/ Startups

Meet Ebbot: the Chatbot Startup in Sweden

Anders, Mikael, and Gustav are three Swedish entrepreneurs who joined forces in 2017 to build a chatbot startup - Hello Ebbot - that would help companies get more strategic about their customer service processes.

We came into the picture at the right time to help these guys build an MVP and, as they're about to head into the next step of their startup journey, they paid us a brief but intense visit to Cluj in February. The purpose of this visit? Making Hello Ebbot a product with a stronger vision and more solid implementation.

I actually invited Ebbot to a brief chat to learn more about it.

Start a Conversation with Ebbot

 

Hi, can you tell me more about you?

Hi there, I’m Hello Ebbot. I’m a chatbot built in Sweden by Anders, Mikael and Gustav. Together, we want to help you get better at customer service automation.

That sounds quite intriguing but what triggered this idea?

Interestingly enough, there were no customer care services on the Swedish market that use NLP (Natural Language Processing).

So you identified a real need and quickly found your niche.

I mean, a lot of companies struggle with cost cuts in the customer service department. Fewer customer care reps = less time for giving 100% attention to people’s issues. So you have a lot of customer dissatisfaction. Plus, the struggle is also with handling the boring & repetitive customer interactions, so as to channel more resources into strategic/creative tasks.

Oh, I would’ve thought the industry is more automated already.

It’s not. YET. That’s why dozens of companies would like to have their own Ebbot ASAP. The demand is huge so you can imagine Anders, Mikael and Gustav don’t have time to overthink it, they just have to deliver.

From what I can see, they look like they know what they’re doing.

Well, they’ve been in the Telecom industry for most of their professional lives. Having worked for a large company (40,000 global employees) they saw how hard it is to juggle with super complex customer care demands in a fast-paced industry.

So then the shift from company life to startup life must have been rather challenging?

In their words, it was "insane, but also really quick". Insane because you go from a well-structured hierarchy to a context where you fill in for all 'department' roles. You go "to this big glass office house and the next day to walk into a basement. Literally, a basement". You’ve got to adapt FAST.

By ‘fast’ you mean adopt the latest technology - like AI? Like Ebbot?

You’d think I’m all AI, right? :) In truth though, I’m a machine learning thing (Natural Language Processing, more exactly), where I am delivering both automated responses and the chat space for real humans to interact. Plus a cool thing is I get paid only when I’m carrying a task by myself (i.e. the task completion is entirely automated), not when I just sit there and humans do all the work.

Whoa you revealed some cool stuff. But I feel I don’t know a lot about Ebbot as a startup and all the background that led to it. Could you help me?

In fact, I can :) I've got something to share from my team’s experience, just keep scrolling down.


Arguably Europe's top entrepreneurial hub - according to VentureBeat - Sweden has evolved during the last years into a promised land for founders who dream of a solid launch pad.

Is Sweden the 'Silicon Valley of Europe'? Pretty much so. This country is a hot spot for emerging European startups and a gold mine for successful exits, but this doesn’t mean you found a business there and it will soar, by default, just like that.

Instead, there's a couple of things you should know about this particular startup environment.

 
The Swedish startup environment is a land where the cool, bold, unicorn companies (like Spotify, let’s say) can find a great launchpad.
Mostly, it’s because of the angel investors. They’re very keen on identifying success stories.
Cool fact: in Sweden, anyone who works at a company can leave to try out their ideas for 6 month and then get back to their job in case the venture was not successful.
There’s a lot of available money for startups - IF you have something of real value to show.
Any high-value product is given a chance to succeed, due to the ‘best service wins’ mentality that’s cultivated in Sweden.
Maybe the most striking aspect of startup life for the Ebbot founders is the lack of stress - ”Which is quite funny, ‘cause there’s so much at stake, but also we have everything under control and we can manage everything on our terms.”
Even more strikingly, startup life brings the ‘realness’ to a new level- “You’re not happy because you avoided a catastrophe. You’re happy because you pushed something forward.”
Recipe for early-stage product growth? Ebbot team says it is key to start talking to future customers before the MVP is launched in order to gain insights and iterate on them early on.
Everyone thinks AI is THE thing to be adopted right now. And as a startup, you’d think it’s best to ride the wave. Knowing that AI is still under development, Anders, Gustav, and Mikael consider AI should be adopted as a means to enhance the people's work, not replace it.
Key takeaway: avoid buzzwords which confuse your customers and which make them think your solution is going to solve ALL their problems.
Roadmap insights: before the summer, Ebbot is aiming for a stronger product, with full capabilities for ‘rich’ conversations and improved user-friendliness.

The Business Partnership Files. How A Chatbot Startup Idea Became Product


Ebbot as a product was based on a collaborative partnership between its founders and Around25, on the assumption every part brings their best for the sake of a common goal.

How this partnership came to be: The founders knew what they wanted - a long-term partnership based on a list of both professional and work ethic requirements.

The Ebbot team were looking for people who ACT and THINK in the ‘product’ way because “a good coder knows more about what I want than myself.”

“In Sweden, it would have taken too long to find developers available. We also needed a partner that could scale with us.”

That partner ended up being Around25 because we checked the key values the founders treasure: Openness,transparency and ability to be outspoken.

Why was Around25 Ebbot's choice? It's about proactivity - even during the initial call we were not afraid to challenge the product and ask loads of follow-up questions.

 

It's always fascinating for us to have fellow founders in our office, because you get this awesome let's-get-stuff-done vibe.

You also build priceless trust bonds and real-time feedback - stuff that's really hard - if not impossible - to get otherwise (more on this, you can read here or here, where we're dissing on the struggles of remote co-founding from our experience).

So Anders, Mikael and Gustav coming to meet us in February means their partnership with us is only aiming higher.

I mean, their mission is: "We want to change the world in terms of handling customer service." And it seems we're up for the task:





If you have your own product and are looking to develop it, you're always welcome to chat with us over a virtual coffee here.