trying to reduce the friction on. Because what we saw a lot of businesses doing was sending these, you know, six to eight months drip marketing campaigns trying to get buyers to move down the journey and to answer all their questions through these e-mail nurture campaigns, but that’s too long. Customers don’t have that much time if they’re researching and they need to make a defined decision. They need answers now. They don’t want to wait for 20 e-mails to decide if they want to buy your product. And so, what we’ve done is really shortened that cycle. We’re helping you get the information you need immediately, whether a specification, information about pricing, or after, you know, after-purchase kind of consideration. All of those questions you can get answered immediately of, of an end customer. And as a business, what we try to do is help you train that AI so it can automatically answer those questions. It can detect the intent, what somebody is asking, and give them the correct answer as quickly as possible and help get them to the buying decision.
Nick: So, I’m, there’s this — I have a question in, and I guess like a critique of this experience and then I’m curious your thoughts. So, you know, obviously I’m, I’m now in, in Europe. I’m in the UK and this is my first time, actually, you know, traveling over here, and especially like, you know, being not only an adult, but now we have mobile phones and now we’re trying to run a business. And, you know, things, things are challenging sometimes. And so as I was preparing to leave, I was working — I was like looking — so I have Verizon for my cell phone and my service and realizing like, okay, when you come onto another \in a different country, when it’s international, there’s decisions you have to make in terms of your cell phone coverage. And so I, when I was still in New York I, I started to communicate with Verizon and it turns out that they have like this automated system that you, just like message — you essentially have a question and you message them, you know, your question your comment. And their AI will like to help you. But, you know, look, I’m, I’m a little bit stressed. I’m looking to, you know, I’m actually preparing to travel, and I just need an answer from a human being. And it was frustrating because I was getting thrown into a loop and this is not exactly the same thing, but I guess my question would be given that that is — this could be an experience of a lot of people. They’re just like, look, I just want to talk to human being and I just need a question answered, and I need some context that I can — I need to give some context here. And so how, how does — I guess my question is what is AI great for and in what experiences is AI in these end chatbots not excellent in? Because it can be very dynamic, you know.
Rebecca: Mm-hmm. Right. So, where AI comes in is when — where AI can be really great, where a lot of companies have started to use it, is on the repeatable questions that they’re constantly getting. So, they, you know, you’re not the first person to have these concerns. You know, everybody’s asking similar questions. So, what they’ve probably done is figured out, well, what are the majority of these questions and let’s try to answer them with some form of automation, right? And that’s about where most people stop, is right there. Where we take it further is we add a few things to that. We say, okay, you, you mentioned a really interesting word, which was context. Right? We have contextual training within our product that can also understand, okay, this person has been on this line of conversation that’s read, and so they’re probably looking for this other thing over here versus another person who has a different context to the question they’re asking. So being able to have contextual interpretation is really important. Our product has that. And then also being able to have a human handover is super important, because there are situations that start to get very personal where automation just, unless it’s been super intergraded into your CRM and to all of your logic, it starts to really require a human. So, having the ability to hand over to a human agent is really important as well. So those are the two things that we have added to our platform that a lot of people have not considered or just don’t know how to handle that, to really advance that experience and make it truly useful.
Nick: Yeah. Yeah. That’s good. And it’s just understanding that they’re, you know, putting that into the product and how that, how, when does that handoff take place and how does it take place is really important. Talk about what’s the status of the product right now. Where are you at? Is it, you know, are you deployed? Are you, you know, what sort of traction are you seeing in the market? That sort of thing.
Rebecca: Right. So, I mentioned earlier that we had very early active customers. They’re pretty large companies and we just completed our first year doing our beta implementation on one large company and we’re about six months into the second beta. Our MVP is finally done, which is great. This is our whole self-serve environment being up and running. We finished QA’ing it. So, we’re actually getting ready to launch. Our product launch is later this month and that’s why I’m on the road right now seeking fund raising, fund raising, right, seeking investment because we’re really ready to now invest in marketing our product, onboarding lots of new customers. We’re ready for, for, you know to really take on large volumes now of customers. It’s a really exciting time.
