Chatbots are changing the way people communicate with businesses. They’re changing the way people learn, and even how they live and work. The chatbot industry is making waves and evolving fast—and tech students about to enter the job market want in.
The problem is, schools generally don’t offer a course on Chatbots 101. Students interested in this field don’t have many opportunities to access relevant education or real-world experience to put on their resumes.
Taiwan-based bot agency GoSky AI noticed this opportunity, and decided to take action. They started an annual training program to teach local students how to build Chatfuel bots, which culminates in a competition called Chatbot Generation. It gives university students a chance to learn marketable, cutting-edge tech skills, and work with real brands to build industry experience.
This event sets young people up for success after graduation. It exposes more students and more businesses to the power of chatbots. And ultimately—it’s helping shape the future of chatbot technology by preparing tomorrow’s industry leaders.
The vision for Chatbot Generation
GoSky started Chatbot Generation in 2018 because they wanted to help students build the skills tech companies are looking for. “We see a big gap between schools and society especially in Asia,” GoSky Co-Founder and COO Janet Chiang explains, “because schools in Asia tend to focus more on theory than hands-on learning.”
Chatbot Generation represents the opportunity for this hands-on learning, which is exactly why hundreds of students jumped at the chance to participate.
GoSky’s core vision for the competition is even broader, though, Janet tells us. “More importantly, the goal of the competition is to change how students think about the world, and help them see how each of them can actually impact society in different ways.”
Chatbots are powerful tools that allow personalized conversations at scale. GoSky uses the competition to put that power in the hands of young people, to show them the potential they have in this industry and the many others it affects.
Training bright young minds
For this year’s event, GoSky picked the top 30 candidates from over 500 undergraduate and master’s students who applied. They chose only the most promising candidates, which turned out to be a diverse group in many ways.
Business and engineering majors were attracted to the competition, as expected. But students with majors in other areas like the arts participated, too. “Some of them even decided to switch their original career plan to focus on tech-related jobs instead,” Janet shares. Plus, 70% of the 2019 competitors were women—an especially important fact given that tech is typically a male-dominated industry.
Of course, before the competition could begin, the students had to be trained. “There’s no academic school here teaching “chatbots” as a subject currently,” explains Janet. That’s why the GoSky team set up six months of intensive training for the students first.
They taught them how to build effective bots with Chatfuel, but that wasn’t all. With help from a CLC (Community Leadership Circles) rep from Facebook, they also gave lessons on things like marketing and digital ads. “Chatbots are powerful, but not without traffic. Therefore, we needed to teach the students about creative campaigns and advertising to acquire users,” says Janet.
Real-life brands for hands-on experience
After half a year of building key skills, the students were ready to compete. GoSky split them into ten teams and gave them two months to build and launch a real chatbot for a real brand.
From media and sports to finance and ecommerce, GoSky chose companies in diverse industries as subjects for the competition. The idea was to “give students experience in industries they may not be familiar with,” Janet explains, and to show how chatbots can make an impact on most any type of business.
Their two-month timeframe was up this October, which was when GoSky hosted a Demo Day for the students to showcase their work. The groups presented their bots and campaign results in front of a crowd, which was GoSky’s intention. Their idea was to expose as many people as possible to the potential of chatbots.
In the end, there were 50 senior executives, 200 industry professionals, and 200 other students in attendance, plus two TV news stations and five digital media companies.
The winning team of Chatbot Generation 2019
The GoSky judges studied the results of each team’s bot campaign, and interviewed the brands to learn more about how impactful they were. “We were amazed to see the work from the students,” shared Janet, “and feedback from all the brands was positive too.” But Chatbot Generation is a competition, and there could only be one winner. In the end, the students who built a bot for VOGUE Taiwan won the prize.
What stood out about the winning team was how they blended art and science to create a campaign that was a smash-hit with users. It all started with their careful analysis of VOGUE’s existing Facebook-page fans, so they could tailor the bot’s flow and functions to these users.
Then, they took inspiration from the magazine’s theme of high fashion to create quality graphics that helped draw new users in and keep them engaged. Their bot gained an incredible 20,000 subscribers in just two weeks. Plus, the students made sure to gather attributes for these new users (like age, occupation, interests, where they live), which became indispensable to VOGUE’s future marketing efforts.
More than just a cash prize
The official prize for the winners was $30,000 NTD ($1,000 USD), plus major media attention. But for most students, the other outcomes of the competition were worth much more. All 30 got to build practical skills that will set them apart in the job market—and for more than a few of them, that paid dividends right away.
Janet tells us that getting students jobs and internships isn’t the goal of the competition—that it’s simply for GoSky to “be the bridge between brands and students.” Still, it’s not uncommon for students to get job opportunities as a result of Chatbot Generation.
“Both VOGUE Taiwan and Kdan Mobile offered job openings specifically for students from Chatbot Generation,” says Janet, and “other brands also stated that students who have certificates from Chatbot Generation would get priority in some job opportunities.” Plus, GoSky brought four students from last year on as interns at their own business, and two of those went on to become their full-time employees.
The future of the competition
Will there be a Chatbot Generation 2020? “Definitely,” says Janet. “We will continue to support chatbot education in the coming years.”
She also shared GoSky’s plans for growing the reach of the competition. “Our goal for GoSky Chatbot Generation 2020 is to expand the competition to Southeast Asia and attract an even more diverse group of students. We want to teach students around the world about GoSky, Chatfuel, and the power of chatbots, one region at a time.”
We want to teach students around the world about GoSky, Chatfuel, and the power of chatbots, one region at a time. -Janet Chiang, GoSky AI
The future of the chatbot industry
This competition is a great reminder to zoom out from our blocks and flows and take in the big picture. A bot is an incredible tool for your business, but that’s not all.
In this case, Chatfuel bots are helping students build the professional skills and confidence that will empower them to positively impact this industry in the years to come. There’s no doubt about it; the future of the chatbot industry is bright!💡
Chatfuel and GoSky AI have been partners since 2017. We helped support and promote their competition from its inception last year, and we’re proud to power all the bots their students built. If you’re interested in GoSky’s services to take your organization to the next level, contact them by visiting their chatbot. If you're interested in Chatfuel's white-label agency plan, contact us.