Invisible Collector is a cloud platform that employs Artificial Intelligence to increase the success rate of debt collection operations, interacting digitally with debtors over the most advanced notifications channels available, personally assisting them in the process of eliminating their debt.
Pedro Mendes and Miguel Rangel, the project’s founders, have been friends for more than 20 years. Both have worked for multi-national companies (Pedro for Infineon and Miguel for Crédito y Caución) and have witnessed the difficulties of implementing innovative ideas. “When you start out you take on a major risk for you and for your environment, but if the project has a strong structure, it allows you to put your ideas, your style, your vision of how the market is going to behave in x time into practice. And, perhaps, it allows you to lead a revolution,” says Miguel.
Now the company wants to bring this revolution to Spain, with the support of ICEX-Invest in Spain’s Rising UP in Spain, which specifically focuses on attracting foreign entrepreneurs who want to set up and grow in Spain. The selected startups receive resources to develop their business in Spain.
What role does AI play in Invisible Collector?
Invisible Collector was inspired by Miguel’s experience in debt collection departments, where operations were done in a rudimentary, manual, repetitive manner with no added value. Bringing AI to the collections flow has made it possible to analyse all the debtor’s behavioural data and implement strategies that have a more effective outcome, while at the same time treat the debtor with intelligence and not just a “Pay Me, Pay Me, Pay Me” attitude.
What was the technological development of the platform like?
The conception process took a long time; three years, more or less. During this time, we looked at not just our original ideas, but also what we were gathering from market research with potential clients.
What debt collection operations are the most common?
Our main area is financial services, for B2B and B2C credit collection operations (personal loans, cards, cars, leasing, renting or mortgages). More recently we have entered into utilities (water, energy and telecoms), B2B services, and debt collection agencies, which are benefiting from introducing our technology.
What clients come to you for this purpose?
Clients who manage a large loans portfolio due to the nature of their operations and who are looking for an automated flow that allows faster, simpler and more friendly recoveries, which does not damage the customer relationship.
What does Invisible Collector do that they cannot do themselves?
Many of our clients were complaining of slow processes, difficulty in interdepartmental convergence and a lack of focus regarding IT projects.
What advantages do you have by not using debt collectors?
Debt collectors do good work, but have a very limited capacity for analysis and processing information. That makes the use of simple mathematical variables impossible when in contact with the debtor. There is also a problem with the GDPR, which can only be guaranteed with an automatic and independent solution.
Why did you choose to go into this sector? What progress have you had in Portugal?
Miguel’s experience in this sector and in the Spanish market has been decisive in identifying the needs of companies. The market is very fragmented, with many SMEs dedicated to debt collection operations through a call centre. For these companies, we have a specific version of our software that allows them to make their operations more efficient.
What about Spain? Do you believe that this model can work here?
The debt collection sector is very strictly defined, which allows us to adapt quickly to the local context of each country/region. Our flexible business model, with a fixed fee or success fee, lets clients choose which one better serves their business, something that clients welcome.
What makes you international?
The clients. We are working in 39 countries, and despite being physically present in Spain for only a short time, we already have a plan to expand the business to Latam and the US.
What has ICEX’s help meant for you in that task?
ICEX has been an major part of our international adventure. It has given us the opportunity to work close to the market, to understand companies and their needs, to be among Spain’s most significant sector clusters.
Why go to a public institution to support you in entering a market?
We believe that the point is not “a public institution” but “the public institution” specifically. ICEX as an institution and its staff are experts in helping companies with different products/services in different markets at a global level. They know the market better than anyone and have guided us expertly in assessing our route map.
What support did you have at the outset regarding financing?
Despite understanding that we are in an interesting phase to welcome an investor, our company is fully funded by its founders.
Where are you now in this respect? And how do you hope to move forwards?
We are open to welcoming investment that brings us the ability to reach new clients and faster and more capable IT development.
What areas of work does Invisible Collector have for 2022? What new things will we see?
In 2022, we are going to introduce innovative solutions to engage with debtors, so that they feel more supported when interacting with the platform, allowing it to become more effective. We are also going to introduce new mechanisms for structured loan portfolios and the B2B segment.
Longer term, what is your mission in the sector? What would you like to become and what will you do to get there?
We believe that we will become the benchmark platform for collections management, surpassing the more traditional/manual competition, driving the paradigm shift that will allow a better and more effective relationship between creditors and debtors.