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Betaworks’ botcamp wants to give 10 chatbot startups $100k

TechCrunch TechCrunch 11/04/2016 Jordan Crook

The interest around chat bots is rapidly growing, and Betaworks is looking to capitalize. 

The startup studio responsible for companies like Giphy and Instapaper is today announcing that applications are open for BotCamp, a 90-day pre-seed program for chat bot startups. Investors in the program include betaworks and the Chernin Group, with sponsors from KPCB, General Catalyst, Atomico and RRE.

BotCamp is set to accept 10 companies, with each receiving $100k in pre-seed funding. These companies will work out of the Betaworks Studios space in Manhattan’s Meatpacking district.

“The explosion of messaging-based interfaces, combined with advancements in machine intelligence, means we’re at a point where these bots are no longer just clever parlor tricks, they can be incredibly useful tools for improving productivity and helping people work together more effectively,” said betaworks EIR Peter Rojas.
 
As part of the program, Betaworks will host mentors from the major chat platforms to help facilitate connections between them and the bot-based startups. These mentors include folks from Twitter, Slack, Facebook, Amazon Alexa, Line, Kik, and Discord.

There are also a number of VC mentors from firms like Greylock, SV Angel, Eniac, Lerer Hippeau Ventures, Lightspeed, Greycroft, BoxGroup, Bloomberg Beta, Homebrew, Public Studio, Slow Ventures, as well as the New York Times R&D Lab.
 
This is a bit of a change from Betaworks traditional strategy. Betaworks either invests in portfolio companies like a traditional VC or incubates ideas (with recruited founders) as part of Betaworks Studios.
 
This mini-accelerator, with a full application process, is a different path to a similar result. At the end of the day, Betaworks is interested in clusters of companies that can help each other, and botcamp is one facet of that.

Applications open today. You can learn more about botcamp here.

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