Assist

Bring the best services to your favorite messaging apps

Featured
Hunter
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Shane Mac
Makers
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brian harniman
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Robert Stephens
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Shane Mac
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Claudio Comandini
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Giovanni W. Vatieri

Discussion

most upvoted
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Robert Stephens — Founder, Geek Squad. Co-founder, @assist
I wanted to share a story about why I'm so excited about messaging.

It's 2009, and I've been at Best Buy 7 years since selling Geek Squad to them. I'm sitting in a meeting where some PR firm is pitching their next year's projects for Best Buy. The bid? 3 million. As I was oft to do, I'm on twitter - watching pissed off customers tweet one problem after another. I turned to Best Buy's CMO at the time, Barry Judge and said, "What if our PR strategy was to listen to customers?" That's when we took a small piece of that money and built an in-house twitter tool to allow customers to message customer support. It was similar to a custom version of ZenDesk. The vision was to imagine EVERY employee of a company accessible through real-time chat, use the data to predict problems before they occur, and empower employees to help. The most people we were able to get on that system was 5,000 out of 150,000 employees. I left Best Buy in 2012, and sadly there are likely less than 5,000 still using it.

We are excited to try and accelerate 2 things: expose more APIs that allow for customer self-service, like scheduling, pre-ordering, queuing, requests, etc. Further, when you need to talk to a business, that you can do it through a single interface where YOU have a copy of the conversation "for quality purposes".

We all have a long way to go, but I hope you can see what kinds of service could be delivered in the coming months and years.
Tristan Pollock — 500 Startups E.I.R. + Venture Partner
@rstephens excited to see this come to fruition!
Matty Mariansky — Product Designer at Meekan
Very impressed with the smooth Facebook Messenger connection. It just works, no installation required.
I've never seen a bot working inside Facebook Messenger - is this an official connection, or are they going to shut you down when the word is out? Very interesting!
Can you share more info on this?
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Robert Stephens — Founder, Geek Squad. Co-founder, @assist
@mmariansky can't really say much but I think it's obvious where all this is going. I started Geek Squad as soon as I saw the web in college. I haven't been as excited until now in hopes of using messaging versus voice for customer service.
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Robert Stephens — Founder, Geek Squad. Co-founder, @assist
@mmariansky FYI - we just made a huge performance improvement to the FB Messenger integration https://www.producthunt.com/tech...
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Robert Stephens — Founder, Geek Squad. Co-founder, @assist
@jimmyliu FYI - we just made a huge performance improvement to the FB Messenger integration https://www.producthunt.com/tech...
Ben Tossell — Community Lead, Product Hunt
So TechCrunch just published: Assist Has No App. It’s A Free Travel/Shopping Chat Bot For SMS And Fb Messenger h/t @joshconstine

Assist is a chatbot that aggregates APIs to let you message GrubHub, Eat24, Postmates, Uber, Lyft, OpenTable, StubHub, and more.

It works across Facebook Messenger, Slack, Telegram, and SMS

I personally think 2016 will see an influx of Chatbots and what a fantastic one to kick off the year with!

Plans include going into suggesting services for users which would be really cool!

I'll let @shanemac and team tell you more :)

Where does it currently work/work the best and where are you looking to expand next?

What is the story here?
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Robert Stephens — Founder, Geek Squad. Co-founder, @assist
@bentossell I will tell you that v1 has one simple goal: take all of the local services that you could order with your mobile phone and access them without installing an app if possible. Next up is to try and find and integrate as many services that we all know will be emerging in the coming years.
Ben Tossell — Community Lead, Product Hunt
@rstephens is it mainly US for now?
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Robert Stephens — Founder, Geek Squad. Co-founder, @assist
@bentossell yes, for now. Mainly due to SMS limitations, especially as this is a v1.
Ben Tossell — Community Lead, Product Hunt
@rstephens looking forward to the global takeover!
Tucker Max — CEO, Book In A Box
This is so cool. Not sure if you guys can answer this yet publicly, but I'll throw the question out: what type of AI are you using? Did you build your own using deep learning algos , or is this a machine learning/Watson type set-up, or are you just licensing some other AI? How much of the guts can you tell us about?
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Robert Stephens — Founder, Geek Squad. Co-founder, @assist
@tuckermax As bots become more and more common, machine learning and technologies like recurrent neural nets will be the key to expanding capability through messaging and text interfaces. There is a lot of very new open source code being released by Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon and others. This is one of the keys how we plan to improve @Assist.

