Ahmed Reza is tapping the advice of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s dad and advances in artificial intelligence to improve communications and marketing for small businesses.
Reza is the founder and CEO of San Jose-based Yobi, which offers artificial intelligence-powered software designed to enable small businesses to monitor and respond to customers on their mobile phone, whether it happens by phone, text or through social media. He connected with Dr. Edward Zuckerberg while pitching a previous small business marketing startup in Miami. Zuckerberg, now an advisor to Yobi, is a dentist, which was a target customer of both Reza’s previous startup and his current one.
Dentists can be overwhelmed by having to connect with customers through multiple channels, Zuckerberg said in a testimonial included Yobi’s announcement last week that it had raised $2.3 million in seed funding. The app developed by Yobi, which is legally known as YIB Inc., can help, he said.
“To be super successful with anything, you must develop a concept that disrupts the whole industry,” Zuckerberg said in the week’s announcement.
Reza said that he plans to use the seed funds he raised to develop new features, including some using generative AI to automate how small businesses respond to their customers.
“As the owner of a small business in the past and in the startups I founded, I know the pain points of trying to analyze and respond to customers myself,” he said. “At Yobi we don’t just want to meet our customers’ needs. We want to get ahead of them and help grow their businesses.”
The startup currently employs about 30 people, mostly in Algeria. Reza said that he has found the North African country to be a fertile source of talent.
“When I moved my business from Florida to Silicon Valley I lost my brightest engineers to Google and Facebook,” he said. “A friend suggested hiring a nephew of his from Algeria. Our workforce there has grown since because Algeria has a large number of highly trained scientists and engineers.”