‘Conversational AI’ start-up Webio raises €500,000

10 Jun 2021

From left: Paul Sweeney, Graham Brierton, Mark Oppermann and Cormac O’Neill. Image: Webio

The Dublin start-up helps companies manage and predict customer service functions using artificial intelligence.

Irish AI start-up Webio has raised €500,000 in funding from Finch Capital to top off an investment round at €1.5m.

Webio’s pre-Series A funding will be invested in further developing its “conversational AI” that assists in dealing with companies’ communications with customers and predicting the outcomes of those interactions.

The Dublin-based company, which is also backed by Enterprise Ireland and EIT Digital, plans to greatly expand its R&D team and add to its sales and customer success teams.

The start-up has amassed a solid client base in the credit, collections and payments industry since it was founded in 2016. During the pandemic, it saw demand rise as more and more companies turned to digital tools to manage customer service.

“Businesses are moving from simple telephone systems to chat, messaging and now to intelligent assistants. We will not only help customers with service issues but also help them execute transactions and make more informed choices,” Cormac O’Neill, chief executive of Webio, said.

The company’s services have seen particular traction among fintech companies, such as buy now, pay layer services, he added. Snap Finance and Oplo are among its clients.

The AI can be used to analyse a companies’ customer conversations to determine the ideal product or service for a user.

“This investment is another step in our strategic development plans to fundamentally change how this sector works,” O’Neill said.

“Conversations about money are hard, they can be difficult to understand, and they can be stressful. We believe that the industry is poised for change and that Webio will deliver a future where these difficult conversations are made easier and managed better.”

Webio is mostly active in Ireland and the UK but is now looking further afield to mainland Europe and the US.

Investor Finch Capital, a Dutch venture capital firm, has a sizeable presence in Ireland and typically backs companies at the Series A and B rounds.

“The credit and collections industry is ripe for disruption, its approach to its customers is outdated and the sector has been overlooked for far too long,” Mike Brennan, principal at Finch Capital, said.

“It’s an extremely large market which is set for significant growth, and we believe that as a specialist in this space, Webio is extremely well positioned to lead the industry in a new direction where customer engagement across the debt cycle is a positive experience.”

Jonathan Keane is a freelance business and technology journalist based in Dublin