Move over Siri — getting answers from a smartphone has become personal again with the creation of Conciergist, an app co-founded by Greenwich resident Zachary Martinez and his business partner, Shyam Ramachandran, that serves as an in-pocket personal assistant by connecting users with live agents.
According to Mr. Martinez, Conciergist officially launched in November 2013 and aims to revolutionize the way people search and receive information, ranging from restaurant recommendations and flight prices to fashion and home décor, through the assistance of a live agent who narrows down and tailors search results based on a user’s preferences. The app is compatible with all smartphones and can be downloaded for free in seconds, either by creating a new account or by using an existing Facebook profile, he said.
From there, users are able to chat with or call an agent about anything and receive customized results, delivered almost immediately, which can be bookmarked or saved as favorites.
One of the app’s best features, Mr. Martinez said, is users’ ability to provide feedback on their search results because they are communicating with a live agent. With the help of this feedback, the agent can then further customize the user’s results. For example, he said, agents can cross reference-different travel sites to find the most affordable flights, review a picture of a dress along with the label and style information and find it in the user’s size online or deliver the top-rated restaurants in any city.
Those using Conciergist are sophisticated, Mr. Martinez said, and the app caters to them by accommodating their specific needs.
As the expression goes, necessity is the mother of invention, and Mr. Martinez and his Mr. Ramachandran’s story follows the rule. According to Mr. Martinez, Conciergist was developed while the two were traveling for business.
Sitting in a noisy bar, the pair hoped to find a nice place for dinner after a long day of meetings. As both Mr. Martinez and Mr. Ramachandran used their phones to come up with options, the clamor in the bar made it impossible for apps and in-phone search engines to hear their requests. Moving on to a straight Internet search, the duo didn’t fare much better, Mr. Martinez said, explaining that the search results were either irrelevant or too difficult to classify as a viable option.
“Wouldn’t it be nice, we thought, to have somebody go through all of this for us and send only one or two good options?” Mr. Martinez said. “And from there, Conciergist was born.”
Having started a tech company together prior to Conciergist, Mr. Martinez and Mr. Ramachandran were no strangers to the world of technology before developing their app. In addition, Mr. Martinez’s extensive background in the financial/management consulting industry added to the pair’s expertise, which meant that creating the app was not far-fetched, Mr. Martinez said, but it did take plenty of work.
Conciergist was given an extensive three-month test period before it was opened up for public use last fall, Mr. Martinez said. And since its launch, the app has been highly successful. Seeing a big spike in app traffic following the new year, it was clear that smartphone users were looking for more ways to be organized in 2014, Mr. Martinez said, which is just what Conciergist caters to.
And while research shows that the majority of the app’s users thus far happen to be women between the ages of 18 and 40, Conciergist is built for everyone, Mr. Martinez said. For people who are time-crunched, are looking for answers on the go, or simply don’t want to spend the time weeding through search results on their own, the app is an incredibly useful tool, he said.
As for the future, Mr. Martinez said he and Mr. Ramachandran do not currently have plans to develop another app. Conciergist, however, will be seeing some improvements this year, he said, including a few exciting launches slated for spring. The additions will likely include a chat function that allows users to text with friends and the live agent all at once, in addition to features that will make the app even easier to use and engage with when users are on the go, Mr. Martinez said.