The first international Botathon organized by VentureBeat, San Francisco edition, took place at Holberton School. The school is training full-stack software engineers with an innovative approach: no formal teachers, no lectures, students learn by working on projects and happened to be learning about deep learning and neural networks which recently rapidly evolved — offering great opportunities to build the bots of tomorrow.
The goal of the Botathon was to build bot prototypes taking advantage of these recent improvements and to explore market possibilities. It is interesting to notice that most bots used Slack or Facebook as communication channels, reducing user friction and acquisition but also leading to harder monetization strategy. Bots makes users life easier: tracking food intake (Amino), finding the dream home (Real Estate Assistant), booking your next restaurant or doctor appointment (Host Buddy)… The oddest (in my opinion) (Stop,dating bot) was offering to let a bot handle a breakup with a lover over text message.
Two bots were dedicated to the Tech industry: (Oxy) which allows developers to interact with their servers via a bot and (Ibo) a recruiting platform that would take care of chatting with the candidate, scan the resume and adapt the set of questions depending on candidate’s skills and how the candidate performs on give exercices.
- Esther Crawford, Creator of MessinaBot & EstherBot
- Khari Johnson, chatbots reporter at VentureBeat
- Audrey Duet, VP product at Xbrain
- Sylvain Kalache, Holberton School Co-Founder
The winning team, composed of Omar Sharif and Mike Chang built a waiter replacement: Botender. Contrary to other hacks, the bots was using SMS to taking customer’s food orders, menu questions, payment and even bill split(Stripe integration). Customers can quickly get their food and leave as soon as they want via a few text messages. For restaurants, they can reduce staffing and improve customer satisfaction with quicker and better service (the staff can focus on service and hospitality). And because Botender is over text message, it reduces the friction – no need to install any app.
The hacks quality was very high and all bots actually worked. While we are at the beginning of the era and some bots might actually not be as efficient as our good old web forms, we are definitely creating interesting cases. The web industry is entering a new era where a big chunk of websites will be replaced by AI, it’s time for developers to start getting skilled!
Video of the event here: