Launched in an unheated garage, SentiOne goes for a share in UK’s £17bn AI market
Prior to entering the UK, over the last 10 years this European AI scale-up expanded by opening offices in Germany, Hungary, Mexico, the Netherlands and the Emirates. Now the company plans to further develop its large language models (LLMs) to continue disrupting the customer service industry and provide millions of savings for enterprise brands.
Nine out of ten startups collapse within three years after launch, frequently due to premature scaling, stated the Startup Genome Report, coauthored by UC Berkley and Stanford researchers.
As AI technology sparks heated debates, investing in companies with a proven track record is essential – and SentiOne might serve as an example of long-term, sustainable growth. One of Europe’s best multilingual conversational chatbot designers, the company has just acquired its first investor in the UK and aims to obtain a share of Britain’s multi-billion AI market. A report commissioned by the UK Government assessed that between 2020 and 2040 expenditure on AI technologies will increase from £16.7 billion to £83.5 billion annually.
From an unheated garage to a top chatbot designing company
The history of SentiOne, which is now in the top-five conversational AI companies, begins in 2011 in Gdansk, Poland, where a company was launched inside a garage belonging to the parents of one of the company’s three co-founders.
Not only the garage lacked heating and was equipped with the most rudimentary furniture but a handful of the company’s first employees – co-founders’ university classmates, to be precise – agreed to work on a promise to be paid when first investors would be signed. This happened two months later when the first investment worth about £180,000 allowed SentiOne to launch its first product.
AI in social listening and chatbot designing
The company focuses on internet monitoring solutions and conversational AI chatbots for businesses, employing its award-winning algorithms with 96 per cent accuracy in decoding user emotion, making it the best European multilingual conversational chatbot designer company (with English, German, Spanish, French, Polish and working now on Arabic and Dutch language). After successfully implementing chatbots and voicebots for a number of businesses, SentiOne amassed invaluable expertise and narrow, specialised knowledge.
What differentiates SentiOne from many AI companies is that the Gdansk-based startup develops its own technology and does not rely on external or purchased databases. Technology development has cost SentiOne £8 million, acquired from investors and development grants. Every day, the company’s AI algorithms scan, analyse and add 150 million articles, comments, blog entries and social media posts to a database of 40 billion texts in 75 languages, effectively having mapped a decade of digital conversations.
“Looking back, I cannot believe we started from scratch,” said CEO Kamil Bargiel. “My first task was cold-calling all possible clients and asking them to give a try to our groundbreaking sentiment-analysis tool. Technologically speaking, it was much simpler than the social listening solution we offer today, but it could still impress people.”
‘Zero competition in terms of conversational AI platforms’
Eleven years later, SentiOne is still run by Bartosz Baziński, Kamil Bargiel and Michał Brzezicki, who now employ 110 people and have 400 clients in 30 countries. In 2020, the company was shortlisted in the EIT Digital Challenge contest. It was named one of Europe’s 20 best technological companies and automated operations for 350 clients across the globe, with brands such as Procter & Gamble, BNP Paribas, Alior Bank, Unilever, Tesco, Mindshare and Saatchi&Saatchi among its clients. Their chatbots and voicebots can handle 1000 calls and conversations simultaneously – allowing for automation at scale.
In 2021, SentiOne opened its offices in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and a year later announced a new partnership with e& enterprise, the largest telecommunications provider in the region, selling their products in 16 markets. The main goal of the cooperation is to equip e&enterprise business clients with an AI conversational platform – SentiOne Automate – for building call center automation solutions based on chatbots and voicebots, and a platform for automatic messaging. This will allow companies in the United Arab Emirates to automate up to 50 percent of their operations, reduce costs and increase ROI.
“There were three reasons we decided to enter the UAE,” explained COO Bartosz Bazinski, at whose garage the company launched. “Firstly, it is much more welcoming towards new technologies than Europe. Secondly, it is in a significant portion of an English-speaking market, as the Emirates now has a large expat community. Finally, there is almost zero competition in terms of conversational AI platforms, which allows us to successfully penetrate the market.”
‘Technology exchange is a two-way street now’
This year, supported by a private investor, former Director at UK Trade & Investment at the British Embassy, the company opened its office in London.
“I was impressed how SentiOne is disrupting business services and revolutionizing customer service sector with AI. I joined forces with the founding team and the group of investors as I always believed in their technological competitive advantages and driven team. As an investor, I am always on the lookout for promising and fast-growing companies from Central Europe. SentiOne stood out to me as a company with great potential, and I saw an opportunity to help tighten its connections with Western Europe and the UK through my expertise and network. Additionally, I have a keen interest in digital media, communications, and enterprise development, and I believe that SentiOne aligns with these interests. I am excited to be a part of this company’s growth and development, and I am confident that it has a bright future ahead.” says Martin Oxley, MBE, SentiOne investor, Director of Jonitaco Holdings and former Director UK Trade & Investment at the British Embassy in Warsaw.
Entering the UK market is particularly important to Agnes Uba, SentiOne’s Head of Marketing-Automate. Alumni of the University of Kent and Imperial College, for a number of years Agnes gained experience in the UK and Ireland, working, amongst others, for Virgin Media and Google.
“Having studied and worked in the UK, I was one of many who benefited from the results of Poland joining the European Union. I cannot describe how proud I feel to be entering the UK market as a representative of a Polish company offering cutting-edge technology to British firms. For decades, Central Europe was perceived only as an importer of know-how and technology. With SentiOne and our market-leading technology, I know it is a two-way street now,” Uba said.
In 2023 company plans to further develop its large language models (LLMs) in English, German, Spanish and Polish to continue disrupting customer service industry and provide millions of savings for enterprise brands.
SentiOne is a European AI company launched in 2011. Its mission is to support clients in automation of business processes with a wide range of AI-enhanced tools, including internet monitoring services, communication platforms and high-end conversational chatbots and voicebots. SentiOne is used by brands such as Procter & Gamble, BNP Paribas, Etisalat, Alior Bank, InPost, McDonald’s, Mindshare, Mediacom, Saatchi & Saatchi and others. It has offices in London, Warsaw, Gdansk, Ostrava, Budapest, Munich, Eindhoven, Mexico and Dubai. Its products are used by more than 400 clients in Europe, the USA, Canada, Mexico, Columbia and Brazil.