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Ratan Tata-backed AI startup Niki.ai raises $2 mn in Series A round

28 June, 2017

Bangalore-based Niki.ai, which runs an artificial intelligence-powered personal assistant, has raised $2 million (about Rs 13 crore) in a Series A round of funding from San Francisco-based fund SAP.iO and existing investor Unilazer Ventures.

VCCircle had exclusively reported on this development last month.

Haresh Chawla of private equity firm True North, and Arihant Patni of Hive Technologies also invested, besides some US- and Germany-based investors, the company said on Wednesday.

Software giant SAP launched SAP.iO with an initial investment of $35 million in March this year. The fund seeks to make early-stage investments in software startups with an aim to expand the SAP ecosystem.

Niki.ai will use the capital to strengthen its machine-learning capabilities, build voice and multilingual functionalities, and expand its distribution network, Sachin Jaiswal, chief executive of Niki.ai, said in the statement.

Niki.ai, incorporated as Techbins Solutions Pvt. Ltd, was founded in April 2015 by four IIT Kharagpur alumni — Jaiswal, Keshav Prawasi, Nitin Babel and Shishir Modi. It provides users a conversational interface to shop for products and services. It currently covers over 20 categories, including entertainment, travel and daily utilities, in partnership with players like BookMyShow, Redbus, OYO, Ola and Uber. Niki, its bot, uses natural language processing and machine-learning technologies to converse with customers over a simple chat interface, and places their orders with partner businesses.

The company works on a channel partnership model and generates revenue for every order processed on its platform. It is now also working with brands to provide them chatbots. The firm claims that it is seeing 35% month-on-month growth in revenue.

Ram Jambunathan, managing director, SAP.iO, said “We believe Niki.ai has an innovative technical approach and is building a scalable product that can change the commerce industry…There is a huge opportunity globally, yet to be captured.”

In December last year, VCCircle exclusively reported that the startup had raised Rs 3 crore from Chawla and Ronnie Screwvala’s Unilazer Ventures.

In May 2016, Unilazer, along with former Tata Sons chairman Rata Tata, made an undisclosed investment in the firm. In October 2015, Unilazer had invested an undisclosed amount in the startup, and also made a commitment of a follow-on investment of up to Rs 5 crore.

Several startups in the artificial intelligence space have caught investors’ attention. Last year, New Delhi-based Corseco Technologies Pvt Ltd, which provides AI-based software-as-a-service solutions to other businesses, raised $150,000 from Ameera Shah, managing director and chief executive, Metropolis Healthcare Ltd, and Vivek Bhargava, chief executive, iProspect India, for an 8% equity stake.

In September, Chennai-based AI and computer vision technology startup Mad Street Den Systems Pvt. Ltd secured an undisclosed amount in Series A funding from Sequoia Capital India and existing investors Exfinity Venture Partners and GrowX Ventures.

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Ratan Tata-backed AI startup Niki.ai raises $2 mn in Series A round

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