Investing in Hubtype
Some more angel investing news from me, earlier this year I invested in Hubtype.
Hubtype build software to allow companies to manage communicating with their customers via popular messeging services (like Facebook Messenger, Telegram, WeChat, etc). At the founders’ request I’ve held off on announcing this investment. They’ve spent the last months fine-tuning the product and making sure it is enterprise ready. It now is, and is in use at one of Spain’s largest banks. They are now ready to tell their story and take the service to market.
Here’s a screenshot of the tool as seen by customer support agents.
Hubtype lets consumers contact and interact with a brand just like they would with a friend on the messaging platform of their choice. So instead of installing the app of some retailer, which very few people want to do (I definitely don’t want to), you could instead just add them in the messaging service you already use and start chatting - including sending them pictures or videos. The Hubtype software sits on the other side and allows the consumer brand to manage, delegate, and track the incoming flood of messages, and thus resolve them quickly and correctly.
Hubtype customers have all the tools they would expect for a customer service software like standard answers, suggested replies, metrics, and can also integrate into standard CRM solutions. More recently the team has been developing chat bots and working with clients to explore when and how it makes sense for chat bots to handle the consumer’s query and when a human agent should be involved. Getting this right is critical for brands, as they need to find ways to serve their consumers cost effectively, but also authentically. There is nothing worse than being stuck dealing with the computer when you need help that only a human can offer, but likewise it’s annoying to wait to talk with a human when you want to do something simple. Managing that balance in the fluid medium of online messaging is not a simple challenge for brands (BTW this was the topic of the Hubtype #getthemsg talk at API Days Barcelona last week).
So, why did I invest, especially as this is a departure from my normal focus on location based services and online classifieds? A few reasons:
First of all, you don’t need to be a digital savant to have picked up on the absolute megatrend that is the rise of messaging services as the default means of communication. Everyone I know, whether working in the digital industry or not, uses messaging services all day. Here in Spain the dominant service is (currently) Whatsapp, all activities for my kids’ schools are coordinated by informal Whatsapp groups for the parents. SMS usage has plummeted, instead it is now all happening on digital messaging services. And yet, businesses have not yet caught onto this. They need to find a way to meet their consumers where the consumers already are: in messaging services. The time-trusted media investment advice that dollars follow eyeballs applies here as well, and this is a key part of my bet.
But being in the right place at the right time is not nearly enough, equally critical is the ability to execute on that opportunity. As always any angel investment is a bet on the skills and determination of the founders. The founding team of Eric and Marc, is highly technical, showed me they can build a great tool, take feedback from the market, and above all that they have the “find a way, when there is no way” attitude that you need to sell to large corporates.
Finally, they’ve succeeded in attracting a great group of investors who bring many year of highly-relevant experience in customer support and enterprise software sales. I’m delighted to bring my experiences to the group.
Here’s a look at some of the metrics customers are able to see:
The first customers are now live, and it is fantastic to look back on the team’s journey from idea to prototype to enterprise service. As you would expect from such a fast moving space, there is still a lot to do, and the team is learning rapidly. Even if it’s only as an angel investor, I’m excited to be working in the messaging space. Usage is exploding, and the way people want to use this new medium is changing rapidly. Hubtype’s service is a solid foundation for their business to help brands master this space.
On a final note, if you’re in Barcelona and also interested in messaging, I plan to organise the next #getthemsg event (here are the details of the last one) sometime in February. Please follow @getthemsgevent to stay informed, and let me know if you’d like to speak.