Avigate started as a mobile POS. Back in 2015, we made a point-of-sale software called Slingshot which was successfully used by franchise stores in the Philippines. When the pandemic hit in 2020, the team got together and decided to redesign the software to fit on mobile phones, instead of just tablets.
We streamlined the design, simplified the interface and made it so that it can be simpler to use by anyone doing small business. When we were done, we invited some friends to try it out and give feedback. Then we hit a wall.
The pandemic has transformed the way small businesses function. During the lockdowns physical stores closed but merchants began selling from their houses and online. Our beautiful (according to us) mobile POS was out of place. But we thought it was still useful since some of our friends who were selling at home liked the simplicity of the design and function. But many more of our friends asked if we can help them sell online.
During this time, a lot of online store solutions were coming up left and right. But upon asking our friends, they were happy to sell on social media, particularly on Facebook. And so we decided to build a chatbot to show their catalog from our app to their customers on chat.
We studied the best commerce chatbots and the not-so-good ones and came up with a simple flow that everyone could understand. We also simplified the way the chatbots can be edited or switched on or off.
After letting our friends try it, we got more feedback about the chatbot than our mobile POS. Our team decided to pursue and improve the chat functionalities further.
The one thing we felt was missing, since we the co-founders of Avigate are also small business owners ourselves, was the spirit of community present in malls and strong locations.
Selling online felt a bit lonely, like selling on an island. There was no customer transfer from store to store. No interaction. None of the real-world energy we find in markets.
This is where we decided to explore the possibility of selling together, even if it was online. We decided to form Socials, an interconnection of chatbots between friends. One chatbot can show the special offers of another merchant and the customer can hop on that and chat with another brand too.
Our solution is now being eyed by groups of entrepreneurs who form associations. Now, their brands can sell together in chat. The spirit of community is alive!
We’ve just started but things are looking exciting from here. Stay tuned as we unfold our story.