The future of chat (and interacting with your customers)

About a year ago I realized that no matter how much effort we’ve put into my email list, I could never double the response rate. We kept growing it, but people were not using email much.

So I started looking around for solutions and I started looking at bots. Bots are basically software that communicates with humans via a chat app. I came across one company that looked too good to be true. It’s called ManyChat. And I said, “I’ve got to find out who the founder is.”

And today, Mikael Yang is the founder of ManyChat. Not only does the software work, but the intelligence behind the scenes of dripping out content, tagging people, interacting with people is brilliant.

This whole space is still pretty young but it’s important to have this conversation because he’s gotten very far and because I want you to see the future of chat as a way of interacting with your customers.

 
Mikael Yang

Mikael Yang

ManyChat

Mikael Yang is the founder of ManyChat, a visual bot builder for Facebook Messenger with broadcasts, analytics, scheduled posting and many other features.

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Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey, everyone. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy, where I interview entrepreneurs about how they build phenomenally successful businesses. And about a year ago, in early 2016, I realized that my email list, no matter how much effort we’ve put into it, we hire all these experts, it just was never going to like double in response rate. Yeah, we can keep growing it, but people are not using that much.

So I started looking around for solutions and I said, “Hey, you know what, the reason it’s not working so well is because when my wife and I are messaging each other we’re using the messaging app that comes with our phone.” When Tam Pham, our community manager at Mixergy, was at the time the community manager, he’s now risen up, when he and I were communicating we were using Facebook Messenger. We were using all these different chat apps. No wonder email isn’t effective, everyone is using chat apps. I said, “All right, there’s got to be a solution to this. And for online chat, is there a way to do email marketing essentially but be a chat?

So I started looking around at bots. Bots are basically software that communicates with humans via a chat app. And almost every single freaking bot that I saw out there was trying to reproduce an app inside a chat experience, and they were so proud that if you wanted to buy an airline ticket you can do it in chat, that if you wanted to have your photo retouched you can take a photo of yourself, chat it over to a bot on Facebook Messenger, and have the photo returned back.

And I thought, “That’s really smart but also stupid.” People are not thinking, “I need to buy an airline ticket, I better go into my Messenger app to do it.” And so, I hunted and I hunted and I hunted, and I went through a site called botlist.co and I looked at every single app in there for creating a bot that allowed us to communicate with our audience in the platform where they are, not try to reproduce apps but reproduce email in the more modern way that people communicate, which is chat apps, you know, like Slack, Facebook Messenger, etc.

And I came across this one company that frankly looked too good to be true, it was called ManyChat. And I’ll tell you how skeptical I was that it worked. I mean, it really worked but I said, “How did these guys get is so perfectly? I got to find out who the founder is.” I said, “I’m running Mixergy, I got a lot of pull, I’m going to find out who the founder is.” I found the founder’s name, I have zero connection to him. I looked around, I said, “Someone in my network would,” and there’s a guy name Matt Ellsworth who did, he worked with 500 Startups. I said, “Matt, do you know these guys?” He said, “Yeah.” “Can you vouch for them?” He said, “Yeah.” “Can you intro me?” He said, “Yeah.”

I get in person with this guy, the founder of ManyChat, Mikael Yang, most of his friends know him as Mike, and it actually works. And not only does it work, where someone could actually subscribe to my chat via Facebook Messenger, but the intelligence behind the scenes of dripping out content, of tagging people, of interacting with people the way that they want to be interacted with based on what they’ve told us, brilliant. And so, I’ve been working with this app, I was the very first customer, very first person who pay ManyChat because I loved it so much, and I’ve been using it ever since.

And today, I have the founder of ManyChat on here and we’re doing an interview with someone who’s a little earlier in the evolution of his business. In fact, this whole space is still pretty young but it’s important to have this conversation because he’s gotten very far and because I want you to see the future of chat as a way of interacting with your customers.
All right, just to be clear, his name is Mikael Yang, the company name is ManyChat, and they do Messenger marketing. That means everything I talk about happens via Facebook Messenger, an app that has 1.2 million people every single month chatting with each other. And this whole interview is sponsored by Toptal and Acuity Scheduling, I’ll tell you more about them later. Mike, good to see you, man.

Mikael: Hey, Andrew, thanks for having me.

Andrew: All right, I’ve talked a lot about the reasons for this, let’s talk practical. Give me an example of someone who’s actually using ManyChat to reach their customers and how he’s doing, you know, as a business, not like is he having interesting conversations.

Mikael: Sure, sure. So we have this just Messenger alchemist, Sean Patrick Simpson, who, yes, he got over 40,000 Messenger subscribers on to his Messenger list. And basically what he does is he uses our growth tools, and inside ManyChat there’s a section that allows you to like convert visitor, block visitors into Messenger subscribers, like links, Facebook ads into Messenger subscribers, and he uses those to start an interaction.

And Facebook has this policy of 24 hours after the first interaction, not on the first actually, the last interaction, so every time a person interacts with your bot you have this 24 hours to basically message them for free and about anything. So it can be promotional, it can be ads. After 24 hours, it cannot be ads, so it’s kind of like the policy that Facebook has right now.

So he has this brilliant, like sequences and interactive messages that he uses to drive traffic back to his store, online store, and to actually just sales. So one of the campaign that he did, he spent like 2,000 on ads and made a lot of thousands in sales in just like a few days. So it was really like the ROI that you can get on new marketing channels is just crazy.

Andrew: This is Sean Patrick Simpson. I Googled him. Is his company Soul Space?

Mikael: It’s sarahprout.com.

Andrew: I see.

Mikael: Yeah.

Andrew: Okay. And Sarah Prout is the author, I see sarahprout.com. And what they do is . . . let me take a look. It’s kind of like manifest your dreams type of business, right?

Mikael: Yeah.

Andrew: Okay. And so, what’s he doing exactly? He’s buying an ad that gets someone to do what?

Mikael: So how this works is you can buy an ad, like a news feed ad, and I’m sure like a lot of people from your audience, like, have done Facebook marketing. So a news feed ad but he had links not to a website, not to a landing page, but when the person clicks on that ad it instantly starts a conversation. So the person doesn’t have to leave Facebook.

Andrew: So just to be clear, I see the ad as I go through my news feed, I think, “Hey, that’s kind of interesting. I click the button, instead of clicking the button going to a web page, the little Messenger popup in the bottom right comes up and their bot starts to talk to me.

Mikael: Yeah.

Andrew: All automated, okay. And then, what is the goal of the bot?

Mikael: So the goal of the bot is to continue the conversation and to actually, it depends on your business model. So it depends on how . . . what is your final . . . ?

Andrew: What does he do with the bot? Once the bot starts talking, at that point, does he say, “Go, buy Sarah Prout stuff?”

Mikael: No, no. That’ll be too hard.

Andrew: A little too aggressive.

