Meet Guestfriend, a personalized chatbot for your restaurant and small business

Meet Guestfriend, a personalized chatbot for your restaurant and small business

Guestfriend is a personalized chatbot for your restaurant that instantly answers your guests’ questions on your , Facebook, and via text. It builds itself in seconds and never needs to be updated.

The company has raised $5 million in seed funding from Primary Venture Partners, Techstars Ventures and betaworks. It’s led by Bo Peabody, a venture partner and entrepreneur in residence at Greycroft who also co-owns the Mezze Restaurant Group. Peabody compared the current moment to the year 2000, when “every small business woke up and said, ‘I need a website.’” “That moment is coming for chatbots,” he predicted.

But rather than asking a restaurant owner or employee to go online and design the conversational flow of a chatbot themselves, Guestfriend can automatically create a chatbot based on information that’s already online — hours, menu, support for dietary restrictions and so on. In that sense, Peabody said, “It’s really just a website that you talk to.”

“The ah-ha moment was when I realized that building a bot for my restaurant was virtually impossible to do as a one-off, but all of the answers to almost any question are available online, mostly in structured APIs,” he said.

Peabody suggested that the real challenge was building natural language technology that could support the range of questions that someone might ask — for example, all the different ways that people might ask about the dress code. That’s one reason why it was important to target a specific , though he eventually plans to expand into home services, , spas/salons/exercise and hotels.

Guestfriend chatbots work across platforms, including SMS, Facebook, and Google search results (via Google My Business), with plans to support speech platforms like Amazon Alexa and Google Home.

The company is actually building these chatbots without waiting for restaurants to sign up. (You can try them out on the Guestfriend website.) The idea is that publishers with restaurant listings can also incorporate them as a new way to interact with their sites.

At the same time, restaurants can come in and claim their chatbots, which will be updated accordingly everywhere that they’re available. The restaurant can then be as hands-on or as hands-off as they want.



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