What if the next time your dishwasher went on the fritz or your smart lights failed to switch on, you could quickly dial for help using a voice assistant? That’s the idea behind Sweepr, a two-year-old Dublin, Ireland-based startup that’s developing what it calls a contextually adaptive care platform. By using knowledge of a local network and connected devices’ diagnostic data, it’s able to deliver customized instructions via an app to help solve common technical problems.
The execution evidently impressed backer Draper Espirit, which today confirmed that it led Sweeper’s $9 million series A round. The capital influx comes after a $2.7 million seed round last year and brings Sweepr’s total raised to roughly $12 million.
CEO Alan Coleman said the funds will enable Sweepr to expand its workforce to 75 employees through next year as it ramps up deployments throughout Europe and North America. “Customer support needs to evolve to accommodate the growing complexity of our connected home environments,” added Coleman, who held roles at Accenture, Macalla Software, and Morgan Stanley prior to selling his first company to Amdocs for roughly $65 million. “Sweepr’s early deployments have confirmed that the care industry is ready to be transformed by moving the support from a within traditional call center to within the home itself. Customers themselves can play a key role in support if it’s delivered in a language they understand.”
As alluded to earlier, Sweepr’s cloud-backed, voice-enabled platform leverages machine learning to bubble up troubleshooting steps for devices and appliances like routers, dishwashers, doorbells, set-top boxes, and tablets. Pose a question like “Why is my Netflix not loading?” to Sweepr’s voice apps for Alexa and Google Assistant prompts them to provide answers in real time, accompanied by diagrams and instructive videos (on compatible devices).
Given the above-mentioned Netflix scenario, Sweepr might attempt to identify the device on which the Netflix client is running and probe that device’s connection, after which it might measure the network’s bandwidth and latency for anomalies. It could use that information to determine whether multiple people were trying to stream simultaneously or Netflix was experiencing server problems. At that point, Sweepr could attempt remediation autonomously by fiddling with prioritization settings.
Under the hood, Sweepr’s server and client-side agents survey home devices, employing a unique taxonomy to understand the deployment environment. Manufacturers work with the startup to develop a project plan and identify diagnostic data points and to design step-by-step self-service interactions. From an operations dashboard, OEMs who choose to provide call center support can track whether customers are self-servicing a given problem. (If a transfer occurs, anonymized data from the caller’s network gets passed along to the responding customer service agent.)
“We are delighted to have the backing of such a globally recognized VC as Draper Esprit and for the continued support of Frontline. We have recently moved office in Dublin to facilitate further growth and opened a delivery center in Madrid,” said Coleman. “This funding will enable us to continue to scale our organization as we extend the live customer launches of the Sweepr platform, something we’re very excited about.”