Published on 3|5|2021 by Lucie Kolářová & Peter Kesch
Ixperta and the venture capital fund Fazole Ventures invested in the technology company SentiSquare. At the same time, SentiSquare recently rejected a generous offer for an acquisition from the USA. They decided with heart and used the local investment, which, unlike the foreign offer, will allow them to complete the development of a new, no-code NLP product for the Czech and later other markets.
NLP (Natural Language Processing) is a rapidly growing field, focusing on the use of artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms for text processing and comprehension. Especially in recent years, the implementation of AI solutions in business processes has experienced a huge boom, which is playing into the hands of technology companies operating in this sphere. Their software is increasingly in demand, as those who don't automate today will be one step behind the competition tomorrow. This is the case especially in the area of customer service, where there is a huge amount of text. This is where the Pilsen-based technology company SentiSquare has been operating since 2014.
SentiSquare uses NLP algorithms to process and analyze communication between companies and their customers. The SentiSquare solution automates routine work around this communication, such as forwarding emails to target addresses, answering FAQs, processing attachments, processing customer feedback or offering call analytics for call centres. The solution is used by companies from various segments such as energy, telco or e-commerce. Regular clients include E.ON, Rohlík.cz, Albert, T-Mobile, AAA Auto and others. Thanks to these solutions, they can save a lot of manpower and their people can focus on important tasks.
Simply, no-code NLP refers to software that does not require an NLP expert or other specialized developer to operate. For companies looking into automation, the "no code" direction makes NLP much more accessible and has been in high demand around the world for the last years, even in the segment of smaller companies that cannot, otherwise, afford AI solutions.
SentiSquare is at its core a science and technology company founded in 2014 by 3 colleagues and scientists from the Faculty of Applied Sciences of the University of West Bohemia in Pilsen. Currently, four Ph.D. graduates work in the development team. A passion for science runs through the entire history of SentiSquare. For example, the developers implement all NLP related algorithms themselves, using their own libraries for NLP, including low-level computations and optimizations, which is not common in this field. Now, the scientific passion has manifested itself in the desire to complete and launch a new product that they have been working on for 2 years. Thanks to the investment, they plan to launch it later this year.
IXPERTA is an established IT company that has been on the Czech market since 1992. Their projects focus on corporate communications, infrastructure and security. The portfolio of services is complemented by their own software division, which will be expanded with innovative products based on artificial intelligence thanks to the cooperation with SentiSquare. IXPERTA thus reaches out to new customers, but also offers the implementation of the new technology to its existing customers.
Jan Kašpárek, CSO IXPERTA says: "We have been strategic partners with SentiSquare for a year now, supporting each other with our customers and working closely together to implement interesting AI-based projects. We are accustomed to investing in new technologies and innovation, so the equity tie-up with SentiSquare was a logical step and shift in our collaboration."
Fazole Ventures is a fund focused on investing in technology startups with a clientele in the B2B segment. They invest only the founders' own funds. The fund is backed by billionaire Pavel Bouška, owner of global pet-food company Vafo Praha, former banker Luboš Černý and the co-founder of Prague business hub Opero, Pavel Přikryl.
"The past period has been particularly successful for the company in validating the concrete use of the developed technology with a number of major clients. At the same time, the development of a universal tool that reduces client deployment to an absolute minimum is almost complete. I think these achievements to date, combined with the current investment, provide a good basis for scaling up dramatically", says Luboš Černý, who invested in SentiSquare as a private individual three years ago.
"We have been following the development of Sentisquare since their spin-out from university research. We trust the team, their technology solution, and most importantly its added value for a number of clients who are dealing with customer care. The gentlemen have a big task of further expansion ahead of them and we are happy to help them in this", says Pavel Prikryl of Fazole Ventures.
Over the past years, SentiSquare has implemented NLP products in B2C companies and noticed one common fact. Each company and their customers have "their own language", for example they use different expressions when they talk about company’s products, they are using slang expressions, different abbreviations. They also communicate differently in each communication channel and have specific needs. Therefore, it is necessary to approach them individually. A general model could be used, but it would significantly reduce the accuracy of the algorithms. SentiSquare always prepares a model tailored to their clients and reflects their specific needs, thus approaching the accuracy of a human agent.
There are many opportunities and places in each company where NLP products can be used. NLP products save manpower, time, or can find interesting patterns in the data that are important for companies' strategic decisions. For example, E.ON already has 7 different SentiSquare services deployed, each with a specific NLP model. Last year, SentiSquare AI won the WebTop100 competition in the category Artificial Intelligence with the AI project for the “360° Advanced Customer Communication Analytics at E.ON”.
For the last 2 years, SeentiSquare has been working on the so-called “no-code” NLP platform, that allows a non-expert to take data from data sources like Microsoft Excel spreadsheets and train a NLP system with accuracy approaching human-level; all in one day.
Tomáš Brychcín, CEO of SentiSquare: “Machine learning is an extremely fast-growing area. Every month, a major discovery is made in this field. And because everyone communicates texts, there is tremendous pressure for these products to develop and work. That's why it's great to have such an experienced NLP team as we have. We know the core of all our products, we know how to react to the situation. Thanks to our scientific nature and desire to understand core principles, we were able to jump into the development of no-code NLP. We will launch the first version of our product this year. Companies will be able to create their own NLP algorithms very quickly and without giving their data to anyone.”
SentiSquare is a technology company that deals with customer-generated text analysis. As one of the few companies uses artificial intelligence based on principles of distribution semantics, which provides many competitive advantages, such as language independence. The company was founded in 2014 as a spin-off by team of researchers at the Faculty of Applied Sciences of the University of West Bohemia in Pilsen. SentiSquare currently supplies technology to the contact centers of large companies such as T-Mobile, E.ON or Albert.
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