BRAIN: A Platform That Enables Businesses To Create Chatbots And More
For this series of blog posts, I interview professionals working in the exciting world of chatbots. This week I talked with Alex Galert, founder and CEO of BRAIN: a platform that enables businesses to create chatbots.
BRAIN is basically a chatbot management system: customers can create, implement and update chatbots for their business or client’s business via the BRAIN website or iOS & Android app.
Q: Why did you decide to focus on chatbots?
In China WeChat has been offering bots since 2014. With now more than 1 billion users, it’s save to say chatbots work. People can not only shop via WeChat but can for example also buy/sell real estate, trade shares and apply for loans.
Currently more than 10 million bots are built on WeChat. Facebook has around 100.000 active bots and only a handful have payment features. This shows how far the Asian market is ahead of us.
Facebook unlocked the Messenger API in 2016 and that of course helped the ecosystem to grow rapidly. Chatbot building tools for Messenger like ManyChat and ChatFuel took off.
I watched the development of chatbots closely the last couple of years because they have such huge potential to disrupt many industries. In 2016 we decided to go for it.
Q: How did you come up with the idea to create BRAIN?
Let’s go back a bit in time: I started TechFunder in 2006 and we offer startups everything they need to launch a business successfully:
Development of the platform, design and functionality
Using the Lean Startup method ensures our team, with more than 40 developers, works very efficient. With the rise of chatbots and the need to make TechFunder even more efficient and scalable, the idea came to mind to create BRAIN. It’s actually not just a tool to build bots but a complete "business building” platform that can be used to make:
Blockchain based apps
Android and iOS apps
To get back on chatbots: we noticed the startups we help with TechFunder had to need to run bots on multiple platforms, so we started building a system that enables them to develop, deploy and maintain bots in a centralized and cost-efficient way. We currently support these messaging platforms:
Q: Can you tell me more about your white label
Agencies that want to start selling bots but don’t want to develop them can use BRAIN. It contains templates for any type of business and a marketplace including online payment options can easily be built on top of it.
Q: What kind of customers do you have?
Next month a web application for real estate will go live in the US and this marketplace is completely based on BRAIN. We for example also work for a German marketplace for cars and the German State Television - ARD.
Q: How do you land customers?
Content Marketing is the main channel to brings in new clients. I write articles about starting a new business and how chatbots and BRAIN can be used to do this. LinkedIn and Facebook are the two most important social networks for us.
Q: What technology do you use to (let users) build bots?
We use Node.js, Angular.js and MongoDB.
Q: Did the recent privacy changes at Facebook impact your business?
No, luckily we experienced no limitations and we were able to connect new businesses to Messenger via our system.
Q: Have you considered to also launch a chatbot marketplace?
BRAIN users can access a huge amount of chatbot templates for free, divided into 14 categories, at brn.ai/templates. This helps our customers to get started quickly and it increases chances of success. We might create a marketplace in the future but no decision is made about that yet.
Q: How will the chatbot landscape look in 3 years?
We will see a lot more voice-controlled bots in our every day live on gadgets operated by for example Google Home and Amazon Alexa. Natural Language Processing (NLP) is already working very well and it’s improving every year.
Q: What goals do you have set for BRAIN?
BRAIN has a dozen clients now and we want to hit 20 clients at the end of 2018. In 2020 we want to have a hundred businesses in our portfolio.
We are working hard to make a separation between building complex enterprise bots and more simple bots for SMBs via a 5 step wizard. FlashFunnel is an example that allows users to build an Instagram bot in a matter of minutes.
Q: Do you have a final take away for the readers?
Yes, sure! Why do we really think that a bright future can be expected thanks to chatbots? Read the answers in this article about bots in 2018.