Mikael: Yeah, too aggressive. So what he does is, for example, there can be blog posts saying, “Hey, do you want to see like seven signs that you’re manifesting your dreams,” for example. And the person clicks like, “I want to know like what are the seven signs.” And it went to a blog post that had like just seven bullet points, etc., and that’s it.

Andrew: And he links to blog post?

Mikael: No, no. Previously to a bot, it was like an ad that linked to the blog post, but with a bot, when the person clicks on an ad it says, “Hey,” and it can already know your first name. So the beauty of the Messenger marketing is when the interaction starts you already know the first name, the last name, the gender, the time zone, the profile picture, you don’t get that with email.

Andrew: Because Facebook sends all that stuff to your bot. As soon as somebody engages with the bot, Facebook says, “I want the bot to be as smart as possible. I’m okay giving the bot the person’s name, etc.” Okay, so then, it would say, “Hey, Andrew, do you want to know these seven ways that you can manifest your goals?”

Mikael: It’s, yeah, it’s just, it starts like, “Hey, here is the first sign.” And there’s a button saying like, “Read about the second sign.”

Andrew: Got it.

Mikael: [Inaudible 00:08:34] second, etc. And imagine, it’s seven layers, so, do you know what the CTR is of like each of those layers?

Andrew: You know what, I imagine the first one’s really high and then it gets lower.

Mikael: It’s 95% to 98% and it doesn’t get lower. So it’s like . . .

Andrew: Ninety-five, so somebody gets this chat box, they say, “Do you want to know the . . . ” I forget, what was it? Do you want to know the what?

Mikael: Yeah, the seven signs that you are manifesting your dreams.

Andrew: The seven signs that you’re manifesting, I say, “Yes,” that’s 95% or higher of the people who see it, 95% of people click that. Then I get my first sign.

Mikael: Yeah, it’s says the first sign and then like, “Read the second sign. Read the third sign.”

Andrew: And I have to press the button to get the next one, and then press the button to get the next one, and so on. And you’re saying, over 95 out of 100 people will keep clicking all the way to the end. I’m sorry, over 95% of people who see those buttons will click them.

Mikael: Yeah, on each one, you get 95%. So if it’s seven signs and it’s 95%, it’s going to be like close to 70%, 80% finishing those seven steps. And after those seven steps, he actually directs people to the websites where they do a quiz.
So imagine, like, it’s insane, you have this ad that starts an interaction inside a bot that after that unfolds into seven micro interactions, and then it directs to a website where there’s a quiz and to get the results of the quiz you enter your email. So guess what, he gets the same cost per email with the bot and without the bot. So basically, those seven interactions for him are free, but with the bot, he gets the Messenger lead, so that’s a conversation that already started and he can now reach through the email and through the bot.

And people who have completed those seven steps inside the Messenger are much more engaged and much more loyal because the number of, like, interactions that they’ve had with the brand is much bigger than just like, “Hey, here’s a quiz,” and like, “Give us your email.”

Andrew: And I could see that the experience of pressing buttons to get the next and the next and the next part of the conversation is actually really useful. It’s useful for a couple reasons. Number one, I don’t think people want to sit passively and read, which is why if you sit to read an article online, your body might fidget a little bit. You might go to look at another tab, right? We want to be active while we’re reading and the Messenger experience gives us a little bit and then forces us to be active, then a little bit more and gives another opportunity to be active. So we’re focused on what we’re reading much more. I could see the power of doing that.
The other thing that’s useful is you get to see the click rate, and if one of these points suddenly drops off in click rates, you know that the thing you did just before the button was not very interesting and you should go and edit it. And so, you’d know exactly which of your points, what part of your message people are not paying attention to and which part they’re paying attention to heavily.

All right, and I’m imagining what he does then is after somebody goes through that, they then are in a sequence where, I think at first what he did was every day he messaged them, sometimes multiple times a day and he’s back off of that. Sorry?

Mikael: Yeah, he was just experimenting with that and he tried some more aggressive/less aggressive stuff. And it was, like, it’s really important to stay within, like, the Facebook guidelines. So after 24 hours you can only send content that people subscribe to and that cannot be like promotional or ads.

So the way that you do Messenger marketing is you get the person through an ad to your bot, 24 hours to like do something that you want, anything that you want actually, and then you need that person, to subscribe that person to something and to get his explicit permission to message that person. And after that, basically, like every time the person interacts with the bot, you can do, like, the 24 hours are open again.

So he did like a lot of experiments and some of them were really aggressive. And then, he got a backlash from the people because Messenger is really invasive and like businesses should actually pay attention to that because it’s really easy for a person to unsubscribe inside Messenger. It’s just like swipe right, swipe left, delete conversation, and the business can never message that person again.

So it’s not like email or SMS, where you can just upload your list to another provider, or to the same provider frankly, and like just start messaging them again. That’s not how it works in Messenger, like the businesses cannot start conversations unless the person started them. So he got the backlash. He backed off and started to do this properly and to actually message people when they actually wanted it and when the retention of the Messenger subscribers was very good. But for every business, it’s going to be different.

So we have businesses who are messaging customers once a day. We have content providers, who are messaging people multiples times a day and people are not unsubscribing and they’re still getting like . . . o, we had one bot that had over 10,000 subscribers and they messaged, like in the span of a week, they messaged their audience 14 times.

Andrew: And?

Mikael: And they got 80% open rates and 10% CTR on each one of those messages.

Andrew: Ten percent is pretty low.

Mikael: Ten percent on each one of those messages, like imagine that, sending 14 emails to your audience in a week.
Andrew: I see and you’re still getting 10%. What are they doing that they need to send that many messages?

Mikael: They’re just doing content.

Andrew: What’s the kind of content that gives people a reason to message multiple times a day?

Mikael: They’re talking to . . . their audience is young adults and health. So here is a content about how to stay during the flu season, what’s the benefits of apple, sort of like health related contents for young people. And they’re just, like, they have the schedule. Like, “Okay, guys. Do you want to get two daily tips in the morning and in the evening about your health?” And people subscribe to that and they send this out.

So it’s like having that many messages, of course your CTRs are going to go lower because, like people get, they’re like, people will only read the things that they are interested in, but like 10% of their 14 messages in a week, like that’s insane. That’s like, I don’t know, 10 or 20 times higher than email.

And if you’re thinking about like the other side of the equation, like, I don’t know, spectrum, there’s this, we have one client, it’s Musical.ly record label, they send out one broadcast every week. So a weekly broadcast with a 30-second preview of an upcoming single from their record label, and it’s in electronic best music labels, so they put a lot of singles out.

Andrew: I see. How’s that doing for them?

Mikael: So they’re sending like once a week, this 30-second preview and you have to actually click on the button to listen to it. They get 56% CTR on those broadcasts.

Andrew: Okay, 56 out of 100 people who get those broadcast will actually listen to the music that they were sent, which is a really deep engagement. I don’t think I want audio or video that often when I’m in Messenger, I just want to see it. Like, do you ever know those guys who will do nothing but send you recorded messages on iMessage, right? It’s like, “I just want to read it. I’m in the middle of a meeting and I’m scanning what you just said. And I can’t understand it because you sent an audio message.”

