[FW Radar] Bly, the virtual assistant for online shopping

by bold-lichterman

Founded in November 2016 by Mahieddine Cherif and Farah Maamar, Bly is a chatbot. It searches all the online classifieds for the one that best suits your query.

More details with Mahieddine Cherif, co-founder of Getbly.

FrenchWeb: What needs does your service meet?

Mahieddine Cherif, co-founder of Bly: Today, online classifieds services suffer from two major problems:

  • Trust, in fact on an ad site, nobody knows who their interlocutor is until the moment of the meeting and especially nobody wants to be the guinea pig of the next scam technique.

  • The saturation of ad sites makes the search process quite tedious; what worked before no longer works today, in short, ad services are becoming obsolete, inefficient and sometimes even dangerous.

With Bly we approached these two major issues from a different angle.

What is your value proposition?

Bly is a conversational assistant dedicated to the purchase, sale, rental and services between individuals and / or professionals ranging from real estate to cars, including furniture. It is instantly accessible on Messenger. The user chats with Bly as they would a friend, and Bly responds instantly on Facebook’s secure platform. For example the user can express himself thus and say: “I am looking for an apartment in Paris for no more than 830 euros” or “I am selling my Xbox One for 200 euros”, Bly extracts the various information necessary for the execution of its request (location, budget, etc.) and returns its proposals to the user. In addition, if Bly does not find anything, it can warn you as soon as there is an offer likely to interest you, so Bly always supports the user in his research or his sale / rental.

Who are the users of your solutions?

Social networks have clearly revolutionized our social interactions, the genius of Facebook is that it has been able to model most of them. Now more and more people are buying and selling directly on Facebook. It is these users who are already doing these buying and selling / renting actions on Facebook that we are targeting. They are generally Millennials but not only individuals but also professionals. Our current users are often looking for rentals, or electronic devices. What really pleases is the ease of use, the impression that you are talking to a friend and the support of the assistant even when you cannot find what you were looking for. The fact of being able to express themselves in a natural way made that our users were quickly able to adapt to its use.

What is your development plan?

Today, we are focused on the continuous improvement of the research process and the development of a platform for professionals that will allow them to manage their ads and have more in-depth statistics than what we can have in the traditional services.

We want to increase our active user base by 5 by December, we already have quite a few people using our service, some 50,000 announcements have already been placed since the launch of the public beta last November. Which is a drop of water in the world of classifieds. However, it allows us to confirm the operation of our technology and to move forward calmly.

At the moment we are focused on the French market and although we are already present in Belgium, UK, Canada and USA (you guessed it Bly is bilingual!) It is more on an experimental basis. In the medium term, however, we plan to expand in other countries. But this will require new developments adapted to the culture of the country in question.

What are your challenges?

Today, over 450 million people visit peer-to-peer buy / sell groups on Facebook, making Facebook the # 1 classified ad site in the world. Our ambition is to capture part of this user base which is already on Facebook. We want Bly to become the friend we think of when we want to rent, sell or buy and accessible directly on Messenger.

For the moment, we are running on our own funds which allows us to execute our vision freely, in the medium term we intend to work on fundraising. This fundraising will allow us to recruit engineers to develop our international service even more quickly.

Who are your competitors?

Our competitors are mainly traditional classifieds sites as well as the Facebook Marketplace. What sets us apart? First a 360 ° change of use through a conversational agent we are no longer in the current logic of sites / app (catalog -> research) but a logic of advice and assistance provided by AI to carry out buy / sell actions.

The interest of all this is:

  • Already considerable time savings, the more you use the chatbot the better it will get to know you and the more time you will save.

  • Security of exchanges by avoiding going through e-mails and passing by messenger we avoid the crooks of the network.

  • The service is completely free.

  • The notification system is ultra powerful and allows you to be alerted instantly.

Founders: Mahieddine Cherif and Farah Maamar

Creation date : november 2016

Fundraising : any

Seat : Paris

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