On August 10, 2020
In this podcast, Mike Kelly of Startup Competitor’s Podcast spoke to Botco.ai co-founder and CEO, Rebecca Clyde. Clyde shares how Botco.ai was built out of a lack of a solution for enterprise companies and their customer’s need for on-demand assistance. Before Botco.ai, Rebecca owned a marketing automation company, and she explains how that role, and the process of leaving that role to hand over the reins, gave her a particular set of skills that prepared her for starting Botco.ai. We also discuss investor expectations, how to best use a marketing budget, and her role as a parent to prepare her children for the business world.
Rebecca Clyde: Hi, Mike. Thanks for having me this morning. It’s good to be here and hello to everyone listening to the podcast today.
Mike Kelly: Why don’t we start things off with a quick pitch for Botco.ai?
Rebecca Clyde: Sure you bet. So Botco.ai is an intelligent chat nurturing solution and we help businesses convert more customers by being always on and always available to answer their questions. And what that means is that when, for example, a prospective customer comes to your website, and they have questions about your product, or they’re trying to look for something, they don’t have to wait for those answers, and they’re more likely to convert when that happens.
Mike Kelly: And then give me a little bit of an overview of what that user experience looks like both for the end customer as well as maybe for the client company that decides to set up Botco.ai?
Rebecca Clyde: Sure, so for the end customer, it usually comes through one of the channels that they’re already engaging with, so maybe through the website, a Facebook experience, or maybe even SMS, they might have questions about the product or the business and maybe they’re looking for pricing information or they’re looking for specifications or availability to talk to somebody. So they just ask their question, they just chat like they’re talking to another person and they get instant answers that are powered by our AI solution, of course. And what we have found is that when those questions get answered right away, and there’s not this lag of, oh, let me get back to you or you have to wait for a live chat person to respond in 20 minutes or this is after hours, and nobody is there to respond. When people can get those instant responses, we find that they convert at twice the rate and we know this now because we’ve been able to run some AB tests comparing what happens when the AI chat is there and what happens when it’s not.
For our customers, the businesses that buy our product and subscribe to Botco.ai looks like subscribing to an enterprise SaaS, cloud-based product, they sign up, they get access to our authoring tools and our fast knowledge acquisition engine where they can train the AI on their content. They can have customized conversations based on templates that we’ve given them. So they can provide welcome templates or lead capture templates, all of these typical things that people want to do; FAQ templates, things like that. So they can very quickly configure these conversations, train the AI, and have it up and running in a matter of days. We recently just launched one company that literally had never even used our product before the month of April, and they were live, handling thousands of conversations for them by the beginning of May. That’s how quickly they can get up and running with our product.
Mike Kelly: That’s awesome. That may be a good jumping point to the next question; talk a little bit about the current status of the business, that can be any kind of vanity metric, you want to share size of the team, the number of conversations, revenue, funding, anything that would help a listener understand where you guys are on the journey?
Rebecca Clyde: Great. So we started our journey a few years ago already and we spent the first I would say six to seven months validating our idea.
After we had hundreds of customers with hundreds of interviews with prospective customers, we were able to really shape what that product looked like and started creating prototypes of the product. Well, our first customer that came on board was Best Western hotels and resorts, which is a very large brand of 4500 hotels around the world.
Mike Kelly: That’s your first customer?
Rebecca Clyde: Yeah, right.
Mike Kelly: Okay. Wow, congrats!
Rebecca Clyde: Which is awesome, because we had a large paying customer immediately and we were able to productize our solution around real scenarios, real conversations, real customer data, which of course have allowed us to build a much better product because of that. We weren’t building it in a vacuum.
Mike Kelly: I got to imagine, I’m totally going to sidetrack you down a little rabbit hole. But one of the things that I think of in building an AI solution is that one of the most necessary ingredients, there is data, right? Like you have to have enough data to actually be able to figure out how to respond and learn and do all that AB testing and things like that. So was that part of the strategy in landing somebody that big out of the gate? Or was it you just got opportunistic, and they were there and you were able to close them in and it just turned out to be a great thing?
