Announcing our seed round
Today, we’re announcing that we raised US$1.77 million for our oversubscribed seed round from Hive Ventures, 500 Global, Draper Associates, and other investors. We are also going through 500 Global’s Flagship Accelerator Program, based in San Francisco.
What started as a coffee shop conversation has now turned into a venture-backed startup company, and I thought I’d share the story of how we got here and where we are going.
What is Viewabo?
I should start by mentioning what Viewabo is first. Viewabo streamlines remote customer support by enabling customer support agents to request smartphone camera access to receive a real-time video of the issue. Agents can annotate or pause the video stream to guide the customer better and record and save the stream for later review or training. No customer-facing app is required, making the process as frictionless as possible. You can think of it as a visual assist tool.
How it started
A chat over coffee
One day I met up with a friend at a coffee shop, and my friend started talking about an issue he was having at his company with a new product offering they launched. Previously, support calls at his company typically took about 10-15 minutes. Since they started selling their latest product offering, some support calls took as long as 2 hours to resolve. It soon got costly for his company. Not only would frustrated customers request a refund, but also the product would get further damaged on the return shipping. They potentially lost a customer forever, and their reputation got tarnished. Worse still is that they often would discover that it would’ve been a simple fix after receiving the returned product.
How would I solve this for my mom?
My immediate thought was to think about how I would solve issues like that for my mom. I told my friend that I would typically ask her to FaceTime me to see what she was looking at to help solve her issue. If I couldn’t see what she was talking about, it would be challenging to solve her problem. So he should have his support agents use video with their customers, but he didn’t want to use consumer apps with his customers.
This should already exist, right?
It seemed like something like this should already exist, and indeed they did. However, the solutions I found required that customers download an app onto their phones to work. I told my friend that I didn’t think he should ask customers to download an app to help them with their issues, and he agreed.
Seed of an idea
I suggested I could build something that would enable a support agent to request access to a customer’s smartphone camera – without an app – and have everything integrated with the help desk system that his company was using. He said he would use it and pay for it if I built it. So I spent the next two months developing a working prototype then presented it to his customer support team. Upon seeing the demo, a support agent raised his hand and asked, “Can we have this today?”
I realized that there was still a lot of room for improving the customer support experience and started on a mission to make remote support better than in-person support.
Seed round raised, now what?
Ultimately, this is not really about technology or the products we provide. It’s about bridging the gap between customers and businesses to create better customer experiences. In almost all customer support experiences today, companies have to guess their customers’ issues based on the descriptions of their problems. And that’s assuming the customers know how to describe the problem, or even what the problem is.
Humans are visual creatures. Imagine you could see what your customers see. Instead of interpreting text written in an email or a chat message or listening to a poorly spoken description, you could see what they were trying to describe. There’s a saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. How many words is a video worth? How about a real-time video?
Although we use real-time video to solve a particular set of problems today, we are just beginning our journey. There are many exciting technologies and techniques for addressing the core problems we are focused on solving. We aim to empower businesses to see things the way their customers see them, make remote support better than in-person support, and ultimately change customer experiences for the better.
Follow us on social media as our journey progresses, and we’d love to hear from you. Let us know about your journeys and how you’re making the world a better place too.