Nick: Oh, yeah. I know the time very intimately. That’s great. And so let’s dive in a little bit to your experience pitching and then definitely want to dive and talk a little bit about some, some advice that you would give other entrepreneurs maybe in, in this phase and stage. But you participated in Founders Live. Talk to us a little bit about how you got introduced to the event and then your experience pitching.
Rebecca: So, Steve, Steve Gurley reached out to me and invited me to participate. And I think I’ve been told about it by some other people and I saw that you guys were also at Startup weekend, Startup Week. So, I knew about the event. I knew about it, but I hadn’t actually attended one. And so, Steve reached out to me, asked me, invited me to pitch at the event last, you know, the last couple weeks last week, right? And so, yeah, I just said yes, and he put me on the lineup, and I showed up with my pitch. That was pretty much it. I had to shorten it quite a bit to make it 90 seconds. That was interesting, but I got it done. Like it took, it took some practice to get it to 99 seconds and still get the story in. But I love that format because it really forces you to distill yourself down to the essence of what your company is. It’s hard to do that.
Nick: Oh, it’s not easy at all. That’s why I chose it. But how about one, one piece of advice, you know, from preparing? You know, how did you prepare and like essentially, you know, pare down your, your pitch into a 99 second — you know, what was one thing that popped out at you like, oh, you know, that seemed to work pretty well?
Rebecca: I really try the focus on soundbites and making it a very memorable, easy to digest piece of content. I kind of treat it like a piece of content, right? And so that’s where I realized, you know, I may be a little too wordy here. I’m getting too technical there. I’m just too fluff here. So, I pared away all of those things, and once I did that, I felt like the story really came out, the essence of my pitch really came out. And I try to give it a story arc, right? I start with a problem, you know, what I faced, what I was trying to solve, why it’s important, what I did to resolve it, you know, what my solution offers that addresses it. And then I invite people at the end to be part of my journey. And so that’s kind of how I tried to, to structure it. And as far as how I honed in on delivering it, I practiced it quite a bit. I memorized it word for word so that when I went on stage, I wouldn’t go over my time. And that took a couple hours of repeating myself over and over again. But I had my pitch, you know. I’ve been pitching quite a bit lately and so it was a little bit easier than maybe if I had just done this for the first time.
Nick: Yeah. That’s all, that’s all great advice. You know, look. Some people, some people work well memorizing what they think they should say, and some people don’t. And so that, you know, that’s like a perspective that I think the individual should take upon themselves. But, you know, in the end what, what I say — you touched on it perfectly, you know, story arc. Basically, removing technical jargon so that, you know, your goal as someone pitching in front of this crowd is to get people to nod their head yes, right? I see it. I get it. You want the audience to identify, you know, if you’re looking to, you know, win the event, and/or just like make sure that people understand exactly what you do. You know, it’s really paring it down into the, the simple, digestible, like you said, soundbites that are understandable to most people and that they’re like, oh, I totally get this problem. I know. I understand. Oh, that’s a really interesting solution. And, and, and so it sounds like even though I wasn’t there personally, you, you did a great job with that, and congratulations.
Rebecca: Oh, thank you. It was a lot of fun. It was a great event. The format works really well, and it keeps people on their toes. It also makes it really interesting as an audience participant. So, I love the format. Kudos to you on that.
Nick: Thank you so much. How about let’s get into a little bit of, you know, your lessons as you built your company. You know, first of all, I, I looked at your team and you have a great team, very diverse and interesting. How did you formulate this team and how did you find your cofounders and build out your initial team as you were getting going?