Rebecca Clyde: Well, I knew that I was building a product for large companies and let me tell you why first, because of your correct point, that we need a lot of data to be able to do this well and it’s hard if you don’t. And second, because that’s the world I grew up in, I came out of college, and I went to work at Intel. So I was at a big fortune 500 company. Then I started a digital marketing automation agency that services fortune 500 type companies. So my entire world was all my network and contacts were already in these large company relationships. If you had told me, hey, Rebecca, go build a product for SMB or for consumers, I would just look at you like, I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to sell to that business or to that sector, but I do know how to sell to enterprises and so it just was natural that that’s where my Rolodex is there and so that’s where my contacts would be.
That was our first customers and they were amazing in terms of meeting with us very regularly, helping us, shape from a business, what the requirements needed to be, and get us, essentially live through them. Then our second customer that came on shortly after was this other large brand; its a billion-dollar company and Massage Envy franchising, so they have 1100 locations. They’re the largest massage clinic franchise in the country and they needed us for something similar. We were getting a lot of traffic to our website, or we’re running lots of ads and we need to be able to convert those customers more successfully. And so by being able to answer questions about, hey, do you have a female therapist? What’s the closest location to me? What kind of ingredients are you using all of those things, they found that they could close and convert more appointments, and also sell more memberships.
So those were some of our first early customers and I still hold like a very dear place in my heart for them, because they kind of went out on a limb to work with such an early stage startup. So I’m going to give them lots of props for that. They have very innovative and forward looking leadership within those organizations. So after doing kind of those initial early access customers, we were able to finish our product, launch our MVP, and now we’re taking on lots of new customers. We hired a sales team, and now we’re doing things like lead generation and really filling our pipeline. I also finalized a pre-seed round, mostly from Angel groups, a lot of the angel investors that are in Arizona, which is where I’m based.
All the big primary Angel groups backed us, and then several high net worth individuals that have also been in the technology space. And then an accelerator in San Francisco also invested in us and we won a big prize, which is the Arizona Innovation Challenge, which is kind of like an innovation startup challenge here and the state gives out $150,000 cash prize to the winning companies. That was awesome and that has certainly helped us. So plus, they give us a lot of wraparound services and support and if I need an introduction to somebody literally the state, the governor’s office can do it for me like it’s pretty amazing. So I feel very fortunate this year because of that I’m trying to really take advantage of these resources and opportunities to get us to the next level which is now ramping our business to our first million in revenue and that’s really my focus right now.
Mike Kelly: That’s awesome. That is an awesome update. Okay, cool. Let’s jump into the competition; when you think of competitors for Botco.ai who or what comes to mind and you’re welcome to name competitors, you obviously don’t have to; you can take that question in any direction that you’d like.
Rebecca Clyde: Yeah, that’s a great question. There are a lot of ‘chatbot companies’ out there and they’re selling these $10 $15 chat products that are great if you’re like a small to medium business, because that’s right within your price point. But the challenges if you’re a large enterprise and you’re a CIO and you need customer data protection wrapped around your content or your data or you need encryption or all of these things that large companies have to think about. Some of those products just will not work right and so we set out to build a product that was available and useful for enterprise customers and so it has to have a lot of things like, high levels of accuracy that are proven, high availability, encryption, so we’re encrypting the conversations and handling the data in a certain way. So it’s protected.
We have some customers that are in the healthcare space, so we have to be able to comply with these things like personal health information compliance, and how we handle that data. So because we’re a little bit more elevated and more robust than some of those typical run of the mill companies, we don’t see as much competition, our competition tends to be quite honestly, in house development teams, because these are large companies that can hire 100 software engineers if they want to, or they are consulting firms; so these companies could just write a big cheque to Accenture, Deloitte and say, hey, these are our specs, go build this thing for us. But that’s how we know that there’s a need for our product because we don’t see a lot of commercially available solutions that are turnkey and available to use right off the shelf, that service that particular sector.\
If you’re trying to decide on Botco.ai or building it in house, or hiring a consultant to do it, it’s going to be a lot less expensive and faster to use our product. And you can still meet all those enterprise requirements.
Mike Kelly: So that is a beautiful breakdown of kind of how Botco.ai compares to competitors in the space and it has the ring of truth says I think about my interactions with some of the smaller chatbots and things like that in the space. But for me, while you were talking through that, it kind of brings the question when you touched on some of this in kind of how you got to where you and the team are today, but why did you start Botco.ai? Like what was the thing that made you think just based on your background, this has to exist, and I have to be the one who makes it?
