An AI-Based Chatbot to Simplify Cab Bookings & Mobile Recharges

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The utility sector has been witnessing a lot of innovations. A quick glance at the Unilazer-backed Niki.ai seems much more than what it looks to the naked eye. An Indian bot to simplify cab bookings and mobile recharge has arrived.

Yes, there are multiple options and applications on offer in the Android or Apple store. But, is it necessary to fill your mobile space with all the applications at the same time? The App boom in the country has given way to a number of startups in the last year. However, what does the future hold for the Mobile App sector? Wouldn’t it be convenient to have a single app that can address our multiple needs? I personally believe that the upcoming generation of App developers and innovators would be looking to dish out such solutions. While some minds, somewhere, in a small office space (while having at least 10 cups of tea a day) are pondering upon developing such a solution, a team of 4 has pulled off a coup. Say hello to Niki. So, what’s Niki all about! It is a brainchild of four IIT Kharagpur Alumni – Sachin Jaiswal, Keshav Prawasi, Nitin Babel & Shishir Modi. Niki.ai is a chatbot based on (AI) Artificial Intelligence & (NLP) Natural Language Programming. The app understands human language in the context of the products or services the users wish to avail. Owing to the success of the app, the team of four has now expanded to a team of 16 with operations in Bengaluru. While the product was in the beta stage, the team has devised several modifications to enhance the product. Unlike other AI applications and personal assistants such as Siri, Google Now, and Cortana, which focus mainly on productivity, Niki’s USP is its focus on commerce. Niki already has integrations with Ola and Uber for cab bookings and with Paytm for mobile recharge payments. It charges the companies a percentage of the transactions as its commission. The first of its kind, Niki Ordering app is a chatbot (fully automated) that you can converse with. In terms of mobile recharging, Niki offers you recommendations for an apt recharge plan based on your preferences. It also provides you with the option to recharge other user numbers with utmost ease. And, the overall process is as easy as counting 1, 2, and 3. Speaking about the cab booking options, Niki informs you about the available cabs in the vicinity. It also allows you to book the cab instantly, get trip details, tracking option and cancelling option. It also helps you modify your search via asking for the nearest or the cheapest option.

The app is now available on Android & the startup has plans to make it available on iOS soon. Catering to its clutter-free interface and simple appearance, the app is just close to 5MB in terms of eating up the mobile space. It also ensures minimal learning curve for individuals when they use the App. The power users are considered to ensure their interests are catered – there are power buttons (service related) to tap on the interface, just above the textbox and the dynamic buttons that appear during choice-selection to ensure minimum ordering time. You may cancel an ongoing conversation by hitting the cancel button. The startup was launched at Yourstory’s Techsparks 2015 and also got awarded among the Tech30 2015. Over the next few months, they plan to include further improvements and add-ons to their current services and over 25 new services such as bus bookings and other utility services. According to Sachin Jaiswal, CEO & Cofounder, Niki, the idea was implemented to cater to the need of simplifying the maze of different apps. Sachin Jaiswal, further added that the company is looking to generate demand for other companies through Niki & they are not looking to ruin the experience with premature scale. “Tech-first companies have dominated the market globally with a firm focus on user experience and simplicity, a trend which has started in India as well,” said Ronnie Screwvala, founder of Unilazer Ventures, which has invested an undisclosed amount in Niki. “They have a standout team and are on the brink of some innovative work & we are closely working with them to realize this vision”, concluded Mr. Ronnie Screwvala.

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“Thinking Aloud” reflects the emerging trends and varied outlook of the rapidly evolving internet and communication sector. An IAMAI publication, this is a part of the market education initiative of the association.


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