The winning team of the second edition of Challenge 22, an innovation award launched in 2015 by the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy to promote creativity in the Arab world, praised the role of the competition in developing the project, on the sidelines of the team's visit to Doha recently to present their innovation to representatives of many government and private institutions.
Team Eila, a chat bot that allows businesses to sell their products over Facebook Messenger, includes a group of five Jordanian entrepreneurs.
Eila's member Samer Tarazi said that the team has experienced a substantial upturn in reputation and exposure since winning the competition.
"Winning Challenge 22 put us on the map," he said. "We started getting a lot of attention from investors around the region, or people that just wanted to work with us. It added credibility to the product when it was in its really early stages."
"In 2017, it was still being developed and had a lot of issues, but being associated with a big name such as the World Cup via Challenge 22 really helped us," he added.
Eila is a platform that allows merchants to set up personalised chat bots where they place an automated shopping assistant right within their social media or messaging pages so they can sell their products or services without having to do it manually. Thanks in part to the exposure generated through Challenge 22, Eila has helped businesses in three countries Jordan, Nigeria and Uganda process more than 65,000 orders.
A simple Eila Facebook advert helped a Ugandan food truck generate three times the return on investment, while the platform has helped some food and beverage businesses in Jordan to automate up to 15% of their orders.
According to the team, their project was still in its infancy when Challenge 22 came calling. The team said that winning the competition in the field 'Internet of Things' helped propel Eila onto the next level. Tarazi said: "It enabled us to get to where we are today. Had we not won Challenge 22, who knows, we perhaps might not have been able to raise funds at an early stage. So it has helped us carry the dream forward, grow the team, build a better product and get to where we are today."
And of their dreams for the future, their answer was simple: the sky's the limit. "The dream is big," Tarazi continued. "We want to become one of the strongest players in the market. We aim to become a mainstream major player in conversational commerce. Helping merchants to start selling within chat and social media spaces using artificial intelligence agents. And who knows, maybe we can see Eila in use at the World Cup here in Qatar. That would be the ultimate dream."