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Our Founding Story

Why every business will have a chatbot

Octane AI was founded in 2016 by Y Combinator alum, former Ustream product manager, 2x Forbes 30 Under 30, and Chatbots Magazine creator Matt Schlicht; former Mashable co-editor and editor-at-large, CNET columnist, venture capitalist, Forbes 30 under 30, and Captivology author Ben Parr; and Omegle creator and owner Leif K-Brooks. Octane AI’s lead investor is Evernote founder Phil Libin at General Catalyst.

Octane AI came into existence as a result of the difficulty that exists in creating and managing chatbots. Matt became fascinated with messaging ever since he learned that the top messaging platforms are bigger and growing faster than the top social networks. His interest in messaging led him to create Chatbots Magazine, the Bots Group on Facebook, and the definitive beginner’s guide to chatbots.

The magazine and the group took off like rocket ships. Chatbots Magazine now captivates over 250,000 readers per month, and the Bots Group has become the largest community of chatbot developers in the world, with 17,000+ developers, investors and enthusiasts discussing bots, messaging, and artificial intelligence.

As a result, countless brands, startups, and investors came to him for help navigating the chatbot world. Do we need a bot? Who should we work with to build a bot? What features should our bot have?

Matt realized that everyone from musicians to teachers to big brands needed a simple platform that could create feature-rich bots in minutes, all without any programming. So he teamed up with his co-founders Ben Parr and Leif K-Brooks to create Octane AI.

The Team

We Are a Worldwide Team of Bot Enthusiasts

Matt's Headshot
Matt Schlicht Co-Founder & CEO

Matt Schlicht has inspired tens of thousands of people to build chatbots. He created Chatbots Magazine, the bot industry’s leading trade publication, and he founded the Bots Group, the largest community of bot developers in the world. He was the first head of product at Ustream, a Y Combinator alum, and an advisor to Socialcam. He has been named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 twice.

Ben's Headshot
Ben Parr Co-Founder & CMO

Ben is an award-winning entrepreneur, investor, author, and journalist. He wrote Captivology: The Science of Capturing People’s Attention, named the top marketing book of 2015 by Strategy+Business Magazine. He is a founder of DominateFund, sits on Lufthansa’s advisory board, and is the former Co-Editor of Mashable, where he wrote more than 2,400 articles. He is a member of the Forbes 30 Under 30.

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Leif K-Brooks Co-Founder & CTO

Leif is one of the world’s leading experts at scaling and building chat technologies and has been building chat platforms for the last decade. He is the founder and creator of Omegle, one of the largest chat platforms of its kind. More than a million people use Omegle daily and his technology has powered over 2 billion conversations.

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Megan Berry Head of Product

Megan Berry has focused her career around building communities and social products. Previously, she was VP Product at RebelMouse, where she helped brands and startups drive organic growth from their content. She also ran a consulting company focused on helping early stage startups achieve momentum through community and social products. Before that, she led community and marketing at social influence startup Klout, after joining as their fourth employee. Megan graduated from Stanford Phi Beta Kappa.

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Nike Gurin-Petrovych Senior Software Engineer

Nike is passionate about performance optimizations, big data and AI. He was previously CTO of RebelMouse, where he led an engineering team of more than 40 people located across the globe. Before that, he was an engineering lead at Huffington Post, which grew to over 1.7 billion page views a month when he was there.

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Elicia Banks-Gabriel Account Manager

Elicia is a seasoned advertising vet with experience in account management, IP brand development, and creative strategy. As your Octane AI account manager, she will guide you through every aspect of understanding and building strategic chatbots for your business. She is also the proud founder of Knighthawk, the best rescued tuxedo cat in the world.

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Justin Zelinsky Software Engineer

Justin Zelinsky is Octane AI’s first engineer and a fan of music festivals, Korean BBQ, and traveling around the world. He is responsible for hundreds, if not thousands, of Fast Parrot in the team Slack.

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Kelli Kissack Content Manager

Kelli is an avid reader, writer and learner with startup experience in content strategy, social media management and digital marketing. As Octane AI’s content manager, she provides the community with a wealth of resources to better understand and utilize bots. She loves horses, cooking, photography and traveling the United States with her cowboy husband Dane and their mini Aussie Manny.

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Rodrigo Garcia Lead Designer

Rodrigo Garcia is an experienced UI/UX designer who believes good design doesn't just look beautiful but solves a problem and exceeds performance goals. Previously, he was Head of Design at RebelMouse where he led a world-class team of 6. He was also lead designer at Huffington Post for 2 years and part of the team that took the company to a $315 million acquisition by AOL. He's also consulted on user-experience and social-first designs for Lerer Hippeau Ventures portfolio companies including Newsle, NowThisNews, Popdust, and Grovo. He is based in New York and is originally from Mexico City.

Ivan's Headshot
Ivan Križnar Software Engineer

Ivan is a software developer at Octane AI with more than 10 years of experience building great products at startups, small businesses, and large enterprises. He worked as a Google GRC core contributor for two years and has collaborated with major brands such as Sony, ESPN, General Electric, NBC, Spotify and Amazon.

Daniel's Headshot
Daniel Kapitanj Software Engineer

Daniel ensures that Octane AI looks pixel perfect and responsive. He loves working on fast-growing projects that challenge him to develop fast, optimized, lightweight, and reusable code. He is excited about the future of bots and happy to make it happen as part of the Octane AI team. He previously worked at RebelMouse, Wetouch, Saturized and Danulabs.

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Milena Kovačević Product Support

Milena loves making things easier for users. She does product support which involves testing features before they go live and helping customers with any issues they have using the product. Previously she was Senior Product Manager at RebelMouse, an editor of several online portals, and an account manager and community manager for a few Canadian and Serbian companies. She is currently based in Serbia but loves to travel. She's a total bookworm and loves retro video games like Heroes of Might and Magic III.

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Octie Team Mascot

Octie is Octane AI’s lovable mascot. It loves poetry, hover walks on the beach, and making chatbots accessible to everyone! While you can find Octie pretty much anywhere at Octane AI, its origins remain a mystery. Rumors have been flying around about Octie’s origins for years, but our team of journalists have yet to verify any of the claims.


Help us build a smarter future

Octane AI is building the future of bots, automation, and artificial intelligence, one chatbot at a time. We are led by a team of experienced and battle-tested entrepreneurs with domain expertise in technology and deep ties in Silicon Valley. We are backed by respected venture capital firm General Catalyst.

Our headquarters are in San Francisco, but the majority of our team is remote. In other words, we do not care where you live -- if you’re talented and filled with positive energy, we want you to join us.

Current Opportunities

Help us make chatbots and AI accessible to everyone!