How a Conversation-Driven AI Strategy Helped a Startup Secure $8 Million from Regulated Industries

As conversational AI begins to take over the world, chatbots are being given a new lease of life. Parcel delivery giant DPD recently had to disable part of its online support chatbot after it swore at a customer. The demand for conversational AI is skyrocketing, and is set to explode to a mind-boggling $38 billion globally by 2029. However, regulated sectors are still grappling with Natural Language Understanding (NLU) and Large Language Models (LLMs). While an LLM might be able to sound like a human and understand context, regulated industries need high guard rails on an AI-driven approach.

As the rise of conversational AI takes hold of the world, chatbots are reviving with a renewed sense of purpose. However, there are potential dangers on the horizon. Parcel delivery powerhouse DPD had to disable a portion of its online chatbot after it insulted a customer.

One user was able to manipulate the chatbot into providing harsh criticism of DPD in the form of a haiku poem.

This incident serves as a warning for heavily regulated industries like healthcare and insurance. Relying on an AI chatbot with insufficient design could leave the organization vulnerable to legal repercussions. Enter UK startup OpenDialog, founded by experienced entrepreneurs, who offers a solution that combines LLMs and a customizable platform specifically designed for regulated sectors.

In its most recent funding round, OpenDialog raised a total of $8 million, led by Alboin VC with contributions from Dowgate Capital and several prominent angel investors. This brings the startup’s total funding to $13 million.

The demand for conversational AI is skyrocketing and is projected to reach a staggering $38 billion globally by 2029. However, regulated industries are still grappling with the complexities of Natural Language Understanding (NLU) and Large Language Models (LLMs). OpenDialog aims to fill this gap by focusing on the healthcare and insurance sectors.

While an LLM may have the ability to sound human and understand context, regulated industries require strict guidelines for an AI-driven approach.

OpenDialog claims its no-code platform enables insurance giants and organizations like the UK’s National Health Service to combine the best AI models into one automation platform.

The platform boasts that one insurance client automated 9 out of 10 tasks, from selling policies to handling claims.

Co-founder and CEO Terry Walby explained that the platform has a “fluid architecture that allows for managing conversations in a more human-like manner, which is not always predictable. It can anticipate the unexpected and respond without losing the flow of the conversation.”

Walby’s goal is to leverage the flexibility of OpenDialog’s platform by not relying on a single foundational model. This allows for a mix and match approach with different LLMs to cater to clients’ needs.

Some may argue that this approach makes OpenDialog a mere middle-ware provider rather than owning a solid platform themselves. However, Walby defends the structure, stating that using multiple language models allows for optimal utilization in specific conversation scenarios.

Ed Lascelles, Partner at AlbionVC, commented, “Conversational AI has come a long way since the early chatbot days,” and praised OpenDialog for being “built and scaled by experienced enterprise leaders.”

This is not the founding team’s first venture. They previously scaled and sold Thoughtonomy, a software automation solution, to Blue Prism in 2019.

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Dylan Williams

Dylan Williams is a multimedia storyteller with a background in video production and graphic design. He has a knack for finding and sharing unique and visually striking stories from around the world.

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