Rebecca Clyde: That’s so funny that you say that. So I didn’t set out to build a company. I was just trying to solve a problem and I owned prior to starting this company, I owned a marketing automation agency and my focus was to help large companies with their campaigns in marketing automation. And what I was noticing is that most of those platforms were built back in the 2000s in a very different world than what I would call a synchronous world and they were built before the on-demand economy happened. And so about five years ago, I was getting frustrated and I was noticing performance metrics dropping off on some of these traditional marketing automation platforms and I started to think about, well, we need something that’s on messaging, we need something that’s on chat, we need to be able to run campaigns that provide instant information for customers, not these like eight-week drip campaigns take forever, right? That’s just not how people want to consume information or content anymore and none of these products would listen to me.
I was on the customer advisory boards. I was going to their meetings and meeting with their product and executive teams and telling them like, hey, I need this over here. Why are you not building that for us? And they would just look at me like I had three heads. And finally, I just said, “Forget you guys. I’m just going to go prototype something.” And that’s when right around the time I was thinking that is when I met my co-founders and they had also been in that world-building marketing automation products in the past and it was just like our brains were exactly in the same place. We were seeing the same problem. We were seeing the same cracks in the pavement and I had all the customer enterprise contacts and experience from an agency standpoint, and they had the software building experience and so it was just like a perfect marriage so to speak. So we got together Chris Maida, my CTO and Anu Shukla who’s our executive chairman and started Botco.ai, mostly because nobody else would build it. So we felt like we had to build it. It’s something that we owed the world.
It was a solution that was actually going to work for today’s demand, always-on customers.
Mike Kelly: I love that answer on more levels than you could possibly imagine. Do you still have the marketing agency?
Rebecca Clyde: Yes, I still own it. I’m not involved in it on a day to day I’m more like a board member; I go to the quarterly finance update. So that’s pretty much it.
Mike Kelly: Got it. But that agency can now look at clients and prospects with a straight face and say, “Look, if the solutions to your problem don’t exist in the market, we’ll just go spin up and a company installs that for you.”
Rebecca Clyde: Exactly. Yeah and the great thing is also they’re bringing our product into their clients, which is the whole reason why this even came about.
Mike Kelly: I love it. Okay, so let’s go kind of back to then positioning against the competition. So when you go in and talk to a big enterprise client is there anybody else kind of at your level, from an enterprise need perspective? And it’s genuine curiosity. Like are they encountering two or three options at your size and scale? Or is it really, no you’re like the only one out there with enterprise grade security and HIPAA compliance and things like that?
Rebecca Clyde: Oh, for sure there are. Watson is probably the one that comes to mind the most, because IBM is safe and everybody trusts IBM, so nobody will. But Watson is hard to implement. In fact, a lot of companies look at Watson and try to implement that product within their company, and they end up having to hire consultants to implement Watson. Or they have to have big teams that can use the product. So it’s not the most user-friendly product. It’s not something that a marketing organization can just quickly wrap up that story I told you about being able to go live in a matter of weeks just would be unheard of. Watson has been around a while and so some of the frameworks that they’re using are probably a little bit outdated. We have the advantage of not having the legacy that they probably have and so we were able to start fresh and a new with some of the more current approaches that they are encumbered with not having, they have a legacy to deal with.
Mike Kelly: Yeah, I can totally appreciate that. So then when you’re in this is one of your channel strategies is obviously the digital marketing agency and one would assume other agencies as well. Is that true?
Rebecca Clyde: Yeah, yeah, we certainly get a lot of phone calls from agencies that are trying to add this to their repertoire of services and so they want to get educated on it and they want to find a product that’s easy to use. But really, we’re just hearing directly from customers, mostly, and we can certainly work with brands directly and I think at some point we will probably create a more formal channel program. It’s just that we’re a little bit early. We haven’t built that yet.
Mike Kelly: No, that’s fine, that goes nicely into what I was going to ask, which is based on all of your experience and kind of marketing and specifically marketing to large enterprise companies, I’m curious how your marketing Botco.ai, like, what are you doing right now today from a strategy perspective to get in front of your prospects?
