Imagine using your phone to discover new sustainable businesses and services. But wait – anyone can do that, if they have internet connection. But what about just by texting? SURE.
Sure is a startup that allows you to be more sustainable by using Artificial Intelligence (AI). It is not an app – it’s a local number. You simply text Sure, the same way as you would text your friends. The AI assistant pulls data from a crowdsourced database of restaurants, cafés, and other verticals previously verified as sustainable.
‘’In November, we introduced Sure to the crowd (40k) at Web Summit in Dublin and later on also in Copenhagen as part of Startup Safary. The feedback has been great so far, our users especially love how personal the conversations are and the fact that there is nothing to download” said Juraj Pal, co-founder of Sure.
We interviewed Juraj about how Sure has developed, using crowdsourced data, and future plans.
How did you come up with the idea of Sure?
Together with my two partners, we weren’t satisfied with the existing discovery and travel apps like Yelp and Foursquare. We also realized that people (mostly the generation of millennials) don’t need to be pushed to be more sustainable or responsible with their consumption habits. They rather want a tool that makes it easier for them to change a simple piece of daily routine (e.g. where they go out for dinner or where they shop for groceries) to make a positive impact. So in terms of our vision, we started Sure to make sustainable the new normal via chat.
What stage is your business in now?
We spent the last summer talking to a bunch of early adopters and used them to test some of our hypotheses, most of them related to interacting with bots. We began by building the live prototype, but since we didn’t have a development team and wanted to be really agile, we started by tying out-of- the-box software pieces, such as Twilio, Slack, and Stripe together with automations. It’s been four months on, and we’re still using that same prototype effectively for our first 100 customers.
What is your relation to the theme of sustainability and why did you decided to add this “value” to your AI service?
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. We decided to go one step further than the other conversational commerce products, and offer our users only sustainable products and services. By sustainable, we mean that they follow the “three pillars” of sustainability – people, planet, and prosperity. Our users are quickly realizing that consuming more responsibly doesn’t need to cost them more effort.
How is the crowdsourced data developed?
We will be experiencing with different methods in each city we go to. For the trial in Dublin we reached out to the locals, mainly bloggers, who helped us crowdsource the database, and we then partnered up with around 15 local sustainable food businesses in the area. In Copenhagen, we are focusing on building partnerships with a number of already established initiatives and repositories of such businesses. Finally, anyone can really contribute to the crowdsourced database by suggesting a place anywhere in the world on our website. All the places are however reviewed by us according to our own rating system for sustainability.
Now you are addressing the app towards business in the restoration field. What do you plan to do next?
Although we’re starting off with food-related businesses, our ultimate goal is to facilitate the discovery of local sustainable services and products at any level, including fashion brands, for example. Furthermore, we want to participate in the 2016 Green Tech Challenge here in Copenhagen.