A conversation with:
Rebecca Clyde

Disrupting Healthcare Marketing with AI Chatbots

In the latest episode of the medDesign podcast, we had the honor of hosting Rebecca Clyde, the CEO and co-founder of Botco.ai, a cutting-edge company that's transforming healthcare communications through conversational AI. Rebecca's journey from a marketing expert to a leading figure in healthcare innovation is a reflection of the power of persistence, vision, and the drive to improve the healthcare experience for everyone involved.

Blending Tech with Healthcare

Rebecca Clyde's career trajectory is a blend of marketing acumen, tech savviness, and a fervent desire to make a tangible difference in the healthcare sector. As a seasoned marketer and the mind behind the marketing agency, Ideas Collide, Rebecca has spent decades mastering the art of communication. Her venture into healthcare with Botco.ai is a bold step towards redefining patient and provider interactions, paving the way for a future where technology and healthcare converge seamlessly.

The Power of Conversational AI in Healthcare

Our discussion delved into how Botco.ai leverages AI to streamline healthcare communications. By offering multilingual, HIPAA-compliant chatbot solutions, Botco.ai is  enhancing patient engagement and alleviating the administrative burdens faced by healthcare providers. Rebecca shared insights into how Botco.ai is addressing critical challenges in the healthcare system, emphasizing the importance of immediate and efficient communication, especially in sectors like behavioral health that drive increased conversion rates for healthcare businesses. This increase in conversion is obviously great for the businesses but also for patients as they are able to recieve the care they are seeking.

Facing Challenges Head-On

Rebecca's path to becoming a tech entrepreneur wasn't devoid of challenges. From battling the stereotypes that shadow women in tech to navigating the intricacies of fundraising and securing seed funding, her journey is one of overcoming obstacles with grace and determination. Despite the hurdles, Rebecca's unwavering belief in her vision and her ability to rally support from her community have been instrumental in Botco.ai's success.

The Future Vision of Botco.ai

Looking ahead, Rebecca envisions Botco.ai playing a crucial role in reshaping healthcare communications globally down the line. Although the focus remains on expanding within the United States, she acknowledges the potential for Botco.ai to adapt and thrive in international markets, given the universal need for enhanced healthcare experiences.

A Beacon of Inspiration and Innovation

Rebecca Clyde's conversation was a powerful narrative on leadership, innovation, and the relentless pursuit of bettering the healthcare ecosystem. Rebecca’s story is a beacon for aspiring entrepreneurs, particularly women in tech, encouraging them to dream big and persist despite the odds. Botco.ai serves as an example as to what is achievable when technology meets human empathy, driven by leaders like Rebecca who are not afraid to challenge the status quo. As we continue to navigate the complexities of healthcare, visionaries like Rebecca Clyde remind us of the transformative power of innovation and the impact it can have on lives across the globe. Rebecca Clyde's journey and Botco.ai's mission are just the beginning. The future of healthcare looks promising, with technology leading the way towards a more accessible, efficient, and empathetic system for all.

Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Jared: Hello everyone and welcome to the medDesign podcast. Today we're thrilled to have Rebecca Clyde with us. Rebecca is a force in the healthcare innovation space blending her expertise in marketing, tech, and leadership. She's the CEO and co founder of Botco AI, a company using conversational AI to revolutionize healthcare interactions.

Rebecca's journey is as inspiring as it is diverse. As the founder of the marketing agency, Ideas Collide. She spent decades understanding the power of targeted communication, both for global clients and within the healthcare realm, she's a recognized advocate for diversity in tech and a recipient of numerous awards, including being named one of the most influential women in Arizona , her commitment to mentorship and leadership philosophy focused on autonomy, mastery and purpose makes her a role model for entrepreneurs across industries.

Rebecca's insights span marketing, healthcare technology, and the challenges faced by women founders. And today we'll also dive into her support for the innovative couplet care bassinet, the solution with the potential to transform the patient experience for new mothers. So welcome, Rebecca. We're happy to have you on the show.

[00:01:02] Rebecca: I'm so glad to be here. Thank you, Jared. And really happy to be able to join you in your audience today.

[00:01:08] Jared: Thank you so much. And I think if you could just tell us a little bit about your journey as a marketer and executive and an entrepreneur was who you are now, really who you set out to be when you started your career.

[00:01:20] Rebecca: That's really interesting. I think I always knew I wanted to be in leadership, certainly as a child growing up. Somehow I always got voted class president, student body president, captain of this or that, whatever club I was running it's just seemed like people wanted me in charge. And so I just assumed that responsibility in a lot of places.

I think it's because I was responsible. I could advocate for people's needs. I could communicate. And I could do it in a way that made people feel like they were part of something bigger. But, once I started my career, I certainly didn't imagine I was going to start a company today in this space.

I just followed the path that my family told me you go to college, you get a job at a good fortune 500 company, you work really hard and, you move up the ladder. That was the formula that I had been instructed to follow. But of course, I started down that path and then eventually meandered off of it and decided rather than working at a fortune 500 company, I wanted to perhaps create the next one.

[00:02:18] Jared: Yeah, absolutely. And also as a founder who is also a LatinX woman, where's some of the unique challenges that you experienced during the years when in times when women founders weren't. I guess fewer and farther between than they are today, and do you think things have changed maybe in a positive direction compared to before?

And maybe there's more opportunities for women in power and women in as entrepreneurs these days.

[00:02:41] Rebecca: I think I'm going to disagree with your premise that women are not entrepreneurs. We're actually one of the largest categories of entrepreneurs in the world. Women have been proven to be highly entrepreneurial.

