In today’s episode, we have Rebecca Clyde who is the founder and CEO of Botco.ai. Rebecca is going to share with us her journey to creating the fully-automated, AI-powered marketing chat solution that is a HIPAA-compliant platform enabling meaningful and intelligent conversations between providers and consumers.
Here’s a closer look at the episode:
Rebecca Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rebeccaclyde/
Rebecca Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ceorebeccaclyde/?hl=en
Botco LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/botco.ai/
Botco Twitter: https://twitter.com/botcoai
But what I love about LLMs is think about it, now everybody understands conversational interfaces. And they're like, Well, of course, it's so much easier just to ask exactly what you're looking for versus go to a search and get 20 documents and have to peruse the 20 documents to find the answer you're looking for. Now, people get what I was saying, what, we've been saying all along.
This is Found in the Rockies, a podcast about the startup ecosystem in the Rocky Mountain region, featuring the founders, funders and contributors, and most importantly, the stories of what they're building. I'm Les Craig from Next Frontier Capital. And on today's episode, we have Rebecca Clyde, who is the co-founder and CEO of botcoAI. Hi, Rebecca, super excited to have you on the podcast today.
Thank you Les, I think I'm more excited to be here. I'll probably just take this excitement up to the next level here. Between the two of us.
Not only that, but I also got to say extra excited on my end, because you're the first Arizona founder we've ever had on Found In Rockies. What do you think of that?
Oh, I love that distinction. I'm gonna put it on my LinkedIn is that,
add it, add it, add it to that profile get to 100%. Perfect. Exactly. Well, it's super exciting, too. Because Rebecca and I just reconnect, we met about a year ago at venture madness in Arizona, which for our listeners that haven't been is an incredible event is that I feel like it just keeps getting better, doesn't it?
Oh, absolutely. They knocked it out of the park this year again. Absolutely.
So we just saw each other about a week ago at that event. And I said, Rebecca, we got to do this. We got to do an episode. So that's today. We're I'm excited.
Yes, yeah. I like that. You have a bias toward action. You should be a founder maybe?
Well, once upon a time, maybe. All right. Anyway, awesome. Well, Rebecca, to begin, why don't you? Why don't you tell us a little bit about your story, who you are where you grew up. I love origin stories. I always love to start there. Tell us about Rebecca.
Sure. Well, maybe I have the distinction also being the only guests you've had to have been born in Costa Rica, perhaps? I don't know.
You gotta add another feather to the cap. Yeah.
Yeah. So I grew up in Central and South America. Actually, I lived in five different countries growing up. My mother's from El Salvador. So that's where I had most of my grandparents and my extended family. But due to my parents’ work, we moved around every four or five years. So I lived in Guatemala as well, Chile, Argentina, and I actually graduated from high school in Paraguay, which I will give you cred points if you could point Paraguay out on a map and tell me the three countries it borders.
I love being challenge. I gotta tell you, geography is not a strong suit of mine. But I love I would love to visit someday and learn more about Paraguay. Okay.
Well, it's smack in the middle of South America borders Bolivia, Argentina, and Brazil. So kind of sits nestled three countries, it's a landlocked one to two landlocked South American countries.
Oh, wow. What an incredible like place these places to grow up. I mean, the experiences you must have had as a child. I mean, do you think that does that have a lot to do with kind of the scrappiness and the founder-ness of you like growing up in some of these amazing countries and moving around a lot?
Oh, absolutely. I mean, you know, growing up in Chile, during the Pinochet regime, for example, and understanding what it is like to live in a dictatorship, I learned that. I learned in Argentina I lived through what are the most catastrophic economic events that ever took place where their currency devaluated to zero, the banks had to close for months, while they renegotiated their loans with the IMF. And that meant that to buy groceries, we had to trade things with people. So I remember my parents like taking watches off of their wrist, at grocery stores just so we could get meals and food for the family. So just crazy situations like that I've had to live through. So yes, you know, after you go through those things, you kind of realize like, you know, what, if I could handle that if I lived through these catastrophic economic events through a massive earthquake in Chile, through cartels in Paraguay.
Being a founder ate too bad. Unbelievable. I think that's the first time a founder has ever said it's easy on the episode. I know you're teasing. I know it's not but that's great. So So from so graduating high school, high school in Paraguay, and then we're from there. Where did you go? Where do you go from there?
