A Montreal-based platform for sharing information aimed at incoming immigrants called Botler has been launched, developed by recent immigrants to Canada to help facilitate the process for new arrivals to help set up new lives.
The platform is referred to as a “next generation” communications tool, using artificial intelligence and machine learning to facilitate group discussion in a hyper-organized and well-designed format.
“This idea was born within a community of smart and highly skilled people who dream of a better life. They’re willing to take big risks, give up everything and start over,” said Botler’s founder, Amir Moravej. “Still, so many prospective immigrants are using outdated, poorly designed messaging boards to ask and answer questions about the immigration process.”
The four members of the Botler development team, including Moravej, are recent immigrants to Canada themselves who have previously worked at Facebook, Google and various startups.
The Botler platform creates dedicated group messaging spaces for each community, called a Lounge, and then organizes conversations into “Rooms” for each topic, where users can participate in conversations.
The bot-butler site mascot answers questions and directs users to relevant information, or to a room that’s relevant to their interests, using artificial intelligence to point the way based on the growing number of conversations taking place on the platform.
Moravej came to Canada from Iran on a student visa while completing his engineering studies at Concordia University.
The idea for Botler came about through his own frustrations at a moment when his student visa was about to expire, and he found himself relying on a grab bag of internet forums and messaging platforms, trying to find information from other immigrants who had had a similar experience and could offer advice.
Now, immigrants rely on a combination of Telegram, WhatsApp, Facebook, Viber, or other group messaging apps to communicate.
Anyone who’s participated in an internet forum to find information on a particular topic knows how quickly one relevant answer can get buried in dozens or hundreds of pages of discussion.
Approximately 250,000 people successfully immigrate to Canada every year. Internationally, according to the UN, 244 million people in 2015 were living in countries where they aren’t citizens.
“Canada is welcoming immigrants because of their skills and abilities. While the process is similar for many, it’s fraught with difficulties and roadblocks,” said Moravej. “We want to do something about this process and help these communities have a smoother, safer journey, where they can gain easy access to knowledge and support each other.”
Botler is currently in public beta, and can now help communities create lounges online. Both iOS and Android applications are currently being developed.