All right, but you know what, if I was deep into music and I wanted to know the latest stuff, I’d actually be happy that they were sending me something new to listen to.

Mikael: Yeah.

Andrew: You know what, before I interview guests, I usually record myself, say to them, “Anything to say I’m going to publish. Even if we’re friends, I’ll burn the friendship before I burn the interview.” That way, I have that to record, and when they come back to me and they say, “Andrew, I wish I hadn’t said it.” I could say, “Here’s a recording, it’s published.” I didn’t get to say it to you, I’m going to say it to you now, and with that warning, how many bots are built on the ManyChat platform?

Mikael: We have over 20,000 bots right now on the platform.

Andrew: Okay. And it’s free to create a bot, but free gets you some branding, so people will know that we’re using ManyChat. How many paid customers do you have?

Mikael: We don’t disclose that information right now.

Andrew: Is it more than like 10,000 in revenue a month right now?

Mikael: Yes.

Andrew: It is, okay. All right, and it’s fairly small, it’s like I think $10 to get started, but it actually builds up fast. If you build your following, and I think now is the time to build it before everyone else is doing it, like imagine how hard it is to get an email subscriber now.

Ten years ago, people say, “Yeah, I’ll give you my email address. Give me what you got, my email isn’t full, so I’ll do it.” So I think it’s worth getting as many subscribers as possible and then it starts to add up like $10 per what, 10,000 people or something or per 1,000?

Mikael: Yeah.

Andrew: Something like that.

Mikael: Yeah, it’s $10 for 500 subscribers.

Andrew: Okay.

Mikael: And it scales from there.

Andrew: Your funding, where is it coming from?

Mikael: So the first ones to invest were 500 Startups, that’s where we got our initial seed money. Really glad to the . . . thank you to the team, wouldn’t happen without them. And then we got some DC funds and a business angel.

Andrew: Okay. All right. When we come back, I want to find out a little bit about your background. I want to hear what your vision is for bots, where do you think this thing is going, and then also, what’s working today. But first, I have to tell people about a company called Toptal. Do you know about Toptal, Mike?

Mikael: Yeah.

Andrew: You do. What do you know about Toptal?

Mikael: They have this marketplace with the top developers from around the world. And I think a lot of people that we approach, because we have a lot of developers in Eastern Europe and sometimes we approach people, and we try to get, like if you hire people from Eastern Europe you can get like much lower rates than from U.S.

But Toptal made it really competitive there because those people that are good developers can now work for U.S. companies and like basically get the same salaries but still living in Eastern Europe. So yeah, thanks to Toptal.

Andrew: You know what, I have seen that. By the way, one of the things that I respect most, there are two things that I especially admire about you. One of them is that you really get marketing and I’m not sure how, but you really get direct marketing. All the stuff that would have taken people years to figure out, Infusionsoft and ActiveCampaign and so on, you just get and I’m not sure how.

And the other thing is your hiring. I have known you now for over a year. I’ve seen the people you hire. You freaking hire good people. And that made me trust the platform so much. Like you would come up with an idea of wit. I remember just standing out, outside of a coffee shop in Noe Valley, San Francisco, we’re just talking about what works, and you we’re saying, “Andrew, you’re building tools to get subscribers. What are they? Why those?”

Two weeks later, freaking tools were built and they were more beautiful than our tool. And so I said to Michael, “Look, I know you invested time in this, scrap it, Mike.” Mike, our Michael, on the team, I said, “Scrap it, we’ll just use ManyChat’s tool.”

Yeah, hiring great developers means that everything that you guys see as a possibility is actually a reality. You can actually build it in. If anyone out there is listening to me and they want great developers to have the same kind of growth, to be able to say, “Here’s what our customers want, here’s where the market is going,” and instantly get it going, you want the best developers, people who can think for themselves.

Mike is in competition with Toptal, you don’t have to be. You can go and hire from Toptal and they’ve a special URL for us. If you want 80 hours of Toptal developer credit for free when you pay for your first 80 hours, and in addition to that, get a no-risk trial period of up to two weeks, you owe it to yourself to use this special URL. It’s toptal.com/mixergy, toptal.com/mixergy.

Great developers and I highly, highly, highly recommend them. And not just because they pay me. I was a customer of theirs, I continue to use them, they’re fantastic. Go check out Toptal.

Mikael: All the best developers who we approached use Toptal.

Andrew: Yeah. Yeah, you know what, and they really are, I think we’re in a world where I don’t think as a developer you should put yourself through Silicon Valley lifestyle. It’s very expensive, it’s brutal on you, and then what do you get for it? You get most of that living back home where you are.

Today I spent like time trying to find a babysitter to come get my kid from school to bring them home because my wife has to go all the way down to Sunnyvale to go through a few meetings and then drive all the way back to San Francisco. That’s an hour and a half back, she’s not going to be able to pick them up from school. We’re stressed, how do we find someone to pick them up?

You don’t have to go through that, and that’s what a lot of developers are realizing. And so, they’re just living wherever they’re from, let their parents help out with the kids, or just have a really great lifestyle and focus on work. Instead of coming into the office, you get to go to your home office and work from there.

All right, let’s talk about the vision for this thing.

Mikael: Sure.

Andrew: What do you envision happening long-term in bots?

Mikael: You know, it’s a really great question. I think, like the potential of bots and of Messenger is still by far 90%, 95% of it is untapped. We think that Messenger is going to become the central hub of communication between businesses and customers. And in a few years, three, five, seven years, it’s going to capture a lot of the market share that is right now controlled by phones, email, mobile apps, websites, etc.

Andrew: Even websites, you’re saying instead of interacting with the company on the web, I’m going to choose to go through chat?

Mikael: I think it depends on where the interaction starts. So if you’re looking for something, for sure you’re going to use Google or like apps that you are used to, but if you’re starting an interaction from inside, from offline, that will I think for sure go through Messenger.
So Messenger codes just . . . like we were an F8 a few weeks ago and Facebook did some really cool announcements. One of them was the introduction of parametric codes and parametric code reader that is embedded inside the camera that is accessible right now with just a swipe inside.

Andrew: What’s a parametric code and why is this so revolutionary?

Mikael: So a parametric code, I’m sure that a lot of people heard about QR codes. Those are like square barcodes that you can scan and go to, like, contain some information. Parametric codes inside Messenger are like Messenger owned proprietary QR codes. And basically what they do is they start an interaction with a bot, but the beauty of the code is that it contains a payload, like kind of like a ref variable inside the URL.

So every time there can be multiple codes, imagine like you go into a retail store, there is five posters and each one of them promotes like some products and they have all parametric codes. So you can just scan the code and that code will take you to the correct, to the same bot, but it will start a different conversation depending on what . . .

