Chatbots have been in use for quite a while now, but are still in an early phase of their development. For the XPLR: MEDIA magazine our author Lisa Priller-Gebhardt and photographer Sebastian Arlt met the Würzburg-based startup Botfriends.

"Chatbots were just an after-hours joke at first, then they became our business."
Kevin Dees
Botfriends Founder Michelle Skodowski
Sometimes also speaks as a chatbot evangelist at tech events: Michelle Skodowski wants to get women excited about entrepreneurship and technical topics

The Botfriends was founded and is run by Michelle Skodowski, Kevin Dees, Daniel Rösch and Tobias Gansler. All of them studied in Würzburg, the three men business informatics, Michelle Skodowski e-commerce. The business model for their agency for automated communication was developed during an internship. "Daniel and I were interns at Porsche in Stuttgart in 2016. Chatbots were still in their beginning at that time and we dabbled into them after work," says Kevin Dees. "We programmed a prototype that we were allowed to bring to market for Porsche in the digital lab in Berlin." The leisure activity quickly turned into a solid business, which was in the black right from the beginning.

The list of startups with a good start and hard landing is long. Worldwide only ten percent survive – failure is the norm. Botfriends is different: Since its foundation three years ago, the success curve has been on the upswing. The IT specialists develop chatbots and voice assistants based on AI. By now the team in Würzburg employs 25 people and works with large companies such as Porsche, Bosch and Telekom.

"We are thus one of the few providers in Germany, that is able to provide targeted support for customers in the area of chatbot operations"

Kevin Dees

Botfriends Founder Kevin Dees
Setting up chatbots is one thing, constantly improving them and adapting them to needs – that's the art, says Kevin Dees

In their business field "automation of communication" the Botfriends are among the clock generators. As one of the first IT booths in Bavaria, they solved a problem that many companies are struggling with. "The central administration of chat bots was a problem," explains Dees. "Every larger company uses them in different departments and locations and has little control or knowledge of where the individual chat bots are docked". The Botfriends developed the solution using the Botfriends X platform, which can bring together all existing AI-based programs. "Now our customers can not only combine their chatbots and voice assistants on a single platform, but also use them productively," says Dees. "We are thus one of the few providers in Germany that is able to provide targeted support for customers in the area of chatbot operations," explains the young entrepreneur.

The whole story about the Botfriends can be found in the XPLR: MEDIA Magazine and in the magazine section on

Cover Xplr Magazin
Changing the face of storytelling XPLR Media Magazine

The latest developments in the media industry, innovative projects, hidden champions and young media professionals in Bavaria – for XPLR: MEDIA storyboard created a print magazine for the Media Days Munich 2020. A lot of the articles are extended online and show how diverse Bavaria is as location for media businesses.