Succeeding despite COVID-19

COVID-19 took everyone by storm, but when businesses asked how to handle it, Rebecca Clyde (MBA ’02) had the solution. As CEO and co-founder of, she knew that conversational artificial intelligence (AI) could solve some of COVID-19’s most significant stressors.

COVID-19 took everyone by storm, but when businesses asked how to handle it, Rebecca Clyde (MBA ’02) had the solution. As CEO and co-founder of, she knew that conversational artificial intelligence (AI) could solve some of COVID-19’s most significant stressors. is an AI chat platform that enables intelligent, helpful discussions between businesses and customers. “I started the company after realizing most marketing solutions weren’t aligned with customer expectations,” Clyde says. “I was disappointed with the existing marketing technologies on the market, and I knew I could create something that could help convert more leads into sales.”

From day one, she knew getting answers to basic questions shouldn’t take hours — and four years later, her company was problem-solving for a global crisis.

“Timing is everything in business, and this was made especially clear by the pandemic,” says Clyde. “We know this is a tough time for everyone, and we want to be there to help.” She adds that during times of trouble, she believes it’s critically important to have answers — and her AI has thousands of them.

Urgency is everything

COVID-19 created an environment that forced businesses to rely on virtual solutions, and people required quick answers more than ever. Clyde knows that when companies are available 24/7, they report higher levels of customer conversion and retention.

“Things are constantly changing during the coronavirus pandemic,” she explains. “People want to know if a store’s hours have changed, when it’s safe to return to their offices, and everything in between.”

Clyde’s approach to the pandemic’s uncertainty was to fight it with the exact opposite — a proven methodology. Through’s fast-knowledge acquisition capabilities, she taught her AI everything about COVID-19 right as it happened.

She details how the greatest aspect of’s method is how quickly she can build upon existing information with new information. By relying on automated AI rather than live chat, there’s no pandemic-induced issue that can’t address almost instantly.

“We have a unique approach that allows us to answer more than 90% of questions accurately and in a concise period,” she says. Her approach is why is one of the only intelligent chat providers that scales to the demands of enterprise-sized businesses.

Modern solutions for new problems

For Massage Envy Franchising, LLC, communicating with its customers during the early days of the pandemic was crucial.

The franchise giant has more than one million members across 49 states, and it needed an immediate solution — especially as a brick-and-mortar business. Clyde says that although she worked with the franchise before the pandemic, its needs changed as customer questions shifted.

“Their customers wanted to know which locations were open and how the brand was addressing COVID-19 safety protocols,” she mentions. She says trained the wellness clinic’s intelligent chat solution in mere days, putting them ahead of the coronavirus curve.

Clyde quickly discovered another application for’s intelligent chat nurturing — providing COVID-19 education to employers. In partnership with STChealth, a technology company that addresses immunization record-keeping,’s intelligent chat powered the company’s SAFE Return to Work Program offering.

“Safety during a global pandemic can’t be taken lightly,” she says. “We need to make sure employers have what they need to make informed reopening decisions.”

Clyde then shares how her company’s intelligent chat offers on-demand answers to business’ most pressing inquiries: creating a safe work environment, providing FDA-approved COVID-19 testing, and handling contact tracing. In addition to her work with Massage Envy and STChealth, Clyde also extended her intelligent chat to any health and wellness franchise affected — and she did this completely free of charge.

“Helping businesses keep their customers is the most important thing to me,” she says. “I want to be a reliable support system as businesses adjust to this new normal.”

Clyde believes that adapting to the changing times will put companies on a path to continued success. She knows that despite this daunting period in history, AI can help businesses create tangible, lasting results.

Every success story is different, of course, and Clyde’s is unique, but her account has a common thread with MBA alumni: The W. P. Carey School of Business. That’s why we wanted to know the secrets to her success.

Question: How did you come up with the idea for

Answer: I became frustrated with the existing marketing automation solutions, noticing that most of them resulted in low conversion rates and a lot of back and forth (emails, phone calls, etc.). I wanted to help businesses respond to the real-time expectations of today's modern consumer, and none of the existing marketing technologies were doing that.

Q: What are your short- and long-term goals for the company?

A: At this moment, we’re focused on helping businesses modernize their customer-facing interactions. We do this by helping them instantly respond to every single prospective customer and convert them into paying customers. For the longer term, I’m building a modern, AI-based marketing automation company in Arizona that will service global brands.

Q: What have been the most enjoyable and the most challenging parts of building the company?

A: I love hiring. We’re currently building an amazing team, and I love coming across talented, passionate people that share my vision and want to join on this adventure. The most challenging part? It's having to learn and apply so many new skills at the same time. I've had to learn product management, sales, fundraising, and dozens of other new skills that are jobs in themselves.

Q: What’s a typical workday like at

A: We’re a global team (seven countries!), so meetings start early and go late. We’re essentially “always on” in some parts of the world. My morning usually starts with a 6 a.m. workout (Pilates or yoga are my favorites), then a team check-in, customer meetings, team 1:1s, founder or investor meetings, and usually some public-facing activity like recording a webinar, podcast, or speaking at a virtual event. These days most of my day is spent on Zoom and Slack.

Q: How do you use what you learned in your MBA program in your role?

A: The most useful set of “hard skills” were finance and accounting (and understanding how to interpret statements); the best soft skills were from the negotiation class that I went through. I still reference those materials and remember every single exercise from that class. I use those skills daily: negotiating agreements with customers, new hires, investors, and partners. Hardly any day goes by that I'm not negotiating with someone. (Even at home with kids!)

Q: What advice do you have for current students interested in launching a startup or in pursuing a marketing technology career?

A: You need to truly want it! Entrepreneurship is hard. There are more losses than wins at first. So, you have to feel called to it and want it so badly you can power through all the challenges that will come your way — most are completely unimaginable. It’s a marathon, not a sprint!

Q: What was your favorite campus spot when you were a student?

A: Any open parking space in the Apache Road parking structure! It was the closest to the MBA classrooms and if there was a spot, I was golden. After that, the Memorial Union grabbing a bite before evening classes kicked off.

Q: You’re involved in Girls in Tech Phoenix and the Arizona Technology Council. How do you keep up with and these roles? Why do you think it’s important to be a part of other tech roles outside of

A: For me, it's all about building community, pipeline, and paying it forward. I'm 20 years into my career and that means it's time to be giving back in a big way. I don't mind giving up a weekend to run a Girls in Tech PHX Hackathon or to attend an AZ Tech Council evening mixer — all these events help me meet prospective employees, partners, and customers. These organizations also help me grow as a leader, which is critical to my role as the CEO of

Q: Can you finish these statements?

A: The future of AI is … going to impact us all. Best to participate and help shape it than be subjected to it.

My MBA experience was … enlightening. It forced me to grow with unique challenges that set me on a trajectory for success.

Read what other alumni are up to in the autumn 2020 W. P. Carey magazine.


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