Sure. I came to the US to attend the University. I went to BYU actually in Utah and another Rocky Mountain State. Yeah, I was there for about three years where I fast track my way through college because I was very broke and I wanted to get a job. So I went to school full time all around all year round summers springs. I never took any time off. I finished college in three years. And when I was a senior Intel came on campus, you know, a lot of big fortune 500 companies would come on campus to interview students. I was a business and Communications major. And so, you know, I would sign up to interview with these companies that looked interesting. You know, lots of the consulting firms and big fortune 500 companies would come by. And Intel really caught my eye. I loved technology. It was kind of the era where Tech was really blowing up. And I wanted to work in that industry. I had a few internships in the space and I loved it. So I ended up landing a job right out of college with Intel. And they flew me to three different sites to pick where I wanted to live. So it was like November timeframe. I went to Portland, it was cold and rainy, because Intel has a big campus there in Hillsboro just north of Portland. That was rainy and cold. I didn't love that. Then I went to Santa Clara, which is HQ. And there was tons of traffic and housing was super expensive. And I was like,
Doesn't matter what time of year you're gonna experience that? It’s a beautiful place, but.
Yeah, yeah, I ran the numbers. I was like, I'm gonna live worse than a college student here on my even on my good Intel salary. Yeah. And then they brought me here to Arizona. And it was like, perfect November, the weather is perfection here. It's so clean. It's so nice. Housing was affordable, I ran the math, I was like, this is the place I should live. Because where I will have the best quality of life here. And so I picked Arizona.
Awesome. And you fortunately, it wasn't in like July or August, because then maybe you would have picked rainy.
I might have picked Portland instead. That's so true.
That's great. And, and then so. So transitioning from, you know, college student to Intel professional, like, what was that? What was that journey like big company? I mean, you gotta, you gotta feel, you know, you gotta feel that coming out of school, kind of a interesting experience.
I loved it. And, you know, Intel at the time was a very dynamic and challenging place. So Craig Barrett was the CEO and they were just coming out of the it was still the Andy Grove era of Intel, he was Andy Grove was this chairman at the time, but that culture really permeated the way that Intel people worked. So it was a very high achieving, you know, high expectation culture, which I love and thrived in the you know, they had a lot of these concepts like constructive confrontation, which really meant like, you had to know how to give very direct feedback and how to take very direct feedback. They had at Intel is where I really learned the importance of scaling. Everything at Intel was about scale and massive scale. So if you proposed any idea, or came up with any concept, or worked on any kind of product, everything had to be thought about in terms of scale. And so they had this notion called copy exactly where everything that you did had to be copied, exactly, globally, at every Intel site, every Intel facility. You know, so it just it forced, like the epitome of scale. Oh, yeah, exactly. So it forced me to learn that level of thinking at a very young state stage in my professional career, which I just loved. Because I was like a sponge, I wanted to learn as much as I could. Intel also gave me the opportunity to work in different functional areas of the business. They had these rotation programs for a lot of the new up and coming leaders. And so I got to work in product, I got to work in supply chain, I got to work in marketing, I got to work in strategy. So I was constantly interacting with different sides of the business, manufacturing, and just being able to understand how a business of that scale operates and functions and goes to market and develop ecosystems and even envisions a future where you know, we would be sitting there thinking like, what is the world going to look like in 10 and 20 years? What is the technology we have to create today to facilitate that world? So also making me think very far ahead. And envisioning those kinds of concepts. Those were all parts of my experience. I think I call it growing up at Intel, so to speak.
Yeah. I mean, what an invaluable experience to start your career, I would argue,
Oh, 100% I could have picked a better for myself,
And not to lead the witness too much here. But yeah, I mean, it seems like your startup, can you imagine starting, you know, botco.ai then versus later. I mean, like, sometimes people do that right out of college, right? start a company. What advice do you have for founders based on your experience?
I mean, I see a lot of great young entrepreneurs that do an awesome job. So I don't know that it's a negative necessarily, but in my case, just having understood how to create businesses from scratch and see what the long term outcome needs to be was very helpful for me in my experience, so I don't think I would have been able to lead as wisely as I can now without those experiences, you know, and I had a front row seat to the creation of Moore's law, right? And so even today, I mean, Gordon Moore that everybody forgets Gordon Moore, that whole concept was created at Intel, we developed that concept, and we brought it out to the world. And when people talk about Moore's Law, they're talking about this notion that processing power and costs, you know, slices in half every couple of years. And so, today, we're on this AI, you know, massive hockey stick growth trajectory, and all of that is being enabled because of these kind of Moore's Law type of developments that have happened in technology.
Yeah, for sure. I mean, what a great lead and we're gonna go there, don't worry. AI is coming. We're gonna definitely. And I'm gonna, I'm excited because it's hot right now, especially. So this is so opportune to have you on right now. Well, well, but before we do, I just want to kind of finish the prequel of the story here leading up to you starting Botco, because you also went to Arizona State University as well, right?
Yes, that was while I was at Intel. So Intel was awesome about sponsoring my MBA, they, you know, what, identify emerging leaders, people that they wanted to grow. And so I was sponsored. And they paid for me to get my MBA while I was also working. So, you know, which I thought was really great. Because other than the fact that I had no weekends and no sleep, right, during that couple of years, it was great to be able to learn, theoretically, these concepts, but then actually see them in application in my day to day work. And so I felt like I had the best MBA experience one could have, because I wasn't just learning from a textbook or from a lecture I was then seeing those concepts applied, or even getting an opportunity to utilize those concepts in my work environment.
