AI-based platform for call centres not only attracts an investment but also plans the big leap into the US market. Scale-up Champions Investment Readiness alumni an Estonian startup Ender Turing this spring has attracted 200k euros of VC investment from EstBAN (Estonian Business Angels Network) and plans an expansion worldwide.
By participating in the Scale-up Champions programme in 2021, the team of Ender Turing expanded the network of essential contacts for business growth. “We do value the meetings with potential clients and investors. All the networking activities with mentors, and corporate clients, were the reason why we decided to participate”, remembers the founder.
This spring within the framework of the Latitude59 conference in Tallinn the 450k euros investment was given out by EstBAN to 2 companies. Ender Turing was one of them, receiving an investment of 200k euros.
“We were noticed during the pitching competition at the event but the truth is that the investors' community knew about us the way before. We were at the sweet spot of the right achievements. Actually, I believe to win you have to make a lot of preparation and work to be known. You have to pitch a lot to different investors and then gain some awareness in the deep-tech market. Winning combines a number of factors, including the technology uniqueness, and the maturity of a startup. If you are too late or a too early startup, there is no point to strive for an investment without tractions, paying customers”, emphasises Olena Iosifova.
The company started as a creator of the tech that can process voice communication and create text and analytics based on that text and voice. It helped to gain the market attention and later to move towards problem-solving novelty.
“Three founders were originally from Ukraine and that’s why in the beginning we worked with the Ukrainian language”, remembers Olena Iosifova, the CEO of Ender Turing. The novelty was needed as Google, Amazon, IBM and others really do not produce great quality speech transcription for call centre environments.
Also there is a catch talking about the communication tools. In the modern hybrid working presence we do enjoy quite good quality microphones, but when it comes to the call centres, telephones do not yet match the sufficient quality level. Phone connection and phone recording have different audio characteristics thus making it harder for humans to communicate.
In 2020 Olena Iosifova gathered a team of IT specialists and language scientists and created a module that was outperforming all the big players in the Ukrainian language. “It was the moment when we understood the same solution may be applied for other languages. This technology defines us as unique and also we found a way to work with different dialects”, notes the founder.
The other companies that work with language analysis algorithms actually work with American English. It is quite problematic for the computer to understand the different dialects. “We are able to adapt a new language from scratch in 2 months and if we need to take into account a new dialect, it enhances the quality of recognition to regional accent, we can do it within a month”, says Olena. Today the technology is able to analyse 24 European languages.
The success and recognition of the technology developed by the team, located in Estonia, made them opt for more novelties. As the founder explains, the team made a choice to create a product for business value. This idea blossomed into a creation of a platform for call centre performance management and the primary language recognition technology has become the main part of it.
“Our solution is not about robot communication. We analyse human-to-human interactions and provide a possibility for customer specialists to access their performance on the platform. Thus people working in the call centres to self-learn and self-coach on the best examples of conversations”, explains the founder of Ender Turing.
AI is a truly precise listener, that is why it understands and exposes our areas for improvement. For example, the startup’s system analyses the communication in an insurance company as the customer service specialist talks to a real customer. The platform reviews the conversation, showing relevant metrics on what was done right and what is not underperformed.
“If the system knows that the person struggles at the start of the conversation, representing himself or the organisation, he gets a notification that has to learn to perform better. On the platform, customer support specialists are able to read the best openings of the conversations from those colleagues who do it really well. “Sometimes companies measure 8-9 different parts of the conversation, we can track where the performance is dropping. Our clients get the total transparency of the communication on the level of content of communication, not on how many calls were performed or how long those calls were”, pictures the CEO.
As it comes to the main perspective, customers who are actually applying the novelty to manage the call centres, talk about how the system has improved the performance of the employees without additional management time. In this case, the staff receives assessments of their work much faster and they can enhance their work on their own without waiting for a meeting with the manager or the team lead. “With our platform, it is like a day-to-day learning process”, emphasises Olena.
In parallel, this spring the startup got accepted to one of the top 4 US accelerators - MassChallenge U.S. Early-Stage program. “We are now working on the strategy to expand in the US. The investment that we got, we will mainly use for sales and marketing, penetrating the US market. As we are working with the Spanish market, it is a competitive advantage to reach the US. We can offer the Spanish language analytics and that is what our main competitors lack”, explains the founder.
In these turbulent times, deep-tech sectors where most of these types of novelties are born are facing their own challenges. “As the R&D part of our startup is internal, time and money are the most challenging aspects. We did not get a lot of money compared to the other competitors, for instance, the US. For me, as a CEO it comes as a question of priorities - how to allocate the resources we have, distribute people, money and attention”, says Olena. However, she adds that currently, the biggest challenge is the war in Ukraine. “One of the founders is living in Ukraine and he cannot leave the country. We also have 2 colleagues in the country. As relocation is not possible, we wait for Ukraine to win”, emphasises the startup founder.