South African artificial intelligence (AI) startup GotBot plans to expand to the United Kingdom (UK) and Southeast Asia in the near future after building a sizeable customer base at home and raising funding.
Founded in 2016 by Nick Argyros and Chris Green, GotBot is a social commerce and customer experience solution that enables clients to easily communicate with customers, through Facebook Messenger, Twitter, WeChat, Skype, SMS, and web chat conversations.
Clients include Toyota, RCS, African Bank, Nissan, Flight Centre, Sanlam, Home Choice and Old Mutual Finance, and the startup, which has a sharp focus on the financial services, insurance and retail sectors with clients in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Dubai, has expansion plans into the UK and Southeast Asia in “the near future”.
This expansion will be assisted by a ZAR2.5 million (US$171,000) funding round raised from venture capital firm CapaciTech towards the back end of last year. But the initial breakthrough into the space came from getting people to order and pay for coffee via text.
“This brought about the realisation that if it could be done with coffee, it could be done with anything, be it apparel, shoes or technology,” Argyros told Disrupt Africa.
The company built its first product, Get It, and then pivoted with a flagship product called Custom Care, which helps clients with acquisitions, lead generation, on-boarding, FICA and customer experience.
Now, with the GotBot team split between Johannesburg and Cape Town, it specialises in conversation and workflow automation across multiple messaging platforms, providing a single dashboard that aggregates each channel with its own inbox.
“The system can be used to create two way communications or build automation for different business objectives such as lead generation, acquisitions, sales and retail as well as customer experience,” Argyros said.
From the founders’ experiences in application development, they had begun to realise apps were “dying out”, and started looking at the next big thing.
“Based on market behaviours such as the fact that 62 per cent of people prefer messaging over speaking to someone over the phone, we realised that automation via these channels could replace a lot of the mundane tasks and give clients what they wanted on the channels that they preferred using. We understand that clients are going to message businesses, so for us it is simple – let them,” said Argyros.
“We can onboard clients and handle customer experience with ease, through chat on a medium they understand. We built a platform that allows our clients to build a solution that is tailored to their requirements.”
Self-funded initially, Argyros says it was a “massive achievement” to have managed to get the business off the ground organically for the first two and a half years.
“We have just signed this Series A round of funding with CapaciTech and we already have other offers on the table for future rounds of funding,” he said.
GotBot is a Software as a Service (SaaS) business with revenue coming from licensing fees and commission-based structures on lead generation. It is seeing strong revenue growth, and is poised for an expansive future.