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Office Hack #15 — Howdy’s Lunch Bot

Envoy is all about making things easier and more fun in the office. In that spirit, we are proud to bring you our new Envoy Office Hacks podcast series. Every week, we deliver the coolest, most ingenious, and just plain fun fixes people have invented to improve efficiency and productivity in their workplace.

Today’s Envoy Office Hack takes aim at lunch hours, appetites and indecision.

Austin-based chat bot startup Howdy hacked together a bot that could help a hungry but undecided team see the light…or hot dog.

You see, like a lot of tight-knit workplace teams, picking a place for everyone to lunch at, can become a tiresome and occasionally combative exercise.

Enter: the Lunch Bot.

“Our office is in South Austin and in every direction that you look are good places to eat and cheap good places to eat…We can’t spend our time arguing everyday about which amazing hamburger we’re going to eat,” Ben Brown, CEO of Howdy


Chat bots are pieces of software that live inside messaging applications like Slack that communicate by text. They’re programmed to save you time and in this case thwart ‘hanger’.

“Second only to my passion for lunch my passion for bots, overrides.” Ben Brown, CEO of Howdy

Meet Howdy’s Lunch Bot. It keeps a low profile on Howdy’s Slack messaging channels until someone types the word “lunch.” Then Lunch Bot wakes up and suggests a place to eat. Its little bot head contains a database of restaurants Howdy employees like to frequent. It makes sure not to repeat itself too often.

The hack is as easy as pie. Or, if not in the mood for pie, simply type “Lunch 10” and Lunch Bot will serve you a table of ten more suggestions to choose from.

Flip flopping between tacos or hamburgers? Lunch Bot is specially programmed for tie breaking.

“We generally abide by the bot’s ruling…it’s here to help us” Ben Brown, CEO of Howdy

Building your own Lunch Bot is easy peasy in applications like Slack. About three lines of code is all you need to get going. This should help you out.

Or, even easier: download Howdy’s Botkit. It will do most of the work for you so you can focus on the important stuff…like your tastebuds.

“Everybody should have their own Lunch Bot….it’s immediately useful and fun to build and you get to think about tacos while you’re doing it.”

  • Ben Brown, CEO of Howdy

How to hack it

If you’d like your own workplace lunch bot, here’s what you’ll need:



Follow Slack or Botkit’s step-by-step guidance and away you go…out to eat.

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You can listen to the full story in the Envoy Office Hacks podcast. Please subscribe to the podcast in iTunes — just click here and hit ‘subscribe’.