And in most countries, including the United States, we open businesses and start businesses at a higher rate than any other group of people. I think the issue is that in technology startups, we seem to be underrepresented. Because we are cut out of a lot of the kind of inner circles of venture capital, which means we don't have access to the resources or the capital usually to be seen and noticed.

But it's untrue that we don't start businesses or that we're not entrepreneurs. We're actually, I would argue, the most entrepreneurial of all groups of people in the United States.

[00:03:26] Jared: And I absolutely probably misspoke. I did definitely not try to say that women were not founders or anything.

[00:03:31] Rebecca: There's definitely not a pipeline problem.

I will say there were very entrepreneurial. And I can't even tell you how many women I know that are constantly starting businesses. And if you look at the records, women are starting companies and businesses at a very high rate.

[00:03:46] Jared: Yeah, actually come from a woman founder as well. My mom,

[00:03:49] Rebecca: exactly.

[00:03:53] Jared: Had a, what would you call it? Convalescent homes. And so they had a string of convalescent homes and,

[00:03:58] Rebecca: oh, fantastic.

[00:03:59] Jared: I feel like the the stigma that I remember her talking about was just that it seemed to be like, how you said it was like a good old boys club back in the day, and it felt like very like something that you need to be taking, it felt, I remember her just being frustrated.

I hate that these guys don't take me seriously.

[00:04:14] Rebecca: And banking has been historically a closed industry. And has been an industry for the privileged. And if you think about it, I think a hundred years ago, a woman couldn't even open her own bank account, we couldn't have a bank account with just our own name on it.

We couldn't open up our own credit cards without our husband's names on them. Couldn't inherit property. There's all of these reasons why financial systems have excluded women in the past. And yet we've been scrappy and we've figured it out. We've bootstrapped our businesses, but because these institutions historically marginalized women and excluded us, to this day in 2024, you're seeing venture capital perpetuating. These metrics, where less than, you know, 2 percent of funding is going to women's founded companies, less than half a percent are going to Latina founded companies, or black women founded companies.

So we still have a lot of unraveling to do, particularly in the financial sector, which, provides the capital for these companies to really succeed.

[00:05:17] Jared: Yeah, absolutely. I think listening to like another financial podcast, they had a founder on where, she was running like a venture capitalist firm where they only fund women founders.

And I was just thinking like the problem must be so outsized for people to have to take it upon themselves to try to change this just from the bottom up,

[00:05:36] Rebecca: exactly. And it shouldn't be seen as a charity because the truth is there's all kinds of statistics that show that when women are on a founding team, are on a board, are in the VC ranks the partner ranks, they make, better decisions.

Their performance from a financial standpoint outperforms more homogenous groups. So it makes business sense. It's just hard to change structures.

[00:06:01] Jared: Yeah. And for people that are looking to make the leap into starting their own company, you yourself, you were very successful in your role at Intel.

I believe it was you're fortune 500 before. And what was it that pushed you to know that you were ready for that leap to take on that risk of, now I'm a business owner, I'm an entrepreneur. It's all on my shoulders versus Just happily collecting a paycheck and doing really well in a role where maybe you don't have to have as much of that, on you on the day to day.

[00:06:29] Rebecca: It was really parenting that changed my view on the world. When I started, I was, childless and I could work, 20 hours a day. If I had to travel, I was on the road constantly. I had to spend a lot of time with Intel partners. I was in Asia a lot, Europe. And it was fantastic.

But once I started having children, I realized, Hey, this is really unsustainable to try to be a parent and be on the road at this, level. And so I just started to really think about wanting to own my own destiny instead of having my destiny owned by someone else. And that was really the catalyst for me.

And just knowing, Hey, I have the capabilities. I have the skill. If a company has Intel has entrusted me to go negotiate a contract with one of their biggest partners, then why couldn't I do that for myself? And it just was translating those skills and translating those abilities and realizing I don't have to do this on behalf of someone else.

I can do this now on behalf of myself. And so that was really the catalyst. And I didn't look back. I had a wonderful experience there. I learned a lot. I actually ended up doing business with Intel. They became one of my most successful partnerships since then. But I never looked back. It was really about being able to own my destiny and pave the path that I wanted for myself and my family.

[00:07:47] Jared: And that you have that's for sure. And so for folks that are starting up their own companies, it is statistically likely that a lot of them are going to fail, and for all kinds of reasons. And as somebody that has managed this and excelled through that time and time again, just what are some of your keys to success?

That have guided you along the way.

[00:08:07] Rebecca: It's really about resilience, right? Being able to do the hard things and not give up when things get really hard. And entrepreneurship is very tough. It is a gut wrenching job. It's not the glamorous work that people see in the news. It really isn't.

It's a lot of work, I'm up before everyone. I'm up in the morning before anybody else and I go to bed after everyone else, right? I definitely probably get the least amount of sleep of anybody in the company. But that's just the job.

That's the job that has to be done. And it's the amount of preparation and it's being able to do that consistently over a long period of time that is hard. And making those tough decisions and just understanding the effort it takes to defy gravity. To go from zero to one to launch something that didn't exist requires an inordinate amount of effort.

And so it's just the willingness to do those hard things. And that's the only thing I can point to. I'm not any smarter than anybody else in the room. I'm not any better looking than anyone in the room. I'm not richer than anyone else in the room. I just happen to be willing to do more work.

[00:09:11] Jared: Yeah, that's it right there.

You got to work harder than the next person. And you've had this career, you worked in marketing automation and then you had your agency. And so you've been in the marketing world for quite a long time now, a couple of decades and then Botco.ai, also marketing essentially as well.