Rebecca Clyde: Because we’re creating a new category, it requires a lot of education and so I have really focused on speaking engagements, things like coming to your podcast formats where I can give a little bit more background and explain; what are the larger macro-economic factors that are forcing this type of product to be needed? And often, in fact, that Massage Envy customer that I told you about, that’s how I got them, I was speaking at a conference about the topic of AI and Intel chat nurturing and they approached me at the end of the conference and asked to speak and meet and that became a customer. That’s probably the main thing I do. Of course, we’re also starting to do some more traditional outreach, like on LinkedIn and I post a lot of content and we have a rich blog that we’re trying to really build out with educational, helpful information. And we give all that content away. It’s like we even have their step by step; like if your company is interested in implementing a chat solution, here are all the things you need to think about. Here’s a checklist here are pitfalls to avoid, whether they use our product or something else that content is there for them to use. And our goal is to be as helpful as possible because we want to raise this entire waterline, because I believe we can float all boats.
Mike Kelly: You’ve said a really great turn of phrase, and when you started that answer about just talking about the macroeconomic conditions that lead to this type of solution.
Did I get that right?
Rebecca Clyde: Yeah.
Mike Kelly: So what are some of those macroeconomic conditions that are driving it today? And then what I’m more interested in what do you see from a trend and future-looking perspective; what are some of the things that are coming that will even make this a better place to be in the future?
Rebecca Clyde: Sure, right now, the big one that’s in front of all of us is this COVID-19 shutdown. So what this forced was digital transformation had to become a must within businesses. Some businesses were already starting to do this. So we’re dabbling with it and we’re thinking about it. But what COVID-19 in this shutdown did was force us all to move into that digital space with much more intentionality and thought. So if you look at every single school district in the country had to go online overnight, pretty much right? Every single healthcare company has to figure out how to develop a telehealth solution. And trust me, they’ve been looking at telehealth for 10 years. It’s not a new thing. But why had some of them delayed it? Right now they have to do it. And so that transformation, what we have found has created a ton of demand for our type of solution and so what I often do is help customers really think about, okay, where are all the digital touchpoints? And how are you creating friction across those digital touchpoints?
Because you’re making people take steps at different places to buy your product, you’re making it too hard. They come to your website, but they have a question, so they have to pick up the phone. Like, what is that? That’s a terrible experience, right? No. If you paid for an ad, and you brought them to your website, just answer their questions on your website, right. Don’t make them go somewhere else to do that, because you’re losing more than half of them in that step, that friction that you’re creating and I don’t just do it for my product, but I forced them to kind of think about it across their entire customer journey is where are you creating those gaps in their experience and how can we help you bridge those, whether it’s with our product? And then, of course, I have a lot of marketing background, I can give them other ideas of things that they can do beyond just my solution.
But that’s probably the biggest one that we’re facing, right this moment is it’s just accelerated the urgency for digital transformation and rethinking that customer journey. Now, what do I see off in the future? I see a world where when I look at my kids, I have teenagers; they are so much more comfortable interacting through chat and messaging and voice assistance to them that is natural. My kids will walk up to a router and try to talk to it because they think that everything should be spoken to right. It’s normal for devices to talk back to you and that’s just the world they live in and they’re already in college. This Gen Z group is coming out of college soon they’re entering the workforce. These are going to be people very soon who have buying power at companies and who have decision-making ability. And we have not figured out as brands how to engage with this generation in a way that they want to be engaged with. They don’t want to read long emails. You tell them to go to a website and research something and they look at you like you’re crazy. Like no, I just asked, hey, what’s this or that? They just asked for what they want. They don’t do those other things like researching a website, reading long emails; to them, that’s like telling them to go get a fax machine, the fax off of the fax machine.
That’s the future I look at them. I look at my teenagers. I like how they ended engage with content and how they interact with technology and how they just expect to ask for something and for it to magically appear. That’s the future and as businesses, we better be getting ready because they’re coming and it’s a big group of people that are entering the workforce, and our economy.
Mike Kelly: I love that. Do you have either today or on the roadmap, a voice solution with Botco.ai?
Rebecca Clyde: Yes. So our product is actually built on a Google framework and so we can very easily implement voice as well. We haven’t done it yet. We’re still trying to stay focused on one particular product avenue but as we get more funded, and as we grow, that’s the natural extension of our product. But yes, we have all the underlying requirements met so that if a customer said, “Hey, now I want to turn this off on those voices to turn this on, on a voice assistant,” we could very easily do that.
