- 1 / Opening Image / hero (0:30) Hi guys! My name is Barbara Ondrisek and today I&apos;m going to give a talk about my experience developing one of the very first chatbots on Facebook, but definitely Austria’s first Facebook Messenger and Skype chat bot. About me: I’ve made my PhD at the University of Technology Vienna and been working as a freelancer for more than 15 years for different big companies mostly as a Backend developer on Java web projects, but I also like mobile development a lot.
- 2 / Set-up / before / what is missing (1:00) I have a strong Backend background and in the last couple of years I was working as a Senior Backend developer with a disposedness to full stack and mobile. I also love to play around with other technologies - lately with Ionic or AngularJS (especially in my last project George for the Erste Group, Austria’s largest bank). I also was working as a freelancer for several years, but I was always lacking this one super idea to found my own startup. And as Facebook announced on their F8 conference mid of April to open up their Messenger platform to bots I was eager to try their API! But with which project?
- 3 / theme (1:15) LIKE A HIPSTER! Over time I started a couple of blogs such as electrobabe.at (2005), but then 3 years ago a spin-off from electrobabe evolved and I created a food(nerd)blog chefbabe.at. Since I also always loved mobile development I soon created a native Android app, followed by another and another and finally LIKE A HIPSTER was born.
- 3 / theme (1:30) CONT. The LIKE A HIPSTER app helps you discover the best and hippest places in your vicinity based on your geo-location. LIKE A HIPSTER was originally a fun project (pet project) which I started with my cat and a friend and it turned out to become more popular than we expected. Due to severe group pressure and the success of the Android app I had to develop an iOS app too. My desire was always to make LIKE A HIPSTER big, but I kind of did not work. No one is using apps anymore - let alone to pay for apps.
- 4 / catalyst (2:00) Microsoft announced end of March at their BUILD conference the bot-support on Skype. Two weeks later Facebook announced at their F8 conference that they finally opened their messenger API for bots and the first bots started to be approved by Facebook. Only a few days later Hi Poncho, a Facebook Messenger weather bot, raised 2M of funding. Further Google presented at their Google I/O (mid May) another innovative chat platform Allo that also should support bots. Further they announced in mid July their Cloud Natural Language API as a Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Machine Learning framework. IBM also released their NLP framework Watson. So all of the big players in the field are pushing the topic. Just a couple of days ago, Google announced, they bought api.ai
- 5 / debade / doubt (2:30) - chatbots are not a new thing! ok, FB and Google announces, but who cares... what about Google Glass? should I dare to walk that path? - First chatbot released 60s: ELIZA, computer scientist Weizenbaum wanted to find out how natural language can be used in human-computer-interfaces. The first chatbot was developed at the MIT AI Lab by Joseph Weizenbaum in the mid–1960s. This bot, ELIZA, simulated a Rogerian psychiatrist. ELIZA was programmed to analyze the input for key words and to respond with a number of canned phrases containing therapeutical language. - first chatbots ever where designed in this manner: question-answer system - text based computer games in the 80s such as zork
- 6: Break in Two / act two / opposite world (3:00) So I made a choice: I decided to leave the world as consultant behind! We decided for LIKE A HIPSTER to push my cat Mica as employee #1 and promoted her to “Head of Communications” as a gag. Every one loves cats! Cats are cute and conquered the internet. And every cat owner would totally love to talk to their cats. So it was obvious to turn this joke into an opportunity! Now with the FB Messenger API and the development of a chat bot I thought, it would be nice to chat with a cat so I kept the principle of a hipster cat and created Mica, the Hipster Cat as a spin-off of LIKE A HIPSTER. Mica is a cat and a bot and helps you discover the best places in your city.
- 7. B story / love story (4:00) I love fancy and hip coffee shops and restaurants! I spend lots of time hanging out in them, meeting friends or working, and I have my own favorite hipster locations in some towns where I know that the coffee and vibe is just perfect. So I thought it would be great fun to have a chat bot that shares my love for good coffee and food that can be asked for recommendations worldwide. This way whenever I want to try a new café or when I travel somewhere, I know, I can ask my trusted companion about her suggestions. Also I was always eager to try new stuff so I started to develop a chat bot for hipster recommendations using the Facebook Messenger infrastructure — and Mica, The Hipster Cat Bot was born. How does Mica work?
- 8. fun and games / The Promise of the Premise (4:30) This is the Facebook Messenger implementation - We designed her personality like this: She is a cat and a bot. She likes funny cat pictures and milk, but doesn&apos;t like water. She also enjoys hanging out in hip coffee shops and knows the the best places worldwide. The internet loves cats ... so I created Mica, the Hipster Cat Bot as fictional character and my chatbot got a face. First I thought I use my cat&apos;s face as fb page icon, but than I thougt an abstraction would fit better.
