Paul Gibbins (Co-Founder, Managing Director) and Chris Lotz (Co-Founder, Managing Director) © Jasper Kettner
What inspired you to found your startup?
The inspiration for Twyla came from a mutual frustration that, while we could communicate with friends and families through nice native mobile messaging apps, we had to fight to speak to brands and service providers. It didn’t make sense. The Twyla name came from a desire to convey a metaphor of helpfulness in connecting people, inspired by the switchboard ladies of the vintage telephone era.
How do you define success for yourself and your company?
Our objective is to craft Twyla into a software proposition that reduces the barriers of complexity involved in creating service chatbots. We want to reduce the dependency of businesses on developers and data scientists to create good enterprise chatbots and to put the control and creativity into the hands of the domain owners themselves, the people who actually manage customer services.
Is there anything you’d do differently if you could do it again?
Only a few fashion faux pas along the way…
What problem does your product solve?
Twyla gives businesses the ability to rapidly and dramatically reduce the cost of providing customer service online, particularly in the live chat channel which is popular with most consumers. Businesses of all sizes are grappling with increasingly demanding and discerning consumers and need to grow their service capabilities without increasing their cost. Twyla enables businesses to offer support 24/7, in more channels and at lower cost.
Where do you see your company in 1/5/10 years?
1 year from now we see ourselves having consolidated the entire platform into a viable software-as-a-service product, delivering value to businesses of all sizes at scale. 5 years from now we see ourselves as an invaluable component in our clients’ enterprise software suites, as critical as CRM and ERP. In 10 years we’ll have fully unsupervised learning capabilities for our bots, which will have innate context awareness in conversation, able to pivot seamlessly with the customer.
How are you different?
The way we train chatbots to work with third-party data. While we have our own blended rule-based and AI chatbot engine, so does everyone else. What makes us truly interesting is the way that our platform enables us to train chatbots to make associates between a user’s intent and an artefact of data in another system. So someone asking a shopping bot for a ‘blue suit’ and having the bot fetch blue suits from a separate e-commerce data system, without additional training.
How often does your product/service show up in a user’s day or week?
That would depend on how it’s deployed by our clients. If a business puts a TwylaBot front-and-centre as their primary interface for providing customer service, then that TwylaBot could become a trusted confidante for the user, helping them regularly with whatever questions they have.
Impact: how are you doing good and building a better future?
We believe in the consumer, but we’re also wary of affecting people’s jobs. Our chatbots are never presented as being the thing to eliminate human customer support agents. On the contrary, we believe that humans are an integral part of the process and our clients agree that the chatbot’s primary objective is to free up human agents to perform more complex and valuable tasks, to improve customer satisfaction.
How has the startup scene in Berlin changed?
The most remarkable thing that we have observed is the influx of amazing talent from elsewhere in the world. It’s a tribute to Berlin’s commitment to young businesses that the administrative process of hiring international talent is made almost frictionless. It not only allows for businesses to find the best talent but also to build teams of diverse cultural backgrounds and ideas, which we believe is what Berlin is all about.
What are the pros and cons of launching your startup from Berlin?
We considered launching from London but found that Berlin had two key benefits for us. The first was that the startup ecosystem in Berlin benefits from being smaller than London simply because it’s far easier to get a grasp on when you’re starting out. It meant that we could more easily network with like-minded people and those who could help us get going. The other critical difference is the cost of living in Berlin. It meant that we, as founders, could bootstrap the business for longer.
Bonus Question: Anything else that we need to know about you?
We’re always hiring! Look us up.
Twyla was featured in “The Hundert Vol. 10 – Startups of Berlin“, October 2017.