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Bulgarian AI platform raises fresh capital to assist businesses in customer servicing and task automation

Image credit: Elitza Stoilova, co-founder and CEO
, ~, the first Bulgarian AI platform for 24/7 customer support, closed a follow-up fundraising round from its previous investors Loyal VC, and an anonymous Bulgarian angel investor. The sum of the round also remains undisclosed. The Umni team will use the financing to further develop its conversation automation platform, recruit people, and expand its market reach.

“We are looking forward to helping businesses be successful in their digital transformation by providing them with AI instrument for conversation automation they fully understand and control, turning customer questions into data about their customers’ behavior – coming live from their AI digital assistant, and providing their customers with a safe 24/7 self-service tool,” co-founder and CEO Elitza Stoilova shared with The Recursive.

Umni was established in 2018 by Elitza Stoilova and Trayko Stoilov as a chatbot agency with a focus on hotels that developed customer digital assistants. Now, the startup has evolved to offer the first for the country platform that allows business owners with no coding skills to create a customized conversational AI digital assistant that answers frequently asked questions on their website or social media. So far, the digital assistants linked to the platform have been used by 44 000 people to send more than 3.23 million messages. 

New features and applications of Bulgarian conversational AI

During the summer, the Umni team worked to develop new features for their conversational AI assistant, which can now offer a text-to-voice function in the website widget, and “Do it yourself” (DIY) AI training modules for business owners on its platform. The Umni solution can also facilitate the creation of a business’ very first landing page, allowing for each owner to teach the AI assistant of the startup how to answer a customer’s question and navigate them to different forms, including event or webinar registration pages, service reservation, order collection, promotion-in-the-bot inquiry, customer review, to questionnaire, and others. 

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“The largest Russian tour operator TEZTour performing in the region saves on average 12 minutes per customer by having their digital assistant by Umni taking care of the initial interview. The team of Varna Regional Libra has taught their digital librarian Elly to answer over 10 000 customer questions. Elly has also become a key tool in assisting library users with such tasks as checking on a book availability or rebooking landed literature during the lockdowns,” Stoilova explained. 

An evolving chatbot solution

The startup is a graduate of Founder Institute Sofia’s pre-seed startup accelerator program. At the beginning of 2019, it received its first investment from Toronto-based VC Fund Loyal, an international VC and Founder Institute partner, whose portfolio consists of more than 190 investments in 45 countries. The Canadian investor is well known for its support for female entrepreneurs, as around 32 percent of their portfolio companies have women CEOs, a considerable percentage, compared to the VC industry average of 3 percent. In 2020, the company received an investment from the Bulgarian angel investor who participated in its latest follow-up round. This time, the two investors did a follow-up funding together.

Among the pilot projects of Umni is Plovdiv’s tourist AI City Concierge, which was developed in 2019, when the Bulgarian city was the European Capital of Culture. “Umni was developing the concept of the city AI chatbot as a communication hub for the city, city IoT infrastructure, citizens, and visitors,” Stoilova added. In the eleven months, while Umni was working on developing Plovdiv’s smart assistant, the team built a customer base, which allowed them to dive deep into the needs of clients. 

The transition to a SaaS AI platform was a natural next step, accelerated by the pandemic, Stoilova added: “The platform is a result of the natural growth of as the First Chatbot Agency into a self-service conversational AI business solution. The need for automation of tasks, optimization of operations, and giving businesses control over their chatbots as much as possible in a no-code simple to understand and use way, to be able to self-service themselves, put on a track of developing the insights dashboard further into a content management platform for its customers.”

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The milestones ahead

After transitioning from a chatbot agency to building their platform, the Umni team will be focused on automating further the customer experience of the AI digital assistant, integrating the platforms with different messaging platforms, and building integrations with various reservation systems to assist businesses in their customer servicing and task automation.

“Our focus is on extending the Umni centralized AI to a self-serviced AI module, further developing the Umni dynamic forms module, and adding more functionalities to the platform to enable businesses to easily create and maintain multifunctional conversational AI digital assistants with no technical knowledge,” the CEO explained. When asked about potential expansion, she answers that the team is currently researching the international market and will finalize its strategy once it expands with a sales and marketing person.

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Viktoria is an Innovation Reporter at The Recursive and a sophomore-standing student at the American University in Bulgaria. Combining her Business Administration studies while mapping the Southeastern European startup ecosystem is a positive-sum game for her as she has the chance to interact with the most active entrepreneurs in the region. Her favorite topics include venture capital structures, investments, as well as innovations in the scitech and fintech sectors.