Mike Kelly: That’s fantastic. So Rebecca, do you guys have any swag at Botco.ai?
Rebecca Clyde: Yes, we do in fact.
Mike Kelly: What do you have?
Rebecca Clyde: We have T-shirts that have become very popular. People always ask me for one and so now anybody who invests in my company or customers or just friends of Botco.ai if they want a shirt, I’m always happy to get one to them.
Mike Kelly: I want to be a friend of Botco.ai. I want a shirt.
Rebecca Clyde: Okay, what’s your shirt size?
Mike Kelly: XL.
Rebecca Clyde: XL, okay, then email me an address to send it to.
Mike Kelly: Oh yeah, I’ll get that over to you that so that’s awesome. So then you give those to customers as well?
Rebecca Clyde: Yes, if they want one. So people don’t, but I like to give it to them.
Mike Kelly: I didn’t ask you in the main podcast, but do you guys do conferences too? So would you be a vendor at a conference with the booths and all that kind of stuff?
Rebecca Clyde: Well, eventually yes, right now I usually go to conferences as a speaker or if I’m running a session that’s how I prefer to do it versus having a booth but just because they charge you for the booth part and usually they don’t charge me if I go to speak, it’s more budget driven but I finally have some more money from investors so I can actually pay for booths now. But all that came in, right before the COVID thing shut down happened.
Mike Kelly: There are no more conferences.
Rebecca Clyde: Yeah, when I got the money, so I could go to conferences, there are no more conferences, but when they resume yes, I’m sure we will be at several of them.
Mike Kelly: So what do you think will be the Botco.ai giveaway of choice at the booth at a conference in the future?
Rebecca Clyde: That’s a good question. Well, in Arizona, people love hats, because we all wear hats to go hiking or to go outside. Hats here in my region of the world like Southern California, Arizona, like the sunny parts of the country, hats are very popular. But I haven’t thought about what would be super popular for the colder places. I should think about something since I don’t live in a cold place, those thoughts never come to my mind. But I’d love the suggestions. If you had any, I will take them.
Mike Kelly: That’s awesome because you could talk to the folks at fuel merchandise and who’s the sponsor of this podcast at fuelmerchandise.com and they would love to talk to you about what their best conference giveaways are at different regions around the country. That’s very nicely done. Thank you.
Rebecca Clyde: Yeah, that’s actually great. In fact, right now we’re working on reordering a bunch of stuff. So I’ll definitely look at their website or talk to somebody there.
Mike Kelly: Awesome. That’d be great mentioned startup competitors and get 10% off your first order.
Rebecca Clyde: I will definitely thank you for that.
Mike Kelly: Talk to me, if I gave you half a million dollars right now, in venture funding, how much of that would you spend on product versus sales and marketing?
Rebecca Clyde: That’s a good question. I would probably spend 60% of it on marketing and 40% on the product and advancement of our IP. Our product is mostly done, at this point, we’re working on the bells and whistles and the fun parts of it. This is close to the core technology, but I do have a pretty long winter…
Mike Kelly: Snow fun parts of enterprise technology. That’s not a lot.
Rebecca Clyde: No, that’s a lot. Yeah. So I have a long list. My roadmap is like five years long because I keep adding to it. Oh, we need to add this, and then we need to create that and would it be awesome if we did this? So I would throw some more engineers on it so we can work on our roadmap faster, for sure. But so much of it, especially for investors – investors don’t actually like to invest in technology that sounds like they think that they do, but they actually don’t. They want you to have the technology already built and they just want you to invest in growth because what they want is a return on their money.
Mike Kelly: Might be the single best quote of this podcast for the entire year. What you just said right there.
Rebecca Clyde: Great. I’m glad to be the purveyor of it. Yeah, so at the end, like they just want you to grow so they’re like, they want you to put your money into growth. So that’s why I’m always a marketer by profession, and so I value that and I invest in things that are going to help me get more customers and keep the customers I have and grow the customers I have. That’s where I put most of my daily energy.
Mike Kelly: So then that, $300,000 or so that you put into sales and marketing, where do you think you spend that on the sales, marketing side?
