Yalo-co-founder Javier Mata noticed that he was buying a lot more fresh fish when a local fisherman, Alan, would WhatsApp him photos and details of his weekly catch. Those conversations over a digital app, and their influence on Mata’s spending, led him to create Yalo, a San Francisco-based AI platform that helps brands bring more personalization — and conversational commerce — to online sales platforms between themselves, stores, and customers.

More than 2.5 million merchants now engage with Yalo, which is expanding into new opportunities from linking stores to financing and educating store owners about new products through the platform.

“We believe that the best experiences are the ones that are end-to-end, so managing the entire customer journey,” says Mata. “That starts with getting to know about the products or being able to market and drive and change that behavior with the different recommendations that we’re able to do on the platform.”

You can hear more from Mata about Yalo in the video below, or read our lightly-edited transcript.



Javier Mata
Yalo is a conversational commerce platform that’s helping enterprises all across the world, transform their go to market and helps them build a close relationship with all their customers and help them to sell more. We work with different global brands in Latin America, in Asia, in Africa, all throughout the world that are serving small and medium-sized businesses in the way they sell. We help them engage with those stores and help them to sell more with those stores by using virtual AI and intelligent agents that converse with these stores and advise them on what to buy and then allows them to buy through messaging apps such as WhatsApp and other messaging applications.

One day I was in Mexico in this market called Mercado San Juan, and in that market, I met Alan who is a fisherman. Alan not only sold me fish, but got my WhatsApp number. When he got my WhatsApp number over the next three months, I ended up buying more fish that I had ever bought in my entire life. The reason for that was that every weekend, Alan  would send me a picture and it was send me a message with the freshest catch, and he just made it very, very appealing. It was very simple to order. I would just confirm it there and he would send it to my house. At one point I started thinking, I’m pretty sure Alan doesn’t realize that we’re doing digital commerce here and that we’re doing online commerce. And I hadn’t realized that we were doing that. But it was one of the best digital commerce experiences that I have ever had in my life.  That got me to think, what if we could recreate Alan or the Alan experience with artificial intelligence, and then give it to companies so that they can bring this level of personalization when it comes to their sales process in terms of recommending very compelling products, giving advice on how to buy and allowing you to buy through these messaging apps. That’s how Yalo got started. With that inspiration from Alan, we set ourselves to create these AI that now is helping companies all across the world impact more than 100 million users every month, and more than 2.5 million stores or merchants that are using our technology in our software.

The way I would explain the difference between conversational commerce and traditional e-commerce is conversational commerce is then next evolution. So traditionally, with e-commerce you have had to make a sacrifice of what you had in the offline world. The offline world allows you to have these close relationships and this personalization. So if you go to buy to a store, typically you would get advice and recommendations on what to buy. When you go to a website it is very scalable, but very transactional. Here’s the products you need to self-navigate. What conversational commerce does is it matches the best of both worlds, bringing that level of personalization and allows you to have a back and forth conversation, getting the recommendations and advice and at the same time allows you to do a purchase digitally which is a lot more efficient.

We believe that the best experience are the ones that are end-to-end, so really managing the entire customer journey. That starts with getting to know about the products or really being able to market and drive and change that behavior with the different recommendations that we’re able to do on the platform. Being able to do the sale on that, but at the same time creating other applications that allow you to solve all the needs of your customer. So an example of this is financing. There are a lot of stores that, for example, when it comes to buying products, they might not have working capital. We have already partnered with a couple of companies to be able to do that.

The other one is connecting not only with the store but connecting the entire ecosystem. In this ecosystem, you have sales representatives that are visiting the stores, you have marketers, so with the same information and with the same intelligence that we have created, we are now generating different applications. One applications for instances for the sales reps to get advice on how they should be selling and positioning the products. The other one is for onboarding of new customers, to learn and to find out about that. But the one that I’m most excited on, I think that great companies not only sell their products, but they help their customers have a better lifestyle and have a better business in this case. So all the educational content that we can generate to help these small merchants grow, it’s an area that I’m particularly excited because now we can not only send messages but we can send educational videos to all of these different stores on figuring out Procter and Gamble products, but not only that, but how to grow their particular business and get educated on that. Those were merchants and stores that typically wouldn’t have access to the same information on this content. Now we’re able to not only generate or personalize it for millions of different customers around the world.

I think there’s multiple advice that you’re gonna get and ultimately, you need to follow your gut. If you don’t, What are you going to follow? You’re going to hear a lot of different advice. I would start with that, but the gut is trained by surrounding yourself with fantastic people, and getting that sense. The second advice I would give is be obsessed about the problem that you’re trying to solve. Ultimately, companies work because you solve problems for other people. You want to make sure that you’re obsessed on the problem and that you’re passionate about solving the problem that you’re going after, because that’s where you’re going to get the energy to continually go through even when you have obstacles.  The solution might change. What you start with the company and the idea that you had that was what the solution was going to be. that’s bound to change. But the problem is the thing that it’s not likely to change. So make sure that you’re obsessed and that way you can get energized to go through the different obstacles that for sure will come your way