Natasha Takahashi

Democratizing Chatbot Education Across the Globe

1. Howdy, Natasha! What's your background, and what are you working on?

Hey there! I’m a conversational marketing expert and educator, and Co-Founder of School of Bots. Coming from a tech startup background, I started working on bots when Facebook Messenger launched bots on the platform in 2016.

At the end of 2017, my co-founder Kyle and I partnered with Chatfuel (one of the most popular Messenger bot building platforms) to create an online course that would teach entrepreneurs how to build, sell, and monetize chatbots, and School of Bots was born.

Our aim at School of Bots is to democratize chatbot education. We do that by offering educational programs, hosting the popular “There’s a Bot For That” show, running a template marketplace, and hosting live workshops. We’ve taught 2500+ people in 30+ countries.

At the moment, my job duties are split between taking client meetings, managing the School of Bots community, and creating new content every week for the School of Bots channels.

2. What motivated you to start School of Bots?

Before School of Bots, I was managing my chatbot agency full-time while “digital nomading” in Asia, Australia, the U.S., and Mexico. To date, we’ve built over 90 chatbots. I think I’ll officially retire the agency once we hit 100.

Here's a picture from my travels:

The idea for School of Bots was the result of my frustration that there wasn’t any reliable, up-to-date source of information on bots available online. Youtube videos, Medium articles, Quora posts, and blogs had tutorials and guides, but they were typically outdated within a month or two of being posted. People were consuming unreliable information and implementing it, causing problems for them, like Facebook banning their bots from Messenger.

I’ve also always wanted to lead communities. I have several friends who are influential in the online course world and I wanted their lifestyle. However, I had no idea what topic to focus on until the idea for School of Bots came around. Once Kyle and I started working on it together, it just felt right. School of Bots was the perfect opportunity to lead a community of people passionate about the same topics as I am.

3. What went into getting your first paying customer?

At School of Bots, our first paying customers came from our Master Messenger Bots program, which teaches how to build, sell, and monetize chatbots.

We didn’t have a community, bot list, or email list when we launched the program. However, we happened to launch a smaller course at the same time, for which we charged $1. We added the Master Messenger Bots program on as an up-sell for $297 and people actually bought it!

4. What went into getting your first 10 unaffiliated customers?

Our unaffiliated customers started buying from us because of the amount of content we were putting out. We’d stream live on Facebook multiple times a week and post in our Facebook Group daily.

We didn’t have any marketing/sales funnels at the time and people were still buying our products every week. That was when we said to ourselves, this is working. People like our stuff.

5. Today, how do you attract customers?

Since our first customers, we’ve set up many marketing and sales channels and processes.

Today, people find us through our Facebook group, chatbot, website, email list, Youtube channel, Medium articles, my speaking engagements around the world, and more.

Our Facebook group is where we engage with most of our audience and can nurture those relationships the best. We’ve realized that facilitating a community can create intimate relationships with your audience much faster than any other communication form.

I think Facebook Groups are gold mines, and this is known to few—who make a killing in their businesses—and not discussed enough. For example, inside of some Facebook groups, owners Facebook Live stream once a week answering questions. When they answer questions, they direct people towards product affiliate links. They make $5,000 or more per Facebook Live.

6. In what ways that “don’t scale” do you engage customers? Why do you do this?

There are a couple handwritten/manual touchpoints that are super important to us when engaging with customers.

A couple of these include:

When someone new joins our Facebook community, one of our team members manually sends them a private welcome message.

When someone joins one of our programs, we give them a surprise call to welcome them to the program.

We regularly host dinners and pay for everyone’s meal.

Although these aren’t ideal variables to scale, they help humanize our members’ experiences, decrease our refund request rate, and increase our customer retention rate. If everything were automated, there would be no special moment to remember during the buying experience.

7. Who do you learn from?

In the past, I’ve had a few mentors that have been heavily influential in helping me get hired for a job, keeping myself disciplined and accountable, and more.

These days, I mainly learn from daily experiences with customers and partners, reading books, and paid masterminds.

These masterminds are groups of entrepreneurs who get together and talk business, teach each other, go on fun trips, and the like.

You might be thinking, why the heck would I pay to hang out with my friends?

Well, when you pay for something, you’re committed. Masterminds can give you access to very high profile individuals in your industry and in general. You’re not only getting a chance to see your friends every so often, but you’re actually paying for access to all of the new people who will be there. Just one conversation with a very influential person could change the direction of your business.

8. What’s your advice for founders who are just starting out?

Here’s my rapid fire advice for beginning founders:

Start with your minimum viable product (MVP) and keep things as simple as possible. Don’t get Shiny Object Syndrome or try to focus on too many goals or projects at once.

As soon as you can, join a paid mastermind or program in your industry to meet the top dogs.

Any time you work with a new person or even start using a new software, do a trial period. You don’t want to sign a long-term agreement before knowing what the outcome will be like.

If something doesn’t align 100% with your mission, values, gut, and vision, ignore it.

If it’s not a f*** yes, it’s a f*** no.

Content is king. If you can incorporate consistent or viral content into your marketing, you’ll grow at a much faster rate.

Check in with yourself—not your business, but you—every week to make sure that everything you’re working on aligns with who you are.

9. Where can we go to learn more?

Let’s continue this conversation!

My favorite spots to hang out online:

Website: https://www.schoolofbots.co

Facebook group (free stuff!): https://facebook.com/groups/botschool

Chatbot: https://m.me/botschool

My Facebook: facebook.com/natashatakahashi.personal

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/natashatakahashi

Last Updated 
August 20, 2018

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