Very practical, very applied. And I'm sure, you know, not the easy way to do it. But definitely the meaningful and valuable way to do it. So yeah,
Sometimes the best way is not the easiest. That's what I have learned in my life.
Good one, good one. Good. Good one for the highlight of the episode highlight. Yeah. What about so so? Did you at any point in your career? I mean, it seems like you are launched in this incredible direction with Intel, things are going great. They're sending you they're doubling down on you investing in their best and brightest to get advanced degrees? Like, did you at any point have this inkling or itch? Like, maybe I'll be a founder, maybe I'll start something on my own? Or how did that come about?
Oh, yeah. So I had just had my second child, and I was on maternity leave during this time, and there was a big reorg that took place at Intel. And I didn't particularly love the way that my team and myself was being reorganized, you know. So I was like, I don't know about that. You know, sometimes big companies do things that to me, it didn't make sense at that time. And, you know, I was on this leave. And a friend of mine approached me from undergrad who said, hey, you know, my company is looking for a consultant that knows all these different things. And you came to mind, like you understand these things, because you've done them. And I know that you are the best at this just from having, you know, been your colleague all these years. And he said, Would you be willing to come talk to my CEO, he's just looking for some advice on a few things. So I went to meet with the CEO. And then that turned into a business opportunity. And he said, hey, could we contract your services, you could help us go through this. They were trying to expand into Canada and do some global expansion work. They were bringing on a bunch of technology and software. And he just needed somebody who thinks through all of these different pieces at the same time. And I was like, Well, I have this great job at Intel I'm supposed to go back to in a few months. But tell me more like, you know, let's talk about this. Maybe this is something cool.
And pretty soon I realized I could pretty much like triple my income by leaving Intel and doing this consulting gig which really, I ended up folding into a company called Ideas Collide, which became my first business where we did more consulting, managed services agency digital marketing work for large brands, fortune 500 companies and big organizations that that needed those services. So that was my first business actually, and I loved being my own boss, I loved just kind of the the no safety net, like this whole idea that everything you do matters was very important to me and I loved being able to see like instant results to my work, instant impact. There's kind of a gratification that comes with it. Sometimes it's hard to get at a big company, especially as you kind of move up into management. There's like less of those experiences every day which is what I love where I love to be is like to feel the seat be in the action, I guess so to speak.
Tip of the spear Yeah. Wonderful. So ideas collide. So you took that by the way, what kind of what time frame are we talking about? What year is it?
This is like the late the, first decade of the 2010s like toward the ends Yeah, so I want to say kind of 2007-2009. That period was when I started I left Intel in 2006.
Okay, so you took I how far along did kind of the Ideas Collide the marketing agency go until you decided there's something else I want to do because was Botco came next was it was it?
Yeah Botco came next after that. So, you know, at Ideas Collide, I mean, we grew that business to 12 million and run rate, great business, big team and organization of about 60 employees 60 Plus, in Arizona and Portland, I just actually an office in Portland.
Just couldn't get away from that rainy weather, had to go back and visit sometime. Yeah.
Exactly. And great business. But you know, after a decade a business starts to get to that, like, I call it like the steady state, right? Where it's no longer I mean, it's still growing. And they're still it's still dynamic, but it's no longer that like nascent high energy, like we're creating something new every single day kind of an environment. And I had also realized that, you know, we spent a lot of time implementing software and getting software to do things that they hadn't been intended to do out of the box. I was working with a lot of these marketing automation platforms that were feeling very outdated to me, like Eloqua, for example. And even Salesforce was starting to feel like clunky and you know, like, there's a better way to do this. And right around then was when I met, I was at a conference called Girls in Tech is the catalyst conference for Girls in Tech. And I met Anu Shukla. She was a speaker at the conference, and I was a sponsor, and she came off the stage. And she was like, Hey, I'm looking for a charger. My phone just died. Do you happen to have a charger? And I said, Oh, yeah, of course, you know, and so I let her borrow my charger. And so while her phone is charging, we started to talk and realize, like, wow, we have so much in common. Here I had been implementing the software products that she had been creating in Silicon Valley, she had, she had actually been the founder of rubric, which was one of the early marketing automation platforms and then a whole bunch of other ad tech products that I had also been familiar with. And so it was just for me, it was like meeting the maker of all of these products that I had been involved with. And our journeys were very much like parallels to each other. But on the opposite side of the supply chain. Like she was the maker of the software, I was the user and implementer of the software. And so we hit it off, we had a really great discussion. And we both talked about how, you know, marketing automation had kind of been stagnant, it has kind of gotten stuck in where it had been created. But nobody had innovated in a really interesting way since then. And she's like, you know, we should bring in Chris Maeda. You know, I did this last company with him. He has a lot of really good ideas. And so she introduced me to Chris's as our CTO now. But he came out of the MIT AI Lab. He got his PhD in Carnegie at Carnegie Mellon, also in computer science and applied AI.