Rebecca Clyde: Lead Generation and sales; just the really core raw stuff, I would probably. The lead gen side, there are certainly some marketing products that I could use, that would help us. In fact, one of your previous guests was rep boss sounded like a really great one. But mostly it’s like getting outreach, getting our product in front of as many people as possible. Because you’d be amazed at how many people are thinking about this, but they have no idea where to start. And when we reach out to them, they’re like, “Oh, my gosh, how did you read my mind? I’ve been looking for something, I’ve been thinking about this. I just don’t know how to do this and you just landed in my email or my LinkedIn.
Yes, let’s meet.” That’s the type of reception we get.
Mike Kelly: That’s awesome.
Rebecca Clyde: I just need to get in front of more people.
Mike Kelly: Yeah, that’s fantastic. What’s been the most difficult or maybe difficult the wrong word; what’s been the most surprising or educational component to you in terms of building an AI solution?
Rebecca Clyde: Well, I knew it was going to be hard. So that wasn’t surprising. You don’t go into this type of line of work thinking it’s going to be easy because otherwise, everybody would be doing it. So I knew it would be hard. I think what was surprising was actually how well it worked. I know that sounds counterintuitive, but I was even at the beginning, a little bit doubtful of like, will this actually work like I had all these multiple thesis ideas. I had ideas of what might work and you just think like, what if we just did all this work and it doesn’t actually do anything, it doesn’t move the needle? There’s always like that little feeling down at the pit of your stomach, like, oh, gosh, what is this and where is it going to head at? And then last year, it was such a relief. I remember in the summertime, Massage Envy came to us and said, “Hey, by the way, we did this A/B test, and you should know about it.” I was like, oh, no, what happened? They’re like, “So we took half of our ad traffic and sent it to our website without a page that didn’t have chat on it and then we set the other half to a chat with our experience, and here are the metrics.” And I was like, “Whoa! This is incredible. You converted twice as many when you sent them to our solution.” They’re like, “Yeah, we’re going to redirect all of our ad traffic to now go to you. So you guys need to meet with our ad agency and coordinate this with them.”
Mike Kelly: That’s awesome.
Rebecca Clyde: I was like, “Thank God!” Because, you always think it works and you see good things, but you never know the full picture, is this really going to work? And when you just see hard, cold metrics like that, and the customer did it without even telling us, that’s when you know, okay, this works like it’s actually doing what we thought it would do and so that now I can very confidently tell my customers like, “Hey, this is going to work for you and let me show you how it worked for this other customer. And if you do that, and we can even make it better because we didn’t optimize anything for their tests, like it was just running and if we even did some optimization for you, and we really targeted the messaging around the ads, because there had been no coordination between the ads and the chat experience.” I would have wanted to do that obviously. It could be so much better. So that was like our benchmark and from there, we can just go up.
Mike Kelly: That’s fantastic. Where are you investing your time outside of Botco.ai right now that could be passion projects, hobbies, interests, things that you’re trying to learn what comes to mind when I ask that question?
Rebecca Clyde: Sure. I’m spending a lot of time in this accelerator that I’m in. So I’m learning a lot about sales, which is great because my experience in the past was really around business development for services, which is very different. And learning how to do sales for a product is a new discipline for me, and I’ve really enjoyed learning that. So that’s one thing I’m kind of taking. I’m reading all the sales books and going to all the sales webinars and just try to get really good at that.
Mike Kelly: Highlight for me. Well, actually, first, what’s the accelerator?
Rebecca Clyde: Alchemist Accelerator in San Francisco.
Mike Kelly: Perfect, and then highlight a couple of those key differences in terms of selling services versus product.
Rebecca Clyde: Volume, it’s all about volume when you’re on the product side and so you just have to deal with a much more disciplined approach and a much higher volume of everything, more touchpoints; you have to really look at your pipeline much more closely and everything just has to move much more quickly. So you’re dealing with more volume, more velocity, and just more data. In the agency world, it would be great if you had two new customer meetings a month that could keep you afloat for a while. In products, you need to be having to do customer meetings a day. It’s a different story and so that just means you have to do everything differently.
Mike Kelly: What are some of your favorite books or blog posts or resources that you’ve encountered on that topic?
Rebecca Clyde: Oh, so Aaron Ross is a great author. He’s kind of my inspiration. He was the one who basically got salesforce.com to its first million and then I also love Sandler Sales Method.
I’ve been reading their material and their blog and everything I would say those are my two primaries go to sources.