I also think it is no accident that Mark Zuckerberg chose to build his own "Jarvis" for home automation - which will use text and voice control. Think of the message this sends to all Facebook engineers, especially the Messenger and WhatsApp teams.
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Shane Mac — CEO of Assist
@tuckermax Thanks brother and thanks for being in my camp for the past year. Much appreciated for all your thoughts and support. I don't care what people say, you ain't too bad of a guy.
Deandre Durr☀️ — Growth Hacker
I'm really getting tired of emails for notifications. I much rather have text messages for everything important... I will definitely be using the crap out of this. 🙌😀
Sacha Greif — Designer, Sidebar
@dredurr at this rate, aren't we going to end up with just as much notification spam in our text messages?
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Robert Stephens — Founder, Geek Squad. Co-founder, @assist
@sachagreif I think you can expect notifications and preferences to become much smarter and learn what you like and don't like. That's what's different this time.
Jack Dweck — Product Manager at Unroll.Me
I find it particularly interesting that this is available across a variety of popular platforms — SMS, Slack, Facebook Messenger, etc... Currently, other products in this space are tied to one (Magic via SMS, M via Messenger, Operator via its own app).

@shanemac — What's the reasoning behind this? Do you see people using Assist differently on each of these different platforms?
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Shane Mac — CEO of Assist
@jackdweck We expect this will be the case and we are keeping a close eye on it. Specifically the difference between enterprise and consumer messaging platforms. The other thing is we anticipate the platforms to open up messaging UI and languages at different rates so consumers might prefer better experiences if some of the platforms allow you to better purchase, view content, etc without using links or command line level type interface. Many people prefer design and it is coming.
Tony Lucas — Founder, CEO, Converse AI
@jackdweck One of the key reasons (I suspect) for Assist not having their own app, is that app fatigue is a real problem, and the reasons that people are now flocking to building on top of messaging is because it lets them go to where their users (or potential users) are instead of getting the users to have to come to them. Accordingly it makes sense to support multiple platforms. Fast forward to next year and I think multi platform support will be table stakes.

(Not taking anything away from Assist, it looks very cool, and I think Magic et al should be watching their back)
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Robert Stephens — Founder, Geek Squad. Co-founder, @assist
@tonylucas all true. An additional reason for no app is we really tried to use the harsh constraint of SMS to force us to see what we could do without the luxury of device or OS APIs. A concern is: will there be too many messaging platforms to make bots cross-compatible?
Pulkit Agrawal — Building Better Onboarding @trychameleon
@shanemac @jackdweck Another great example of the shifting landscape in product interfaces; users want more conversational products and until apps / software becomes adaptive, messaging platforms such as SMS, M and Slack are going to become more popular as the base of new apps. Do you guys have any concerns that people might stop using SMS or messaging in the near-term, in the same way people abandon other apps?
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Robert Stephens — Founder, Geek Squad. Co-founder, @assist
@_pulkitagrawal @jackdweck SMS is still ultimately controlled by the carriers, so nothing would make us happier to have a better, more capable universal platform. Are we worried that FB or Apple will run this show themselves? If I've learned anything in tech, it's that there's always room for a ton of players when the field is this wide open.