Rebecca: I, I love telling this story because it was so serendipitous, I guess. My, right when I was struggling with this idea, you know, I told you that this customer had a problem and I was trying to find a solution and I was just kind of in this very open, exploratory mindset at the time. I attended a Girls in Tech event, their national conference. It was in Phoenix that year. And I had a, I had actually a booth. We had been one of — I was a sponsor at that, at that event and I had a booth and, you know, some team members that were there. And a woman came up and said, hey, I forgot my charger, do you have something I could plug into. So, while she was charging her phone at my booth, she and I just started chatting about what we were working on and she asked me, you know, what are you doing right now. And I told her about this problem I was trying to solve, and her eyes just lit up. She said, oh my God, I know exactly what’s going on. I feel the same thing. I’ve been thinking the same thing. And it turned out that she had started and exited a marketing automation company about ten years prior and had been, you know, in this world, as well as on the technology side, and totally understood exactly everything that I was talking about. It was just like this magical meeting of the minds where like sparks were going off quite literally while her phone was charging at my booth. And that was Anu Shukla. So she and I just like it was immediately just gelled and just, the fact that we had both been thinking about the problem and we had different experiences with it, but very similar at the same time in terms of how we were seeing the world change and not seeing any of the marketing automation platforms addressing these changes. They were just, they’re all just trying to make money on what they built, not really thinking the world has shifted and we need to go there. Right? And so, they continued to sell these big enterprises on a product that actually doesn’t really work anymore. Which is very frustrating to see happen? And so, we, we immediately connected and after that we met several times just to start, you know, formulating the idea more in depth. And then finally we decided, yeah, let’s do this. Let’s make it happen. The problem is really there. We had started doing some of this validation work together to, to really realize that it needed to happen. And so, she brought in — she had said, hey, I know the person to build it. He had built marketing automation platforms in the past. He understands AI because he’s worked in AI for 20 years. Let’s bring him in. That was Chris and then our CTO, and then we needed a science advisor, somebody who was on the forefront of research in AI and especially in ontology and computational linguistics. And that, we got connected into Deborah McGuinness because she used to run the knowledge systems lab at Stanford and is now at RPI up in New York still doing some of that work. She got connected into us and that’s how the team was, was initially formed.
Rebecca: It was very magical. I don’t know. It’s hard to, it’s hard to say — to meet people.
Nick: Exactly. But one thing that I’m taking away from this is you, you talked about your idea and you shared, you shared that at least like, at least thoughts and vision and, you know. We get this a lot where it’s so, I mean I kind of find it humorous sometimes where people are just like, oh, I’m not going to talk about my idea, or should I talk about my idea. I’m scared that people are going to take it. Obviously, you, you did not think that way. But what is your advice to entrepreneurs and other startup founders when they might think that they need to keep their idea secret?
Rebecca: Oh, I’m not a fan of that at all. And I think — I’m the opposite. I will constantly be bringing in the world to whatever I’m doing. So, if I have a problem or an idea or something I’m struggling with, I’m very open about it. I’m happy to talk to anybody who’s willing to listen or who might have something to contribute to it. So, yeah, I’m, I’m on the other side of that equitation definitely. And I, and I believe a lot of it comes from being comfortable with being vulnerable, right, because I think many people maybe don’t share their idea. You know, maybe they’ve been taken advantage of in the past or — I don’t know. Maybe somebody did steal their idea. I’ve heard people tell stories about that happening. I don’t know. I guess I don’t walk around with that kind of fear. I feel like I’m, the upside is bigger than the downsize. So, I’m always more willing to share and bring people into the journey and into the conversation. Because you never know. People are, always amaze me with their ideas and their ability, or they may know someone that would be perfect for what I’m doing. And I want to hear that. I want to find out what that is. If I don’t ask, they’ll never know.
Nick: You’re right. And more importantly, you know, this is definitely, I guess, a personality perspective, but when you think about it, like there’s a higher probability that you’re going to encounter people that want to help you or lead you to another person versus the person actually taking your idea and stealing it and running with it. That’s number one. I think I think about like, it’s like, well, geez, like the law of probabilities are someone’s going to actually be more, just, they’re going to be helpful versus hurtful. Number one.
Rebecca: Oh, absolutely.
Nick: Number two, number two. Look, ideas are out there. Are you kidding me? Like, you know, ideas are ideas. It’s the execution, it’s the expertise around the concept, and more importantly if you’re doing anything significant, you’re going to have competition anyway. And so that’s fine and that’s actually what you probably want because competition validates your, you know, your, your market. And then lastly, I think you’re using your best judgment of like, look, if, you know don’t, don’t give every single detail of the IP and maybe the patent that you’re creating, but talk about the problem solution idea and you’re going to get some good feedback. So those, those are my like, you know, my thoughts on when I hear this. It just, it fascinates me when people are so tight. You know, held to the chest and it’s like, you know what? Like you never know who’s going to come around and help you or point you a direction or give you feedback that might help you move forward.
