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Voice chat tool Riff raises $1.5m

Riff – the voice-first chat tool set to revolutionise how teams communicate when working remotely – has raised $1.5million in a Seed round led by Balderton Capital, with participation from Seedcamp, and angels including Carlos Gonzalez-Cadenas, COO of GoCardless, Nicolas Brusson, CEO of BlaBlaCar and Tim Sadler, CEO of Tessian.

Set up by CEO Isabel Bescos (former head of corporate strategy at BlaBlaCar, and former member of Balderton’s investment team), with CTO Matthew Scheybeler, (co-founder of Silicon Valley’s pioneering video search tool, blinkx), Riff is positioned as the answer to the everyday pain points felt by teams trying to communicate from different locations.

For all the benefits of working remotely – for both employees and employers – it can also be a lonely, frustrating experience particularly when trying to establish a team culture or work collaboratively.  Video calls need multiple apps, links, passwords and calendar integrations to schedule, and phone calls usually mean switching your headphones to a new source, or trying to type while holding the phone.

Riff offers the instant interaction and traceability of Slack, with immediacy and the ease of communication that comes from phone conversations and the security of company-wide email – all without having to schedule calls and organise unnecessary meetings. A voice-first tool, it gets people as close to working alongside their colleagues as possible, even when they’re hundreds of miles apart.

Riff CEO, Isabel Bescos, said: “For years, companies have been searching for ways to make office communications faster. None have quite managed to combine speed and efficiency with security and minimal disruption until now. Plus, the potential of Riff is huge.

“We’re only just scratching the surface of what such a communication tool can do and offer to companies and it’s an exciting road to be on.”

Suranga Chandratillake, General Partner at Balderton, said: “We are inundated with notifications, pop-ups, chat tools and various distractions vying for our attention when trying to communicate and work with others. Yet none have managed to get to the crux of what it’s really like to be able to collaborate quickly with colleagues in an office. As more of us work remotely, there needs to be a better way.

“We see huge potential in Riff’s unique approach to solving this challenge, and we’re thrilled to partner with them to bring its array of benefits to more companies.”

Carlos Espinal, Managing Partner at Seedcamp, added: “The need to communicate with team members, many of which are distributed around the world in times like these, is more important than ever. We are very excited to back Isabel, Matthew and their vision for Riff to reduce the pain that teams have in making communications more spontaneous and more relevant.”

The investment will be used to launch Riff into public beta later this year ahead of a general release in 2021 and for recruitment.