And so what sort of inefficiency in marketing made you go down this route of, like creating this new company that integrating artificial intelligence into marketing now, what sort of gap did you feel that you needed to fill with it, with this firm?

[00:09:42] Rebecca: Absolutely. I think it's, life is a collection of data points and experiences.

And so it's hard to point to one thing. It was like the layering of multiple things that created this. When I was at Intel, one of the big things I did there was implement marketing automation systems. One of those first like end to end demand gen systems within the company. And so I had a lot of in depth experience and thinking about how do we make customer experiences better, more fluid.

Less frictiony or more frictionless, I guess would be the better word and that had been the foundation of a lot of the work I had done there. Then I started an agency, like you said, where I was implementing these systems for large companies and during that time, we picked up a couple of health care clients, a large health system that was one of the largest in the region, the Southwest and then another big payer, one of the biggest payers also in the Southwest, and I just was amazed at how antiquated their customer experience journeys were.

And I would have pressed them on this and they'd be like, Oh, because of privacy HIPAA, the lawyers don't let us personalize, the lawyers don't let us do this and that, and the other. And I was like why are we not creating systems that the compliance environment can approve? And why are we making these bad experiences

okay, for people? Why do we tolerate these hold times? Why do we tolerate these delays? It's not good for the patients. It's not good for the providers. It's not good for anyone. And then I had my own personal experiences too. My daughter dealing with a chronic illness and having to deal with the health systems and just the indignity of being hung up on.

Every time I would call to try to schedule an appointment, they would put me on hold for an hour and then hang up on me and that was okay. It's not okay. I can do not hang up on people. These are your customers. This is how you make money. Who is okay with that? And you can see in my voice, I'm very upset by it, but if I was experiencing that

so was everybody. And so just coming from tech, coming from marketing automation, knowing that this could be better. It just fueled my fire to get it done. And fortunately I had these incredible co founders, Anu Shukla and Chris Maeda, who knew how to do it. So in a lot of ways, I was the energy behind it and the wanting to do it.

And they were the, this is how you do it, people. Anu had a ton of experience building software companies. So did Chris. Chris had the technical chops to build something that was fantastic. And so we needed that. That's why we make such a great partnership. Because we have the know how we have the technical skill and then we have the energy and the momentum needed to just push through and get it done.

[00:12:14] Ty: And that what you touched on there. I just want to celebrate the there's so many. I don't know it's like the bureaucratic debt of healthcare. And somebody wrote a requirement that, it seemed like it was a, like an abstract legal or abstract compliance, but rather getting down to let's really challenge that.

Sure. Let's make sure we're not putting anybody in danger, but, challenging the base level assumptions that have made it so that healthcare has horrible experiences and that mission, orientation you have is just, anyway, I just wanted to celebrate everything you just shared there. Yeah.

[00:12:49] Rebecca: And the reality is, so I'm part of an organization called HIMS, the Healthcare Informatics Management Society. It's like a big professional association for healthcare IT people. I joined that group cause I was like, I need to go meet and talk to and be part of the people who create these systems.

If I'm going to try to sell to them, I need to be part of their. Circle. So I've been to, many HIMS, events, workshops, I organize workshops for them now, educational programming. And, the reason why I realized why these systems are so bad. It's because the people who work in those are not consuming their own products.

They're not the people who are making the phone calls. It's usually their wives, their daughters, their girlfriends, somebody else in the family is picking up the phone to schedule those healthcare appointments for their kids, for their mothers, for their ailing parents. It's not them and therefore they are not subjected to the indignity that I just described of being placed on hold and hung up on or being routed a million times in endless loops, never getting the question or the answer or the service that you need.

They've never experienced that for themselves. So they don't know how bad it is. And that's when I realized like the people who are in the room making these decisions are not the people consuming it. And therefore they have no sense of how bad it is. And and this is another reason why you want diverse representation in the boardroom and in these executive suites.

They need to know how bad it is. They need to know what that experience feels like as a health consumer to be, trying to keep your daughter alive and then being hung up on. Just, they need to know what that feels like. And unfortunately, because they have not, then these problems just perpetuate themselves.

[00:14:36] Jared: Thank you for sharing that story. That reminds me, I had a very similar story not too long ago, taking care of my dad and he was ill and we had the same issue. They would, they hang up on you. Like how that's, you just got me, we were so upset about this. Like, how can they do that to people, and then not giving you a straight answer about where they even are. Like, they're transferring them between places and anyways. You got me going to this. It's an emotional thing. It's emotional thing where you're caring for somebody you love and it's, you don't feel like that care is being reciprocated in the system,

[00:15:08] Rebecca: Absolutely. But here we are, we're changing it, right? So we're making it better. So there's a need, there's a gap. And it's not just about what's right for the consumer. But it's also monetarily. I think I read a statistic that 100 billion is wasted in the United States because of these kinds of systemic issues.

So it's costing everybody. It's costing taxpayers. It's costing the payers, the plans. It's costing the providers. Everybody's paying for this. There's so much opportunity to fix this and to turn, how about if we could use that a hundred billion dollars to actually cure cancer, right?

There's so many better uses for that money. I'm sure we could all come up with.

[00:15:49] Jared: And I do really want to ask about Botco.ai as a company, but also just before, so how did you even get together with these rock stars? All three of you are just like rock stars that are so experienced in your industries?

And how did Botcoi.ai just come together? As a company, as a leadership side of things.

[00:16:04] Rebecca: Yeah, I think it's the magic of events. I was at a conference, the girls in tech conference that was happened to be hosted in Phoenix. And I was there with Ideas Collide basically recruiting talent.

