Pandas in Convos Getting Coffee
“The name is ConvoPanda. It was originally Convo.AI but it put emphasis on the wrong thing and in sales conversations people wanted to see the AI and how cool the tech was but the model is more driving business results and leads into the funnel. I wanted to change the name to something that was more of a brand mascot, something more accessible,” said Harry Welchel as he explained the story behind the startup’s name ConvoPanda to the 1 Million Cups Cherokee (1MC Cherokee) community.
You have probably seen a chatbot in action before, maybe one popped up on the screen of a website to help you find a certain link or one might have messaged you on LinkedIn about a potential job opportunity. Chatbots are a crucial component of today’s marketing strategies and are designed to help businesses automate daily tasks in areas such as sales, marketing, and customer service.
While working as a software engineer and digital marketer for SalesLoft and Bed, Bath, and Beyond, Harry Welchel recognized this growing trend and left the corporate world to launch the startup ConvoPanda. The Atlanta-based marketing agency helps Saas (software as a service) businesses scale their business by using customer messaging platforms such as Intercom and Drift. ConvoPanda helps with web traffic generation and conversion at multiple steps throughout the sales funnel. The chatbot program can automate organic outreach on LinkedIn and generate genuine conversation with customers for the company.
Welchel explained the inspiration behind the startup: “I was doing the sales, the marketing, I was building the product and I was wondering if I could do something a little different and create a product that offered customers more value. I first started a brand called Convo.AI (AI for artificial intelligence), I worked with a couple of local companies and built a few chatbots for them. What I realized is that chatbots help them convert customers and book demos, but the companies also needed help driving traffic towards the site in the first place.”
It did not take much time before the audience Q&A time kicked off with a lot of energy and interest to learn more, dig deeper, and offer actionable feedback and solutions.
Is there a specific vertical you want to focus in on?
“We focus on B2B Saas companies who are making serious revenue. That has served me well and I can probably niche down further but there is plenty of demand in that market. Generally with these hi-tech companies, once they hit their series A funding they want to scale fast and that is where I want to be.”
Can you maintain them as you grow and add service to it? You have to be able to add value at every level and grow your clients’ needs. You want to tell them what they need. How are you doing that?
“I haven’t figured it out entirely. The first engagement I started with was the conversion piece: building out the chatbots to convert anonymous visitors into leads and leads into demos on the site. Then I realized some folks may want help with traffic generation, so I built a lead generation tool. At the end of the day, the longer term is to build the software yourself.
How are you getting in front of your ideal clients?
“I am doing two things: one is the lead generation service with a LinkedIn automation chatbot. The second is through Facebook Messenger niche industry groups to reach out to CEOs. You can send them a request and chat with them via Messenger. I closed a $6,000/month deal through that.”
Welchel handled the Q&A time calmly and confidently and closed sharing an honest lesson with the community:
“What I wish I had known then that I know now is: a lot of the success I’ve had in the last few months has come from finding other people that are a couple steps ahead of me, clearly know what they’re doing, and working with them. Being able to figure out what you don’t know and going to learn that thing or find someone you think can help you.”
1 Million Cups is a gathering of the local community with the intent to educate, engage, and connect fellow entrepreneurs and startups. An emerging company is given 10 minutes to pitch their business model and speak on the challenges they are currently facing. A 30-minute Q&A session allows the audience to give feedback and show support.