COVID-19 has become more than a health crisis, it’s causing all kinds of problems among society as we’ve seen in the news and experienced ourselves. As a result, many startups have expressed their willingness to help, either by trying to find solutions or making their products and services available to everyone. At Itnig, we’ve come across amazing startup initiatives, no matter the size or type of company!Continue reading “Startup Initiatives During COVID-19 Crisis”
An endless list of events have been canceled due to COVID-19. Good thing is that anything, or almost anything, can be online. Lockdowns are stressful and we’re desperate for entertainment. Here’s a list of some interesting online worldwide tech events:Continue reading “Online Worldwide Tech Events – Quarantine alternative”
With the huge demand for live streaming event platforms, some startups have been very busy ! The international crisis is making people from all around the world to ask for companies to stream live events.
We found some platforms to either host or attend online events! They are easy to use and very practical. Here’s some information about each of the platforms and how to subscribe to them.Continue reading “Live Streaming Event Platforms for Organisers and Audience”
We found great tech, entrepreneurship, and marketing communities in Barcelona! If you’re looking for after-work activities, you should consider joining communities that share your interests. Being part of a community is part of Barcelona’s culture. You get to learn about different topics, meet new entrepreneurs and projects, and also discover places that you never knew about.
Have you ever had a pleasant conversation with a bot? Chances are high that you have, as chatbots are getting smarter and better at helping us deal with the products we’re dealing with everyday.
Barcelona startup Caravelo is at the moment developing six chatbots for some of the biggest airlines in the world. The chatbots they build help millions of travelers to book and reschedule flights, provide customer service, act as personal concierges and much more.
Even though all their bots use NLU (natural language understanding), they’re not building their own solution, but are using existing NLU solutions to cope with all the different languages airlines need to speak with their customer, according to co-founder JoseLuis Vilar:
“If we would try to build an NLU solution for all the languages our client’s needs, we would be dead.”
Not replacing apps
“We won’t build bots for everything, only where it’s natural to have one.”
After being live with several chatbots for nearly 3 months, collecting thousands of interactions, they’ve already learned a lot of valuable lessons, the biggest being not ask the same questions over and over again.
According to the startup the distance between success and failure is quite short, so you need to get things right the first time around. And according to Vilar, even though the risk for failure is high, the reward for the customer when things go right is much higher.
Work on building a solid knowledge base
After tracking their bots conversations the latest months, Caravelo has found that 20 percent of the inventory of intents (Q&A’s) makes up around 80 percent of the total value. So you need to focus on that part first, building a really strong inventory to start all conversations, the right username and contact, pictures, etc.
The next 15 percent of value is based on the inventory of questions and answer (intents) where you need to build a solid knowledge base for your specific industry. In Caravelo’s case, they’ve built a database of 1000 FAQ’s related to the airline and travel industry, and this is based on interactions the airlines have had with their customers over the years.
The last five percent of value are from the questions a bot cannot answer, and the idea is this is the place where we get the human take-over, and a customer service agent will serve any remaining problem.
The most important learning Caravelo has done the last months is to avoid user loops, like shown in the pictures above. There are few things as annoying for a user to go through the same questions over and over again.
So far Caravelo’s solution to bugs like this one has been to build a small fix where the bot only can ask the same question a certain amount of times.
Another key learning is to use, but not abuse the NLU (natural language understanding). So for example, today they have some answers that go through the back-end from their database, and some answers that go through the NLU, but they classify the easy answers, like affirmations, to not go through the NLU.
Just as with any product, the on-boarding of the user is crucial to keep people talking to the bots. In the case of chatbots, you need to tell them what you’ll be doing for them, and give the user clear options.
The last take-away the Caravelo team has learned over the course of using bots in real life, is to not take too much advantage of bot trainers (external services), as they’re not building a natural language understanding themselves, and it’s easy to get too dependent on them.
To get the full value of Caravelo’s learnings, take a look at the video at the top.
If you want to learn more, take a look at our latest podcast about the European VC industry:
Do you want to become a Chief Technology Officer, or are you just curious about the role?