And then Anu Shukla was there as a speaker and she got off stage and noticed that her phone was dying. And so she needed a charger and she realized, Oh, my charger's in my room. Maybe I'll see if somebody here can lend me a charger. And I just happened to be standing there in our booth with a charger.

So she walked up to me, we started talking and that was, you have to stand there awkwardly while you're buying somebody's charger. You have to spark up a conversation, right? So in a sense, she was forced to talk to me because of that. Yeah. And it turned out we had a lot of background in common.

I was intrigued by her and I just asked her a lot of questions. And we sparked a friendship just from that moment. And that was the beginning of, Oh, Hey, I'm going to be in the Bay area. Why don't we go to lunch? And, a couple of these kinds of things. And then she said, you know what one of my former co founders from a previous company, Chris Meada.

He just got back from Asia and he's, thinking about some stuff and wants to get back together and build another company together. Why don't we all meet and we can talk about it. So it was just like this again, like someone you bump into at a conference, start a friendship. And then next thing, now we're co founders.

[00:17:24] Jared: It's incredible, literally the power of networking. It's something that is, it's so serendipitous. Sometimes it's hard to even say I'm going to have some sort of outcome from going to this. You just have to keep an open mind.

[00:17:34] Rebecca: Oh, absolutely. Yeah. And those things are happening, that kind of stuff, I'm sure happens every day, where you're bumping into people, meeting people.

And that's why I love to follow up with people I meet. Because you never know what's going to happen. It could be a great business partnership. It could be a great just friendship. It could be an introduction to something or someone that opens a huge door or you never know. So I'll talk to everyone and try to spark up friendships with a lot of people because you never know where it goes.

[00:18:01] Ty: It sounds bring an extra charger with you just so you can take care of people.

[00:18:05] Rebecca: Exactly. I can't tell you how many places I've been. People have asked me to borrow a charger and then now we're friends. We're doing business together.

[00:18:14] Jared: And then, sticking on Botco.ai. So tell us just a little bit about the value prop behind it.

How does it work?

[00:18:20] Rebecca: First of all, it was opening up a new channel of engagement, right? The telephone is 150 year old technology and why we still depend on it so heavily, I do not understand, but okay. So the idea is it's let's open up an HOV lane for the people who don't want to call or who don't have time to call or have an inquiry in the evening or outside of business hours.

So it's I always think about it as you're opening up an HOV lane. Offering chat as a new channel of engagement, we could make that available on a website on SMS and a patient portal. Any digital entry point we can support with chat. So that's step one. Step two is now let's automate that channel, right?

Because if you depend on live agents to manage that channel, you're still stuck in the same bottleneck as the phone. Open up the channel, automate the channel. And that's the beauty of what we have done is, identified, what are the primary workflows, requests, inquiries that are driving a high volume of phone calls?

And how do we create those processes fluidly over chat? And that's what we've really done. So the way that we approached it was, analyzing millions upon millions of conversations, call center transcripts, chat transcripts, testing some of our own, collecting those data points, identifying what all the common skills, workflows and integrations are needed in order to fulfill the requests that are being asked, and then creating models, fine tuned models that are tightly fitted to those specific areas of specialty and need.

We started, from the ground up. We initiated our product really around behavioral health because we saw a huge amount of need and a high sense of urgency and need for immediacy in that particular specialty. If somebody has a mental health need, you can't schedule them six weeks out or play phone tag with them for three weeks.

That's not going to work. You have to get them in right away. So that was a really good place for us to start. And now we've created that kind of fine tuned model approach into other areas of specialty as well.

[00:20:23] Jared: It's fascinating. And so the other, the side of this also that I thought was just so really cool is when I saw the conversion rates that you were able to deliver, it's just like insane, the amount of results even able to deliver.

And it made me think that. Healthcare has a conversion problem a little bit because you're just absolutely killing them with your tech and so maybe if you could share with our audience just a little bit about that as well.

[00:20:48] Rebecca: I always ask providers, what is the conversion rate on your referrals?

And they always like blush and hide under the table when I ask that question because it's so bad. They know it's terrible. So a provider might receive a referral from a payer, another primary care physician or provider office, or perhaps an institution like a school or a, public safety institution.

They get that referral. A good provider is converting 10 percent of those into actual appointments and treatments and admitting them. That's tiny. That means 90 percent of the referrals they're getting are falling through the cracks. And which I consider to be abysmal. What's happening to those people?

They're just not getting care, right? They might be going to somewhere else if you're lucky, but probably they're not even getting care. They're not getting that treatment or service fulfilled. Where are those people going? 90 percent are getting lost. And so anything that we can do to capture more of that's more revenue for the provider because those are reimbursable events that are just leaking through, and they can also, if they're on value based contracts they're going to have a bigger panel that they can get contracted for.

So there's no reason to not convert those referrals. I can't think of a good reason why not to. If somebody has a good reason, please tell me. I have not yet found a good one. And so when we can come in and capture those referrals more effectively using the chatbot as another mechanism for conversion.

All of a sudden that's where that huge jump in revenue and retention and, reimbursement rates goes up. So it's just basic math, right? If 90 percent of the people that are coming to your website, never convert and never actually schedule an appointment, or they were referred to you, then all that time you're wasting playing phone tag with them to get them in is silly, right?

I'm going through this right now trying to get an allergist appointment for my daughter. We've been playing phone tag for three weeks. They keep calling me. Of course, I'm in a call like this. I can't answer the phone. They say, call us back. I'm like, just send me. That's, let's just do this over text and I'll tell you when I'm available.

