General Catalyst-backed Octane AI will make you a bot

Bots are hot. Ever since Facebook introduced chatbots at F8 last spring, they’ve been integrated into brand pages for customer service, e-commerce and fun.

But how do you make a bot? Many businesses don’t have developers that are adept at creating them.

Enter Octane AI, a newly formed startup launched by media personality Ben Parr, serial entrepreneur Matt Schlicht and Omegle founder Leif K-Brooks. The team has already built up a following in the bots community after creating a popular Facebook group and a digital magazine.

Their business is like web design platforms Wix or Weebly, but for chatbots. It’s a paint-by-numbers for bot creation that’s so easy, I could do it. (I did it! I programmed the Katie Roof bot to respond with “raise the roof” as my greeting. Sorry but not sorry).

Phil Libin, co-founder of Evernote and partner at General Catalyst, talked about why they led a $1.5 million funding round in Octane. Bots are a “very natural way to interact with technology,” he said, voicing optimism about the founders because he’s “impressed with the community they’ve already managed to build.”

With an impactful client list that includes 50 Cent and Aerosmith, the Octane team hopes to double down on its Facebook business, eventually expanding to SMS, iMessage, Slack and websites.

“We believe this is something that everyone’s going to need, not just top enterprises,” said Schlicht.

Believing that bots are more than just a gimmick, Parr says, “this actually saves you time. This actually makes you money.” It’s “very clearly a win for every business that uses it.”