If Facebook’s bot-centric announcements this week served as the call to arms to anyone hoping for a more automated future, one response came from a couple guys in New York arming up in a rather meta way. Brothers Pablo and Omar Pera launched — what else? — a “bot of bots” called Bot Hunter.
“We thought what a better way to discover new bots than a bot that curates them for you,” Omar said with a smile. “We used our own platform, Reply.ai, to build Bot Hunter.”
Essentially Bot Hunter allows queries about the latest hot bots and delivers users weekly updates. The brothers also programmed the Hunter to gather and deliver feedback to bot creators. Find your local shopping agent featured on Bot Hunter? Expect to get critical feedback.
“Initially, we’ll just send an email summary to the bot creator. And, for those that agree, we’ll put them in direct contact via Messaging,” said Omar. “They will be talking in the conversation thread of the bot… so that they can get early feedback directly from the source.”
The brothers have been building “indie” Android apps through perops.com since the platform was launched and say their 15 products have reached more than 20 million. But messaging grabbed their attention not long ago and apparently didn’t let go.
“Last year, we started paying very close attention to the emerging space of bots in messaging, and studied WeChat carefully.” Omar said. “We started experimenting: we built a few bots for Telegram and Slack. And then it just clicked: We dropped everything we were doing in the mobile app space and started building Reply.ai, a platform for business to create interactive conversations. That is, bots.”
In the midst of that the two developed chatbotsweekly.com, which quickly became a popular newsletter about chat bots.
“Every week, we share our views on the recent developments in the field to more than 2,000 technology leaders, investors and bot developers, said Omar.”
But the current focus is on using Reply.ai to help businesses small and large create and manage their bots across all messaging applications.
“We are in private beta with selected partners, and we would love the local community to contact us to get an invite and create the bot for their business,” Omar said.
Speaking of businesses, how about small businesses who might want to delve into the space?
“We are actually working with several strategic partners in the ‘local business’ industry,” Omar said. “It is a great fit for local services: they are excited to be able to serve their customers while they sleep.”
Key use cases include scheduling appointments; retrieving basic information such as hours of operation; receiving automatic follow-ups after certain purchases; promotions and loyalty programs. No need for phone calls. [See my recent piece on local bots.]
The brothers say they expect Bot Hunter to be pointing up plenty of bots focused on local, all while making their pitch to this reporter about their platform being the right place for those bots. In fact many platforms are springing up.
However we’re still at the beginning of Bots 2.0, so it’s not surprise they are not yet seeing a lot of locally-focused efforts.
“But they will come,” Omar said. “I have no doubt on that. Consumers are tired of downloading new apps. The bot-makers and chat bot platforms such as ours,are the ones who need to make sure we deliver a great experience to the consumers.”