You tell me what, and I can schedule it over text. That's what I would do. So I need to sell them my product. Obviously there's no reason to keep playing phone tag. It's dumb.

[00:22:59] Jared: Yeah. And for companies that you onboard, I saw, which I think is also really cool is that you integrate like their own data.

So the data set that is talking to them is completely personalized to whatever company is utilizing it. And so how long does it take to onboard companies in this way?

[00:23:16] Rebecca: Yeah. So that's a very important. So when you think about applying AI and healthcare, there's this notion of guard rails that are really critical, right?

Because we have to have accurate responses. It has to be private. It has to be secure, has to be personalized. So there's, all of these seemingly impossible requirements, which is why a lot of people haven't done it because they look so hard. We've been able, because we now have a lot of experience doing this, we've been able to identify, how do we train a model with your data?

How do we make sure that the chatbot doesn't hallucinate and make up facts along the way? How do we ensure that we're triggering the right workflow based on the inquiry? And we're not only doing this in English, we're also doing this in Spanish, by the way. Multi lingual. But it comes from just, having done this so many times and having analyzed, like I said, millions upon millions of conversations that we can do this now.

And we've built tooling to automate these processes. So it used to be that we had, it took us like with our first customer, I want to say six months to onboard them, right? We weren't good at it yet. We were still figuring it out. We just onboarded the largest behavioral health provider in Dallas, and have them go live in less than two months.

The time that it takes you to train one call center agent, because they go through like a six to eight week training. We've now trained a whole AI that can essentially do everything.

And I'm not saying we're going to get rid of the call center agents. They're still going to be needed. But a lot of those agents have licenses where they can operate at a higher level of care. And so the idea is let the chatbot handle. The nonclinical administrative functions and let your clinically trained people do clinical work, right?

Don't make your clinicians do admin work. That's not a good use of their time, right? There's already such a tight squeeze on resources and lack of staffing, as we all know, in the health care industry, like we've got to guard those clinicians hours very carefully. So this is really about protecting time and protecting that incredible resource that is the clinician and honoring that credential that they have, let them work at the highest level of their licensure, not at the lowest level, filling out paperwork, and answering phones. That's not why they got clinically trained. So it really, in a lot of ways, honors that. And lets them be the clinicians that they are instead of pushing them into admin work that a chatbot could do

[00:25:35] Jared: 100%. And what was the hardest thing about getting Botco.ai adopted into the market?

What's been the biggest challenge that you've been facing with that? And also I'm curious because the earliest thing I've seen was you speaking about this TED talk. It was like 2018, I believe. And so you've been working on Botco for a while, before Chat GPT, before this whole craze.

And so did Chat GPT coming out and AI becoming so popular, did that make conversations easier, in the sales room or has it helped accelerate your own adoption at the same time?

[00:26:08] Rebecca: Oh, absolutely. I have so many emails from people saying Oh, chatbots are never going to do anything or be adopted or there's no future for them, which of course I have those memos still.

But yeah, for me, it was obvious that this is where things were going. And, one of the wonderful things of having worked at a company like Intel early on was, Intel invented Moore's law. It's actually named after Gordon Moore, one of the founders of Intel, that law was built there.

And, we were always looking at kind of the trajectory of the compute. The capacity of compute and when compute would be inexpensive enough that you could support some of these mega algorithms that would essentially usher in the age of AI. So we were predicting a lot of these things long ago, 15, 20 years ago.

I had a, maybe a little bit of inside knowledge, not a huge amount, but Hey, I was part of these strategy sessions where we were looking at roadmaps 10 to 15 years out. Because Intel builds fabs based on those roadmaps, right? They have to see into the future way out. And so we already had predicted that compute would get to this point where all of a sudden there would be a shift.

And it's just like one of those little things. And then Chris, of course, being part of the MIT AI lab in the early days was also very much in those early discussions. He was already seeing people talking about these transformer papers that came out in the late 2018s. And he was part of those academic circles, where some of this stuff was starting to come together.

And there was definitely like a sense that we were at the cusp of something. And even though people hadn't seen it in the outward world, I knew that it was going to have there was like this gut feeling like it has to happen. I know it's about to happen.

I can feel it in my bones. I just can't explain it to people in a way that they until they see it. And of course, now here we are. And everybody would be like, Oh, yeah, of course, it was going to happen. But,

[00:27:54] Jared: Yeah. And, one of the big talking points I think that we've heard is that, there's certain other chatbots have been trained on bad data, like just the problem of bad data out there and how did you overcome that?

How long did it take you to overcome just training your own model and getting, filtering out such bad data? I feel like others have not been able as successful at that.

[00:28:19] Rebecca: Yeah, it's just hard work. It's a lot of grunt work, and it's having great partners and our customers who are willing to go the paces with us.

Sometimes what we do is the customer will just hand over a bunch of stuff and we go through an effort of, vectorizing it and essentially training a model on it. But once you start to test it and Hey, there was a bad answer here. We built within our product, this attribution tool where we show where did that answer essentially get sourced from, what is the relevant score?

So we score it on how relevant it was to the question. And then is there an opportunity for improvement here? So we have this audit trail and these, what I call, we call it a playground, like a preview log that we can use to test the AI and test the data essentially. And so that allows us to see right off the bat is this, good data or bad data?

Are we going to get good answers or bad answers from these kinds of data sets? But it took us a while. We ended up building this transparency tool because otherwise we were doing so much work to create a model that we had to throw away. So we said, Okay, let's stop doing that.

