The Ultimate Journey 🚗

In 2014

Reetu Kainulainen, Markus Rautio and Jaakko Panasen met in college. The three were the best of friends during and upon graduation, they decided to found their own company called Culinar Oy with the dream of offering an online portal for online ordering for restaurants. Two years went by and there were many ups and down, laughs and tears and they learned many lessons.

 

In the summer of 2016

Culinar Oy was put in auto-pilot mode and the three started iterating new ideas. A lot of new ideas were being thrown on the table, from neural sound transfer to an app that connects dog owners for dog play-dates…

Then came the call of faith from an Hackathon organizer, which was the largest exhibition centre in Finland, whereby one team has dropped out and Culinar Oy was called to be a replacement.

Instead of submitting Culinar Oy product, they talked to the organizer to figure out their need. It turned out that one of the problems they had is planning staff support for their events due to the lack of information about the volume of event attendees. An idea popped up on their mind and they got to creating a demo of a conversational chatbot which could assist the attendees through out the event.

And ´ they won! 🎉

But it was not just a one-hit-wonder … The organizer reached out to them again ask them to actually bring their Hackathon idea to life!

The vintage logo of ultimate.ai in the earlier days

 

It was then, in November 2016

that they decided to not just focus on chatbot, but on Customer Service, and that is how ultimate.ai was born. The shift of focus was a leap of faith after a visit to a customer service centre of the client. It is here that they observed how unorganised the centre was and how humans mostly spent time working on mundane tasks.

The team created a neural network architecture that learns a pattern in texts and produces similar results. The model was trained with Kalevala, the Finnish epic and a Twitter Bot was created to post the machine-made Kalevala. It got big overnight (it even landed on the Hot page of Reddit Finland, which objectively remains the company’s proudest achievement to date! 😌 ). Words started to spread around and the first customers started to knock on the door…

In the spring of 2017

SAP showed the interest in integrating ultimate.ai chatbots to their contact center solution’s APIs. In the same year’s Mobile World Congress, SAP was demoing the solution of ultimate.ai in front of an audience of a hundred thousand people.

This is where they got recommended to apply to Techstar Accelerator program with SAP. They packed their pack and made their way to the Silicon Alley of Europe…

 

Sarah and Loki 🐶

The Techstar program was an awesome learning experience about company- and product-building, but the biggest gem of them all was getting to know Sarah Al-Hussaini.

Sarah was a finance associate for Techstar at that moment and was helping ultimate.ai in building a financial and business model. The three asked Sarah to join the company as a COO to bring order to the start-up early days.

Another big decision to move away from their nest in Finland and settle in Berlin was also made…

… in December 2017.

In June 2018

after an intense sprint of fund raising, ultimate.ai completed Seed round of 1 Mil. With the funding, the team focused intensely on hiring, growing and improving the product.

“A second Seed round” happened just a year later,

in the summer of 2019…

with the existing investor HV Holtzbrinck Ventures and Maki doubled down on their investment. The Horizont Grant for AI research further fuelled our AI machine going forward.

The early ultimate.ai team

In September 2020

the official Series A round happened and closed down very quickly. The round was led by OMERS Ventures with participation from Felicis Ventures and existing investors HV Capital, and Maki.vc.

Going from 4 founding members, we are now at the happy number of over 80 ultiMATEs but that number will change drastically in just a few months…

 

But the journey is far from over….

Will you be the one helping us get to the top? 🔥🔥🔥