Tens of thousands of bots have been built to do things like promote movies and sell chicken wings, but there’s also an entire league of bots created to help businesses grow and streamline tasks. Chances are pretty good you will need more than just bots to get your business off the ground, but the bots below were selected because they can quickly do many of the things startups need most — like craft a pitch, incorporate a Delaware C-Corporation, and scale.
Start a business and handle legal matters
Advobot for Slack makes signing a nondisclosure agreement (NDA) as simple as picking a few drop-down menu options. The agreements can also be signed and shared online. Bots to simplify other processes common to startups — like making out a stock purchase agreement or a simple agreement for future equity (SAFE) — are coming soon. Advobot was made by the creators of Visabot, whose bot helps people navigate the green card process for $150. As of last month, it had assisted more than 70,000 people in filing for visa permits, primarily supporting the kinds of visa permits likely to affect people working for startups in the United States. The company was formed in 2016 and graduated from the 500 Startups accelerator earlier this year.
LawTrades, which is sort of like an Uber for lawyers, has Slack, SMS, and Facebook Messenger bots to connect startups looking for legal help with a lawyer. Tell the bot when you need to get started and the caliber of lawyer you’re able to afford, and a human project manager will return with recommendations. LawTrades can connect you with a lawyer for help with things like incorporation of a C-corporation business, filing for a trademark or patent, and contracting review. In May, LawTrades began to offer Tradeable Automated Term Sheet, or TATS, which are documents similar to Y Combinator’s SAFE notes.
First hires are essential, but if you need to fill gaps in your young company’s staff needs, there’s a bot for that. Magic has been providing human personal assistant services by text message for years now. Earlier this year, Magic for Teams, which has offices in Manila and San Francisco, launched on Slack to provide remote temp workers to do a range of office tasks.
Other temp agency bots, like the now-defunct Tina, outsourced small office tasks to thousands of workers in the Philippines.
Recruitment bot Mya was made to help hiring managers. After an application is received, Mya asks screening questions, verifies an applicant’s qualifications, and handles most things short of the actual job interview. Mya maker FirstJob claims its bot is able to automate 75 percent of the hiring process.
Bots like Tara.ai and Yodas were made to streamline the hiring of software engineers specifically.
Obie can help usher a new employee through the onboarding process by introducing them to documents they’ll need to do their job. Once the new hire is settled, Obie can be used in a conversational manner to answer questions that start with Who, What, and How. It can cover a variety of company operations, serving up answers that draw on a suite of integrations from Google Drive to Salesforce to Evernote.
Craft your pitch
Pitchbot has 10-minute conversations designed to mimic a pitch with an angel investor, seed round investor, VC fund, or startup accelerator. The robo-investors rattle through a list of standard questions, like how long the founders have known each other and the size of the market you’re after. This bot is rather basic, but it’s a start.
There’s also The AI VC, which also guides you through a list of list of questions designed to get you ready to speak with a human investor. Both The AI VC and Pitchbot are a little simple for experienced entrepreneurs, but they raise good questions that every startup founder should be able to answer.
Initial user acquisition
Whatever the business you hope to build, if any portion of it is customer-facing, services like Driftbot, ManyChat, Intercom, and others can automate interactions with customers who find your landing page or send you a message on Facebook. They can also help you segment audience or send one-to-many messages.
The bots can gather personal info like name, phone number, and email address so you can contact potential customers when the product launches. Qualified leads can be immediately handed over to a human. In addition to these bot creation platforms, gig economy jobs site Fiverr recently began to offer bot-building services for its customers.
Sales and growth
Growthbot was made by HubSpot CTO and cofounder Dharmesh Shah and represents the company’s first venture into bots. Growthbot can tell your marketing and sales teams about the ad networks or marketing software companies use, and it provides a general search for information about companies, from their top online posts to their social media accounts. Once found, you can add the business to CRM or watchlist, or you can search for similar companies.
The bot Kit can quickly complete tasks like sending emails to customers or creating Facebook ads through the use of a conversational interface. In June, Kit was made free to all Shopify merchants.
Sudo got part of its seed money from the Slack Fund and is designed to act as an assistant to sales teams. The bot automates small tasks and can ask you questions, and you can ask it questions. Answers may draw on live Salesforce data or information within your email, calendar, or contact list.
Beyond bots for sales teams and marketers, managers may want to check out the Harvard Business Review bot, which draws on more than 200 HBR articles about best practices — from how to bounce back from a failed negotiation to the best ways to give team feedback.
When companies like Slack talk about using a conversational interface to create a new way to work, they’re not just talking about bots that replace your expense reporting app. Some bots are made specifically to reinforce positive company habits or culture.
To that end, Donut matches up people at a company so they can get together for coffee or lunch. Got a project that’s going to require two parts of the company to work together? Want to encourage collaborative thinking or help new hires get to know the existing team? Create a Slack channel, add everyone involved, and Donut will do the rest.
CareerLark lets employees ask managers for feedback about their job performance and gives managers a way to document employee performance. It’s also designed to help managers offer useful feedback to junior employees
Growbot lets you share mini congratulations with team members in the form of positive emoji reactions. A tally of teammates with the most positive reactions is served up to the person who installed the bot, giving teams a new metric to identify standout performers at a company. Mini bonuses like free Uber rides can be awarded through the bot.
Finally, Howdy can be trained to do lots of things, like pinging your team for regular updates to assess progress and ensure you’re on track.