Lots of people, especially in the tech and/or startup world, are in love with group-messaging app Slack. If you ask them what they love, a good number will name the integration of third-party apps and services through several means, including “bots” that allow you to type a simple command to access services outside of Slack. Using the Subcurrent bot, for example, I type “/poll Dogs vs. Cats,” to set up a poll of pet favorites using the Subcurrent service. Subcurrent’s bot then sends a message with the two choices to my Slack team, allowing them to click on one of the words in order to vote.
Here’s the thing: There are already dozens of Slack bots, each with its own vocabulary of commands to learn. In addition to having to figure out what service you need and if it has a Slack bot, you have to figure out the right command.
Along comes a startup called Relcy, which is offering a new solution today: Ask the Relcy Slack bot what you want, and it will surface links to the apps and services you need. I type “/relcy mexican food manhattan beach” for example, and, on Slack’s desktop web app, get a list of eateries in the L.A. suburb, such as Place to Beach (3/5 stars on Yelp). Clicking on one brings up a web card (resembling a mobile-app screen) with links to services like Yelp, Trip Advisor, or Foursquare for reviews and Uber, Lyft, or Google Maps for ways to get there. Doing the same thing in Slack on an iPhone launches Relcy’s iOS mobile app.
That app itself is brand new, having just hit the App Store on October 28, though Relcy’s been openly developing its mobile search service for some time (with funding from Khosla Ventures and Sequoia). The CEO and founder, Rohit Satapathy, tells me there will be an Android app by the first quarter of of 2016. Relcy remains focused on the app-centered world of mobile rather than on the web. “A million links is probably not what the [mobile] user is looking for,” says Satapathy. Relcy instead links directly to apps, which you can launch right from Relcy by tapping on the search results.
Given Relcy’s (brief) heritage, expansion into Slack isn’t such a jump, since the messaging service is increasingly also built on apps. “We see search moving into conversations, into social networks,” says Ashish Nagar, Relcy’s head of business development. “And Slack is in the enterprise context the future of conversation.” Relcy is not without competition. The Ask Nestor Slack bot does some of the same, as a virtual assistant that finds and links to services for things like ride sharing and restaurant reservations. Likewise, Slack isn’t the only messaging app. “We will be working, going forward, with tons of developers…” says Nagar, “to liven it up and bring context to conversations for whatever their app does.”