Cookhouse Lab had the pleasure of hosting the BOTFriends team earlier this month as Cookhouse embarked on its first chatbot project. While they were in town, we had the opportunity to sit down with the team to learn more about their story and their thoughts on chatbots, innovation, and the future. Read more on our Q&A session below:
(From left to right: Kevin Dees, Michelle Skodowski, Tobias Gansler, Daniel Roesch)
Tell us a bit about yourselves!
Kevin: All of us are students at the University of Applied Sciences in Würzberg, with plans to graduate next year in March. At BOTFriends, I’m responsible for customer success, sales, and in addition, I also have a small part in product development.
Tobias: My focus at BOTFriends is on product development. Michelle is responsible for marketing and user experience. Lastly, Daniel is responsible for monitoring future trends to make concrete products.
What’s the story behind the creation of BOTFriends?
Daniel: Kevin and I met at while we were working at Porsche. During our spare time throughout our internship, we developed a chatbot prototype for Porsche recruitment. We introduced our prototype to some of the employees and they sent us to the Porsche digital lab in Berlin earlier this year. We conceived our original idea in February, and our prototype was developed in October.
Kevin: After our experiences at Porsche, we recruited Tobias and Michelle, and the four of us founded BOTFriends in March 2017. We officially incorporated the start-up in the middle of June 2017.
What have your lives been like since June 2017?
Michelle: We’ve had the opportunity to attend a variety of events in various capacities. We’ve taken part in discussion panels, launched conference chatbots, and attended various start-up events regionally. For the hashtag.business conference in Germany, we launched a chatbot that gave participants the ability get automatic answers about general conference inquiries (agenda, parking, speaker biographies).
Kevin: We’ve also had many meetings with potential customers, run workshops, and gained our first contracts.
What next steps do you want to take with BOTFriends?
Daniel: We’re currently working with customers (like Porsche who pay per hour), but we eventually want to establish our own messaging platform and other products. In terms of location, we’re currently based in Würzberg, but we want to open another office in Berlin in the future.
Michelle: I hope that our next milestones will include more client contracts and more product development. Right now, our services take up a lot of our personal resources so I want to come up with a plan that makes our services more scalable.
Where do you see chatbots going in the next 5 years?
Daniel: There is a lot of conversation happening in all facets of business, which include services like call centers and online support. I believe that eventually chatbots will overtake a lot of these processes, and this could be very helpful for companies.
Tobias: Chatbots can be applied in every sector, and they can overtake things like event planning. Nobody wants to download an app for an event that lasts two days.
Michelle: Companies can also use chatbots as a new communication avenue. Sometimes, it’s difficult to keep up engagement because less people activate push notifications on their apps, but for apps like Messenger, they are usually on.