Why we invested in Talkie.ai

At Movens VC, we have decades of joint experience running tech companies. We understand the leverage that comes with having a strong team on your side. This is partly why we decided to invest $530,000 in Talkie.ai and secured the option to invest another $530,000 once the company accomplishes its KPIs (with our co-investor, LT Capital, dropping in another $265,000). But that’s not all of it — in a growing market for AI-led contact center assistance, Talkie.ai can actually change the rules of the game. Let us walk you through the details.

Product

Imagine you need to set up an appointment over the phone, let’s say with a hair salon. It could be 2 a.m. or 4 p.m., it doesn’t matter because voicebots are available 24/7. You are greeted by a pleasant voice that instantly gives you access to what you wanted to do. No waiting, no follow-up calls, no “to speak with a consultant; press 9…”. If you’re worried about getting to work on time, you can ask about the duration of the service, if it’s your birthday, inquire about the possibility of receiving a discount… No need for googling — simply ask the bot any questions that you would ask a human call center employee. All this is possible thanks to the cutting-edge natural language processing algorithms supplemented by an advanced, deep neural network-based cognitive engine that governs Talkie’s dialog handling skills. To make conversations go as smoothly as possible, Talkie takes advantage of recent inventions from the machine learning space like transfer learning (a mechanism used i.a. in the critically acclaimed OpenAI’s GPT-3 engine).

For the customer, voicebots are a blessing. But for the business, this new technology often proves difficult to implement. If you need to contact the bot’s provider or a highly qualified in-house IT team each time you want to change something in the script, and if each change carries the risk of downtime, it might seem easier to stick with the old ways — a human customer support team. But Talkie.ai solves this problem: it offers an easy to use voicebot designer with a simple visual interface, delivered within the SaaS model. Businesses know what their customers need from their support team, so why not let them create the bot themselves? The fact that hardly any setup is required on Talkie.ai team’s side allows for Product-Led Growth at its finest — customers can set up a voicebot and test it for free, and once it goes live they are charged by the minute.

Talkie provides instant insight into statistics detailing the customers’ inquiries. It is almost infinitely scalable, which comes handy during unexpected crises or outbound marketing actions. There’s a wide range of programmable actions included: Talkie can send out text messages, save phone numbers and personal data, and conduct surveys. The bot can currently work in more than 30 languages.

Market

The demographic trend is clear: customers are getting older. Right now, 39% of customers prefer voice support, and as the average customer age progresses, this number will rise. This is also influenced by the popularity of voice assistants and smart speakers. Call centers usually offer a poor experience, with long wait times, numerous switches between consultants, and horrible automated menus that gnaw at the customer’s patience. The 250,000 people who work in contact centers — just in Poland — are therefore tired, the turnover is high and staff often forgets to give important information to the customer.

All of this amounts to what we think is a prospective market for Talkie. The market for chatbots was worth $2.6 billion in 2019 and in 2024, it’s projected to reach a value of $9.4 billion. More specifically, the voice assistants market was worth $1.2 billion and the 2024 projection is $5.4 billion. We strongly believe that rapid growth in this market plus the high scalability of Talkie’s solution equals a great investment. What makes it even greater is that by going a step further and offering clients the tools to make their own bots, Talkie is pioneering a new submarket which is bound to benefit even more from the overall growth trend.

Team

Talkie.ai is a spinoff of Pragmatists, a software house with over 30 international successes under its belt. Talkie was developed while working on a booking system with Jean Louis David, a large hair salon chain. The client considered full automatization of the phone booking process, which gave the team insight on what customer experience teams need — control over scripts, fast and easy change-making, and access to data gathered in the interactions. By now, the bot has completely replaced human operators at Jean Louis David.

Talkie.ai founders: Wojciech Przechodzień, Ada Andruszkiewicz & Paweł Lipiński

But what the founder and CEO of Talkie.ai, Paweł Lipiński, considers even more important than the product itself is the team behind it. 12 years of building the corporate culture at Pragmatists proved incredibly useful during the development of Talkie. “Even before the first line of code, we had the advantage of a close-knit team of people who knew each other’s strengths and weaknesses,” says Lipiński. Experience can be hired off the market, but some things can’t — a perfected development process and structure focused on cooperation and learning were some of the advantages of a long history of working together.

Even now, with Talkie.ai formally separated from Pragmatists, there is plenty of opportunity for synergy — from using the common network of clients and partners to tech and administrative knowledge flowing between the companies.

Talkie grew with its first project, a booking bot for Jean Louis David. This is what sets them apart from many startups that assemble a team from scratch and then struggle to launch an MVP. Since then the bot has supported many use cases, from reminding drivers to extend their insurance to public opinion surveys. Creating a voicebot to answer questions about COVID-19 in the early days of the pandemic, and getting well-earned media attention for it, was just the cherry on top.

Future

Talkie.ai is using the raised funds to create a tool for management and analytics of the voicebot’s operations for contact center clients, as well as building a sales team to push the expansion further in native Poland, Western Europe, the United States, and Latin America. While the last region might seem a little unusual, Lipiński explains that this is an obvious choice: “We have already built quite a good network in the Anglosphere. Spanish is the second language in the United States and many companies asked us about implementation in Spanish parallel to English. From that, it’s a short road to Mexico and further south, and the customers are more keen on voice assistance there than in Northern Europe, for example. The company is relentlessly pursuing new leads. They have a representative in the United States, and they are planning to incorporate there next year to allow for a more aggressive expansion.

With all that in mind, we couldn’t have passed up the opportunity to invest in Talkie.ai.

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About Movens VC:

Movens VC has $15M for early-stage, Polish/CEE companies with global potential. We focus on businesses that will revolutionize traditionally large industries mainly through the use of ML/AI in process automation. Our ticket ranges from $0.25M to $1 M. Our fund is managed by former entrepreneurs with extensive experience in building technology companies and their scaling on the international stage.

The entire Movens VC team has a passion for building strong technology companies. Earlier, we developed or supported companies in various sectors and business models, among others: martech (Netsprint, Adrino, Datarino, Waytogrow), marketplaces (Packhelp, iTaxi, Whitepress) fintech (Skycash, Fenige), medtech (Medicalgorithmics) or HRtech (Nais ). We bring these experiences to our VC fund. Our goal is to provide 16 Polish/CEE technological diamonds with real support at go-to-market and international expansion stage

The fund, open to co-investments, focuses on companies with their roots in Poland/CEE, offering financing within one round 1 and 4 million PLN ($250K to 1 million). Movens VC focuses primarily on the fintech, martech, e-commerce support, logistics, medtech, industry 4.0 and deep-tech industries as well as sport & wellness, but is not closed to other sectors. Preferred business models are marketplace and SaaS. Fund’s investment theses: machine learning and artificial intelligence will change the way large industries operate and Polish/CEE technological talent supported by good financing and strong links with Western VC funds give the potential to build innovative international ventures.

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