Mike Kelly: Excellent love it all right and I completely cut you off while you were talking about other things related to that. You said that was kind of the first thing you were highlighting that you’re excited about.
Rebecca Clyde: Yeah, of course, that’s kind of professional but you’ll see me doing that while I’m cooking right which I love to do. I have a garden which was very timely in this shutdown. I built a four-box garden last year and so I have tons of beautiful produce that are coming in every day from my backyard and so that I have to cook it. I’m constantly coming in and out of the garden into my kitchen and right now I feel like I have a sauce making factory going on because my tomatoes are just exploding. I get like 20, 30 new tomatoes every day. So it’s hard to keep up with them. I’m always like, “My tomatoes!” I have to make nacho and salsa and tomato sauce and yeah, my kitchen is exploding with tomatoes right now. And then I listen to podcasts while I’m doing that, or books, audiobooks from Aaron Ross or Sandler Training while I’m doing that. I also have been very involved like I mentioned earlier in girls in tech here in Phoenix, I was one of the founding members here in this Arizona location and so I spent a lot of time with that community.
So our girls in tech chapter here and putting on events and now webinars or virtual events, for girls and women who are in technology or interested in technology and that of course, is very rewarding. That’s kind of the giving back part of my life that I enjoy doing quite a bit and I’ve met some tremendously inspiring people through that effort. So that really makes everything worthwhile and then my kids, my family, and teenagers, like that whole world is huge. So, but my kids are great, they are my first A/B test for everything I do. They look at my product, they give me feedback on my presentations, and they tell me where I can improve my pitch. They know my pitch, you could ask any of my kids to give my pitch and they could probably give it because they’ve heard me give it so many times and they tell me what story is working, which stories don’t work and where I need to improve and they’re my harshest critics. I really appreciate having them in my life.
Mike Kelly: How old are they?
Rebecca Clyde: My daughter is 16. She’s almost 17 this summer, and then my son is 14 and my little one is 10. My youngest daughter is 10 and she’s my speech coach, actually, the 10-year-old and she’s a tough one.
Mike Kelly: I’m trying to map that out. So I have a nine-year-old and a four-year-old and I cannot see my nine-year-old being my speech coach. That would not work out well for me.
Rebecca Clyde: Yeah, I know, she’s so funny. Like, I was preparing to give a keynote somewhere at a conference and I was preparing and then she’s like, “No, no, no, you need to pause here more. You said that too fast. That line doesn’t work. Throw that out. No, I didn’t like that.” She was tough on me. But I have to tell you everything that she told me was spot on, like her intuition. I don’t know. And the thing about 10-year-old girls especially there’s something about that age where they’re so truthful. They haven’t been like, tainted by the world, and by all these other things, and they just know everything so clearly, like, I want to just stop her in time. Obviously, I can’t, but I just think like, wow, everybody should have a 10-year-old girl in their life; just would all be so much better if we had that 10-year-old walking around with us pointing things out and making sure we saw things more clearly.
Mike Kelly: I don’t think I have a ton to add on most of those topics. But the one thing I will tell you that we’re doing right now in my life that translates nicely to cooking and the 10-year-old is I am having my nine-year-old. We just kicked this off a couple of weeks ago and he’s already made a couple of just unreal meals. He’s working through the 4-Hour Chef by Tim Ferriss.
Rebecca Clyde: Oh that’s an awesome one.
Mike Kelly: And he’s cooking we just started with the very first meal which is also buco and then which was magical. He made that a couple of weeks ago and we’re basically going recipe by recipe and he’s going to cook everything in the book from start to finish. At least that’s our big idea. We’ll see if that actually happens but it’s awesome father-son time for the two of us and in my mind is teaching him some real-life skills that will pay off down the road. So if you love to cook that would be an awesome way to maybe get some even more quality time with your daughter.
Rebecca Clyde: Oh, I love that idea. Well, all my kids cook. In fact, it was funny one day I was on a conference call.
I was on these eight-hour zoom calls one day of non-stop calls. So I was just behind a closed door all day even though I was home and I had all these pickles in or not pickles but cucumbers that had ripened and my son just while I was on my calls, he went out there, he harvested all the cucumbers, made a brine and pickled them. When I came out of my conference calls, there was this whole collection of pickled cucumbers jars, just sitting there on the kitchen counter and I was like, “Who did this? What just happened?”