We don't want to waste effort. So with this tool now we can know it's just a sample of the data set. Hey, does it even make sense to keep going or do you need to go back and scrub this data set before we continue? So that is actually one of the most, I would say, I think revolutionary things that we have done for the industry is, create a transparency around the black box of AI because that's what holds up a lot of boardrooms for moving forward with this.

That's what kind of keeps people from adopting this technology is they're like, oh, too risky. We don't know what it's going to say. We don't know how to verify, what it's, what's going to be going on there. So we'd rather not do it. This solves that problem and you can test it. You can see the attribution, you can find where the problem data source is and you can fix it, right?

Because now you know what, what is creating that, bad answer that delivered the hallucination or the misinformation. So that's one of the most critical things that we had built into our platform, particularly for the health care industry because of the requirement around compliance and accuracy.

[00:30:29] Jared: Wow. feel like you guys have done so many wonderful things. One of the other really cool things you did is also your HIPAA compliant like that in a time when people are super worried about data privacy in these, chat GPT or Gemini or whatever, like you're able to be HIPAA compliant like how did you pull that off and how difficult was that to pull off.

[00:30:49] Rebecca: You know what? I think I would have rather had 10 tooth canals without anaesthesia. If you made me choose,

[00:30:59] Jared: I can imagine

[00:31:01] Rebecca: That's what it felt like. So just imagine it was brutal, but it was necessary. And, part of what happened was we were getting to the end of the line with these customers. And then of course would be like, we have to put this project on hold until you pass this HIPAA audit.

And so finally, I was like, we've got to keep this moving. We've got to bite the bullet and just do the difficult work. We had to reconfigure a lot of aspects of our product. We had to build new tooling into our application. So we were scrubbing and anonymizing PHI inside the product, multiple levels of encryption, access controls to the nines.

It's just been. Layer upon layer of new product capabilities and hardening within the system. That is really not typical of a startup at our stage. We're a seed stage startup and I had a couple of investors like, Hey, you're spending a lot of money over there on the product.

What's going on? And I'm like, we're getting HIPAA compliant. That's what we're doing because if we don't do it, the contracts are not going to get signed on the other side. It's hard work. It's ugly. It's messy. It's tough. It's not fun. It's not fun. Nobody likes it. No engineer or developer likes to work on compliance stuff, but it just had to be done.

And so we just bit the bullet, did it. And now we're on the other side. Now we're just maintaining a much more complex system, of course. But the flip side is we can pass these audits with flying colors. We have all the paperwork to prove, that our system is doing all the things that we say it does.

We have all the evidences and we can move forward with those contracts.

[00:32:35] Jared: And you also, so you said seed funding. So I was curious about how, I think other folks also curious how you got this off the ground in the beginning. Did you guys have to self fund it, do non dilutive stuff in the beginning?

And then into a seed round or just how did that sort of come about?

[00:32:52] Rebecca: Yeah, exactly. That's exactly what we did. We sold our first PO, our first contract before we even had a product. So we sold a PO and advanced PO. So we got the PO, we got the customer to prepay and then just said, Hey, it'll be ready in six months.

And they were willing to do that. That's how badly they needed it. So we did that with like our first two customers. And then we also got non dilutive funding. The state of Arizona, an incredible organization called the commerce authority there. They had a grant program. For early stage startups, they still have it.

It's called the Arizona innovation challenge. It's a very difficult challenge to win. It was 150, 000 grant. The first time I applied, we got rejected, but being the person that doesn't take no for an answer that I am, I applied again, and this time I had one on ones with everybody on the panel on the decision committee, just to understand like what I needed to do differently to get the money really, and took their feedback to heart.

Submitted a much better application the second time, and then we got the money. Was a combination of just sheer effort and getting people to believe and pay us in advance. And then after that, I was able to get a product, get a couple more customers. So we had about, I want to say five or six customers before we raised a single dollar in angel funding, which was the first cash that we had come in. And fortunately, again, Arizona has this amazing tax credit program for angel investors, where there's a dollar for dollar tax credit of 30 percent for angel investments that are made in eligible companies. So I had to go through the process of getting my company eligible for this money, this tax credit money.

There's a bunch of paperwork and compliance stuff. I had to submit to do that too, but then that gave me access to those tax credit dollars, which were huge for us. In those early days. So yeah, just had to get scrappy. But fortunately, those resources again, from the government from the state of Arizona were very helpful for us.

And that's how we got things going.

[00:34:49] Ty: What a story of persistence and just making smart moves from the beginning. Just getting like an advanced purchase order for what you have, what a great market validation for the concept, right?

[00:34:59] Rebecca: Exactly. And I didn't know at the time, cause after I started an accelerator, they're like, Oh, don't build your product until you have customer validation, that's what they want.

You need to have a couple of customers validate it. And I was like, Oh, that's what I did. I didn't know that I was doing it the right way,

[00:35:13] Jared: yeah. Yeah. And you were your company you're already past that stage now, but that stage sounded like. Something that I feel like venture capitalists really like you already had people lining up at your door for your product before you even had the product like that's freaking incredible.

[00:35:27] Rebecca: Yes, you would think.

[00:35:30] Jared: Yeah. Also, I am curious of what are the challenges of taking this global because. I feel like health care probably is has different nuances, depending on which country you're in. And has that even been a conversation for you guys like how to go and deal with regulations across global markets or focusing just within the US market or just.

Where are you all at as far as your path to globalization?

[00:35:56] Rebecca: Of course world domination is my end goal, I have to take it a step at a time. There's so much market in the United States. I've barely scratched the surface here that right now our focus is just on the United States.

