Alumnus Joel Griffith ’09, head of growth for the AI startup Bot-It, alongside the company’s founder Maurice Bachelor appeared on ABC’s hit show, ‘Shark Tank’ to pitch Bot-it, a website and mobile app that uses artificial intelligence to help people automate online tasks like booking appointments or making restaurant reservations.
A Bot-it “pro” subscription can also be used to help people jump the line for sneaker release draws, or snag concert tickets in “seconds,” said Bachelor, the company’s lead software engineer. That makes it a somewhat controversial business: Bots have tarnished the shopping experiences of consumers across the world, including in those specific industries — sneakers and live events.
“This is a real issue,” said Rubin, the CEO of sports retailer Fanatics and a guest judge on the episode. “We have probably billions of dollars of products that bots try to buy from us each year ... Bots come to get everything.”
“What does it say about us if we’re supporting this, for those that think you’re cheating?” Kevin O’Leary added.
Bachelor and Griffith, who initially asked for $150,000 in exchange for a 10% equity stake in their business, said their technology actually helps individuals circumvent cheaters by getting real people in front of faceless bot armies.
“We want to help change the perception of bots amongst consumers,” Griffith said. “Bots aren’t always the bad guy. You can have one, too.”
The argument resonated with Rubin, who said that most of the bots on Fanatics’ platform are large-scale attempts to buy up new products, likely to resell them on third-party platforms at a high markup. Arming consumers with bots could help give regular people a fighting chance to buy items at fair prices, he surmised.
“I’d rather disrupt myself than have someone else disrupt me,” said Rubin.
After a brief discussion with he sharks, the dynamic duo received a joint offer from investors Mark Cuban and Michael Rubin of $300,000 for 30% equity in their company.
“This is the most important day of the Bot-It life,” Bachelor said. “To have both of those Sharks on our team right now is going to take us to the next level.”