Jul 21, 2021
In today’s episode, I interview an inspiring entrepreneur named Rebecca Clyde. Rebecca and I will be discussing how women influence technological advancements. She also shares great advice for any entrepreneur, such as finding opportunities in crises, artificial intelligence, trusting our instincts, and building a team.
Rebecca Clyde is the co-founder and CEO of Botco.ai, a company that is modernizing healthcare with intelligent chat for patient engagement. Rebecca is on the 2020 list of most influential women in Arizona. She was listed as a Most Admired Leader by Phoenix Business Journal and was a recipient of the ATHENA Businesswoman of the Year Award. She has also been recognized as one of "35 Entrepreneurs 35 and Younger" by the Arizona Republic.
Rebecca’s Entrepreneurial Journey
Rebecca moved to the US to go to college. When she was graduating, she was recruited by Intel. She stayed there for about eight years learning important business fundamentals and going through their management and leadership development program.
She left Intel to start her own company, a marketing agency. She was able to take everything she’d learned at Intel and consult clients with that knowledge. The business grew, turning into a thriving marketing agency.
Rebecca is now working on her next company, Botco, which is a software product aimed at solving a problem she saw in her last two jobs. She noticed marketing automation platforms were no longer suited to today's modern customer and modern expectations. She wanted to bring that technology up to date, making it easier for people to accomplish the task they went to a website for or get the information they need, and then complete the next step in their journey. Botco just raised $2.2 million of seed capital.
Digital Shifts and the Role of Women
Digital engagement and the transition to remote business is a huge tectonic shift happening in the business landscape right now, especially in the healthcare industry. People are no longer willing to sit in waiting rooms for hours to see a doctor, so the healthcare industry must embrace digital technologies to accommodate for that shift.
One thing that is driving this change is women. They are saying, “I can’t wait on the phone for 45 minutes to make a doctor's appointment. That's not worth my time; my time has value. You need to improve your systems so I don't have to waste my time doing that.”
Rebecca is passionate about women and their roles in technological advancement, along with women in business in general. She said, “Technologists need to listen to what women have to say, understand that their time is valuable, and start to create solutions that actually deliver on the promise of a truly frictionless engagement experience. When we do that, we will realize that we will jump ahead leaps and bounds, or we can fail to listen at our own peril.”
How Women Influence the Creation and Consumption of Technology
When Rebecca worked at Intel in the early 2000s, they had a discussion about mobile computing. Francine Hardaway, who worked at Intel at the time, said she was sitting in a meeting trying to explain to the executives that they needed to pay more attention to mobile for one reason: women don’t like to carry large bags and they want more computing power that they can fit in their purse. She told them women make up half of the world’s economy. Women played a big role in the shift to mobile, and Intel missed the shift to mobile because they didn’t listen.
Women have been a contributing factor to many technological changes and advancements. Cars started to change when they shifted to make them appeal to women more. In 2001, the first all-female team designed a car; on their wish list was better visibility, practical storage, parking assistance, and smoother ingress and egress (Source: Vice.com). Women influence many products for families and households.
They are conscientious and think about the waste we generate, the value to the community that something may or may not contribute, being good citizens, adverse effects of certain products or ingredients, etc. They tend to approach things with a little bit more of that holistic thinking and put pressure on companies to pay attention to those sorts of things.
Rebecca’s Advice to Female Entrepreneurs
Rebecca said, “Don't be afraid of making mistakes or failing. . . . That goes with the territory.” There’s a lot of risk that comes with being an entrepreneur and some of those risks aren’t going to work out. It is important to bring people along and find great mentors to help avoid roadblocks and pitfalls.
“There's a lot of socialization that women or girls deal with even from a very young age that we have to unwind in our minds,” Rebecca said. “Realize your job isn't to make people comfortable, your job isn't to be the nice one in the room, your job isn't to be the amenable one. Your job is to know your truth. Speak it.”
Rebecca said one of her biggest mistakes has been not listening to her intuition sufficiently and allowing too many outside voices to prevail. One of her investors told her he's never met somebody with better instincts and she needs to listen to them more. Rebecca has noticed when she doesn’t let her instincts be the driving force, things don’t go as well as they could have.
Never Waste a Great Crisis
Rebecca started both of her businesses right before big crises. She started her first business going into 2008. When the market crashed, Rebecca’s clients’ budgets were reduced to almost nothing. She was faced with the harsh reality that she had just left her reliable Intel job to start a business during a terrible time.
Rebecca discovered that being small, nimble, and unattached to any big overhead company allowed her to navigate the white spaces and find unique opportunities and solutions she would have never been able to see had it not been in a crisis. “That moment taught me to never waste a great crisis,” Rebecca said.
Hard times can be horrible, but they can also give us opportunities and perspectives we wouldn’t have had otherwise. I remember when the dot-com bubble burst in 1999, most of the funding for dot-com companies dried up and they pulled their advertising. There was a company called Classmates.com that saw this happening and did the opposite. Advertising became crazy cheap so they bought hordes of advertising. They launched their company, became mainstream, and achieved a huge valuation because they saw the opportunity in crisis.
During this worldwide pandemic, we’ve seen companies that pulled back are now really struggling to regain their momentum and pick up where they left off. Rebecca was in the early days of her new business when COVID-19 shut down the world. Her entire pipeline was made of fitness and wellness businesses, but they all went dark. Rebecca was left in a moment of panic. She’d worked so hard to get the software ready and wanted to see it succeed.
Then a couple of old relationships reignited. She knew some people in healthcare who reached out to her with a need, and her business could fill that need. Pretty soon they had a really great business from the opportunities that came with those connections. It was hard, but Rebecca and her business got through it. She considers getting through 2020 to be one of her greatest home runs.
Crises can be terrifying, but if we keep our heads we may be able to see many great opportunities that come from them.
How to Leverage AI
Rebecca’s current business works with AI. She said the best thing to do is train the AI to answer all the questions our customers and employees might have and train the AI to help us find things faster. Then we can be more available to do the high-value work.
AI shouldn’t replace us because humans have a great ability to think complexly and creatively. We should let the machines do what they’re good at, the rudimentary things, and leave the human mind to take care of the exciting, rich problem-solving.
To learn more about AI, we can check out conferences like AI World or groups such as the AI Consortium. There’s a misconception that we need to be good computer programmers to do AI. There are many great programmers and scientists working on it, but they need more people who are creative and humanistic to help apply the applications to human problems and real-life situations.
Building a Team
Rebecca’s best monetization strategy is building a great team and multiplying herself with that team. “All the work ethic and time in the world that I can put into something will never be sufficient. . . . My dreams are much bigger than my time allows,” she said.
With a great team, we can accomplish more than we ever could on our own. Not only does a team help with timing, but we can also fill a team with thought leaders and learn and improve from their ideas. Great team members can expand on what we’ve started and through them, great things can happen.
Thank you so much Rebecca for sharing your stories and insights with us today. Here are some of my key takeaways from this episode:
Connect with Rebecca
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