The most popular penguin in town: meet Kip!

Thousands of users start thousands of conversations with Kip each month.

Sometimes a company’s first idea isn’t quite right, and you end up switching gears to focus on something else. This was true for Slack. For us, that meant pivoting from a gaming company, Tiny Speck, to Slack, a new messaging app for teams. For Rachel Law and Alyx Baldwin, that meant taking their search engine built for context-sensitive mapping, and shifting towards a chat based shopping bot, named Kip (who also happens to be an adorable penguin).

First, meet Alyx and Rachel, the founders of Kip!

Now, let’s look back at the story of Kip from the very beginning, up until now.

Late 90s: Alyx takes interest in building bots on IRC and ICQ. Notice her serious gaze as she solders a circuit board below.

Fall 2012: Rachel and Alyx meet at Parsons where they both received their masters in design and technology.

Summer 2014: Go through an accelerator called Startfast, where they learned a lot about business development, management, and investor relations.

Fall 2014: Alyx and Rachel start using Slack.

February 2015: Kip is founded as a search engine that powers end-user shopping (by incorporating context sensitive mapping…of course)!

March 2015: Kip makes two new hires: Peter Brandt (left) joins the team as VP of Engineering and Mitsuaki Uchimoto (right) joins as a software engineer.

June 2015: The Kip app launches on iOS and Android.

Early summer 2015: Rachel and Alyx work on the first character mockups for Kip!

Late summer 2015: Rachel gets frustrated by the process of coordinating team lunches and ordering office supplies for over 16 employees.

Fall 2015: The memorable aha moment! Alyx hosts an internal Hackathon where she has the idea turn Kip into a Slack chatbot, to better engage Kip’s users.

November 2015: The idea of Kip turned bot-like becomes a reality — first prototypes of Kip below.

December 2015: Slack launches its platform and introduces the ‘Add to Slack’ button.

January 2016: User testing with Venture Capital office admins to validate use case and gather feedback.

January 2016: Alyx and Rachel work with the Slack team to get design feedback that helped them refine the Kip UI and fix early bugs that were identified (you can read more about their experience in this post that they published later on, “How to get your Bot on the Slack App Directory”).

February 2016: Kip is published in the Slack App Directory and numbers start to jump.

March 2016: Alyx and Rachel publish an article on Medium, “Designing Chat for Commerce” to share learnings about Kip’s shift into the world of bots.

June 2016: Results are in!

  • 523 teams
  • 31,800 users
  • 19,375 searches / conversations initiated with Kip monthly
  • 150–200 orders / month from different teams
  • Average checkout basket value is $150–250 per order

If you’re an office admin, team manager, or just interested in purchasing some goods for your team, install Kip and get help from your new friend!