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David Eberle is the co-founder and CEO of the company. Typewise’s mission is to create the safest and most intelligent human-machine interface by developing a proprietary Artificial Intelligence (AI) text prediction technology.
The Slice keyboard reduces typos up to 4 times thanks to our patented mesh, allows simultaneous printing in multiple languages and has a self-correction and text completion function that is very clear to the user.
David is passionate about changing the business and the lives of customers around the world. They create the safest and most intelligent human-machine interface that enables people around the world to enter information into the digital world.
During his previous career as a strategic advisor at Strategy& he led several digitisation projects for large companies in the retail and consumer goods sector, the technology sector and the transport sector.
In an exclusive interview David says
I am always looking forward to a good dinner at the end of the day or a good dinner at the weekend with my wife, children and friends.
The application is not intended for companies. Either your company builds multiple applications, or your application is a showcase for a large company. On the other hand, things often grow organically. When we launched our application, we had no plans to develop text prediction technology. That came later. Maybe the best advice I’ve been given is to take every session, even if you think it’s a waste of time. When you come into contact with randomly chosen people, you often get new ideas and perhaps a momentum that changes the situation.
Read on to learn more about David Eberle and his career.
Tell me about your personal experiences and what motivated you to work for your company.
David Eberle: My past is a business strategy. As a strategy consultant, I helped to digitise international companies in Europe and the United States. As a student I spent many years in Asia, which gave me a different perspective on languages and cultures. During my MBA at INSEAD in Singapore, I learned more about entrepreneurship, so I ended up taking on this file full-time. The real driver, who drove full time, was my co-founder, who I’ve known since high school and who also quit his job to be hired by Typewise.
What is your current main product and can you give a product sales history?
David Eberle: Our main product is a new generation of keyboards optimized for two-finger calling on smartphones. It contains text prediction technology based on artificial intelligence, which we are developing in collaboration with ETH Zurich, Switzerland’s leading scientific institute. In the future, we want to transfer it to applications other than the keyboard. Our first keyboard prototype focused exclusively on the layout and gestures of the keyboard. After receiving feedback from thousands of users, we realized that we also had to work on the hidden but crucial component for the user’s interaction with the device. Our special feature is that we run our AI algorithms entirely on the device itself, which protects the user’s privacy as no input data is sent over the Internet.
How much money have you raised so far? When was the last financing cycle?
David Eberle: We raised almost a million dollars. We closed the first half of June, but we included a feeding point that allowed us to raise additional funds under the same conditions. In the context of the economic crisis caused by Kovid-19, it was an excellent solution.
What are the internal decision-making processes that determined the start of fundraising and what logistics are involved? And how many investors did you meet, how did you get to know these investors and which channels worked best for you?
David Eberle: As a technology company, it soon became clear that we needed money to scale up before the company became profitable. After testing the water in the early days of venture capital firms, we realized that if we had the necessary appeal (tens of thousands of downloads, good reviews, media coverage, partnership with a leading academic institution), our ideal investors would be business angels accompanying us in our drive to take the company to the next level where we could call on institutional investors.
We applied to several angel groups in Switzerland and were selected to apply in two stages. During the preparation we were assigned a sponsor in one of the groups, who used our keyboard application and then took the lead.
Such a leader, with extensive investment experience, helped us attract more investors (signal effect) and guide us effectively through the process (show confidence and professionalism to other investors).
What are the main challenges and obstacles in the fundraising process? If you had to start over, what else would you do?
David Eberle: For us it was someone who really believed in us (both in the team and in the vision), who took the first step to say yes and helped us convince others who could sit on the fence. I think our story was too technical and didn’t have much vision. It was motivated by the product, not by the vision of big business. We rewrote history after that, and now it’s flowing well and attracting attention. So it makes sense to first contact investors who are not your priority investors and who you can reject, but who will provide valuable feedback to correct your story once you have contacted your priority investors.
What are the milestones for the next cycle? And what are your goals for the future?
David Eberle: Although we have no urgent need for the next cycle, we are dealing with Series A, probably in 1 to 1.5 years’ time. Our key milestone is reaching one million users and launching the first licensing deal for our text prediction technology.
How did you attract users and what strategy did you use to grow your business from start to finish?