I mean, two of the best, by the way, two of the best places in the country for this kind of stuff.
Exactly. Right. Yeah. And he had also just gotten back from a trip to China, where he had noticed this conversational interface, really taking off called WeChat, where all business was being conducted on WeChat. And he was like, you know, I have this idea that probably the modern customer experience platform is going to be more chat driven. And it's going to require AI to make it happen.
And what year was this? Because like, probably WeChat, was not even known at this point. Right? It was not mainstream yet. Is that
Not, not in the US. Nobody really knows we chat here as much. But it was like in the 2016s, I want to say 2016, 2017 timeframe. Yeah. Very early. And, and the three of us we we agreed, like Yeah, you know, conversational interfaces. That's, if you look at how people prefer to communicate, everybody's texting each other all day long. You know, Slack was starting to take off and everybody liked messaging. And, you know, using these chat channels had become almost a preferred way of interacting in the gaming world products like discord were taking off, right? And so you could see these trend lines starting to happen. And we were thinking, how do we help businesses capture that capability and make it available in their customer interactions as a channel that is truly helping to nurture those customers and helping them move toward either a buying decision or reengagement. And really, to have a much stronger relationship with our customers using these chat services.
Wow. So so but for a for just to recap a little bit here, but for a phone charger. Anu connects you to Chris Maeda, and Chris like then you and Chris are like, let's do this, like let's launch a company or like what, how did it evolve?
Well, yes, that's exactly yeah, I mean, we met we met a few times. I obviously, you know, we all flew, we actually lived in three different cities. So we had to fly into see each other in different places. So we would either go meet in the Bay Area, or we would meet here in Scottsdale, where I am. And that's how we, you know, there was a couple of these kinds of meetings where we would just brainstorm like we would whiteboard all day long and kind of come up with concepts, then we would go out and test these concepts. We would, you know, Anu and I had very deep rolodexes in the marketing executive type of world. And so she would call her contacts, I would call my contacts, we would set up these meetings to show our ideas, you know, half of them would just be thrown out, right? No, that's no good. That's no good. Let's try this. Maybe if you did that, you know. So there was a lot of meandering, right to really lock in on the idea. And when it finally came together was when we were in one of these meetings and the person we were talking to the CMO of a major hotel company, and she said, she was just like, how much would it cost me to have this? I need this. And I was like, whoa, what? Pause like, we don't even actually have it yet. We're just slides.And she's like, okay, she's like, I want what you're set. I want what you're telling me? How do I get? And we were like, okay, so you know, having had a background in selling to big companies. I was like, well, let's get a PO in place. What a pre pay half of it now. And in six months, we'll deliver it to you. That's how that's how we sold our first customer was getting doing these feedback sessions.
And it was but it was literally a marketing tool like that was the original, the original strategy and kind of vision.
Yes, yeah. It was intended to be a consumer engagement platform using AI to answer questions that help people make buying decisions about products and services. That was essentially the high level concept.
Very cool. And this so you know, bootstrapping it to from the idea phase to your first page. They always say right, the best checks are not the investor. You don't want the checks from the investors. We want it from customers. You did it.
Yeah. And I didn't even know any investors. So I couldn't have even I wouldn't have, I would have never even known who to call to get a check. So I only knew customers. I knew people in the industry. So that's who I was talking to.
Good for you. Yeah. I, by the way, so at that time, too, in Arizona, like 2016 in Arizona, were their investors like, were there some seed stage funds?
There's a couple. No, no, there was I think gray hawk has been around for a while. They're like the only but they were more like a series a right. So nobody was doing real seed stage investing at the time, there are a couple of angel groups that were starting to come together. But they were very early on. Yes, they were very early on, I didn't even know that they existed. So I wouldn't have even known to call them or to check. So the only place I knew where to go to get money was potential customers. That's how I knew how to start things.
Amazing. And so how did it and Anu? Obviously, she's a co-founder, but was she was involved with you and Chris are like, what was the initial team? was just the three of you? Or did you
Yes, the three of us that were doing everything. So we would kind of divide up our responsibilities based on what needed to get done. So I tended to focus a lot on kind of helping to concept the product from a customer perspective. And then Chris would obviously figure out how it needed to work technically. So I was think of me as kind of like the voice of the customer. Chris, really, Okay, the architect. How are we going to put this together? And then anew really guiding us toward okay, what are the stages that a startup needs to go through? Like, how do we need to prove this out? How do we get to MVP? And how do we get to even validation from the market that what we're doing is worth our time. So you know, all of us were doing everything, you know, calling people setting up meetings, working on the product, you know, you're just like all hands on deck kind of a situation where we're all, you know, involved every single day on making this getting this off the ground. And as you know, going to get from zero to one is a lot of work, like to take an idea out of your head and actually make a product that a customer is willing to pay you for this is there's a long, a lot of work between those two things.