Now, could I go into other markets? Absolutely. When we have such a small team and every dollar matters and we have to be so focused on every single dollar, every single cycle of energy that we consume just in our own team and resource, it's not something we're doing at the moment.

In the United States, like I said, we do cover multilingual audiences. We have a lot of chatbots in Spanish already. It's the most requested language other than English in the United States. And because we also have the ability to deploy our chatbots on platforms like WhatsApp, we do have a really good opportunity to take this.

I could see Latin America being a very like easy shoe in for us. Probably a lot of the families we're supporting already have relatives on the other side of the Arizona-US border Sonoran border and beyond. We have customers in Texas and they're also a border state. So California, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, these are all markets that we're, we have a lot of customers in so it would be very easy for us to move south.

I think, but again, it's a focus thing. It's a where do we spend our cycles of energy? And right now, it's just not something that we're doing at the moment, but maybe after we raise another 50 million, then we can open up new markets. But it's for a later stage of our company.

[00:37:26] Ty: Yeah. Yeah. They, but the expression often is like startups don't die of thirst for opportunities, rather they drown from too many opportunities, narrowing your focus and having a strategic way you're going after those makes perfect sense. Yeah.

[00:37:39] Rebecca: Oh, for sure.

[00:37:40] Jared: So I did want to talk a little bit about a startup that we're supporting called Couplet Care.

So I'm assuming that you must have met Stacie a conference through when maybe you were networking. And so I'm curious, just how did you meet Stacie or how did you find out about Couplet Care and their mission?

[00:37:59] Rebecca: We were at an investor conference at Microsoft in Redmond, Washington at the Microsoft headquarters, there was an investor event, maybe a month or two ago, I want to say.

And so I was, as you do at these events there's pitches going on and, you're watching the pitches and, there were none of them were that intriguing to me, and then she got up on stage. And first of all, she has an amazing presence. Stacie's a great speaker. She's a great storyteller and boom, I was riveted from the minute she got on stage.

I was like, okay, I got to listen to her. She's got something important to say. I could tell and super credible person with a lot of experience in the healthcare industry. And then she started to tell her story and talk about her product and it just hit home. Like I literally started crying during her presentation because she described what happened to me, essentially, and I'm going to try not to cry here, but I had all my kids with C sections. My first was an emergency C section. I had not gone in expecting my delivery to go south the way it did, but it did. And I just remember when I finally woke up from all of the trauma of that emergency procedure that I could not reach my child, right?

My baby was there. I was trying to meet her for the first time and I couldn't. And there was this, because my body was just so destroyed, right? And this bassinet was standing over there and I was here and I couldn't reach my baby. I'd just gone through all this, nine months of pregnancy, the trauma of the delivery, all of that.

And I couldn't reach my child. And for somebody who has experienced that, it's just like, why did they put the baby so far away? And why can't I get to my baby? And so when she described how this product was built so that it could rest on top of the the hospital bed. And so the mother could have her arms on the baby.

I just started crying. I'm like, this is so needed I could see exactly what your company had created was so important. And those first moments of a baby's life, being close to their mother and having that connection are just critical. And it sets the tone for the entire life of that child and for that relationship.

And I just I could see why it was important. And then from a hospital standpoint, the fact that I had to push a button to get a nurse to come help me. What a waste of resource right that nurse could do other things. And so for as much nursing shortages there is today.

This product makes a ton of sense. It's going to reduce the number of times that moms are pushing buttons just so they can reach their baby or not fall off out of their beds trying to reach their newborns.

[00:40:32] Jared: Thank you for sharing your story. I'm a little you got me going over to so just I'm very appreciative that you would tell us your story in that way.

And it goes back to something that Ty has taught me about innovation, that the best innovation comes from a place of empathy. And I also think that's why Botco is such a wonderful company as well, because it came from somewhere, a need that you experienced yourself, And I also think that's also where Dr. Tully from Couplet Care also came from that lived experience. Anyways, thank you for that. Also for where Couplet Care is, they are entering the markets. They are, as you said, every dollar counts, at that stage and up until I think for quite some time, and I think for people that are listening to this and they're at a similar stage.

They're trying to stay afloat through tough times. How have you managed to stay afloat? What are some of the ways that you've been able to navigate those waters over the years?

[00:41:27] Rebecca: It's really through the village that we create for ourselves. I want to say, one of the most important resources I have in my life are friendships, family, and, just that community that I've built around me.

So it's a group of other founders, people like Stacie out in the world that we can relate to each other and we support each other. It's friendships with family members and my neighbors and community. Because when a day is hard or when you need somebody to support you in that moment, it's really important to have someone that I can call up and say, Hey, I need help today. Could you pitch in with this or that? Or could you cover for me here? Or can you get me a ride to the airport so I can take this call or whatever it is, right? There's always like something that we need and trying to do everything ourselves is going to be impossible.

So we have to have a village around us that we can call upon. And of course we have to be that village for other too, right? I can't just ask, I have to be willing to offer too. So it's about creating a resource bank, so to speak of deep friendships really authentic relationships where we support each other and that's the only way I know to get through these things.

[00:42:38] Jared: Another piece of experience that I know we're coming up in time, but I really wanted to ask you about is just yourself as a leader. You don't get to be where you are in the seat that you are without being an incredible leader at the same time.

I'm curious of, how has your leadership style, changed over time, and what would your more experienced self say today about leadership that maybe your younger self would have not have known it or would have liked to ignore would have benefited from it.

[00:43:04] Rebecca: Oh I'm definitely a work in progress still.

