By Louise Weihart in Sydney
Published by Acuris Mergermarket

Clevertar, a private Adelaide-based Australian developer of intelligent virtual agents (IVAs), is considering raising capital to accelerate the global roll-out of its Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) real-time technology platform, said CEO and co- founder Tanya Newhouse.

The company had not been planning a capital raise when COVID-19 first hit but may do so now to fund sales and marketing activities to showcase its capacity for rapid development, she said. It has already helped the South Australian Government to deploy a Clevertar IVA to assist consumers, landlords and property managers with tenancy and rental enquiries specifically related to COVID-19 and has also supported New South Wales-based telco MATE to extend its IVA to assist customers with COVID-19 enquiries, she added.

Clevertar has not yet fleshed out details for the potential raise but could seek up to AUD 3m (USD 2m), targeting family office-type investors, Newhouse said. The company has a working relationship with Sydney and New York-based corporate advisory firm Pottinger but welcomes approaches from other advisors with potential investors, primarily in Australia and the US, where it already has customers in both the private and public sectors, the CEO said.

Clevertar, started in 2012, has raised some AUD 3m to date from private investors and government grants. It was co-founded by Newhouse and Chief Technology Officer Martin Luerssen, with Flinders University, and the three remain major shareholders, the CEO said, without elaborating.

The company, which sells directly in Australia and via indirect channels in the US, is also seeking channel partners for global markets and would consider joint ventures where appropriate, she added.

The company has yet to determine what geographic markets to expand into at a later stage, Newhouse said, noting that its platform, which enables users to custom-program IVAs to intelligently answer frequently asked questions and enhance online customer engagement, already supports multiple languages.

There are a numerous specialist chatbot and IVA developers but Clevertar differentiates itself in that it combines these capabilities in an end-to-end platform, with highly sophisticated virtual characters that interact through speech as well as gesture, thus communicating both meaning and attentiveness, Newhouse said.

Clevertar has won a number of awards including being named one of the Top 10 Customer Experience Management Solution Providers of 2019 by APAC CIO Outlook, Newhouse said.

According to Microsoft, 90% of consumers now expect an online portal for customer service enquiries, and demand is increasing in the wake of COVID-19, Newhouse pointed out. According to Gartner IVA analyst Matthew Cain, some 4% of Gartner clients today say they use chatbots in the workplace, with 40% intending to implement them in the near term, she also noted.

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