Totally. Well, and then once you get there, there's still a matter of finding product market fit. You know, just because one person's willing to pay you for something doesn't necessarily mean you have product market fit, right.
Oh, yeah, there's a lot of iteration that needs to happen.
And spoiler alert, this is not where Botco lands like, this isn't what you do today. Right? Correct. Yeah, but what was that journey from a marketing, you know, marketing tool to what you are today?
Yes. So, you know, I think that's additional that kernel of still being a consumer engagement service, right, a tool that helps businesses and consumers interact more effectively, that is still at the core of what we do. I think what has really changed is maybe more than market or how we do it or the level of granularity where we do this. So you know, we we raised a tiny little seed round pre-seed round right around early 2020, through these angel groups in Arizona, lots of angels here, so that was super helpful. And we launch our product, our commercial SaaS product, and then boom, there's a pandemic, right?
The best time ever to watch. I was gonna say, I would imagine for you this could have this translate into some opportunity perhaps, right?
Correct. Yes. So it was at first a really difficult transition, because, for example, the hospitality industry pretty much went dark. So they had to, you know, some of these hotel companies basically had to shut their shutter their businesses for three to six months in some cases. And so, but while that was happening, we started to get phone calls, or, you know, inbound from healthcare organizations that were saying, Hey, I'm getting a lot of calls, or I need help, really digitizing my whole patient experience. And part of that includes, you know, we have this call center, but I can't even have people in my call center anymore, because of COVID restriction. We have all these problems. And so we need to figure out digital channels to deliver all this. And we're thinking that you guys could help us, could you help us right. And so we actually took on our first healthcare customer right there around April of 2020. And it was a company that was having to spin up immunization services very quickly, to make these immunizations available in 10 different states. So we quickly trained the AI, which, you know, Chris had built some great tools to train. And that's really part of the core product is you know, how to create these fine tuned models around specific topic areas, and subjects. And so we had just quickly spin up an AI service that can answer questions about immunizations and immunization records, across 10 Different states, and deploy those very quickly on behalf of this customer. So that was the beginning of like how we ended up in health care, then, you know, there were actually two pandemics happening, the COVID issue, and then there was a co-occurring disorder with mental health crisis taking up so there was kind of at the same time that COVID was taking off, so were a lot of behavioral health providers realizing that, wow, there's a problem here. And so we started to get inquiries from that world about, hey, how do we use an AI chat service to better handle those inquiries that are coming in, figure out who needs care, at what level of care, when, get them scheduled, verify their insurance? Could we do this all using AI, and it was really our customers that told us what they needed in this situation. And we, our product was flexible enough that it could be trained on new topics. It had a workflow engine that could be modified very easily with a GUI to create new workflows, depending on your industry. And so we said, Sure, our product can already do all these things. It wasn't necessarily designed with that in mind, but because it's so flexible in terms of how it can generate these workflows and generate these training topics, then sure, we could train it on your content as well. And one of our early customers they gave us this was really pivotal. They gave us about two years worth of call transcripts from their call center, which is like a treasure trove for us. Two years worth millions of conversations that had already taken place all over the phone. They gave us the state of these transcripts. And we essentially trained our models on those transcripts. And we had multiple customers do this for us because they were in such a state of emergency and need, dire need that they were willing, they're like, We will give you whatever data you want to train your AI just take it and get us up and running as quickly as possible. So Chris and his team were working, you know, around the clock training these models on this on these transcripts. And that's how we were able to quickly get these AI services trained on those particular topic areas.
Very cool. And I want to go I want to talk a little bit about it. Now may be a good time to dive into a question that I was going to save for later. But, you know, chat GPT like a lot of people might who are listening this episode that are newly familiar with this wild new thing might say, Well, wait a minute, wait, train a model, what's the big deal? Like chat? GPT is already trained? Why can't chat GPT just have these conversations about mental health or patient fault. Like, what's the big deal? Right? Wrong. Tell us about that. Tell us how important that is. Because I love that you highlighted that it's so critical. I think that people understand the value of that training data.
Sure, well, the data we were trading on was patient-provider interactions, which is very different from what the LLMs are trained on, which is like more general information that's available widely on the internet. The stuff that we trained on was proprietary information content that is usually not publicly released because it has personal health information in it. So you can’t, right. There's HIPAA, there's compliance reasons why that data has to be very tightly controlled. And so we had to even to access that data, we had to sign BAAs and NDAs. With these customers, really be very careful with how we were handling the data. It had to be anonymized in terms of, you know, removing individually identifiable information, things like that. So it's not like you just, you know, go and upload all these transcripts to the internet for the world to consume, because that would be a huge violation of people's privacy. So that's number reason number one, right? So we're really training our models on I would call more privately held conversations, number one, that are very specific to certain practice areas, right? Not on just generally available information on the internet. The other thing is really important is in these models is workflow, right? And understanding what is the standard of care, what is the appropriate next step for a different situation, right, those things all have to be taken into account when training these models and corresponding workflows. So again, you know, GPT, is prone to hallucinations, it'll make up something that sounds really compelling. But it could also be very wrong. And so you know, those two things LLMs have a really important place in the world. And we use them in certain ways. We use them to predict questions that people might ask, we use them to come up with even understand maybe slang or other kinds of topics, but we don't not give over our data to open AI because the data we're handling is proprietary, it's private, it has to be securely managed in a way that is compliant with you know, the laws and regulations that govern this kind of consumer information.
