By Jérome Joaug, Principal at Aster
Wluper just announced the closing of their €1.2m seed round where Aster invested along with IQ Capital and SeedCamp. This round aims at expanding the team’s engineering capabilities and supporting the commercial development in an extremely dynamic space. We are particularly excited about the following aspects of the business: the timing in light of the maturity of the market, their approach and the team.
Conversational Assistants are at a crossroad
We are definitely in a booming market. Starting with home assistants, Alexa has been leading the charge with a new way to interact with machines using our voice, with other Tech Giants (both Americans and Chinese) also extremely active. The promise is ambitious: this will allow humans to talk to computers the same way we talk to other humans, removing a lot of the friction that is linked to using a mouse, a search bar or a keyboard. And this is working. Voice assistants are ranking as best seller products (more than 25 million units sold in 2018) and usage metrics show great feedbacks from customers. It is actually cool to ask a machine about the weather, the menu for food delivery or the availability of Uber. Up to a certain point…
The frictionless interaction with voice assistants disappears as soon as you start asking “human-like” questions rather than simple commands. In fact, the problem of designing an assistant that is scalable to all use cases is far from being solved and thus, the promise of frictionless interaction not yet fulfilled.
This leaves space for new entrants such as Wluper, with the condition that they bring strong value propositions and adequate market positioning.
Wluper’s unique technology and approach
In order to solve those issues, Wluper has steered away from traditional rule-based, handcrafted methods and developed new techniques to optimise user satisfaction and machine’s knowledge acquisition by leveraging state of the art deep neural network technologies. Wluper’s AI is able to learn from conversations in an unsupervised manner, meaning that businesses don’t need to develop “skills” by producing questions/answers and labelling every single sentence by hand.
Being able to learn faster without human intervention is also a way to scale. Wluper’s AI can answer complex questions with several levels of intent or context, capability which is far beyond the existing assistants that mostly handle one-way commands.
Positioned as a platform, Wluper is initially focusing on the mobility sector to provide navigational intelligence to mobility service providers and help them reduce friction with commuters in an ecosystem that is increasingly multimodal and complex.
Team culture and momentum
Last but not least, we were also quite impressed by the team and what they have achieved, not only before we met but also during the fundraising period. The founding team is made up of skilled engineers, researchers and entrepreneurs and we have been impressed about the traction that they have managed to build in a very short amount of time on different fronts.
We have seen countless companies in the field of chatbots and conversation assistants, many of them having some traction and credible products. However, we have been struggling to identify scalability factors or relevance in a market ruled by the Tech Giants. Wluper, however, has the potential to defend its space by making conversation assistants much more intelligent, human-like, and effortless to build.
We believe Wluper will transform the way humans interact with machines by making voice interfaces scalable and frictionless. Challenges ahead are many. The company needs to scale fast and conquer market shares, while improving their product and technology continuously but this is where we can help. Through our Business Hub, we will support Wluper to generate and sign commercial opportunities within our sectors.
Congrats to Hami, Nikolai and Maurice for what you have achieved so far, and we look forward to assisting you in making Wluper an amazing success!