Austin startup Conversable looks to make biz bots better

The Chaotic Moon and Zynga vets will operate the company out of Austin and Dallas

Ben Lamm and Andrew Busey, who worked together as partners at Accenture-owned Chaotic Moon Studios among their other ventures, are launching a new b-to-b startup in Austin and Dallas, Conversable, Inc.

The company, which will employ 15 at launch including Lamm and Busey, has its first client lined up, Dallas-based Wingstop, and will work with other businesses to build enterprise response system through messaging channels including Facebook Messenger, Twitter, Slack, Amazon's Echo devices and SMS.

But Lamm explained in an interview with 512tech that what Conversable will do for Fortune 500 clients will go beyond the current craze in making conversation bots.

"Bots are easy, but conversations are hard," Lamm said. "From our perspective, a lot of people define bots differently than we do."

Conversable is launching with $2 million in seed funding, most of it from Lamm and Busey, but also from investors including Kenny Tomlin, CEO and founder of Rockfish Digital, Capital Factory, of which Busey was a co-founder, and Silverton Partners.

"Messaging continues to grow exponentially and is trending to be the best way for companies to interact with their customers. Conversable, the leader in this space, is paving the way of this conversational future," Tomlin said in an email.

Conversable will help big brands deploy consumer and internal conversation systems for content, commerce and customer service, Lamm said. The systems will take advantage of a company's existing enterprise structures to beef up automated systems, and in some cases, drive customer interactions toward actual transactions, as is the case with Wingstop, which has a large millennial customer base.

Lamm said its first marquee client will use Facebook Messenger and Twitter at launch to converse with customers who will be able to interact to get more information and place order. "They might want to know about coupons, or allergies, and ask those questions in a conversational way. They'll get a response with data, images, links and seamlessly transition into the order flow," he said.

"Wingstop said, 'We want to go to where are customers are and that's in conversation channels,' " Lamm said.

About 11 of Conversable's employees will work in Austin, with a four-member team working primarily in Dallas.

Lamm and Busey recently sold another joint venture of theirs, the mobile game company Team Chaos, to Zynga. Busey will continue to work with Zynga as that team works on casino-style social games; Lamm will not.

The company has also hired Legit Corp. co-founder Tony Chen as its chief operating officer and Legit Corp. chief technical officer Isao Jonas as its CTO.