Yeah, and by the way, for our listeners, LLM, you've said LLM a couple of times so I just want to be sure they know, it means: language model large
Large Language Model. Yes, LLMs are essentially, the category the umbrella category where products like chatGPT, Bard, if you've heard of that one. Flan is another one of those all fit underneath. Those are examples of different large language models that exist.
This is the magic sauce that does the shiny stuff in the background for you that tricks you into thinking it’s really cool. Yeah.
But what I love about LLMs is think about it. Now everybody understands conversational interfaces. And they're like, Well, of course, I can't so much easier just to ask exactly what you're looking for, versus go to a search and get 20 documents and have to peruse the 20 documents to find the answer you're looking for. Now people get what I was saying, well, we've been saying all along. Right. Yeah, like a search result where then you have to like dive in. Why would I do that?
Well, and I also imagine, you know, we think about so first health care. I mean, launching this business in 2016, incredible, incredibly visionary first healthcare customer in 2020. Still, like way ahead of the curve here. But I imagine even in 2020, the notion of conversational AI, you probably had a lot of explaining to do, like people were probably like, how does this work? What is this? What's the magic here? Right? I mean, you don't have to do that so much anymore.
Oh, yes. It's it saves me hours of explaining. So I'm super grateful. I feel like maybe I manifested this. And I'm not that powerful. But that's the whole idea of just, you know, it's like when you see the world and you know that the world is going there. And it finally arrives there. You're like, this is so awesome. Because what, I wasn't just hallucinating. I was like, This is what's going to happen. And this is how people will expect to interact with businesses. I mean, this whole idea of sending people to your website and trying to dig through to find answers from your content. It's just not gonna fly like people just want... They're just wanting to text like, tell me blank, help me do this. Show me. That's all I want to consume is exactly what I need when I need it and how I need it. Nothing else.
What do you think like philosophically, what's the next step beyond this? Because I feel like we're here. Now we're in this phase of expecting to be able to do that. Where does it go? Where does it go from here? What's your long on, you know, AI and how it's going to sort of change change our lives, hopefully for the good.
Yes, you know, so interesting, I think about these interfaces really being applied to all aspects of our lives. And when I was at Intel, we created this idea called the Internet of Things where it was this notion that computing would become permeated throughout every environment in which we operated. And so this idea that computers would go into cars, they would be in your refrigerator, they would be in your workspace, they would be your whiteboard, they would be your you know, in your landscaping, right in your heating system that compute would take over every little interface of our life. And so we envisioned that world and so this is just another layer on top of that now that compute is existing in all of those places, so too will AI and conversational interfaces, whether they're through text, or through voice or through video. Now all of those interaction points are going to become AI enabled as well. And so but aren't like our imaginations can't even conceive of that, of how that will change our lives and our world. Right now, because we're just our brains are little, right?
It's so much smarter than us this AI.
Well, I think about to like in even in the last 10 years, I think about like on the compute side of the house, all the things, we've gotten really good at measuring things right and measure anything you can have, I have an air sensor in my house that measures air quality based on all these crazy factors. But it doesn't really do anything other than like, oh, it's cool, like, Oh, it's good air quality, you know, today, but like, I almost feel like there's a layer of connectedness between these things where we now get efficiency and optimization. In addition to what we're already measuring.
Right, all those data collection technologies can now interface with each other, can now talk to each other, right, and can help optimize situations based on parameters that we have given it. So maybe I want to optimize my home around air quality, or I want to optimize my home around silence, and quiet because I need to concentrate or I want to optimize my home around music, right? Whatever that experience is I want to create, we can determine those parameters. And then all of these systems work together to generate that, like environment that we wish for. It's kind of like we'll be able to wish things and they'll just be happening for us. It's kind of crazy.
It is kind of crazy. And then to take it one step further, eventually we won't need to wish anything because the home will know better than it will just do that.
I feel like my Nest is already doing that. And it really bothers me. Because because the device you know the age old, like male to female who's cold and who's hot, right? My son is always turning the thermostat way down. And I have it like programmed, I have it set like I've set up I thought I gave it rules. And then he overrides the rules so we’re always in this battle. So yeah.
And the nest is so confused. What's going?
