Geek of the Week: Robert Van Den Bergh, Co-Founder of Scribeless

Humanizing a corporation is the goal of many modern-day enterprises. Businesses have started using AI to such an extent that the disconnect with their customers is beginning to take a toll on their bottom line. Enter Scribeless, a company dedicated to helping businesses connect with their clients. Scribeless works on the premise that handwritten letters allow for a deeper connection between a company and its consumers. By enabling enterprises to develop handwritten messages that can be used to communicate or offer appreciation to their clients, they can connect with their users on a more fundamental level.

Using artificial intelligence, Robert Van Den Bergh and his fellow University of Bristol graduate Alex Robinson worked to create an application that could create thousands of handwritten letters individually to send out to customers. Robert got the idea from writing dozens of handwritten letters during an internship in an accounting firm’s marketing department. He vowed to himself that he would never again spend that much time working on handwritten notes, but when the results came in from his letter-writing campaign, they surprised him. It turned out that his particular letter-writing marathon became the best that the company had seen in terms of ROI and engagement. It solidified Robert’s idea to turn this into a service that businesses could use to their benefit.

Obviously, the idea wouldn’t fly if Robert and Alex had to get people to write out these letters by hand. They struck upon the idea of leveraging AI to craft perfect messages and simulate human handwriting. By teaching it how ordinary people wrote, the pair were able to get unique writing samples, including the nuance and variability that’s common in how average individuals pen words and phrases. Within their first year, Scribeless became entirely self-funded, ad as 2020 rolls around the business is seeing a lot of coverage from major news outlets.

In September 2019, the company got a significant push as it won one of the two top prizes at the Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards. The money they got along with a fully funded intern is helping Scribeless to make a name for itself and increase its visibility to other businesses. Their results are astounding with an open-rate for letters of over 95%. The company was initially based in Bristol. However, it has now opened a branch in the US. Scribeless intends to offer its services to businesses on the other side of the pond from this convenient location. Robert has noted that he thinks one of the stellar moments for Scribeless was their integration with Shopify, one of the world’s leading providers of eCommerce services.

The company intends to branch out into offering options for other eCommerce providers and even developing its own CRM to allow businesses more scope in sending handwritten messages to their clients. Robert states that he thinks the ultimate goal of the application is to bring offline marketing back into popularity. Whether the company achieves this remains to be seen. However, Robert and his partner Alex both have their work cut out for them as fewer companies today are using offline marketing to engage consumers. Maybe Scribeless is precisely what business needs to remind them of how powerful offline marketing can be?

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