Andrew: You’re saying something like this, I’m in a Starbucks, I see a bunch of posters today. Imagine if on the lower right corner, there’s this circular code that I can take a picture with Facebook Messenger, and when I take a picture of it, I start a conversation with Starbucks, regardless of which poster I’m looking at. But if I take a picture of the Frappuccino, it says, “Hey, this Frappuccino has only 1,500 calories in it,” or billion calories, whatever they have in there. “And today we’re offering it at 10 cents off.”

Mikael: Yes, yes.

Andrew: So why is that so great? Why would anyone even want that?

Mikael: Because it’s going to connect offline to online. So parametric, camera and parametric codes is the thing that’s going to connect offline to online and you’re going to have this seamless experience off. Like, right now, you have to go to websites, to Google to search if you want to follow somebody on some social network, you need to type in their handle.

Like, I think Snapchat has made like those snap codes pretty popular. But with Facebook Messenger, it’s going to, like take another step forward with introduction of, like, the automation inside bots. Like, it’s all of the things coming in together.

Andrew: You’re imagining this, that I not only see the poster and yes, it tells me a little bit of something, but I could also come back and say, “How many calories in the foam part of it,” and then they come back to me and I say, “I want to order one without the foam so I could save some calories.” I say, “Great.” I put my thumb on the thumbprint reader of my phone and then the drink is already made for me a behind the counter. So I don’t have to pay, I don’t have to wait in line, it’s ready for me. That’s the world that you’re envisioning.

Mikael: Yeah, yeah.

Andrew: Okay.

Mikael: I’m glad that you brought up the payment because payment is also a really big part of this vision. So the bot is, it’s like it’s not about particularly like about the automation, it’s just about having that interface to connect with the business that accepts chat that has web views is I think that’s web views are going to be . . .

Andrew: So let’s talk web views. So first of all, I get that offline/online, I’m a little skeptical of that because . . .

Mikael: You haven’t been on the F8, because, like, what Facebook did is they put up this parametric code that said like, “Hey, if you want free swag just scan this code and we’re going to send you a message of what you’ve got.” And it can be a t-shirt, socks, or something else. And everyone was like, “What am I going to get?” So this parametric code becomes like this door that you can open and see what’s inside the box. So there was just like . . .

Andrew: A bunch of people doing it.

Mikael: Hordes of people with their phones trying to, like, get, and they were like, “I got socks,” and everybody was showing the thing. And imagine you’re in the restaurant and like there is a table sign saying like, “Hey, do you want a free coffee? Scan this code.” And you scan the code and you get this message. And so then you can see like inside there’s coffee or free salad or something, but why the restaurant is doing this, because it’s a loyalty system. Because now, when you scan the code, they got your first name, last name, all the info that we talked about.

So it’s not like, “Hey, scan this code to get some information,” it’s like, “Hey, here is this,” and marketers call these lead magnets, basically like something that’s of value to the end customer that will get them to give you their contact information and just start an interaction. So in email marketing it would be email, but in Messenger it would be the connection inside Messenger to start a conversation and there is like dozens of way to start a conversation and parametric codes.

Andrew: I see. Did I just lose your connection by the way, Mike?

Mikael: No, I don’t think so.

Andrew: Okay, your video froze but we’re fine. I see, the reason I was skeptical and I love that we can like keep batting this stuff back and forth, the reason I was skeptical is I see QR codes in the world, the problem with QR codes everywhere is nobody ever scans any of them and the people who create it . . .

Mikael: They don’t have the scanners.

Andrew: Sorry?

Mikael: They don’t have the scanners. So now . . .

Andrew: I guess, I feel like, if they’re Android they have it, but here’s the upside of it, there’s very little incentive for people to do it. You’re right that once there’s a connection made, it’s more than just going to a website, it’s actually getting something and the benefit to a company of giving you something is that they get an ongoing relationship with you. It’s kind of like installing an app when you take a photo of one of these parametric codes.

I get it. I’m now starting to get a little more comfortable with that, right. I can see why a store would say, “I want to start this conversation because it leads to me telling people more about what we do, and they’re more likely to buy from us in the future, whether it’s coffee, dinner.”

Mikael: And it starts with 24-hour interaction. So imagine, you go inside the store, you scan the code, but then like half an hour later, you get a message, “Hey, did you like it or not?” Like, “Hey,” there’s something that your store can continue to have the conversation with the person when that person has left, and that conversation can be highly relevant and highly more engaging than like email or SMS.

Andrew: I could see it. So I go into Starbucks, I’d start the conversation, and they tell me what’s in the Frappuccino. At 5:00, on my way home, Starbucks says, “Hey, by the way, we have this extra whatever spicy latte, do you want to get one of those as a pick-me-up before your go home?” Got it, okay.

All right, here’s the other thing, web views, I remember you, a few months back, you said, “Andrew, we’ve been talking every day, but I’m going to take two weeks, I’m not talking to anybody. Here’s everyone on my team, go talk to them. I’m going to disappear.” You disappeared, you came back. I said, “What did you do?” You said, “I spent some time relaxing. And I looked at what’s going on in Asia and here’s what’s coming here.” And web views were a part of it.

Talk to me about what you see in Asia and how that’s going to translate into what’s happening in Messenger marketing here or Messenger interaction.

Mikael: Yeah, so, sure. So Asia has been one of the pioneers in terms of messaging and bringing messaging, not only to consumers, but actually having messaging as the operating system between businesses and consumers. And WeChat is like the poster child for all of this.

I think every platform is going to be different and Facebook already introduced a lot of features that differentiate really very much from how the platform works in any other country. And this is the interesting part of messaging that every messenger has their own vision of how this should work.

But basically what happens in WeChat is that web views are the way that you interact with the business, not through chat, not through like typing. Because typing is okay for smaller interactions, more simpler interactions. But it’s really hard for, if you have to really fill out a form or something, I do something complex or when there’s media involved or if you want to do something rich and interesting and interactive, chat as way of interacting, really good for conversations, it’s really good for customer support, really good for simpler types of inputs.

But a lot of what we are seeing in the East is done through primarily web views, and it’s going to be the same for, I think it’s going to be the same for Messenger. Some people disagree, but when you look at things that OpenTable does for example inside Messenger, like they have essentially a part of their app inside Messenger for reservations.

So you would be able to, like go inside, like, a conversation and say, “Oh, yeah, and let’s book a table in OpenTable,” and you just click on the plus button inside Messenger composer. It opens the application drawer and that application drawer becomes like a second home screen because you’ve got actual applications that can do really rich stuff through web views, which are inside, which don’t break the flow. So the OpenTable one is that it opens only half a way so it doesn’t switch to contacts. You book a table and you immediately send that reservation back to the chat that you were having with the other person.

So yeah, I think web views are going to be huge for Messenger because they unlock so much of more complex use cases that are just not possible through bots. Like if you look at what has been done a year ago when Facebook presented this, and the example that everyone is speaking on is like 1-800-Flowers, who did a way to buy flowers in Messenger through chat and only chat, and it was like, you had to answer like 18 questions or like 20 questions just to, like, order something, and still you had to then go to the web view to enter your credit card detail, etc. So it was tedious.

