Two European technology venture capital firms, Favonius Ventures ("Favonius") and Kennet Venture Partners Ltd ("Kennet") have joined forces to invest £6m ($11m) in Fluency Voice Technology Ltd ("Fluency"), the UK-based provider of speech recognition applications. Kennet will invest a total of £3.5m whilst Favonius will invest a further £2.5m.
Fluency is a fast-growing business that has rapidly become the UK market leader in speech recognition applications for use in call centres. Such applications allow callers to carry out common tasks such as finding out a bank account balance or booking travel tickets using natural language over the telephone. As a result, the enterprise can substantially reduce costs while maintaining excellent customer service.
Fluency will use the new funding to fuel sales and expand product development in the area of packaged applications for vertical markets. The company is now expanding in the US and the funding will support the development of partnerships to drive the growth there.
Fluency's management team is led by Alex Green, CEO, who joined in 2002 and was previously CEO of Broadsystem, a subsidiary of News Corporation providing outsource voice and call centre services. Paul Barnes, Fluency's founder, is now Sales Director while David Abensour, who was also instrumental in creating the original team, is CTO. Richard Watrasiewicz is Operations Director, having joined when Fluency acquired Vocalis in August 2003.
netdecisions created Fluency in 2001 as a spin-out of its Cambridge-based Research and Development team. netdecisions has incubated the business since its inception through the provision of funding, professional service support and strategic direction. netdecisions is renowned for innovation which extends beyond services to clients, to direct investment in building businesses such as Fluency.
Fluency's flagship software is VoiceRunner™, an application configuration environment allowing non-technical as well as technical users to create and modify speech applications. The company is focused on creating packaged applications in the financial services, travel, utilities, retail and telecoms sectors.
Fluency's customers include Barclaycard, National Express, Royal Mail, Powergen, Energis, JD Williams, Chelsea Building Society, Wells Fargo and Fujitsu.
MarketClusters, a strategic positioning consultancy, has assisted in supporting Fluency's business development and venture capital strategy.
Stephen Duckett, Managing Director of Favonius, said: "Favonius is looking forward to working with Fluency over the coming years to build a clear global market leader in advanced speech solutions for large enterprises. Fluency's solutions deliver a very rapid ROI to their customers in comparison to existing solutions today and this ability to create value for customers looks set to provide a strong foundation for continued rapid growth"
David Carratt, Managing Director of Kennet, said: "There is an excellent investment opportunity in being the first institutional investors in a post-spinout company. Fluency's speech applications are already used by many large enterprises in the UK and elsewhere and our experience of this sector means we know that it is an exciting and fast growing marketplace in which to invest."
Alex Green, CEO of Fluency, added: "Fluency has grown rapidly into the UK market leader and a global player in speech applications. We will use the new capital to expand our sales and marketing activities, particularly on major partnerships in the US, where we are gaining excellent momentum. We will also be developing our packaged applications offering, where we have a unique opportunity to lead the creation of a new market. Fluency will undoubtedly gain from the support and experience of the investors."
Kennet Venture Partners (www.kennet.com) is a leading transatlantic venture capital firm which invests in growth companies providing information technology products and business services that leverage information technology. Kennet provides expansion capital to firms who want to accelerate growth and build exceptional shareholder value in partnership with an experienced investor. Kennet Venture Partners acts as an advisor to Kennet I LP, a Jersey limited partnership and to Kennet II LP, a Guernsey limited partnership. Kennet Venture Partners is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority.
Favonius Ventures is a European venture capital group focused on providing capital and operational support to growth businesses in enterprise and communications software markets. With four partners based in London and Amsterdam Favonius has now partnered with six rapidly growing companies since the raising of its first fund in 2001 and expects to add further 'partners' in the coming year.
Fluency Voice Technology is a leading global provider of packaged speech recognition applications for use in call centres. Our solutions enable large enterprises to significantly reduce costs and enhance customer service. We provide sector specific applications that allow the automation of high volume contact centre activities. Key sectors for which we have developed applications are Financial Services, Travel & Transport, Utilities, Retail and Telecommunications. For further information please visit www.fluencyvoice.com
netdecisions is an integrated group of companies that provides organisations with leading business-focused technology solutions. Working across the public and private sectors, we design, build and operate practical technology solutions that bring real and lasting benefits to our clients.
From designing and configuring IT architectures for global companies (ND Solutions), or building community focused IT service platforms for local councils (Agilisys), through to operating state-of-the-art call centres in the UK & Ireland for the financial services sector (Contact Partners) we pride ourselves on the breadth and depth of the skills and capabilities we can offer our clients.