It's start with a funny story, let me present myself first before telling you that story. My name is Melshor Essomassor, i define myself as Marketer in the day, learning software development in the night and guitare player when i have a bug i try for some days to fix it but don't work :) (Better to use this time to build others skills)

Here is my story : i live kinshasa (Capital of DRC in africa), am working in the town but my previous home was around 13km to my job and traffic jam was involved in 80% of my 2 or 3 hours road trip per day.

The funny thing is that we all know that there's always a traffic jam after work. Some days when i wanted to go back home early, i used to get the same genius idea as usual "Leave the office just few minutes after work to pass before traffic jam" but unfortunately out of 8/10 of the time, we were many to find this same genius that lead to the same traffic jam over and over again. :)

My life changed the day i joined a WhatsApp group where the purpose was "to inform each others about road traffic and issues" for the first time i was able to choose if it was better to stay at the office or take the road.

I got a full power of decision over this situation because i had the "Right Information" which is far better and efficient than my previous genius ideas.

That's How i started the journey of building VroumVroum Bot As marketer before start any development i always start by "WHY " , to find out my reason to believe in a project.

Here is my reasons :

  1. Why i believe it would work ?

R/ Read my story, you will figure out that there's a real niche ! Nobody like a surprising traffic jam ! The first time, i discovered WAZE app it was in paris, i was even amaze that it was working very well in kinshasa but why most of people in my country don't use it or even don't know it ? i share my thought in my WHY point 2.

  1. Why building Fb Messenger bot is a key and not Android App ?

R/ Africa is a very dynamic market, we jump from a technology to another without any transition, for e.g : We went directly to mobile phones without experience at large scale home line phones.

THE TODAY INSIGHT is that people learn to use Facebook and whatsapp before to learn to do google search, low penetration app usage in emerging markets, because of low populations revenue most of telco company offer special internet bundles for OTT simplying the access to Facebook in many markets and make customers ready to afford new content if it's relevant for them So unless, you want to spend more energy on building Awerness for an app in countries where app usage is challenging, better to invest energy on an app that people install by themselves when the buy a new smartphone. i really think that Messenger is the perfect platform for developers in most markets around the world and offer a big scalability for new concept

What it does now

Vroumvroumbot is connected to 3 pages (DRC, Cote d'ivoire, Sénégal). You can see the link for DRC page link . We are trying to build features based on users feedback, to be relevant we build what people want. (The bot is in French for the moment, english is coming soon)

Just one command to keep in mind, which is : "Vroum", the usage flow is very intuitive.
With this command you can, reply with :

  1. "Check route" to get information of the traffic 5km around you current position within the day 24h.
  2. "Signalez route" to do an alert and share it to the community

But the first time you use the bot, just write "Bonjour" (Hello in french), you receive the setting command to setup location.

N.B: This is 100% community bot, can't work without people ! you can see all current stats alerts on link

How I built it

Node.js, google api, and a lot of passion and after work coding

Challenges I ran into

My first messenger bot was in php, i made my starting on Javascript with this project, as i have an IT background and a passion for coding, i use my small free time to learn new things to make my projects moving forward.

This project require complex integration such as :

  • Google Api to geocode or reverse geocode,
  • internal geocode management to reduce call to google server and usage cost,
  • Internal token management to connect differents pages to the same code without duplicate calls to facebook servers
  • Optimize sql queries to databases
  • Front-end development : Page templating with twig, manage the look and feel
  • Build Messenger Admin Command to quickly manage and bot maintenance.

I only knew what i wanted but i had no idea on how to achieve it in javascript but here i am.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

  1. Being able to materialize my idea is my biggest proud
  2. The fact that even without video tutorial (Messenger Ads only), people from the country where i don't live are able to use intuitively VroumVroumBot check stats portal : on link

What I learned

if i still code after work, i will continue to submit more projects that i will be proud of. This my first challenge submission, just being able to submit something i think relevant, it's already a big personal winning price.

What's next for Vroumvroum bot

  • Continue to improve user experience
  • Continue to test the best marketing strategy (Facebook don't allow bots to send message out of 48h after no usage, i have to find the best marketing mix)
  • why not Make small drones fly with vroumvroum when there's an accident alerted to better serve the community, we have solar energy almost permanently here in africa (This is just an idea)

You Can test, if you speak french : Just write "Bonjour" and "Vroum" and follow the flow.

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