myBantu is a free smart personal assistant for mobile and internet users which helps in dining, movie, shopping and neighborhood service needs, using the power of the Internet and combining it with real feedback from social network sites.
It was in the winter of 2007, that Bhaskar (the current CEO of Glomantra) was doing a 27 day long crazy unplanned trip across US and was counting on his close friend Bharath (the current VP - Products & Strategy), to help him with finding - the best places to stay, great places to eat, book tickets, advise on movies and car rentals and so on, that the idea was germinated. Once he’d returned back, both of them started seriously thinking - why can’t we have a single software assistant that can help with all of this and also serve as a personalized assistance tool for our innumerable daily needs, both – simple and complex.
The app has already over 7,000 signups and 730,000. The website version has over 10,500 visitors per month and growth rate of 25%.
Varsha from YourStory.in talks to Raman Suprajarama, Senior Manager - Products, Strategy and Marketing, myBantu to know some more interesting tidbits:
Are there any other similar apps in the market? What are your differentiators?
myBantu's competitive landscape includes Siri.com, a mobile based virtual personal assistant, acquired by Apple and introduced in iPhone 4S. The other competitor is Hunch, a personalized recommendation system. While Siri is a predominantly mobile centric artificial intelligence based assistant, myBantu leverages both artificial intelligence and social networks through friends’ recommendations and opinions.
The app uses different tools like search engines, semantic engines, social networking sites and other specialized sites like Yelp, Yahoo!, OpenTable, Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon, Fandango etc., for sourcing relevant recommendations to the users.
What features are planning to add to the app soon?
We plan to extend myBantu to other domains like Travel, Health and Education and also are looking at enhancing voice interaction on smart devices
Tell us in detail about the features of the app? Which feature are you most excited about?
Here are a few top features of myBantu:
- 3 – 9 recommendations –Let’s say you have to go on andate night dinner and you feel that an Italian Bistro will be a nice place to hang around. Just type or speak your need. “Book a table for two at an Italian Bistro nearby”. myBantu scans for restaurants around you and comes up with 3 to 9 personalized recommendations for the need. myBantu takes your location, age, gender into preference and renders 3 – 9 recommendations which are personalized for you. Today, myBantu gives great recommendations for movies, music, dining reservations, neighborhood services, shopping and more.
- Handy widgets – myBantu places handy widgets like ‘Find similar recommendations’, ‘Get opinions’, ‘Coupons’, ‘Shout out’ and others on each recommendation.
- Fulfillment – What if the user wants to book a ticket or reserve a table in a restaurant or want to shop for variety of things? myBantu can also do this through widgets like Buy tickets, Reserve and Buy.
- Social needs like “Get in touch with John” or “Remind me to call Sharon at 8 pm tomorrow” etc. are also catered by myBantu.
Which platforms is it available and are you looking at launching on other platforms as well?
myBantu is currently available as a Web application, Facebook application, Android application and iPhone application with plans to extend myBantu to other smart phones, tablets and smart TV’s
What challenges do you face as an entrepreneur in mobile app space?
Yes there are challenges that we face, like :
- Finding out what clicks / liked by the user – unfortunately it takes number of shipping cycles for the product before liked by the users
- Monetizing a mobile app is a steep uphill task – only way seems to be a freemium model
- Extending myBantu availability to basic phones
Have you been funded?
Yes. Funding for series A has been completed, we have raised 2.8 mil USD so far. We are planning for another 4 mil USD as Series B funding.
Tell us about the kind of feedback that you received from users so far.
Our users can ask questions, share an idea, report a problem or give their praise at www.getsatisfaction.com/mybantu.
One can read more about the interesting app which is a potential competitor to Apple’s Siri here www.myBantu.com