Rebecca: And I have yet to tell you, I have yet to find somebody that’s tried to hurt my idea, so, whereas I can name thousands of people that have helped, you know. And even if — and you know one thing that’s really cool also about this space that I’m in, because it’s such an emerging space, even all of us who are competitors are very collaborative. So, we go to these bot meetups, or we’ll go to AI meetups, or we’ll have conferences where we all talk about, and essentially, we’re all competitors. But everybody’s kind of approaching it differently or maybe we’re targeting different verticals or different, you know, segments of the world. But we’re all essentially building a similar technology to address the problem in different spaces. We’re very collaborative. I mean, yeah, you’re right. Nobody gives each other code necessarily, but we’re definitely talking about approaches like, hey, what did you use that worked. Did you try this. Yeah, we did, and it was a waste of time. I would, I ended up having better results over here. And we’re, it’s a very sharing community and I love that about this space. And it’s because we’re all doing it for the first time. And so I think there’s a little bit of a, of a willingness to be cooperative and, and — what’s that word? Coopetition, right?
Rebecca: Because we realize that we, we’re raising all boats when we do that. Like we’re all going to win if we, if we all win. So, I actually am always really happy when I see another conversational AI product get funded or if I see another founder do really well. I congratulate them. I wish them well. I’m like, hey, let’s meet for coffee. I’d love to just wish you well on your journey, make any introductions I can make. And I find that taking that point of view and that approach always gives back way more in return than if I were just sitting here in a corner trying to do this by myself. It would be impossible.
Nick: Very nice, and that’s exactly why we started Founders Live. So —
Nick: You get it. You get it. You mentioned — you know, one of the last things I want to touch on, you mentioned that you’re now raising money. So how are you — you know, what’s your thoughts — how are you approaching this, this raise and reaching out and communicating with investors and then setting up meetings? Like how are you approaching that?
Rebecca: Similarly, to how I started the company, just talking to everyone under the sun. You know, I’m very fortunate that I’ve been able to secure in my journey and in my career a few mentors, people who really believe in me, and a couple of just friends that are just great friends who’ve been willing to make so many wonderful introductions. And so, a couple of these friends have just been incredible. One of them is Zach Ferres from Coplex. That’s an incubator in Phoenix. Zach has introduced me to no less than, you know, 30 potential investors. Another company in Phoenix that focuses on startups is called Keyser. They are more of a real estate company and they help startups find their first office space and, and their space. Keyser has been incredible. They’ve also made, you know, 30 introductions. Silicon Valley Bank, who I don’t even bank with yet, but they potentially want my business, they’ve made, you know, 50 introductions.
Rebecca: Yeah. It’s just, I, I just am overwhelmed with gratitude toward all of these individuals who do these companies who have just said, hey, we believe in your idea. We want to see you succeed. There’s a real, I would say, collaboration in Phoenix. We want all startups to do well. And so what you’ll find is that any company that is part of that startup ecosystem is going to be super generous with introductions, with giving you access, with inviting you to events. I’ve never felt in my community excluded or passed over because I was a woman or anything. On the contrary. I feel like there are so many people rooting for me and for my startup to do well that, you know, I can call on any of these people and a dozen more to get an introduction or a meeting or a, you know, something that I need, you know, piece of information. And they’ve been amazing.
Nick: And so, when you’re, when you’re, you know, booking these meetings and sitting down with potential investors, are you clear that you’re pitching or are you saying, hey, I’m just, just getting some thoughts and advice here?
Rebecca: No. I’m always clear that I’m pitching, that I’m reaching. Early on when I wasn’t quite ready to, to take on outside money, it was more informative. It was really like, hey, I’m in the process of validating this idea. We’re beta testing. We’re not quite ready to take outside money, but I want to get feedback from the investor community in terms of if you see potential in this and promise and what feedback you would give me. And so, during that stage of my company, those sessions were a little bit more feedback oriented. But now I’m saying, look, I’m raising this much. I need a check for this amount by this day. Are you in or are you not? It’s a lot more straightforward.
