Twilio on The Apprentice: ONE Championship edition - the Tech Behind the Scenes

June 25, 2021
Written by
Phil Nash

Twilio on The Apprentice: ONE Championship edition - the Tech Behind the Sceness

Throughout Asia The Apprentice has been back on TV screens, powered by Twilio as the official technology partner. The competition started with 16 candidates facing challenges, both business and physical, each week. The winner gets to work for a year as the apprentice of ONE Championship founder, chair and CEO Chatri Sityodtong.

While Twilio was being used to deliver messages to the candidates throughout the series and power a "Watch and Win" competition via Facebook Messenger bot, in episode 11 the final four candidates, Jessica, Louie, Irina, and Monica, came face-to-face with the Twilio APIs themselves as they were challenged to help non-profit organisations thrive with communication strategies that use Twilio's cloud communications platform. Let's take a look at what they built in the challenge and how they used Twilio to their advantage.

The challenge is set

Once the candidates had been given the challenge, they were paired off and assigned a charity to work with; Irina and Monica with Habitat for Humanity Singapore and Jessica and Louie with Love, Nils.

We didn't expect the candidates, from a variety of backgrounds, to dive straight into coding with the Twilio APIs. We provided a team of developers for each pair of candidates to work with and build proof of concept demos that they could use in the pitch at the end of the episode.

After speaking with their respective charities to understand their problems the teams jumped straight into video calls with teams from Twilio. For the next 36 hours the pressure was on to build and present a solution that streamlines the communication strategy of their non-profit organisation using the Twilio platform.

The candidates meet the Twilio team on a video chat

The pitches

Habitat for Humanity

First up pitching to the judges, including Twilio's own Jeff Lawson, was Irina and Monica.

Habitat for Humanity Singapore builds homes across Asia-Pacific and rehabilitates flats in Singapore for vulnerable families. Irina and Monica identified that the biggest opportunity was in the donor pipeline. They chose to use tightly integrated communications to bring people from simply being aware of Habitat for Humanity to loyal donors, championing the cause.

They wanted to captivate potential donors from their first activities on the Habitat for Humanity website, building an interactive chatbot using Twilio Autopilot. Autopilot makes it easy to train a chatbot to understand natural language, give answers, collect data and, if necessary, connect to real people.

Building on that initial contact, the team built out a demo with Twilio Flex to centralise Habitat for Humanity's communications in one place. Twilio Flex is a fully programmable contact centre, allowing you to build an agent experience that makes for a much better customer experience. Irina, Monica and their Twilio team produced a contact centre that let them load and edit customer data from Habitat for Humanity's CRM system all within Flex, allowing them to provide a highly personalized experience for everyone on their journey to becoming a loyal donor and beyond.

Irina and Monica pitch their strategy for improving the donor funnel Habitat for Humanity using Twilio Flex

Love, Nils

Love, Nils is a charity set up by Lesli Berggren after she lost her 13 year old son to cancer. They support families fighting cancer, sharing knowledge, resources and a community for these families going through such a tough time. Jessica and Louie identified that 96% of children and parents feel isolated following the child's diagnosis. They decided that community was crucial to overcoming this isolation and with the help of Twilio developers built a service they called Nils Pals to connect families with others who understood what they were going through.

They built a chatbot to guide families to reach out and connect with the Love, Nils community and Twilio Video to bring them together face-to-face, providing the opportunity for the community to offer that support that they identified was so lacking.

Jessica and Louie demonstrate their video connection application they built for Love Nils using Twilio Video

The results

I am here to share the technology used in the show, not to spoil the results. If you want to catch up on the episode check out how to watch on the The Apprentice: ONE Championship Edition site.

Your turn to build

If you were inspired by the challenges, the pitches or the technology used in this episode, you can start building yourself and we have documentation and example applications to get you going quickly with Twilio.


If you want to build with Twilio Flex, start with the Flex documentation here and check out these curated training courses for how to build with Flex.

A representation of what Twilio Flex could look like, with incoming calls and messages.


If building your own chatbot has caught your attention, then start with another facet of this season of The Apprentice. The watch and win competition was also powered by Twilio Autopilot and you can read how to build your own competition bot here. You can also learn how to build bots that give you Netflix recommendations, bots that can handle appointment booking, or bots that keep you up to date with the latest news.

A demonstration of what Twilio Autopilot can achieve, picking entities like "SF", "NYC" and "July 31st" out of natural language.


You can launch your first Twilio Video app by taking advantage of the fully featured video collaboration app that you can deploy in 5 minutes or less.

An animation showing the demo video app that can do multi-party video, text and media chat.

Then you can dig in further with posts on building a video chat with React, adding muting and unmuting to video calls, showing the dominant speaker in the call or building in emoji reactions.

You don't have to go on The Apprentice to build incredible things

It was a lot of fun being a part of The Apprentice and working with the two teams and it's always amazing to see what can be achieved by a team of builders with great ideas and the software available to them. I hope this tour through the pitches and the tech behind them has inspired you to try building on Twilio too. We can't wait to see what you build.