WAVER SERIES: Rocketbots CEO and Co-founder, Gerardo (Jerry) Salandra

MBA with AI Chatbot Startup Helped 2500+ Companies’ CS

Idea Inspired by Irritating Experience
Jerry has worked in the Artificial Intelligence (AI), growth hacking and digital marketing field for 5 years. Through his experience working for IBM, Google and Runtastic, Jerry has accumulated profound expertise in AI aspects and has built a solid foundation for starting up Rocketbots.

The idea for Rocketbots was inspired by a terrible experience that Jerry had with customer service. His family lives in El Salvador, Central America. Traveling to El Salvador from Hong Kong takes around 40 hours and includes 3 separate flights. One time, Jerry needed to reschedule a flight because of an emergency. He spent 4 hours online with customer service just to change his flight tickets. “I believe my terrible experience is so common; probably thousands of people worldwide have encountered it before. If have the technology to improve this, why does no one use it?” Therefore, Jerry decided to try and solve this problem.

 

Merging AI with Customer Service

Rocketbots aims to improve the relationship between businesses and their customers by providing companies with an all-in-one Messenger that can manage different communication platforms such as Facebook Messenger, WeChat, WhatsApp and Slack. “Imagine you’re selling shoes and your Taiwanese customers send you a message on LINE, your Hong Kong customers connect with you on WhatsApp and your Indian customers find you through Facebook Messenger; that is very troublesome.” With Rocketbots, companies can manage their customer service in a trouble-free and time-saving way. It also includes smart replies to the conversation. “Companies can’t talk to every customer at once”, so Jerry and his team invented an AI that can learn from previous conversations and suggest replies when similar questions are asked.

So how did Jerry get started? While taking an MBA course in CUHK, the dean of the program loved his idea and became one of the company’s first clients. Now, more than 2,500 companies worldwide are using Rocketbots for their customer service. These clients range from one-man startups to international corporations such as Marc Jacobs and Hong Kong Jockey Club.

 

Building his Dream Team

“CUHK played an important role in the development of Rocketbots. I found my employees, shareholders and investors there. Without the network of CUHK, Rocketbots wouldn’t exist”, stated Jerry.

His experience shows that having a comprehensive network is essential for a startup. A well-developed social network helps startups to expand their business by exchanging experiences or by creating collaborative opportunities. Being the pioneer of co-working space in Hong Kong, The Wave focuses on helping its Wavers expand their social network. Seminars, talks and workshops with a wide range of topics are launched for Wavers regularly. Through sharing expertise and knowledge, members gain new insights for their business. In addition, The Wave welcomes businesses from any field, including sports, engineering, health products and even astrology. This diversified environment can inspire Wavers to develop innovative ideas and new business collaborations.

 

An Entrepreneur Needs More Than Passion

Many people believe “passion” is the key element in entrepreneurship, but Jerry does not agree. “Having a business is like getting married. If you get married with only passion, it is a problem because passion will fade out.” Instead, persistence and discipline are the core elements driving Jerry. “Even if you lose your passion, you still need to wake up early and work towards your goal every day.” With this mindset, Jerry successfully leads his team. They are now expanding to South East Asia, including Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. Moreover, Jerry thinks that Spanish-speaking countries are also a great opportunity for Rocketbots to expand in the future.

Despite the success of Rocketbots, Jerry’s entrepreneurial journey has been full of punches. “The platform will go down, clients will cancel, customers will complain. And so my job is to wake up and solve these problems one by one.” Jerry describes himself as a “firefighter”. Every fire starts small at the beginning. If he doesn’t solve the problem immediately, it will grow to an uncontrollable level.

 

Choosing the Right Location for Expansion

With the expansion of the company worldwide, there are fewer staff members working in Hong Kong. Therefore, Jerry decided to move from an office to a co-working space. Jerry loves The Wave’s comfortable environment – the Mongkok location is just 5 minutes away from his home and it is very accessible for his staff as well.

In conclusion, every successful business starts with a problem. When the founder decides to try and solve the problem, it is crucial for him/her to find teammates, customers and investors to test the product. The company must be prepared to tackle plenty of challenges and complications along the entrepreneurial journey. Choosing a space that offers an extensive social network, industry insights and technical know-how will help speed up this process.

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