Whose rules am I following? Rebecca's or Alex's?
Yeah. What about on a on a kind of a serious topic, though, you know, there's, there's been, there's been a lot of, you know, kind of AI banter lately about slowing it down, you know, people urging Microsoft and Google pumped the brakes. You know, some people have said, like, we need to slow that we need to stop development for six months. Do you have any thoughts on that? And I always kind of, like react to that, like, what six months gonna do? Like I? I don't know, maybe? Is there a way for us to better understand that, or is it necessary or what's the downside here?
I mean, a lot of that is driven by fear because the people who are asking for things to slow down are the ones who are not winning the race. So you know, I would say the people who are winning the race aren't asking for slowdowns, it’s the people losing the race.
Yeah, it's like the tortoise and the hare, it's like that just take a nap near the finish. The tortoise like keeps, you know, come on,
The tortoise overtakes. So I do think there's some important ethical considerations that we should all be thinking about. And actually, I have a webinar tomorrow on this very topic around privacy, security and compliance within the use of AI. And really making sure that as our organizations start to adopt these technologies that we aren't forgetting about those important things. So you know, open AI, the problem with it making being so easy is it's now becoming a huge leakage source for companies, because people are literally putting their company information in there to get data back responses back or not realizing that they're essentially giving away proprietary information to open AI. Reddit just announced that they're going to start charging open AI for to accessing its content. So they're saying no, no, you can't just use our all of our IP for free, like, you can pay for it, but you can't just have it. And so I think that, you know, that's probably where the slowing down is coming from people just saying, like, I need to catch up to these things. But I mean, when have you ever seen anyone…I mean, how can it be slowed down? There's, there's this I mean, it's just, it's it. It's like yelling at the ocean, right? Like,
We should have slowed down Moore's Law while we're at it, we should do Yeah.
Nobody told you to slow down your development ever.
Right? Well, and also to I think about, you know, these, you know, the business value that's being created, you know, there's there's probably hesitancy of like, is this going to replace massive swaths of like, just just society jobs. Like, what? What's the impact is going to have? Like, are we ready for that? You know, do you have any? Do you have any thoughts on that? Like, just,
I mean, we've never been ready for big technology transitions. They have always, you know, happened and the people who were best at adapting and applying and leveraging those capabilities are the ones who thrived as a result, right? So you know, if you were still making a living off horse shoes, well, yeah, you certainly didn't love the car. Your horseshoe business.
Unless you pivoted to tires, unless you pivoted to, like manufacturing tires.
Exactly. So it's the same thing, I think, you know, and if it's just happening at a more massive scale, I don't want to diminish it, because it is a big change. It's, it's probably bigger than all of this previous changes combined the Industrial Revolution. I mean, the agricultural revolution, the industrial revolution, even the automotive, you know, how much that changes the world. So, you know, this is akin to maybe all of those things put together in my opinion. So some of us are going to struggle with it, for sure. But I think that the organizations, the people who will succeed in this transition are the ones who take the time to understand it, really understand how to apply it in their business, how to utilize it as best as possible, and make, you know, make their businesses oriented around those capabilities, as opposed to rejecting them. I mean, they're here. So
Yeah, exactly. Well, we're just about out of time, but I just wanted to kind of finish up on a couple things. Before we are, you know, the first is, so you raised a seed and 2021, great, great seed round. You're kind of you're kind of off off to the races. Now, it seems like in terms of scale and growth, what what's in the future, what's in store for you and for the team? And what what's getting you excited? What's, what's next?
Yeah, absolutely. So we're trying to, you know, we're raising again, because we see this huge opportunity for us, you know, we're really thinking about how do we get our product more widely used, right? We know we have this amazing technology, we've now created automations that can very quickly train models that are uniquely designed around specific industries, capabilities, even vertical markets, things like that. And so now we just need a really great partner, financial partner that can help us scale this right, help us think beyond like, you know, we're in a niche right now. Because as a small seed stage company, we have to be right, we can't be all things to all people at this point in our lifecycle. Eventually, we can be, but today, we have to be focused and all great startups have started with some level of focus. And so for us, it's really helping us determine what's the most appropriate way to expand our TAM in a sense, and how do we really get our product in the hands of more people that can make use of this capability that is very unique and very timely, right now.
Interesting. And do you think could that even involve maybe, maybe something, you know, vertical outside of healthcare even or is that going to continue to be the main focus?
