Welcome to the eighteenth edition of “Startup of the Week” which features many great startups and interviews with successful business heads. This week, I interviewed Juraj Pal, the co-founder of a Copenhagen-based virtual assistant app called Sure.
I’ve asked Juraj a series of questions about Sure and tips for budding entrepreneurs. Have a read at what he had to say.
How did the idea of Sure come about?
Together with my two partners, we weren’t satisfied with the existing discovery and travel apps like Yelp and Foursquare. We also wanted to change the paradigm from convincing people to be sustainable to helping them set their own sustainability agenda facilitated by technology.
Simply, what does your app do?
Sure is the first virtual assistant that you chat with to get local sustainable recommendations. You can ask Sure questions like “Is there a good coffee shop nearby?” or “Can you recommend any place I can grab lunch in Shoreditch?”. Instead of getting a list of possibilities as you would get from Google, the AI assistant pulls in data from a crowdsourced database of restaurants, cafes and other verticals and you get between one and three trusted recommendations. With Sure, you ask a question and get an answer the same way you would if you were texting your friend.
Did you have a business plan?
Since conversational commerce is fairly new to the consumer, we decided to focus on onboarding the users, getting their feedback and iterating as we move forward. We do however have a business model based primarily on commission.
What were the boundaries you faced when creating Sure?
Something that is without a doubt implying certain limitations when it comes to scaling our product is the fact the AI assistant needs to be supported by humans in the initial phase. This, however, changes after more users interact with Sure and the bot learns how to confidently respond.
What is the difference between you and your competitors?
We decided to differentiate by returning to the roots of what our phones are for – conversation. And while offering similar capability as the other conversational commerce products, we decided to go one step further and offer our users only products and services previously verified based on the three pillars of sustainability – people, planet and prosperity. We believe that this can have a positive impact on the world as people become more conscious about restaurants reducing waste or brands that pay it forward.
What were you doing before Sure?
Before starting Sure, I was the co-founder and CEO of DiscoverCity, an online marketplace showcasing small, independent businesses and connecting them with over 3,000 active users, mostly local university students in Denmark.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Focus on building something that people need and take the time to talk to each one of your users, no matter how unscalable it is.
In one word, describe your job?
Headquarters: Copenhagen, Denmark
People: Juraj Pal, Alexandra Neczliova and Suzanne van Nes
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