I'm actually more worried that developers/companies will have to code their bot for each large messaging platform. This works against the dream in the first place: less work than an app.
Preet — BlueLight, also enjoy QS and Parkour
@rstephens @jackdweck Robert, even in that case though - don't you think that's still going to be less work than building multiple apps for android/ios? A lot of engineering investment is spent in making an interface that seamlessly integrates with the service. This should simplify that.
James Young — Creative Director at Pingup
Very interested!
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Robert Stephens — Founder, Geek Squad. Co-founder, @assist
@jydesign we got your email. PingUp sounds like a good match to connect scheduling APIs for local services.
Greg Meyer — VP Customer Success at @BrickworkRetail
@rstephens @shanemac congrats on getting this out there - do you anticipate being able to predict pricing on services in an area for services with enough transactions, e.g. "If you need a cheaper but good X, try y service that is similar to the more expensive version you searched?" or will selection be opaque to the user for now?
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Robert Stephens — Founder, Geek Squad. Co-founder, @assist
@grmeyer I think not only could you predict pricing, but more importantly, you could help retain preferences across services. Right now, only Delta knows I prefer a window seat. Only Westin knows my hotel preferences. It gets super-interesting when you aggregate category preferences across user populations by geography, weather, etc.
jamestodd — Chief delighter, deliriouslyhappy.org
@rstephens Excited to download. P.S. one of my favorite quotes is still this one from you in 2008-ish: "Marketing is a tax we pay for being unremarkable."
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Robert Stephens — Founder, Geek Squad. Co-founder, @assist
@jamestodd Good news - nothing to download! And thank you.
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Giovanni W. Vatieri — Product and Engineering, Assist
Hi there, I am part of the Assist Engineering team, just wanted to let you know that we have significantly improved the Facebook Client implementation, it should now be as fast as the rest of the channels. Please try it out and feel free to send any issue on my way!
Preet — BlueLight, also enjoy QS and Parkour
I think you have some troubles on message deliveries. There is some delay (about 1-2 minutes) for each answer.
At this time, it's faster to download a specific app and order with it than using Assist.... which is not your honorable purpose. Keep up the good work.
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Robert Stephens — Founder, Geek Squad. Co-founder, @assist
@charloganem oh my god, there is soooo much to be fixed, improved, debugged, etc. We wanted to get it out there as soon as we could on Product Hunt to show the community partly in hopes of getting feedback as well as interest from engineers who want to work in messaging and machine learning.
Preet — BlueLight, also enjoy QS and Parkour
@rstephens @charloganem smart hiring strategy =P
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Robert Stephens — Founder, Geek Squad. Co-founder, @assist
@charloganem FYI - we just made a huge performance improvement to the FB Messenger integration https://www.producthunt.com/tech...
Nick O'Neill — CEO, Holler Inc.
So awesome to see the shift from the original app to an interface on messaging platforms. Makes SOOOOOO much more sense! Will have to try it out again with this new interface :)
Walter Reid — Product
Just tried to book a haircut in midtown (23rd /3rd area) and was given a location in Bayonne, NJ (32 minutes away in a car). Not sure it's quite ready for prime time
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Robert Stephens — Founder, Geek Squad. Co-founder, @assist
@walterareid correct. It's ready for the Product Hunt community. There's so much work left to do.
Walter Reid — Product
@rstephens @walterareid Well, based on that response, as proof of concepts go, this is pretty good. Not sure what will differentiate this from the 10 clones that are waiting in the door though.
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Robert Stephens — Founder, Geek Squad. Co-founder, @assist
@walterareid if there are only 10 clones, then I'll be very disappointed with the Product Hunt community. When I started The Geek Squad there were (and still are!) thousands upon thousands of "competitors". Rising tides...
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Shane Mac — CEO of Assist
@rstephens @walterareid I mean, it's basically DOS 10.0.
David Spinks — CEO, CMX Media
Congrats Assist team! Super excited to see this out in the world.

I'd love to hear you share a bit about how you ended up with this product. Assist has gone through a few different iterations and pivots over its lifetime. How did your journey land you here?
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Robert Stephens — Founder, Geek Squad. Co-founder, @assist
@davidspinks Great question. When I saw the pre-assist screen shots, it was a local peer-to-peer travel chat/advice product. There was one feature that stuck out where as a recommendation card was sent to another, it appended services like Uber & Hotel Tonight right in the card. I encouraged the team to first focus on that feature and flesh it out. We all know that there will be more and more APIs for services - and that's where @Assist is today. It happens to be part of a larger trend where basic UI like SMS & text chat can be great enhanced by APIs.

Add in machine learning over the next few years, and I think we all will have even more capabilities. How long does it stay in SMS or on chat platforms? My guess is all of the above, including notification layer, Spotlight Search ios, and streaming apps from Google.

