Good to talk. Just ask Mindsay, the French chatbot business that is announcing today that it has been acquired by Chinese automation expert Lai for an undisclosed sum. Six years after its launch, the start-up will play a key role in Lai’s international expansion, making it its default chatbox technology in all markets outside of China.
Founded by Guillaume Laporte, Pierre Pakey and Ilias Hicham, Mindsay has won praise for the quality of its technology, earning top ratings from Gartner researchers in a crowded market. “The truth is there aren’t a ton of very good chatbots out there, but some have done it very well,” Laport said. “We think we’re one of them.”
Of course, chatbots are increasingly ubiquitous. Insider Intelligence predicts that global consumer spending on chatbots will reach $ 142 billion by 2024, up from just $ 2.8 billion in 2019.
Taking advantage of business chatbots includes the potential to reduce costs in areas such as customer service, as automation replaces human agents, improves productivity and frees employees for more value-added work. And customers often like them; Chatbots are available day and night and are often able to solve questions faster than hanging on to a human sales agent.
That said, many customers also report frustration. Some chatbots are too slow, or completely fail to resolve any issues. Often, they combine badly with the rest of the customer service team, so customers have to wait a few years before transferring to a human agent for a problem that the chatbot can’t fix, and then repeat all the details already provided.
There is frustration in a market where at least 1,800 chatbot providers worldwide are estimated. What’s even more surprising is that the big tech companies that provide the foundation for many chatbot tools aren’t solving the problem.
“A common problem is that expert developers are needed to create chatbot tools, but they are not people who do not understand what customers want and need,” Laport explains. “The result is that you end up with a chatbot that is not compatible with the customer base.”
Mindsay takes a different approach, providing companies with a no-code solution that customer service experts can configure for themselves. “We can ship you in 20 minutes and your customer service team can turn it on and off in a matter of hours,” Laport explained. The solution simply plugs into the company’s existing sales technology infrastructure – so calls can be transferred to human agents, for example, customer details have already been uploaded.
Mindsay also points to a second key point of difference. Although chatbots traditionally offer informational services, Mindsay’s technology is also designed to support transactional questions. Its chatbots can tell you when a flight will depart, but can also enable you to cancel your ticket. Chatbots are needed to communicate with other business systems and processes, as hard as it may seem to find such tools to work well.
The company grew rapidly in the years following its launch, specializing in chatbot services for customers in the travel industry. It was hit by the Covid-19 epidemic in 2020, when the global travel sector stalled, but Mindsay entered other industries, including ecommerce, financial services, media and utilities. “The bounceback of our growth has been really exciting,” Laport said.
So much so that the company found itself at a turning point late last year. After the previous round of successful fundraising, did it return to investors for another capital to support growth or was a deal with another market player a better option? At the event, Mindsay acknowledged that chatbots are just a part of Jigsaw for companies looking to invest in intelligent automation technology and are starting to look for a partner with expertise across a range of these tools.
Enter Lie, which has created an international customer base for a variety of tools in areas such as robotic process automation. It has already announced plans to invest উদ্যোগ 50 million in ventures across Europe, the Middle East and Asia as it seeks to build its Chinese business. “What businesses are looking for now is an intelligent automation tool that can be integrated with the back office,” said Ronen Lamdan, Lai’s international CEO. “They want their customers to have the ability to conduct transactions.”
More broadly, Lamdan also points to the changing nature of work as a driver of enhanced automation. In an economy like the United States, hiring and retention problems partly reflect the fact that people no longer want to do boring, repetitive tasks; Automation tools can free them from that burden.
Lamdan says Mindsay’s technology will be a case in point, making the business a perfect fit with Lai. Laporte will be the company’s general manager of international chatbot business, its co-founders Hitham and Pak will also be in senior roles in the business.