Conversational commerce start-up Blueprint closes £1m investment

Conversational commerce start-up Blueprint has closed a £1 million seed investment led by Tetra Pak heir Magnus Rausing’s MAHR Projects.

Blueprint’s core technology product is built with natural language processing and machine learning – and works in combination with real-world customer service agents – to help retailers communicate and facilitate payments via SMS and WhatsApp message.

The company is working alongside FMCG, health, wellness, beauty, and home brands, and developing its technology to allow these businesses to make consumer purchases possible with just one message. For regularly restocked items, for example, the platform could allow brands to send suitably timed messages like “do you want to repeat your purchase with your card ending 4324”, and the transaction can be triggered with a written response such as, “yes please”.

More than 200 companies, including challenger brands such as Ugly Drinks, Ohne, and Empirical Spirits, have signed up to the waitlist for the technology. The Blueprint team, which is led by co-founders Harvey Hodd, CEO, and Rory Jeffries, COO, will launch the platform in private beta in May, with full roll-out expected in the third quarter of 2020.  

Hodd said: “We started Blueprint following years of experience struggling with the slow, disconnected and impersonal nature of marketing and the clunkiness of purchasing online.

“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.”

He added: “This new investment will help us push further to break down the barriers that previously held both consumers and vendors hostage.” 

Blueprint is currently part of the Founders Factory accelerator programme, and the seed investment also includes involvement from venture capital firm, Hambro Perks.

The funding boost for Blueprint comes at a time when eCommerce and digital payments in some sectors are accelerating, with so many physical shops closed as a result of the covid-19 coronavirus crisis.

Rausing commented: “The potential for conversational commerce is immense thanks to its central role in building the one-to-one relationship between consumer and brand, enabling speedy purchasing and a personalised customer experience.”

The current health emergency provides a challenging environment for start-up businesses to find investment and continue operations, but organisations offering relevant propositions for these times will succeed.

Last week, London-founded retail data and analytics company Edited, which is used by more than 200 brands and retailers to optimise buying and merchandising decisions, including Boohoo and Mango, announced it has raised $29 million in growth equity funding. The round was co-led by Boston-based Wavecrest Growth Partners and Beringea UK, with participation from Hermes GPE.

It said the capital will be used to expand product innovation, help with new recruitment, and increase the company’s global presence.