There's Something About Jeffrey

Jeffrey

With 10,000 users and 750,000 messages in just over 5 weeks, it’s clear – There’s Something About [Jeffrey].

Jeffrey is one of the Accelerator teams this year. They originally entered at Mercury Enabled, an automated delivery management solution, and left as Jeffrey, a super successful Facebook chatbot for university students that went viral on Monash StalkerSpace upon launching.

Here at The Generator, there are a few key concepts we tend to encourage, and not without reason:

- Validate with velocity and fail fast
- Tackle a problem you are passionate about solving
- Use your unique insight to solve this problem
- Seek product/market fit

Co-founders of Mecury Enabled Jeffrey have been there and done that.

Over the course of the 12-week Accelerator program, the team discovered there was a misalignment in their motivators, killed their initial concept, and worked on a problem they had first-hand experience with and were passionate about solving.

We sat down with Kenwa Seong and Michael Strauss, Founders of Jeffrey, to talk about their startup journey thus far.

Jeffrey screenshot


What idea did were you accepted into the Accelerator with?

We were accepted into the accelerator with a hardware product called Mercury Enabled, which was born from a frustration of not knowing exactly where our deliveries were in real time. Michael Strauss’ family has experience in the fresh produce industry so we created a device and platform that monitored both the condition and location of packages in the logistics industry.


Why did you kill the idea?

We realised that we weren’t solving a significant or large enough problem, and we personally had little unique insight that provided us with a significant advantage over the competition.


How did Jeffrey come about, and when did this happen in the program?

Jeffrey didn’t come about until quite late in the Accelerator program. We killed Mercury Enabled in the first week and spent the majority of the program ideating; trying to work rapidly through ideas to test whether there was a significant enough problem and a valid market.

As we both became busier in the ideating process during the Accelerator, it got harder to keep track of our university workload and we found ourselves leaving tasks until the last minute, and even ending up completely missing an online test.

To keep up with everything, we built Jeffrey for ourselves, which in its initial phases simply shot us a message every time an assignment or quiz was coming up and we would prepare for it accordingly.


Tell us about what happened on the day of the launch? 

We planned a post about Jeffrey on the Monash StalkerSpace Facebook Page for 6pm on Monday 9 September, and had projected that we would gain about 1,000 students via this method by the end of the week.

We were so wrong. On that night alone, over 2,500 students signed up!


Jeffrey StalkerSpace screenshot


Since then, what traction have you had and maintained?

Since launch, we have maintained 50% week-on-week growth. Currently, we have around 10,000 Monash University students using Jeffrey!


How do you get feedback from your users?

Jeffrey has an inbuilt feedback function that users can send feedback via and Jeffrey also notifies us if conversations hit a point where he can’t answer. This means we constantly receive feedback from students every day, which is so valuable to us because it gives us a good direction to keep improving and making Jeffrey more useful.

Jeffrey is becoming embedded in Monash University culture – it’s exciting to see memes about Jeffrey online, and hear students talking about it in lectures and tutorials.


Jeffrey is currently helping students keep on top of their assessment due dates – what other applications do you envision Jeffrey having in the future?

We envision Jeffrey being able to help students in all aspects of their assignments, except actually putting pen to paper (as much as students would love that!). This includes help with academic questions, planning, organisation and time management.

Fully integrating with Moodle (and other university learning management systems) and timetabling services will allow Jeffrey to provide truly personal experiences for every student. Almost every CEO in a big organisation has a PA to manage their bookings and scheduling, why should students not be able to utilise similar services through Jeffrey?


What are some key learnings you have taken away from the Accelerator program, and your journey with Jeffrey?

Iterate quickly until you find a real problem and a potential solution. We worked on the first iteration of Jeffrey for only a handful of weeks before launching, and now we know there’s definitely something to work on in this space.

It’s so important to pick something you’re passionate about, preferably a problem that you are facing yourself – we were interested in the logistics product, but ultimately we couldn’t see ourselves working on it for the next ten years. We’ve found that by picking something that we’re deeply interested in, it makes the hard times easier, and the good times even better.