As Octane AI moves quickly to build out its bot creation tool, it is bringing Megan Berry on board to lead product development. This week, the former RebelMouse executive joined the company, where she’ll likely use her experience dealing with publishers and brands to help developers figure out how to create bots that have real value.
Berry’s work in the technology space, especially around community management and marketing, will be valuable for Octane AI. The company launched earlier this month to let brands quickly adopt bot technology for their own purposes, be it to showcase content or merchandise, launch products or campaigns, generate forms, or help businesses with customer service. So far, Octane AI has launched chat-based applications for such notable figures as 50 Cent, Aerosmith, KISS, and SPiN.
“I remember when businesses just started joining Facebook, and there was a question of whether this ‘social media thing’ would be worth it, whether it would matter to the bottom line,” Berry wrote in a Medium post. “Now I see the same conversations going on about bots, yet today more people use messaging platforms than social networks. To me, this indicates a tremendous opportunity.”
Berry joins a company that has raised $1.5 million in venture capital led by General Catalyst Partners and Phil Libin. But the launch of Octane AI hasn’t been entirely smooth, as cofounder Matt Schlicht found himself at the center of controversy in his capacity as the administrator of a popular bot-centric Facebook group. Some members have accused him of using information from their pitch decks to help build out Octane AI.
Prior to joining Octane AI, Berry spent nearly five years at publishing platform RebelMouse in a role similar to its vice president of product, overseeing the product roadmap, executing and developing the product vision, and working on offerings for enterprise-level brands and media companies. Berry was also the senior marketing manager at influencer marketing service Klout, where she not only oversaw community strategy but implemented ways to evangelize the company’s base.
Bots have been around for a while, especially on platforms such as WeChat and Slack, but until they were adopted by Facebook into its Messenger app, the technology hadn’t received widespread attention in the United States. With more than 1 billion people using Facebook Messenger monthly, there’s a huge opportunity for companies to develop their presence on the platform, and chatbots serve as one such tool.
But what’s the best way to develop a bot that will retain users? Many of the now more than 34,000 developers creating bots on the platform have failed to deliver anything exceptional. Even Facebook’s vice president of messaging products, David Marcus, recently remarked that early offerings were “really bad,” though he said that the overall experience is improving. Some of the best use cases he cited were in driving people to subscriptions, facilitating small transactions, and assisting with customer service.
So rather than simply making it easier for anyone to quickly build a bot, it’s incumbent on Octane AI and other bot creation tools to help guide the community and promote the real potential of bots. This is where Berry’s impact could be felt, as she has the wherewithal to work with brands and other players to steer them away from a “spray and pray” approach.