Everyone thought, “This is not working, Messenger bots are not going to fly. It’s a bond, like, just forget about it.” And after you see the web views, you see, “Oh, this is how it should work.” So the chat is for notifications and simpler interactions and web views are for like more complex ones and they think it’s a hybrid thing. So yeah. This is where I don’t like chat bots because I don’t think that it’s about chat. It’s about like the Messenger experience and it’s about like the whole thing together.

Andrew: You know what, I’ve been thinking about that, your company name though is ManyChat.

Mikael: Yeah, what are you going to do?

Andrew: Yeah, I get it. We ended up going with the word bot.

Mikael: It is chat. So basically, it all relies, at the end of the day, it all relies back on the threads with businesses and the chat is the window to the web views. So you cannot have the web views if you don’t have the chat. But yeah, I think bots is a good way if you understand them correctly.

So we define bots as just the business, like we’re in the Messenger bots business, so we define bots as a Messenger business account. So if you define bots that way, not like through like AI, NLP thing that talks like a human, etc., but like, hey, it’s just the business account inside Messenger, then I think bots is a perfect word to describe this.

Andrew: Okay, so, what you were talking about with 1-800-Flowers, I get. The idea with the 1-800-Flowers was . . . somebody had a meeting with me now. I just booked with you without . . . let me tell him. “I’m in an interview, I thought we weren’t meeting today.”
I remember 1-800-Flowers came out, Mark Zuckerberg said, “I love this one.” And the reason that he loved it is you actually could buy flowers within chat. I remember how cool it was the first time I tried it, but I get what you’re saying. The cool thing for me was I said, “My wife’s having a birthday, what do I get her?” And they said, “Well, here are some flowers.” And then I could scroll and see all the pictures. I picked the one that I like, it says, “Where do you want to send it,” etc. And you’re saying, “That’s kind of cool at first and yes, it’s interesting that you could buy via Messenger, but it’s still a lot of chatting back and forth.”

Imagine if I said, “My wife is having a birthday on Friday, I need flowers.” And instead of the rest of it being chat, a webpage basically comes up with a bunch of pictures and I could hit a radio box to select the one that I want, and then a vase and I could hit a radio box for that, and then I hit submit. And then my address is already in Facebook, right, so I don’t have to reenter it and they say, “Here, do you want to send it to your home, your office, or somewhere else?” I pick the one, right.

So here’s the thing that I asked you when you first got excited about it, I said, “Great, why not just go to 1800flowers.com?” I mean, if the whole thing is so good that you can actually just see a web view, why not just be in the web to view the web?

Mikael: Because it’s about the hybrid experience, because you want everything inside one interaction. So the chat thread with the business becomes a hub for communication with that business. And if you want certain aspects of that business you can get them via the menu, via the keywords or something, and they’re going to send you the links to those, like to the, for example, buying the flowers for your wife.

But you don’t have to remember the website, you don’t have to register because when you started the conversation you already registered. And for the business, it’s a much more convenient way to communicate with customers because if you have visitors in websites, those visitors are not your, like they’re not your customers yet. You don’t know them. You don’t know who they are, you don’t know like what’s . . . you don’t have a connection with them.

But if they’re in Messenger, everyone that visits your bot is an active connection and you can, like, interact with those people. So I think it’s . . .

Andrew: I see. So even if the first time I go to 1-800-Flowers chat bot, they know my name, they could address me by name, they know where I am, etc.

Mikael: Yeah, yeah. I don’t think . . .

Andrew: But can’t you just simply get that stuff on the web today? They may not know my name, which is fine, but they know I’m in San Francisco if I’m in San Francisco by my IP address and they know my address because I’m going to use Apple Pay and all the, not all the phones, but Android’s doing something similar, right?

Mikael: Sure. So the correct, like, if you’re trying to, like, I’m not trying to say like that bots are going to replace websites. That’s not the point that I’m trying to make. I’m trying to make a point that, of course, businesses will need websites because there’s a lot of traffic, organic traffic, and the whole infrastructure works this way right now.

But what I’m trying to say is that businesses will start . . . you’ll see much more conversations between customers and businesses in Messenger, and that is going to become one of the normal ways to communicate with businesses like in five years. You’re going to expect a business to be on Messenger and to be able to reach it and to be able to do basic stuff inside their bot that are business related to them, and to reach their customer support through bot, to reach their sales through the bot, etc.

It’s going to become . . . like the way that you’re right now perceiving the phone that you can phone basically any business, it’s going to become the same for Messenger. That’s the vision that we have.

Andrew: I can see that.

Mikael: But of course, businesses will still have websites. Websites are great. Like the fact that everyone, that we are using them, proves that they’re the technology that solve the problem. And I’m just saying that bots are going to be another way for businesses to communicate and it’s going to solve a lot of other problems that are not being addressed right now.

So for example, if you think about messaging, for sure it aids a lot of the SMS market, like basically all of the SMS market, but it also created a lot of new use cases that were just not possible in SMS. And you started to message people much more because the messaging became free, because it’s much more richer, because you can send pictures, because you can send audio and video, etc., which is not possible like sending an MMS, like, come on.

Andrew: All right, fair point. Let me do another sponsorship message and come back and talk a little bit about your back story and a little about the vision too for the future.

The sponsor is a company called Acuity Scheduling. We internally now are doing some, like, bot as a service, someone wants a Facebook bot, we have students of ours at Mixergy, and I could talk more about that later, who’ve learned how to do it. And so, if someone wants a bot we want to introduce them to the right person.

Well, we needed some help to coordinate this because, frankly, there are so many people who are asking to have bots built and it was tough to find the right person to build it for them. So we found this guy who’s really good, we said, “How do we get him?” We sent him an email and we said, “Can we talk to you about this?”

Within a minute, he said, “Sure, here’s my Acuity Scheduling link. Pick any time you want.” Boom, we picked a time off his Acuity Scheduling link, we’re going to have a conversation with him later this week. And we could figure out, is he a good fit for us, can we hire him or not. It’s one of the reasons why we’re going to work with him faster, why he is more likely to be the guy we’d go with, is that he made it so easy for us to book with him.

That’s the power of making things easy. I’m seeing people use Acuity Scheduling to make it easier to get on calls with people. That’s just one example, a consultant wants to actually get on a phone with a potential client, give him a calendar, super easy.

The other thing I’m seeing is there are software makers who say, “I don’t want people to just use my software. I know that they’re not going to try it on their own and fully get it. I want them to set up a demo. The software is $50 a head, I want them to try a demo because if they do then their whole team will use it.” And so, as soon as somebody tries it out or comes to the website, they say, “Here’s a link, schedule a time for a demo.”