David Eberle: Our keyboard application has been downloaded more than 350,000 times since its launch in December 2019. Initially, we focused on free purchases, mainly through public relations. We are currently experimenting with fee-based acquisitions, which we will adjust if certain key performance indicators (KPIs) meet our objectives.
Which software was the best marketing tool to develop your start-up and why?
David Eberle: For an application it is important that your measurements are available on both the purchase page and the application store page (e.g. AppRadar, Appfigures, Appsflyerlyer). The problem is we haven’t found an instrument that gives us all the parameters. That’s why we built our toolbar, which imports reports from various sources and automatically provides us with weekly updates. I think the weekly KPI’s are essential because things change fast, and the ability to define your own KPI’s is also crucial because they can vary slightly depending on your application and your business model.
That most starters are usually wrong about marketing?
David Eberle: I think one of the mistakes could be that we think we know what people want and then spend a lot of time creating beautiful images and visual messages around that story. I think we should be very KPI and listen to the numbers. On the other hand, it is also important to create an emotional brand and spend time on attractive visual effects and messages. Purchasing channels may change (for example, many programs may be seriously affected by upcoming changes to Apple’s advertising tracking system). Not only do we need to rely on digital buyouts, but over time we will build a brand that will lead to organic buyouts, whether the station is disbanded or not.
How would you like to develop your activities worldwide?
David Eberle: We now focus on America and Europe, where we support all languages with a Latin script. We plan to localize the application and then work with journalists and local influencers to create a first user base. Application acquisition channels are generally quite global, so scaling up is good as the application develops. In the future we will add new languages and then pay more attention to these markets, especially Russia, the Middle East, South and East Asia and of course Africa.
What are the most common mistakes companies make in their global expansion?
David Eberle: Every country behaves differently. The product, but also the brand, may not be the solution for the local market. Our hexagon may not be the best option for the Korean language because the number of characters is different. Instead of taking the standard solution through all markets, we want to create the best solution for each market. We would rather spend more time on expansion, but we do so with a solution that really adds value to the people. The problem is concentration, because we don’t have the means to do everything at once. And sometimes you don’t know how successful you can be in a certain market. It is thus a difficult balance between concentration on the core market and gradual expansion (with an excellent solution) compared to a quick but not thorough test of many markets.
How do you manage the Kovid 19 flash situation to ensure the survival of your company?
David Eberle: The trend towards digitisation has only accelerated and the use of smartphones has increased. Who played our cards. We are already a global team, one third of the company is remote, and the other two thirds also work remotely for about half the time. While I am not afraid of an immediate negative impact on us, I hope that through global efforts we can come out of this crisis stronger and think about how to better protect vulnerable populations. I also think it is important that education can be resumed, because we cannot just stop sending our children to school. In the long run, it will have dramatic consequences for the next generation. Maybe my next project is in the field of education.
What are the most common mistakes founders make when starting a business?
David Eberle: It starts with the product, not the problem. Always check if there is a market for your idea. On the other hand, don’t give up if you get negative reactions when people say your idea is stupid. I think some of the greatest inventions and companies are built on stupid ideas. Find a co-founder; he or she will help you through the difficult times and vice versa.
What is the best advice you have ever received? And what advice can you give to someone who wants to do similar things with you or go in a similar direction?
David Eberle: The application is not intended for companies. Either your company builds multiple applications, or your application is a showcase for a large company. On the other hand, things often grow organically. When we launched our application, we had no plans to develop text prediction technology. That came later. Maybe the best advice I’ve been given is to take every session, even if you think it’s a waste of time. When you deal with randomly chosen people, you often get new ideas and perhaps an impulse that will change the situation.
What are the three most popular books or movies (series) that changed your life and why?
David Eberle: I can’t say that one book or one film in particular has fundamentally changed my life. In every story we take them out bit by bit, and together they influence who we are and how we live. Maybe I can refer some of the books I recommend to start-ups: A billion-dollar demand, a soft start, a hook, zero against one, scum: The art of doing twice as much work in half the time to measure what matters has inspired.
How do you maintain your motivation on a daily basis?
David Eberle: I am always looking forward to a good dinner at the end of the day or a good dinner at the weekend with my wife, children and friends.
What are the three most important life lessons your (future) sons and daughters need to know?
David Eberle: Always try something new. Keep your good habits and daily routine. Be nice to the others.
Why do you want to be remembered?
David Eberle: Be a great father, husband and friend.
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