Nick: Mm-hmm. And do you find that setting those boundaries and essentially those timelines, like that’s, it’s paramount to you as the conversation’s moved forward?
Rebecca: Definitely. I would say that when you don’t, the tendency — or at least my learning has been — the tendency in my experience was that if I don’t make that really clear, they’ll just string me along. You know. They’ll meet. They’ll talk. They’ll chat. They’ll make promises, but if I don’t give them a deadline and a specific amount that I need from them, then nothing’s going to happen. It’s just like making a sell. I mean if you are trying to make a sell to a customer, but you never give them a price quote, you never tell them, you know, what they need to do to move forward, then nothing will ever move forward.
Nick: Exactly. Exactly. And, you know, I mean to say it bluntly, look, they have the money in their hands and typically human beings aren’t aggressive to part with the money they have, right, you know, in terms of just the psychological aspect of human nature.
Nick: But you can, you can counter that by, you know, taking the leadership role, you know, dictating what’s going to, what’s the next steps, and quite frankly establishing a deadline that creates a bit of you’re missing out or FOMO. And, you know, in the end, you know, I think as a founder we need to be, and as the CEO that’s running that process, you not only need to be confident, but willing to, you know, set the stage and walk away. And, and I think like that is, yeah, part of the illustration of like, look, you’re, we’re here. We’re in, we’re in negotiation or we’re talking, but I, you know, we, or I am going this way at this date and you’re either coming with or not. And you then illustrate the value of that. But I think, you know, the mistake that I see it, you know, in our community can be like, you know, chasing the investor too long. You’re literally like, yeah, you’re not forcing a function of of any sort of activity. And then, and then the last thing I think was the most important, is not illustrating the growth on a timeframe that is appropriate. You know, so when, you know, if you meet with an investor — like let’s say you meet with an investor three times and the first time was just like a conversation, you know, just getting some feedback. Second time is you’ve launched and you’re growing. And the third time is like, bam, here’s our like last two months of activity and you show a growing graph. You’re telling them, hey, we’re going somewhere, and you better get on the train, you know.
Nick: I think that that is a, in terms of just how to navigate this, this whole world is making sure that you do take leadership of it, you set a dateline, and then you show your metrics and growth and then say, hey, we’re taking off. You getting on the bus?
Rebecca: Exactly. And it’s not easy to do that at first because there’s, at least I experienced a little bit of insecurity around that thinking, well, if I, maybe they just weren’t ready, you know. I would justify all these reasons in my mind why I wasn’t just walking away or keeping a conversation open even though nothing was happening. And it took a few months of getting comfortable with the idea and really realizing that by keeping that going when nothing was happening, was actually limiting me from finding the ones, the investors that were ready for me. So that’s what I really think about. It’s like there’s an investor out there that’s ready for me and then I’m ready for them. And if I keep wasting my time over here, I’m never going to find that other one. And so, I think about it more from that point of view, where my energy and time goes, because it’s so limited really. I can’t keep just, you know, cycling through something that’s not progressing.
Nick: No, no. It’s, we, we have very limited time. It’s important to be taking the meetings that are meaningful and then moving forward with those on a timely fashion.
Nick: Rebecca Clyde, this has been a great conversation. I thank you so much. And I also just congratulate you again on, you know, winning the Founders Live Phoenix event. And, you know, Botco.ai, so excited to see where this goes. Where can we find you online to get more information or just reach out and connect?
Rebecca: Absolutely. You can find us on the internet, Botco.ai. Or we’re also on Instagram as Botco.ai, on Facebook, and LinkedIn. Yeah, please reach out to me on LinkedIn, and if you’d like to chat, I’m always happy to talk to other founders too. It’s one of my favorite things to do. So, thank you, Nick, for what you’re doing, for coming to Phoenix with your, with your organization. And I’m excited now to support it going forward as well and be part of your community.
Nick: Oh, thank you, thank you. All right. So that is it for the latest Founders Live podcast. Keep, keep paying attention everyone. We release one of these pretty much once a week, and excited to hear from many more of you. So, thank you so much. Until next time.