On EQT Ventures’ investment in Airkit, a low-code platform for customer experience apps
It’s painfully obvious in the realm of customer experience; any one of us has had the experience of navigating through an endless phone tree, then waiting in an auditory prison of tinny lounge music, then trying to remember the Navy alphabet in order to repeat basic information to a call center agent. “Y” as in…what is it again?
Frankly, I don’t want to be on the phone at all, even without the annoyance of getting someone on the other end in the first place. I want a great customer experience through an app, or a web-based flow — something fast, effective, and always accessible. It’s not just me…according to a study by American Express, 60% of US consumers prefer automated self-service, such as a website or mobile app, for simple customer service tasks, and 70% of customers say they’ve spent more to do business with a company that delivers great service.
For a company, it’s almost a no-brainer: happier customers mean more signups and higher retention, and helping customers digitally is much more cost-effective than helping them through a call center agent. But great digital experiences are hard to build initially: They require integration into existing systems for personalization, custom workflows for each customer scenario, and communication across a variety of channels (text, chat, web, voice, and mobile).
With budget constraints and a shortage of engineering and development resources, digital customer experiences are still the exception, rather than the norm.
Enter Airkit, a low-code platform purpose-built for creating end-to-end digital customer journeys. Airkit enables any brand to rapidly build hyper-personalized customer journeys for sales, service, or support that continue a single thread across any conversation channel, all without a line of code.
Our Low-Code Thesis
We at EQT Ventures believe low-code technologies have reached an inflection point, with the capability of solutions, market need, and customers’ willingness to deploy aligning in a way that creates opportunity for some category-defining new companies to be built. The growth of microservices and APIs have enabled powerful low-code software development solutions; continued pressure for faster innovation and time-to-market has caused IT workloads to balloon; increasing digital literacy means software logic is becoming familiar to a new generation of business users; and the explosion of SaaS services has allowed employees to become more comfortable searching for, downloading, and testing new tools.
Airkit ticks all of the boxes of what we think makes a good low-code investment: The company is targeting a precise use case, with low friction to get started and a clear ROI, in a large market with high need. There is information overload with low-code tools today — some oversell, and some are so generic that coming up with valuable use cases isn’t obvious. Relatedly, potential users are willing to commit a limited amount of time to test and learn the capabilities of a new tool. Airkit’s focus on customer experience results in a solution with fast time-to-value, and measurable increases in customer satisfaction and operational efficiency.
In our diligence calls, we found a range of benefits that Airkit’s customers experienced. One app was able to onboard twice the number of customers per month; another experienced a 33% cost reduction in switching over one workflow from call center to an Airkit-built digital experience. All of them reported lower cost and higher customer satisfaction scores.
The Airkit Team
The founders of Airkit, Stephen and Adam, were two of the founders of RelateIQ, so we knew they could build great product — I was a happy RelateIQ customer for many years. And Airkit’s culture shows the impact of mature and experienced second-time founders. Monday meetings end with pictures of team moments that encourage people to bring their whole selves to work; Friday all-hands sessions allow anyone to demo a project they’ve been working on so as to appreciate contributions big and small. An engineering friend who interviewed there called me afterward to say he was impressed by the process, among all the other startups he was talking to. Every company is a software company, yes, but every company is a people company too, so this stuff matters.
Ultimately, the vision that inspires the entire Airkit team is the same one that got EQT Ventures excited to invest: It should be easy for any company to create great digital customer experiences, and any employee should possess the ability to build those experiences without having to know any code.