And then in the demo, you can actually set up their account, you could show them how to use it, you could teach them, you can actually have a conversation, and show that if they ever have a problem with the software, you’re there and you stand behind it. If you want to do that, use the software that we at Mixergy have been using for over half a decade, it’s called Acuity Scheduling.

The reason that I like it is it keeps getting better and better and better and better. And one of the things that it does really well now is it ties into Zapier. So if somebody buys, we could trigger an Acuity Scheduling link, but also if somebody goes to Acuity Scheduling and books with us, we could trigger a bunch of different actions using Zapier and connect to all our different apps. Maybe right after they book a conversation, we move their card in our CRM.

If you want to actually get on a call with people, make it easy for them, go to acuityscheduling.com/mixergy. They’ll connect with your calendar, they’ll let you pick the dates and times that you’re available, they’ll give you a URL to give to someone, and as soon as someone books a time slot, no one else has that time slot. If you happen to be busy that time slot and you mark it off on your calendar, nobody else can double book you. Super, super convenient.

Check out acuityscheduling.com/mixergy, not only are they going to give you 45 days for free and you’ll be able to close sales in that 45 days, but they’re even throwing in a private one-on-one consultation session with a pro to show you how you can actually use this and get sales and grow your business because of it. So check out acuityscheduling.com/mixergy.

By the way, the best example that I’ve seen of this future of bots in chat is Uber. Do you remember that first Uber interaction that people had that suddenly they were taking screenshots and posting?

Mikael: Yeah.

Andrew: What was that like? Describe it for anyone who doesn’t see it, because I don’t know that it’s still there. I’m going to send you right now a message.

Mikael: So yeah, I’ve seen when you were like the one where you send the address to your friends, and then, it would pop up the request, right?

Andrew: Yeah, I’m going to try right now. I’m going to send you the word “Uber.” Nope, let me send you the word, my address. If I click it, there we go. Okay. So if I send you my . . . it used to be that if I said, “I’ll get an Uber,” right underneath it, there was a button that says, “Get an Uber.” Now, it will automatically highlight my address, if I send you an address with the location where we’re going to meet for lunch, it automatically highlights it and says, “Request a ride from Uber. Request a ride for Lyft.”

Here’s the thing that makes that exciting, it’s a full app. We’re not talking about being sent to a website, we’re not talking about a chat interaction, we’re talking about the full app here. You guys can see it right there on my screen. This looks like the full app. It comes up faster than a website and it’s there right when you need it. And that’s one of the things that I think is exciting about chat.

People will continue, keep talking to each other, and when they do, they’re going to want to sometimes bring in software to help them out. And getting an Uber when you’re wife and you are talking about getting together for location, natural fit. Saying, “I want to go have dinner at this place,” and then suddenly the OpenTable bot comes up and helps out, natural fit. Frankly, what also a natural is if you and I are trying to schedule something for the bot to automatically add it to my calendar, super, super helpful.

Mikael: I think scheduling is going to be really important inside bots. So for consultants, for people who are building their personal bots, one of the things that comes up is like, I want to have a button that says like, “Book a time to,” for a call or book a meeting. And when the person does that, it’s either like through the chat or through the web views. I think web views are going to be much more useful in that also because you can see like, you can do really beautiful schedule with all the times, and it’s like interaction, etc.

Andrew: Yeah, Chris Messina was really into bots back when he was working at Uber, and now he’s still super into that. And he created the ChrisBot or the MessinaBot, or maybe it was ChrisMessinaBot actually, and one of the cool things about it was you can actually find out about him, you could read a little bit more about him, and then there was an option to schedule a call with him.

Now, this is a guy who is like really impressive background, impressive understanding of technology, and you could, within his bot, schedule an actual call with him. But it was kind of tedious because it was chatting back and forth, and you’re right, a web view with all his calendar would be much better than a bunch of chat bubbles with available times.

All right, that’s where the future is. We talked about where you are right now and what’s possible, we talked about the future. Let’s talk about your back story. Here’s what I heard, I looked you up before you started this and all I saw were Russian sites, which is easy to translate into English. They were like comedy sites.

Mikael: Yeah.

Andrew: Right. But you also had some kind of content reader app, what was that thing?

Mikael: So basically, I started our first project startup when I was 19. It was an online school of magic tricks. I was into magic tricks.

Andrew: Magic tricks.

Mikael: Yeah, card magic. So I was into magic since I was like 15 or 16 and got into it because I wanted to meet girls. And afterwards, the thing, the hobby just took a life of its own. And I became pretty good at it and some like local, not shows, like people would invite me to birthdays to perform.

I thought like I was really into technology also, so we started this thing, posted videos on YouTube and then drive the traffic back to the website. In a few months got like over half a million views in YouTube, did that for a while, sold the business for a little bit of money, but for a 19-year-old that was like a really good power up. And after that, we started YouComedy.Me. It was a . . .

Andrew: You started what?

Mikael: YouComedy.Me, it is a website that it’s kind of like Red and 9gag but only for fun stuff and with a lot of social features and it has like the following of the tags and of the people, and mentions, and friendships, etc. It was kind of like a bit of like Facebook and 9gag mixed. Like it was crazy but it’s really interesting. Like, I still sometimes go to the website and I just get…

Andrew: Is it Y-O-U-Comedy.Me?

Mikael: Yeah, YouComedy.Me. It’s all in Russian so you’re not going to . . . like you can add like . . .

Andrew: I won’t get the jokes, but I think I remember seeing videos on there and also, like I said, Google Translate’s helpful for stuff like that.

Mikael: Some GIFs. Yeah. Anyway, it was pretty fun, it was the first experience of running a team and we got over, like a few hundred thousand users there, but with consumer projects, it’s like when you have the revenue per user, less than $1 a year. If you’re running ads or something you have to have millions of users, and that you can get only like getting them for free, basically, virally, and so, we haven’t had the quite the virality that we needed.

So we started to build a mobile app called [inaudible 00:51:25]. It’s in the same space, entertainment, and this was about like, it was Tinder for GIFs, for jokes. You could go in, swipe left and right, all the jokes, all the GIFs were moderated, and still it’s so funny, like thousands, like tens of thousands of people are still using it. We have not updated that project for a while. And ourselves, we are using it, like when we want to have fun, we just go and swipe left and right, and the content is really good. It had the crazy good retention but still didn’t have the virality.

After that, it was four years we did two of these projects and I was a bit burnt out, wanted to take some time off, but then Telegram Messenger opened up their API. And it was like 65 million users who only messaged to each other and they couldn’t do anything besides messaging each other. So when we looked at this platform, I tried to, like I was just playing around a bit and tried to make my own bot to broadcast content. It was really hard. You had to rent servers, to hire developer, like it was a databases, etc. It was really hard.

So we decided to create a platform for creating bots. So this was the idea, like, “Hey, let’s create a platform that would allow people to broadcast content inside the Telegram bot. And me and my co-founder just like in a week or two, got [inaudible 00:53:15] running and then spent a month to get a few hundred people on board, just reaching out to some Telegram communities, etc. And after we got a few hundred people, it just started growing virally.

