My co-founder and I recently participated in (and won!) a hackathon, where we developed a chatbot to help small business find relevant pieces of legislation and regulations. We thought it was a cool way for users to be able to provide information about them and have relevant results returned to them.

From my experience with chatbots in real life so far however, it has been difficult to find something actually useful. I mean, does anyone actually use a chatbot?

Creating the Todemy Chatbot

Our initial plan for Todemy was to create a web app/platform. But given our lack of resources and our busy full-time work schedule, we decided to integrate our app into a Facebook Messenger bot. Hopefully it doesn’t fall into the bucket of ‘not so useful’ chatbot applications (try it out for yourself, see what you think!)

Our thought process went something like this: We are trying to make connections between people on demand, and threw out our preconceived ideas of how this should happen (eg. uber app or Airbnb platform). Essentially, we need to know what sort of help a student needs, communicate that with interested tutors nearby and make a connection. We thought, why can’t we do that with a chatbot? (at least initially as an MVP to validate this need)

It is much easier to build, and would involve much less time than creating a beautiful platform from scratch. Additionally our initial target market of students are very much familiar with Messenger and how to use it (even if it might not be a chatbot).

A key issue that we may have however, is getting users into the mindset of messaging a Facebook Messenger bot when they want to look for a tutor. Messenger is used for having a conversation with friends, not as an application to find and connect with strangers. Initial testing shows that its not intuitive to start a conversation when their goal is to post up a request for an Expert.

However, if we continually test and improve on the user experience, we can try and smooth out any friction points and create a intuitive workflow for users. Hopefully as the chatbot ecosystems evolves and more chatbot applications are used for things other than chat, more users would be familiar with this medium.

Try our live Facebook Messenger app! We are keen to learn from your thoughts and experience with it!