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Claire co-founders Misha Laskin and Marta Jamrozik got their e-commerce chatbot off the ground while sleeping on family members' futons.
After winning the "Shark Tank" style competition at Salesforce.com's annual customer conference Dreamforce, they're preparing for an upgrade.
Claire won the Dreampitch competition on Tuesday, with celebrity judges will.i.am, Mark Cuban, Chris Sacca and Shahrzad Rafati picking the company over two other start-ups.
The three companies were competing for up to $200,000 from Salesforce Ventures and a spot in Salesforce's newly announced start-up incubator. The judges divvied up the money, giving Claire the majority.
Claire is already profitable — or "Ramen profitable" as it's known in Silicon Valley — in that it has two employees who are making enough money to live. Now it's time to start hiring.
"We have big customers, and we need to spend time with them," said Laskin, when asked why they need to raise money. In particular, he said they need to hire account managers.
Claire, along with CRM Market and Appinium, were grilled by the judges in front of thousands of people at a conference that attracts about 170,000 attendees.
Each company pitched to the judges for four minutes and then faced four minutes worth of questions.
The format is a familiar one for Cuban and Sacca, who are judges on ABC's reality pitch show "Shark Tank." The two investors took jabs at each other's style preferences.
Sacca, dressed in his trademark cowboy button-down, offered to give Cuban some of his play money to buy a new shirt.
Cuban's response: "Someday you may reach a point in life where you don't have to wear a certain shirt."
Sacca, who's self-employed, noted that he's not exactly dressed for a job interview.
They both agreed, along with Black Eyed Peas frontman will.i.am and BroadbandTV founder Rafati that Claire held the most promise among the contestants.
"There's actually something innovative there," Sacca said.
Claire allows retailers to get feedback on products and ad campaigns using messaging chatbots. Businesses can test consumer preferences by analyzing how users interact with the products and reward customers with loyalty points.
In response to a question from will.i.am about how they deal with trolls and spammers, Lashkin said the company has created data models to filter out bad responses.
Will.i.am said he was satisfied that the product is "hater proof."
Claire will join the Salesforce incubator, a five-month program that was launched in June. Last week the company announced the first batch of 14 start-ups that will "be immersed in Salesforce community and culture."
Correction – A previous version of this story misspelled Rafati.
Disclosure: CNBC owns the exclusive off-network cable rights to "Shark Tank."