So we’ve hit like thousands, tens of thousands of bots in a few months and that’s when we reached out to 500 Startups, got into 500 Startups. And while we were doing the acceleration program, Facebook opened up their API. So when Facebook opened up their API, it just, like, it was a big market shift because Facebook is a really big platform. And they have, like you said in the beginning, 1.2 million people using.

Andrew: Billion.

Mikael: Billion, yeah. So it’s 1.2 billion people every month using the Messenger platform. They have over 65 million businesses using pages and each page is a potential, is one click away from becoming a bot. So it’s a huge market and we realized that like really early because we’ve been doing Telegram bots for a year at that point. And so, we’re one of the first ones to create a platform to create bots on Facebook Messenger and have been growing ever since.

Andrew: What did you do to grow virally when you are on the Telegram platform?

Mikael: All of our bots had the . . . made with ManyBot, the Telegram product was called ManyBot. And so, it was kind of like what Hotmail did for email. This email was sent like Hotmail, so this bot was created with ManyBot. And we are doing the same thing with ManyChat right now and Facebook Messenger. So if you’re in a free account, we do the branding, and you can remove it of course.

Andrew: If you pay.

Mikael: Yeah.

Andrew: Yeah, I see, ManyBot is still active right now but it looks like it hasn’t been touched much since Facebook took off.

Mikael: We are growing virally, like still, we are not . . .

Andrew: It’s still growing.

Mikael: Like we are not updating the, like the product at this point because we have to focus. There is so much to build for the Messenger. We just have to focus on one platform at this point, but ManyBot is still growing virally. We have over like half a million bots there.

Andrew: What did you sell those businesses for?

Mikael: What?

Andrew: What did you sell those businesses for? Wait, you have more than half a million bots or half a million subscribers to the bots?

Mikael: Half a million bots on Telegram.

Andrew: Bots?

Mikael: Yes.

Andrew: Wow.

Mikael: It’s much more . . . because bots on Telegram are much less, much more like Facebook pages in the early days. So a lot of people on Telegram would create bots for communities, for their high school, for their group.

Andrew: And then, what does the bot do?

Mikael: You can think of it as a stripped webpage. It has a menu, it has a content inside of it, it can do broadcasts. It’s kind of basic. So this is why we don’t charge people on the ManyBot platform. There is no way you can pay us. It’s just all free but it’s all branded. And, yeah, it’s just because there was no way, like Facebook has a lot of ways to interact with their customer, with their audience already, and Telegram had zero.

And there are some countries where Telegram is the number one communication channel and people need a way to be represented there. So bots come into that space and they start to actually take on the role of websites. Because people are not building websites there.. They are jumping the website stage and going straight to bots in Messenger.

So this is why we had some tremendous . . . and this is the same thing that happened to messaging apps, taking off much faster in South America, in Europe, in Asia. Because in the U.S., you had free texts and why would you need a messaging app that can send texts. And when WhatsApp started, the only thing that you could do, you can send a text, when you can send texts for free, it’s meaningless for you.

So messaging apps in the U.S. had to bring so much more value so people would start to ditch SMS in favor of messaging apps, and for the rest of the world where people pay for each message and like it’s the most lucrative thing for the telecom companies, because the cost are zero and they charge like, I don’t know, a cent or two cents, three cents per message.

So when WhatsApp came out and all the other messengers, people just, like adopted them in a heartbeat. So and the same thing goes for bots, like there are some countries where this is taking off really fast and inside Facebook, inside U.S. and Western countries that it’s going to take some time, but it’s already growing really fast.

Andrew: Here’s why here in the U.S. a lot of people underestimate it. I remember looking at the different chat apps when they first came out in the App Store and wondering, “Why are they doing so well? Why does somebody need another chat app?” And then I looked at the messaging, it wasn’t about SMS replacement for adults. It was your kid, your parents don’t give you a data plan, you want to chat with people using your iPod Touch, or you want to chat with someone who’s not on iPhone and is on somewhere else.
So they were going after kids who didn’t even have messaging, and if they did, their parents were definitely regulating the number of messages that they had. Also, kids, and I’m talking about preteens and teenagers, are much more likely to be chatting all day long. And so, they went to people who are younger than probably the audience who’s listening to me right now and it became entrenched. But I’m seeing it being used more and more.

How many times do you see people who are full-grown adults, working full-time, who have a chat app at least one running 24 hours a day or at least while they’re working, right? And for some of them, it’s absolutely Slack, for others, it’s Telegram on their phone. I’m surprised actually even the U.S. that people still prefer that. It’s something. For some it’s still Skype, which I’m seeing is still being used on a regular basis, but chat is up and running.

By the way, Skype also has a bot platform. They’ve been pushing it aggressively, it’s just not as exciting I don’t think because Facebook is being used by way more people. What did you sell those two companies for?

Mikael: We didn’t sell them, they’re still active.

Andrew: Oh, you own them both?

Mikael: Yep.

Andrew: Producing revenue?

Mikael: A part of them, nope.

Andrew: No. What did you learn from 500 Startups that you couldn’t learn on your own?

Mikael: I think it’s the whole experience that was very valuable, the network, the mentors, having 50 other teams moving alongside with you, pushing their limits, and it just motivates you.

The lesson I couldn’t have learned myself, I think just getting the raw, honest feedback is really hard for a founder. Founders tend to be in the reality distortion field when you have to be there. You have to believe in the vision against all the odds and if you don’t do that, the first bump on the road, you’re going to give up, but that can backfire. When there are things that you should pay attention to and that you shouldn’t ignore that are in the business model or in the go-to market strategy, etc., and that was really valuable to…

Andrew: Is there one example of something that they force you to understand and accept?

Mikael: I think the way that we are thinking about paid and free was one of the important ones. Because we were coming from Telegram and we were really focused on like getting those numbers up and just trying to, as hard as possible, trying to get the number of bots because we thought that that was the success metric.

And when we talked to 500 Startups and went through the program, it became obvious that if you look at the best companies, marketing companies, they can have like 10,000 customers and be very successful. Intercom has like 17,000 customers and we already have over 20,000 bots connected to the platform. So it’s not about the quantity, it’s not about how big is that number.
It’s about the money, it’s about your unit economics, how much are you getting from each customer, and that depends on the value that you’re bringing. So how you can bring as a business the most amount of value and then have a way to capture that value, so that the business is successful, you’re successful, and everybody is moving forward.

Andrew: And you know what, and I think that’s a 500 Startups attitude. Dave McClure has had that for a long time, “Pay me, bitch,” you know. Find a way or get yourself paid is the attitude that he’s had for the entrepreneur. Sorry?

Mikael: Really scrappy and really like, “Hey,” just like, “let’s find something real. Let’s find something that people will actually pay for.”