Mike Kelly: That’s so awesome.
Rebecca Clyde: “How did stuff get pickled without my involvement?” And he’s like, “Oh, yeah, I just did it.” And I was like, my job here is done. You are ready to go off into the world. If you can figure out this, I have no concerns. So yeah, like I agree with you, teaching your kids to cook and how to work with food and just understanding everything that goes into preparing a meal is one of the most essential life skills and if you can give him that like he’s ready for anything, honestly, I think.
Mike Kelly: So, humor me here for a second, I’m a big believer that there’s very little compact no matter how hard we try in modern society to compartmentalize our lives, I’m kind of a big believer that’s fake. So there’s a part of me that has to think, you still have an agency, even though you’re not actively running it, you’re launching a startup, you have a family where you have incredibly self-sufficient kids if they can do stuff like that. So there’s a common theme there of you being able to train, build, inspire a team around you to go get stuff done. Otherwise, there’s absolutely zero chance you could do all those things. As you reflect on that, what are some of the principles or things that you’re doing with your family and your kids or in your work life that are enabling some of that? What are the things that you’re doing that allow you to build a team and a culture around you that creates that sense of self sufficiency and action-taking and the ability to go figure things out even when maybe you’re not in the room?
Rebecca Clyde: Yeah, that’s a good point. You’re right. That is a common thread in my life now that you pointed out. And I think it’s because I approach the world like, I’ve always tried to work myself out of whatever job I’m in and I’ve always done that. So I always see like, okay, I’m doing this job right now. But I should always be training the next person or several people to do my job. And so the way I got out of having to be involved in the day to day of my agency was doing exactly that. I said, I wrote down every single thing that I do, which was pages and pages long and I figured out who am I going to teach to do these things, and sometimes it was multiple people, sometimes it was just one person, but I spent two years really crossing off every single thing on that list so that I could disappear and everything would be handled by somebody else, and I didn’t even have to be involved. So that was how I approached and they loved it too because the team saw a growth opportunity. Because usually when the owner is still around, they’re like, well, I’ll never be able to do that because they’re over here and why would they give me that role or that responsibility? They take ownership of that. But no, it was all available to them.
In fact, the beginning, you’re sure you want us to do this; we’re going to be responsible for the finances of your business. I’m like, well, yeah, you have to be otherwise, how are you going to run it? And so it was great and it showed, I think when you give that vote of confidence to people that you see it in them, and that they can probably even do it better than I was doing it. And I tell them that like, “Look, this is just how I did it, but you may have 10 better ideas and so I want it to get better, and it’s only going to get better if you take it on.” And I think just approaching work that way changes the game, right? People suddenly want to come to work because they know you trust them. They know that their ideas are going to be valued. They know that I’m not trying to protect my turf. I have no turf, I want to give away my turf. I want my turf to be their turf. That’s my philosophy. And so I probably do that at home too.
I want my kids to learn if I cook meals, well, they need to learn how to cook meals. If I do laundry, they should know how to do laundry, all of those things they should know how to do them and I even see it with work, I’ve trained them to do some basic things that I do at work, like, my daughter helps me with my company’s social media; I have her post stories or come with me to events so that she can take notes and give me feedback later or take pictures or talk to even customers and get an idea of what they’re thinking about the product. I incorporate my kids, I see them as apprentices. They’re going to go off and go into the business world and if I didn’t teach them how to do business when I have them at home, like what a disgrace, right, that would be such a missed opportunity. This is the best internship that they will have as being my children. I guess.
Mike Kelly: That is a great way to view it. All right, Rebecca, I strongly feel like I could talk to you for a whole other hour and enjoy every minute of that. I’m way over time, I got to let you go. If people would like to get in touch with you or would like to learn more about Botco.ai, what is the best way for them to do that?
Rebecca Clyde: Email me at email@example.com or LinkedIn I’m there too. I always prefer to reach out to me on LinkedIn just write a little note in your connection, personalize your invitation and say, “Hey, I heard you here or I met you there,” because then that way I have a sense of where you fit in my life. And yeah, just reach out I’ll be happy to meet with you. Since we’re all virtual now; we could set up some coffee if you want to learn more and I’d love to get to know you better too.
Mike Kelly: Awesome. Thank you so much for taking the time to do this and being so transparent. This was great.
Listen to the whole podcast here.