I have days where I'm like, okay, I was a good leader today. And I have days where I'm like, I was not my best. So I think it's just about a lot about like self reflection and just understanding what could I do better? I think the one thing I've learned along the way is as much as I want to sometimes or have a tendency to just take care of things, right?

Because I can do it quickly. I can handle it. I have a lot of capacity. That's not always the best thing to do. And sometimes you have to stand back and let the other person learn along the way and maybe do it slower, do it less perfectly differently than I would have done it, make a few mistakes along the way.

And I just have to like patiently support them through that process. And that has been the hardest thing for me to learn and to just step back and let people learn. Maybe if it's even the hard way and something that I notice even now, even though I know that's always the best way to do it, I do find myself at times swooping in, right?

Because it's ah, this just needs to get done. I don't want to wait because I have a very impatient tendency nature which is good and bad at the same time, right? It has a good side to it and then it has a negative side to it. So I just have to know, like, when is it good? When is it appropriate for me to take care of things?

And when is it more important for me to step back and let the other person learn? And I think that's probably The thing I would teach myself sooner if I could have, and even to this day, I'm still working on it.

[00:44:30] Ty: Yeah, you've got such an incredible vision and you've started out with that, too, of finding other.

The book is who, not how right? Instead of asking the question of how would I get this done of who can I partner with? Who can I unlock in order to help get there. And you have to continue that as your leadership style, to find other who's who have specialized skills to help get that vision done.

So you're not getting trapped in that immediate gratification of how. And feeling like progress is done instead of working through others. That's such a powerful leadership concept.

[00:45:02] Rebecca: Oh, absolutely. And I'm never going to be the best at, that's the thing about like my role I don't think I can ever be the best at most things in my company.

I'm actually probably the worst at most things. Like I'm not a great product manager. I can do some product management tasks, but I'm probably a terrible product manager. Sure. I could run a scrum meeting. And do a standup call, but I'm probably not going to do it very well. So it's just knowing okay, somebody who has the background in this is going to do a much better job running an engineering project or running a product building a PRD or, running a sales meeting, whatever, right?

I can do an okay job. I can fake it through. I But there are other people that are going to do a much better job. And maybe I can just get it going while we're hiring the right person. And then okay, you take over now because you're going to do a much better job than me.

[00:45:48] Ty: That's like the definition of an entrepreneur, right?

It's like you do all the jobs poorly and then you fire yourself and you hire somebody who can do it better.

[00:45:54] Rebecca: Oh yeah, absolutely. Of course. Yeah. And I'm always like, Hey, the sooner I can stop doing this job, the happier I will be for sure. So I feel like there's really only a couple of jobs that I need to do well and it's hiring the right people to do the jobs, right? So I have to be really good at that. And then fundraising, because they always want to talk to the CEO. So I can't really delegate that. That's like the one thing that they don't like us to delegate running a board meeting.

There's a couple of things that I just, I have to do. So I should just focus on doing those things really well. And then let the experts do their jobs really well.

[00:46:29] Jared: I love that. And as we're coming up on time just a couple, what's coming up next. So you've accomplished so much in your career and what's really driving you forward today.

What are you really passionate about right now? And also just what's up next for Botco.ai ?What can we expect from Botco in the future?

[00:46:46] Rebecca: Yeah, I'm really excited about I think I touched on this whole like guardrails and AI. I think there's going to be more and more conversation about how that needs to be done.

And I'm excited to see the industry really finally embrace the capabilities of AI and knowing that there's a path forward in using these capabilities. From our standpoint, we're really thinking about how do we augment and automate more of these functions? So that we're really relieving our customers from mundane administrative tasks that really are not the best use of time.

If you look at even how population trends are going in the United States. We have a lower birth rate than we've ever had before. And so we have to figure out how to have productive companies with less people. We just have to. It's a must. This isn't a nice to have, it's a must have. If we want to maintain the GDP that we have, and we don't want to shrink our economies like Japan did and other countries, we have to figure out how to maintain productive, growing organizations and economies with fewer resources.

So the only way to do that is going to be unless we all suddenly decide to have a lot of babies tomorrow, we're going to have to figure out how to use automation more . I really see it as an imperative for our economy. And then also for our well being, I think all of us as humans, we want to work in a more creative space.

We want to do more mission driven work. And I don't think that for anybody has ever been data entry or workflow paper pushing. So I see us as really being able to support that kind of better quality of life for everybody involved the workers and also the people on the consumption side who just need to access those resources and those capabilities more readily.

[00:48:25] Jared: Wow. Rebecca, thank you for joining us today. I absolutely adore your mission and I'm just so excited to see like where Botco.ai goes in the future. And I really hope that it comes to my local market here in Southern California.

[00:48:37] Rebecca: We do actually have some great customers in Southern California.

We just need more, let's continue to partner and get introductions to each other. And I'm trying to do the same for Couplet Care. I'm connecting Stacie and sharing her information with the healthcare folks I know. I absolutely see that product as being essential. I don't think there should be a single maternity mother baby unit in the United States that doesn't have that product.

[00:49:01] Jared: Right. 100%. A new standard of care. New standard of care.

[00:49:04] Rebecca: And the world truly .

[00:49:05] Jared: Yeah, 100%. So th like I said, thank you so much again and yeah, good luck on your mission and we'll be following you. So yeah, have a wonderful rest of your day and we're just very grateful for your time.

[00:49:16] Rebecca: Absolutely. Thank you for having me, Ty and Jared. It's so good to talk to you today.

[00:49:20] Ty: Likewise.

[00:49:20] Jared: Thank you so much, Rebecca.