Andrew: And I’ll tell you that as a business, when I see that software’s free, I feel very shaky about using them, especially when a founder emails me and says, “Hey, Andrew, this is just as good as . . . ” Like we use Libsyn to publish our interviews and I got an email from someone who says, “Hey, Andrew, this is just as good as Libsyn but free,” and I think, “That is not going to win me over. I don’t want to work with you if you’re free,” right.

That’s like if a doctor says, “Hey, come to my office, I’m free,” or a medicine that’s free as opposed to the one that said, “I think I could pay a few bucks.” As a business, you definitely want to pay for it because you want to know that the company’s going to survive, you want to know if the company is doing well.

Mikael: Moreover, you want the company that’s not going to only survive, you want the company that’s going to succeed and bring you the best features, the most reliable service, the customer support, the success, etc. So it’s all about, like, people tend to have this mentality of a war between the customer and the business, and where is going to be the balance and the price, etc.

But if you think about all of this as a partnership, if you think about that every business that you’re paying you’re in partnership with because they’re helping you succeed and you’re helping them succeed, then it becomes obvious that everyone is got to get, first of all, everybody’s got to get their value and everybody’s got to get their money if they’re bringing that value.

And you should be invested, like there is no way around it. Like if you are going to get a platform that’s going to give you a lot of value and not charge you for it, either they’re going to charge at some point or it’s going to come down, because there’s no way to have free value for a long time.

Andrew: I was thinking of Etherpad. It’s a long time ago when I first started Mixergy, Etherpad allowed you to embed a notepad on your site and anyone can edit it and it could be completely revisable and they didn’t charge anything and I embedded it for my transcripts all over the site. Because I knew, you know what, my audience is good. They will fix the issues with the transcript. I put it everywhere and then they closed down. And suddenly, I had to go and pay someone to move all of my transcripts off of Etherpad to this new thing, and it’s such a pain in the butt to do that. I definitely prefer as a business to pay.

All right, I’m glad that you’re doing well with this thing here. Guys, if you’re out there, I think the future is a little unknown, but it’s definitely very, very bright. I think it’s bright for chat. I think we’re going to see full-on app-like experiences inside of chat. I think we’re going to see full-on website replacements for some businesses inside of chat, and at the very least, it’s an additional way of interacting with their people.

We know that when a business gets to actually talk to people, that people feel better about working with them. And about this treadmill desk, I like to email them back and say, “Hey, how do I connect it now to my favorite apps so I keep track of how much I’m running or walking here at the office?” Right? You want to know, I want to email them back. I want to know that there’s a real person behind the business, especially when you make a big investment. So chat’s a place where people are going to be communicating back with businesses, especially it’s faster than email.

Look at what I did, by the way, Mike. I got this treadmill desk, I emailed the company, the next day they emailed me back. I forgot what I emailed them about even. I just totally forgot, it wasn’t a pressing issue. Then I had to go and figure out what it was. And then there was another issue that came up between then and now, so now, I went back and I emailed them again, it’s another day. If it was chat, just message them, I know how fast they’re going to respond, I get an alert as soon as they’re there.

All right, that’s the future. I remember when I was first talking about this about a year ago, people didn’t buy into it, then I created a bot, they tried it, they said, “Holy crap, Andrew, how did you do this?” So I started showing it to people in the audience, like one-on-one if they subscribe to my bot and they want to know how to do it, one-on-one I’d show it to them. And I said, do they really value it? And the way to know if someone really values it is to actually charge them, so I put a price. I forget what that number was, like, “$350, one hour with me, I’ll set up your bot with you,” boom, it was set up and it was good.

I remember at the time, Mike, you said to me, “Andrew, you’re making more money from our platform than we are,” because I didn’t know if you were charging at the time. And the reason . . .

Mikael: We were, but we weren’t charging $350.

Andrew: Yeah, you weren’t charging at the time. And that really did well and I know why. Yesterday, I was talking to someone at Neil Patel’s company. Neil Patel is a fantastic marketer. I showed them ManyChat and he said, “This is fantastic. Will they let me hire someone to do it for me?”

And I said, “Well, I thought you guys were great. You have a big team.” He says, “Yeah, but we don’ want to figure any of this stuff out. Build this for us and then we’re going to fix what you guys do because you’re not going to write in our language, and then we’ll publish it. And once it starts to make money, then we’re going to want to take over it and have somebody internally once it really produces significant money for us.”

And that really is the attitude that a lot of bigger businesses have had. They said, “This is great. We want you to build it for us. Take our email copy, turn it into this experience, have our people talk when it makes sense, but don’t bother them when it doesn’t.”
And so, we created something called Bot Academy at Mixergy where we teach people how to create good bots, bots that people actually want to be engaged with. Good copywriting I think is really important here. If it stinks, if it’s long, people are going to delete you and you’re not going to be able to message them. So we teach that, we teach growth, we teach the whole thing, and we teach you how to get clients. And then every time somebody comes to me as a client, I pass them on to one of our graduates.

So Neil Patel asked to work with us. I said, “There isn’t really anyone here at Mixergy who is going to create bots anymore, but Ashley is one of our students, she’s fantastic. I’ll connect you and she could build your bots.” So Ashley, one of our graduates, is doing it.

So all that to say is this is how bought in I am. I actually created a whole new product at Mixergy to just keep talking about this, to keep training people to do it. If you’re curious about what our bot looks like, you can go to botacademy.com and see our bot. And if you haven’t created a bot, you’re not alone, most people haven’t created bots.

At the very least, you should be curious enough right now to go and create your very first bot. And the site that you can go do it on right now and get a bot that’s very similar with ours is ManyChat. There, you can actually start building up subscribers, getting people to give you permission, sending out a collection of messages on a regular basis. I actually like daily at first and then you can go a little bit longer, and watch the data come in, you’ll be amazed. Once you get 100 people, you’ll be amazed at how interactive they are and how profitable it could be for your business.

All right, I’m not here to promote ManyChat. I just kind of really like it, Mike. So I’ve been using it for a long time, over a year right now, I’d say, maybe about a year. Go to manychat.com to check it out. And if you need a developer and you are willing to beat Mike for some developers in Eastern Europe, the company to do it, they’re actually not just in Eastern Europe, they’re all over the place, it’s Toptal.

They’re a diversified team so you’d get a developer that you work with one-on-one, part-time, full-time, etc., and they are wherever they happen to be. It doesn’t matter because they are connected with you to whatever chat, frankly, chat apps that you use, Slack, etc. Go check out toptal.com/mixergy.

And if you want your people to actually do demos of your software or talk to your customers, etc., check out the software we’ve been using for that. It’s called Acuity Scheduling, that’s acuityscheduling.com/mixergy. Mike, I’m glad you’re here.

Mikael: Thanks, man. Glad to be here.

Andrew: It’s cool. Congratulations, and I have one more interview to record and you and I are going to get together for lunch. I don’t know how you’re going to come from Palo Alto all the way here to San Francisco, but we’ll find a way.

Mikael: Yeah, I will.

Andrew: Okay, I’ll see you. Bye.

Mikael: Okay.

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