Feels like 1994 all over again.
Preet — BlueLight, also enjoy QS and Parkour
This is rad. I'm already playing with it. One complaint though is that you deeplink me to apps when I'm requesting a service (uber).

If I need to go to the app anyway from Assist, why not just go there straight? Also, as a nitpick, the redirect to lyft app 404'd (probably cause I didn't have it).

Also, what's been your experience building the bot on Telegram vs FB Messenger?
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Robert Stephens — Founder, Geek Squad. Co-founder, @assist
@preetnation Telegram is ahead, but lots of bot spam and a very noisy bot store. FB Team appears to be absolutely focused on this opportunity and we can likely expect a lot in 2016/17. I'm wondering....What is WhatsApp going to do?
Preet — BlueLight, also enjoy QS and Parkour
@rstephens @preetnation can you be more specific on bot spam? Haven't used many bots there yet so I don't totally follow
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Robert Stephens — Founder, Geek Squad. Co-founder, @assist
@preetnation Telegram is technically ahead of most platforms, but there is little to no curation. This makes the bots there riskier. Discovery on the platform is also very noisy. They will need to get ahead of that to avoid driving users away.
Preet — BlueLight, also enjoy QS and Parkour
@rstephens @preetnation interesting. I played with assist on telegram and I actually had the opposite problem. I literally couldn't figure out how to find any bots until I read through everything on your site. I also wish they'd let you grant location access to the bot on a constant basis instead of transactionally
Daniel Tolbert — Developer Evangelist at Bandwidth.com
Pretty neat seeing all the things that are done via SMS again : )
I was very excited for this, but it's been really slow for me - over an hour to process my zip code kind of slow on messenger.
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Shane Mac — CEO of Assist
@soengle We are on it, it will be instant. Apologies.
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Robert Stephens — Founder, Geek Squad. Co-founder, @assist
@soengle FYI - we just made a huge performance improvement to the FB Messenger integration https://www.producthunt.com/tech...
Nick Hallam — Product Designer
Do you ever see it making sense for me to have an Assist account where I can store my credit card details and preferences for services like my home address? e.g. "Can you call me an 'Uber' to take me 'home'"?
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Shane Mac — CEO of Assist
@nhallam for sure, that is kind of the magic of it all. Preferences across all these services. We already do this with addresses, personal information, not yet payment. That said, Stripe does save your card across services so that works perfect... but you are spot on, it's coming.
Nick Hallam — Product Designer
@shanemac Radical. A friend of mine is a heavy user of Pana and has a lot of good things to say about the service. I liked how there is one main conversation, but they chunk them historically by topic or enquiry. Feels like you need your own application to make that kind of thing possible. I can see a use case for when I want to go and see a list of all my existing enquiries or receipts etc. but I guess all that can come down the track. The horizontal play feels more natural, but maybe more difficult to execute well on. Hope it goes well.
Michael Musgrove — Founder, web design POP, Ltd. Co.
Whenever Facebook's "m" ever goes live, is when the fight begins.
Alec Ellin — Founder, Laylo
This is really something special. There are certainly a few companies doing this but your compatibility across various messaging platforms and the team working on this are going to give you a great step up. Excited to see what's next.
Great idea, love the inspiration. A bit rough on the edges but I'm sure you're hard at work :)
Leonel More — Ramping up 1950Labs
The Facebook Messenger from Montevideo, UY works well. Somewhat slow (takes like 5-8 secs to reply), but I was able to find a ride and a nice place to take a coffee with beach view. Nice.
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Robert Stephens — Founder, Geek Squad. Co-founder, @assist
@leonelmore FYI - we just made a huge performance improvement to the FB Messenger integration https://www.producthunt.com/tech...
Leonel More — Ramping up 1950Labs
@rstephens just checked it again. Almost instantaneous now! What you did it works.
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Shane Mac — CEO of Assist
Wanted to share that Postmates is now on Assist! https://medium.com/@shanemac/pos...
Alex Vanderzon — Product Designer
Is assist available outside of the US?
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Robert Stephens — Founder, Geek Squad. Co-founder, @assist
@alexvanderzon not yet, but we are working to link it up as we work the bugs out.
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