- 8. fun and games / The Promise of the Premise (5:00) CONT. So, why only stay with one platform? There are so many such as Kik, Line App, Telegram… and so I thought I implement it on Skype! Microsoft announced end of March – two weeks earlyer than Facebook - at their BUILD conference the bot-support on Skype. Facebook has 900 mio unique users per month, Skype still has 300 mio!
- 8. fun and games / The Promise of the Premise (5:30) CONT. and so I decided to implement it on Skype! Skype implementation is missing some features. Meanwhile there are structured messages (buttons), no animated content (gifs, videos)
- 8. fun and games / The Promise of the Premise (6:00) CONT. To implement a bot for Facebook Messenger or Skype you simply have to implement a Webhook that can be written in any language you want. I chose Java because I like the object oriented language most. In Java you have to write DTOs to handle the different REST resp. Json objects. The backend is hosted on AWS EC2 and uses also a simple MySQL database to store basic data about the user such as his or her name or last city. - Mica on Facebook, on Product Hunt - Mica on Skype, on Product Hunt - Mica on WeChat - Mica on Telegram, on Product Hunt - developing the character, learnings, personality far more important than thought
9. Midpoint (6:30) - BotSpot Vienna founds with the first Meetups (Mayor newspapers/magazines in Austria) - PR, Interviews, Articles, Meetups and Conferences - UX designer joins the team - another developer and a marketing specialist start talks
10. Bad Guys Close In (7:00) - Poncho so much more successful, gets a lot more PR - Other bots: Swelly, Friedseek, RecordBird also get a lot of PR (in Europe) - Some get even VC or other funding (1 Mio for Poncho), - can I live up to the expectations?
10. Bad Guys Close In (7:30) CONT Many different chatbot frameworks emerge next to wit.ai, api.ai, ibm watson, microsoft luis
11. all is lost / the &quot;false defeat&quot; (8:00) - WeChat declines (not a chinese company) - Swelly got 100k bot users in the first month, 300k users (250k kik, 50k FB, virtually NONE on 30+ Telegram) after 3 month - Skype refuses to review my chatbot, submit over and over again (found a lot of Skype bugs in iOS) - frustration, self-doubt
12. Dark Night of the Soul / hopelessness (8:30) - Bots get featured on Facebook, waiting for Mica to get featured - developer checks other assignments - bad usage numbers (compared to others) - was all only a hype? Should I re-start as a freelancer again?
13. break into three (9:00) - ELIZA emerges! Forbes issue on Science and Business -&gt; idea to start a project with my doctor father Peter Purgathofer (University of Technology Vienna) concerning the area of conflict between UX- and AI-research - got the cover story of the Forbes magazine Austria!
14. Finale / synthesis (9:30) - Funding by a price (netidee 50 grand) - Skype got featured in Microsoft Botstore! User numbers suddenly start to rise - Agency projects rush in - Huge conferences invite me such as Ars Electronica in Linz, a conference in London, Talkabot.ai in Austin
14. Finale / synthesis (10:00) After Mica was featured on Skype the user numbers kind of… well, just see for yourself
14. Finale / synthesis (10:00) CONT. First of all: - Just do it! It&apos;s not so complicated to implement basic chatbot! - The APIs are still in BETA, although the FB API is more stable than the Skype version. Skype, especially the iOS version, was so buggy that after the day of my Product Hunt launch one of the Skype Skype (!) developers contacted me to go through the bugs ;) -Bot functionality is still limited. App developers are laying early groundwork on user experience, bot personality, getting access to data, developing algorithms, improving NLP, and many more challenges. - User Experience is extremely important. Otherwise users get frustrated. So a UX-Designer joined my team!
15. final image / visual change (10:30) After the first meetups we found out, that finally - maybe since ever – Vienna had an advantage: The community has been evolving faster than anywhere in Europe! So the organizers of the Bot Meetup together with other influential guys founded BotSpot Vienna! People of startups funded by accelerators such as Seedcamp or YCombinator connect in BotSpot Vienna
15. final image / visual change (11:00) CONT. - Happy end: Barbara happy with Mica, founded chatbots agency So, I founded the Chatbots Agency, the first agency for chatbots with (paying!) international customers – and we happily lived ever after. Happy end!
Ondrisek - Mica, the Hipster Cat Bot - Talkabot
A Success Story
Mica, the Hipster Cat Bot