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Lightspeed, Snapdeal founders back AI platform Yellow Messenger
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Conversational artificial intelligence (AI) platform Yellow Messenger has raised $4 million (Rs 27.7 crore at current exchange rate) in a Series A funding round from Lightspeed Venture Partners and other angel investors.

The other participants in the round include redBus co-founder Phanindra Sama, Snapdeal founders Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal, HyperTrack founder Kashyap Deorah, and McKinsey & Co. senior partner Anand Swaminathan. The following also took part in the round: Monisha Vardhan of Zephyr Ventures, LimeRoad co-founder Prashant Malik, former LinkedIn India managing director Nishant Rao, and Google general manager for Asia-Pacific innovation and creative Alap Bharadwaj.

In a statement, Yellow Messenger co-founder and chief executive Raghu Ravinutala said the Bengaluru-based startup will use the funding to invest in research and development and expand its global presence.

“We believe that Asia’s businesses require fundamentally different solutions for enterprise software,” Lightspeed partner Dev Khare said, explaining the firm’s decision to invest in the chatbot platform owned and operated by Bitonic Technology Labs, Inc. “Yellow Messenger is tapping into the messaging-centric expectation that Asia’s 4.5 billion consumers have for interacting with large consumer companies,” he added.

Founded in 2016 by Ravinutala, Rashid Khan and Jaya Kishore Reddy Gollareddy, Yellow Messenger says it helps enterprises boost their growth and efficiency by offering always-on conversation automation on text and voice across several channels. The company, which provides its services to clients across industries including retail, travel and healthcare, says it has processed over one billion conversations so far.

Lightspeed, which launched its first India-dedicated fund of $135 million in 2015, has ramped up the pace of its investments in the country. Last July, it raised its second India-dedicated venture capital fund of $175 million. At the time, the firm said it expected to invest in 25-30 companies mainly at the early stages and make a few deals at the Series B and C stages.

In April, it led a $3.5-million (Rs 24.5 crore) investment in Setu, a fintech application programme interface (API) infrastructure startup. It was also one of the early investors in hotel chain OYO. Its other major portfolio companies include ed-tech unicorn Byju’s, business-to-business (B2B) marketplace Udaan, social networking platform ShareChat and food-tech firm FreshMenu.

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