From Burgers To bots, A Strange Utah Journey

This article was published in the Winter 2019 issue

42Chat creates Mobile AI Chatbots that allow companies to provide instant answers and personalized connections over text. As the market leader in deep conversational bots for live events, 42Chat is revolutionizing the way attendees experience an event by providing 24/7 interaction and engagement via SMS Web Messenger, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and other messaging platforms.

Co-Founders Bob Caldwell and Chuck Elias first met working at a hamburger stand on the boardwalk in Ocean City, Maryland in the 1980’s while they were in their teens. The boys worked at “The Alaska Stand”, and while you may not have heard of it, you’ve certainly heard of “Five Guys”, whose menu was inspired by Alaska Stand’s burgers and “Thrashers Fries” (next door to the A-stand).

There must have been something in the water at the A-stand, since nearly everyone went on to incredible business success. This included the future Global Brand Manager for Bentley Automobiles, the largest wholesale plumbing distributor in the mid-Atlantic, one the largest soybean farmers in the mid-Atlantic, and the head of VIP Sales for the Baltimore Orioles. As Elias says, “The business talent coming out of one shift flipping and selling burgers is kind of crazy to think about.”

Caldwell has since built and sold multiple businesses, including the world’s leading merchant risk company (G2 Web Services) and is the lead investor in one of the largest healthcare companies in Utah (ConnexionPoint). Elias went on to serve in the U.S. Coast Guard, graduated from Harvard Business School, and has led multi-billion-dollar businesses at Home Depot, SuperValu, and other leading companies.

After working on the boardwalk, their lives headed in different directions for over a decade until their paths crossed thousands of miles from the beach in a hay maze in Utah’s famous Gardner Village. Both had recently relocated to Utah, lived about a mile apart, and worked for tech startups.

Caldwell stayed in Utah building G2 while Elias left for a successful corporate career — but they always stayed in touch. More than another decade passed when in 2016 one of the co-founders was frustrated that he couldn’t reply to an outbound SMS text from a business and have a real conversation. “If I use text to communicate with my friends and family, why can’t I do that with a business?” says Elias. “And, since 90 percent of customer service interactions are repetitive, why can’t we build smart automation to respond automatically. And that’s where the idea for 42Chat was born.”

Along the way, it became clear that text was the most powerful (and underutilized) customer support channel. “Everyone texts, from 8 to 80,” says Caldwell, “and since text has a 98% open rate, why wouldn’t you use this incredible tool to not only send a text, but to communicate back in real time?”

Elias says that while their initial bots were pretty basic, the explosion in messaging platforms and improvements in AI technologies, when combined with great design, allowed them to build increasingly sophisticated conversational bots for businesses. Today, 42Chat’s deep conversational bots can understand the millions of different ways questions are asked, in natural language, and then immediately deliver the correct response.

In May of 2017, 42Chat built their first fully conversational Mobile AI Chatbot in the events industry for BizBash, a magazine and events company that is a leading source of ideas, news, and resources for event and meeting professionals. “Betty”, the BizBash Live EventBot, quickly became famous for her purple hair, sassy personality, and instant support.

In August of 2017, 42Chat won their first of what was to become 17 industry awards, from SISO, the Society for Independent Show Organizers, and they were on their way. Since then, 42Chat has deployed hundreds of bots, for everything from small meetings to 100,000-person trade shows to sporting events to weddings. 42Chat recently launched the first self-service EventBot builder, which allows customers to answer a few simple questions, and in minutes, deploy a deep conversational bot to support their attendees and guests. “This is a game changer,” says Elias.

“As we’ve grown and learned the power of Mobile AI Chatbots to change the customer experience, we continue to find new uses for our technology and can’t find the edge of the chatbot space,” says Caldwell. “The beautiful thing about our chatbots is that our clients don’t see them as a technology, but as the perfect team member. Answer exactly the way you want, instantly, 24/7/365, and are always in a good mood, continuously learning, all while providing a complete written record of every single interaction.”

Says Elias, “We’re excited to be a part of the Silicon Slopes business community and are proud to partner with the Silicon Slopes Tech Summit to deploy a chatbot for this incredible event.”

For more information on 42Chat, visit

Read the rest of the articles in the Winter 2019 issue of Silicon Slopes Magazine


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