Startup Blueprint has secured £1m in seed investment to develop its conversational commerce platform, which allows consumers to purchase products through a single SMS or WhatsApp message.
The funding round was led by early-stage investment firm MAHR Projects, which is run by Magnus Rausing, heir to the multi-billion euro Tetra Pak fortune.
Other investors include venture capital firm Hambro Perks and Founders Factory, an accelerator programme that Blueprint is a part of.
Blueprint combines natural language processing and machine learning technology with real-world customer service agents to offer an alternative approach to purchasing goods online.
It means that customers can make a purchase in a conversation with a customer service agent without having to leave to an external payment platform.
Blueprint funding: “Potential for conversational commerce is immense”
Such all-in-one apps are popular across Asia, where consumers can use Tencent’s WeChat to communicate with friends, buy goods and order taxis.
Harvey Hodd, CEO and co-founder of Blueprint, believes that this approach can add a more personal touch to the online purchasing process.
“We started Blueprint following years of experience struggling with the slow, disconnected and impersonal nature of marketing and the clunkiness of purchasing online,” he said.
“At the same time consumers have become fatigued with long-term, fixed subscription services that don’t offer them the flexibility in purchasing. We’re blurring the lines between conversation and commerce to create a modern purchasing experience. This new investment will help us push further to break down the barriers that previously held both consumers and vendors hostage.”
MAHR Projects’s Rausing added: “The potential for conversational commerce is immense thanks to its central role in building the 1:1 relationship between consumer and brand, enabling speedy purchasing and a personalised customer experience.”
According to Blueprint more than 200 companies have signed up to the waitlist, including challenger brands such as Ugly Drinks, Ohne and Empirical Spirits.
Blueprint will now launch its platform in a private beta mode in May with the goal of a full launch in the third quarter of this year.