In conversation with Andrew Kabrit of the UAE's Seez
Seez, the UAE-based car aggregator platform is one of the few companies in the Middle East to develop its own artificial intelligence (AI) technology. Founded in 2015, Seez lists all the cars for sale in the UAE and Kuwait and through its AI chatbot, Cesar, it enables users to identify a car make and model and its market price by submitting a picture as well as negotiating the sale of a car with sellers.
The company is now looking to raise a Series A round and expand to Saudi Arabia with longer term plans to launch in South Africa.
Andrew Kabrit co-founded Seez with his uncle Tarek Kabrit straight after completing a Masters in AI in Denmark.
Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur?
Corporate work never interested me, it moved too slow and doesn’t push too many boundaries. I didn’t want to play it safe. I started my first business at 17 and repaired iPhones, I ordered the screens from China, then I started growing smaller businesses, but never anything that became as big as Seez.
How did you manage to recruit your AI developers?
I took my friends studying AI [in Denmark], I told them ‘say no to the job at Microsoft and come to us’. One guy came on board two weeks before he moved to Dubai. The main driver was the challenge they would be facing together, it was for the dream of building something people would use. A lot of developers care about people using their products rather than the monetisation.
How do you teach Cesar?
Cesar started out very simple, he didn’t have much complexity. We collected all the info required to teach him stuff, we have to feed him high quality data. It is like teaching a child and along the way he became better and better. At the beginning he made mistakes, he wasn’t good at picking out the price or mileage. We had to teach him basic things about numbers and how people structure them. Now Cesar can calculate the average price of a car and what it will be in the future by looking at different data points like the mileage, the engine size, if it is under warranty.
How does Cesar negotiate?
Every time you do a search [on Seez] Cesar automatically reaches out to all the sellers online and negotiates the price down. He successfully negotiates 13 per cent of the car sales without any human assistance. He learns along the way and gets better at negotiation. He learned to call people ‘bro’ but ladies didn’t like it and so he stopped it. We are working on negotiating in Arabic now.
What about your plans to expand to Saudi Arabia this year?
It will be a big challenge, a lot of companies have tried to get into that space. The main player is Haraj, they don’t just list cars, so it is a huge challenge to clear up that data, you can do a search and camels for sale can come up. We have had to build an Arabic translator for cars so we can map the existing database.
How do you see your industry developing over the next decade?
The new model that we’re excited about is mobility as a service, where you don’t have to worry about which car you own, you just subscribe with BMW or Mercedes for example and you can drive a small car during the week and at the weekend you pick up an SUV instead. You will be able to change the car based on your needs. There will also be a shift to autonomous cars and electric cars. We’re focusing on other forms of ownership, like leasing and subscription models, we’ll adapt to these. There will always be a need for mobility, so I don’t think there will be a huge shift to no cars on the road.