You know that helpful pop-up chat box that appears in the bottom right corner of your screen while you’re guiltily shopping a sale, kindly asking if you need help? Contrary to the cheerful, chatty nature of its responses, that probably isn’t a living breathing, empathetic human – chances are helpful ‘Sally’ was actually a machine. Chatbots have seen a resurgence of late: since launching a chatbot platform in April 2016, Facebook has had more than 11,000 chatbots added to Messenger, for example. Now, the capability of a chatbot stretches far beyond helping you place an order on an ecommerce site.
“When we launch BRiN in March 2017, she’ll know the answer to around 5000 business questions,” Dale Beaumont, founder of the world’s first AI-powered business advisor explains. “Of course this number won’t cover every scenario and every situation, but we believe this will cover a large percentage of questions asked by entrepreneurs and business owners.”
While mentorship is currently the relationship du jour in the business world, Dale points out that there are a few shortcomings, which BRiN is intended to bridge.
“When it comes to business advisors you pay for what you get. The really good ones know they’re good and they charge accordingly,” Dale points out. “If you are lucky enough to afford a business advisor, and they just so happen to be in your area, you are doing well if you can meet with them once a month. That means if you have an issue, between sessions, you’ll be sitting on it for some time.”
Furthermore, it’s hard to get specific with “generalist” advisors or coaches, says Dale. “They know a little bit of knowledge about lots of topics but ask them ‘How do I run Facebook Ads?’ or ‘What POS system should I use?’ and 99 per cent will have no idea.”
“Quite simply, there aren’t enough advisors and mentors to go round.”
If BRiN (who is a female chatbot) magically knowing the right answer to such an extensive cross section of queries sounds like a challenge, you’re not wrong – Dale and his team were responsible for building her entire knowledge base, with hours of writing and research being plugged into her virtual brain. And although Dale is a serially successful entrepreneur, when he came upon the idea for BRiN, he was in need of a cluey AI-powered pal himself.
“Honestly, I didn’t even know the difference between front-end and back-end development,” he admits of his tech-status when he began building the chatbot.
After taking a short course in programming, Dale hired his weaknesses: namely, someone who was well-versed in running a tech team. “From there, we hired a great team and we were on our way.”
In addition to her solution-finding capabilities, BRiN also has over 1000 business education videos that can be curated into personal playlists of both video and audio.
“When starting out, I couldn’t afford a business coach,” he says. “We hope BRiN can be that guide for the millions of start-ups out there that need help to turn their idea into reality.”
But, what actually makes advice good, according to the man who built the woman with ‘all’ the answers?
“In my opinion, good advice starts with a deep knowledge and understanding of a particular topic. You need to know it so well that you can see the opportunities and also the problems in everything you recommend. “Next, you should have experienced it yourself. This is key because their are a lot of theorists out there, but you only truly understand something when you have lived it.”
“Finally, a great advice giver should not just be able to answer questions. They should be able to tell you what questions you should be asking and also what question to ask next.”
So – let’s get asking.