No, absolutely. You know, something that's really interesting about healthcare is that the healthcare industry has really moved into this more what I call social determinants of health space. So healthcare organizations are now partnering with human services organizations to improve, people's life. So they don't require so much health care. So if you think about, say, a heart condition or a mental health condition, usually it's prefaced by some stressor in the person's life that is creating that condition. So maybe it's diet, maybe it's access to proper exercise, or maybe it's a food insecurity or housing insecurity. So I think what healthcare is realizing is that if they don't pay attention to these social determinants, they're actually going to have a bigger problem on their hands in the future. And so we've already moved our product into supporting what I call these social determinant type of services as well. So we've integrated for example, with 211, which is the service the answers questions about, hey, if I need transportation help, if I need help with housing, where do I go? And because we're now supporting these other service lines, you know, I really think of our product as being more capable of being tied to any kind of service that is making human life better. You know, if you really think about it, like, that's pretty much a very broad category, I realize. But if if those things are addressed, then healthcare gets better. Because we don't we relieve the stressors that create the health conditions that land people in hospitals, etc.
I love it. I love the upstream, you know, the social determinants of health. It's brilliant. And actually, I, I've read to that, with, you know, conversational AI as an approach eases a lot of those pathways for treatment, especially for mental health. So it's like, it's a way to ease people in into what is otherwise it extremely difficult, high friction.
Oh, absolutely. It's so antiquated. I mean, I always say that I'm replacing 150 year old technology, the telephone, right, which is how everybody, because they may do a Google search. I mean, this is the part that's so crazy, they might do a Google search to find a mental health provider, but then they call. I'm like, Wait, why did we just go from like, internet to analog, you know, to phone to analog, it's like, let's just facilitate that chat interaction, at the point of search. And that's what we're doing, we're integrating with those kinds of capabilities. So any service that you're searching for that is going to make your life better, you should be able to interact with it, using chat, understand how you can use that service, get it into your life, and, you know, start to enrich your situation.
I love it. And you know, it kind of reminds me of something that you said earlier, where it's like, think back to when Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, would he ever have imagined that the evolution of his solution applied to this industry would be what you have built? I mean, that's mindblowing. It's so crazy to think about that, right?
Exactly. Like in their mind, that would feel like reading people's minds like mind reading, right?
Or even crazy, maybe I mean, yeah, alien race kind of stuff. That's so cool. Well, Rebecca, this has been super fun. I just just so thankful that we had you were able to feature you a little bit on the show today, I want to end I always like to end with kind of a very, you know, kind of more personal or fun question. But for you, I want to highlight first of all, you were 2020, you are on the list of a list of the most influential women in Arizona, congratulations, well deserved, but I just want want to know, as somebody that you know, that has that kind of presence, and it's just doing incredible things and just leading the charge. What, what advice do you have for other women that are founders or perhaps other minority founders, especially in the region, you know, in our region, which is not a typical, whether that's Arizona, or just more broadly, the Rocky Mountain region? What advice would you have for them?
You know, one of the things I love about these frontier states that maybe is different from other places, I would call it like old America maybe is that here, everybody's a newcomer to some degree. And so I think there's just a general like welcoming culture in our communities that I find really exciting and that I have really taken advantage of. So the way that I became you know, most influential is just because I got plugged in, I got plugged into the greater Phoenix chamber, I got plugged into the Arizona Technology Council, these kind of business groups, these groups of business leaders that would come together to help each other however that might be. And by plugging into those communities, I was able to tap into a rich resource of people who were just eager to help like, everybody wants to help somebody else that's coming here to build a business. There's so much energy and I think you felt it at Venture Madness around growing the Arizona business community growing the Arizona startup community, that it's like everybody's conspiring to help us If we just have to show up and show that, hey, I'm willing to get your help and I want to help you and you can help me let's help each other out. And that's that's just essentially been how I've done it and and you know, I have found so many amazing partners here in Arizona Startup AZ Foundation, the Arizona commerce authority, this the, you know, the venture madness organization to name a few the greater Phoenix chamber, all of these that are just full of business leaders who want to help and who want to support growth in our communities. And so I would just say get plugged in, get to meet all those people and just help each other out. That's it like it happens.
Great advice. Simple, but so great advice. Well, thank you. Thank you for sharing that Rebecca. Like, once again, just a pleasure to have you and just a tremendous thought leader in the AI space in the startup space in the Arizona ecosystem. To conclude, why don't you just tell our listeners a little bit more about where they can find you and BotcoAI online?
Absolutely. So start with our website botco.ai. We're also very active on LinkedIn. If you look me up Rebecca Clyde, or just the company BotcoAI we post almost daily, we have webinars. So if you want to learn about what we're doing in the generative AI space, we actually have a webinar tomorrow with our CTO Chris Maeda and Anu Shukla. So you'll get to hear directly from them and consume our content. I mean, we're always here to share to learn to grow, comment, and I would love to just get to know you if you're listening to this episode and answer your questions and help support your business and how it might best take advantage of generative AI.
What a great offer. Thanks, Rebecca.
All right, thank you, Les. It was a pleasure.
Thank you for listening to this week's episode of Found in the Rockies. You can find links in the show notes or go to nextfrontiercapital.com to get transcripts, links, and contact information for today's guests. If you liked what you heard and want more, please don't forget to rate review and subscribe to get notified as our new episodes drop every two weeks. We'll see you next time.