If you want your keyboard to remain your closest friend, you can stop reading right here, being a CTO is much more than just being a talented developer. But if you want to get some insights from three experienced Barcelona-based CTOs, please continue reading.
Investing time in your team is the most important task, even more important than focusing on your product.
Right place at the right time
In the startup world not all decisions within the company are carefully planned and executed according to the planned strategy.
Pau Ramon Revilla, former CTO of Redbooth, and currently founder at Factorial felt he was at the right place at the right time when stepped up as CTO for the first time.
I started at Redbooth, living on the founders sofa in San Francisco, coding for a roof over my head, so I wasn’t a very expensive developer. But as I went back to Barcelona, the former CTO and the tech lead left, and I was asked to be the new CTO.
For others it’s more of a transitioning after starting a company from scratch.
Both Albert Bellonch at Quipu and Roger Campos at Camaloon founded their startups, and gradually grew into the CTO role as their companies grew. Roger never really set out to become head of tech at Camaloon:
It was never a goal of mine to become a CTO, but you take on responsibility and do your best to grow a great team.
The biggest challenge — new developers
A huge challenge for most CTOs these days is finding talented developers in a highly competitive job market.
But what kind of developers are most tech leaders looking for?
They all agree that the most important aspect when hiring, is personal motivation, and if the person is willing to go deep in all kinds of challenges he or she faces.
Experience is important, but having worked for many years, is not necessarily the only metric that is valued, say Roger:
If a developer has worked in five different jobs the last years, doing the exact same task, to me he is less experienced than a younger developer, that has worked on many personal projects and faced complex challenges.
Pau gives junior developers two tips:
The startup world may be too harsh for many junior developers. To get the right kind of experience I would advice to contribute a lot in open source, and maybe take a job in a big corporation the first years.
Invest in people
People have different skills and methods on how to lead a technical team, but the three CTOs agree that people is the most important focus for them in their work. Pau explains:
Depending on the company, most of the time the development team will be the most valuable asset, sometimes even more than the product itself.
All the CTO’s agree, and Roger says:
My biggest task and most important mission is to talk with people. Talk with my team, with the rest of the company and external people, that’s most of my job.
I keep coding to keep my sanity
It’s no secret that time spent coding decreases a lot when you move over to the role of being a leader.
Albert is currently leading a 4–5 development team at Quipu. He’s happy he’s still able to code every day:
I still code on a daily basis, and I’ve been able to create some cool new features for Quipu, but as my team grows by the months, I will soon stop coding every day.
A developer that has the aspiration of becoming a CTO should have a lot of experience, but there’s also other skills that are vital, says Pau:
Focus on the soft skills, you need to be able to reach a consensus with people, not only focus on your own opinions.
All the CTOs agree that you don’t need to be the best developer in the company to lead the development team, but there are some skills that are good to know these days, according to Roger.
(If you want more insights, check out the video at the top!)
Parkimeter’s technology lets you book and pay for parking, in most big Spanish cities, but also many smaller towns around the country.
This is the second seed round for the startup that plan to raise another bigger round by the beginning of next year.
The Barcelona-based company have established a presence in more than 80 locations in Spain and will reach 500 car parks by the end of 2016.
50.000 parked cars
The latest round of funding was led by local business angels and will let Parkimeter continue to expand their network of locations.
Since its launch back in July 2013, the startup have parked a total of 50.000 cars.
With your phone through their app you can easily choose where and what kind of parking you want, either by price, location or additional services.
It’s also convenient for corporate parking and for freelancers, as you every month can receive a single invoice with all parkings made and unbundled VAT.
According to the company, there is a lot to save on using the Parkimeter, instead of normal parking. In some cases you can save up to 50 percent using Parkimeter.
Parking changed by technology
Parkimeter serves customers in eight different languages. It’s mostly Spanish users right now, but they also have international drivers using the service.
The parking sector has remained traditional, and almost unaffected by the huge digital transition most industries has been adapting to the last decade.
One of the founders Jordi Badal thinks the sector will be drastically changed by technology over the next years:
“How parking has been changed through technology, is similar to how the travel sector was disrupted 15 years ago.”
Parkimeter is also developing a brand new app, to make the process of finding, reserving and paying for parking even easier.
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