Speciale Invest backs AI-based customer support platform in seed round
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Frontdesk AI, an artificial intelligence startup which offers automated customer service software, has raised $1.1 million (Rs 7.54 crore) in a seed round of funding led by Bengaluru-based early-stage investment firm Speciale Invest.

The US-headquartered startup, which has its core technology and customer success functions in Bengaluru, said in a statement that unnamed angel investors from the Bay Area had also participated in the round.

Founded last year by Srivatsan Laxman and Supriya Rao, Frontdesk AI provides automated full-service backup receptionist solutions. Its product instantly responds via text and voice to unanswered customer calls.

The company’s solutions are currently being used in the beauty and wellness industry and it is now looking to expand to the dental space.

“Reception desks at local businesses are often thinly-staffed and have to multi-task. They tend to miss calls or put callers on-hold, leading to loss of customers and sales,” said Vishesh Rajaram, managing partner at Speciale Invest.

Frontdesk AI's co-founders Laxman (chief executive) and Rao (chief technology officer) are both graduates from Indian Institute of Science (IISc). They had earlier co-founded Schibler Smart Scheduler, a smart calendar app that could also double up as a personal assistant.

Laxman previously served in a research role at Microsoft, focusing on areas including machine learning, data mining and data privacy. Rao had worked at Honeywell Technology Solutions.

In the last couple of years, the use of automated customer support has been on the rise, largely due to pioneering technologies that allows businesses to identify and resolve customer grievances through messaging services.

Nearly a quarter of customer service and support operations will integrate virtual customer assistant (VCA) including chatbot technology across engagement channels by 2020, according to a report from market research firm Gartner.

This will represent a significant jump as less than 2% of such operations used this technology in 2017.

A Gartner survey last year found that 84% of organisations expected to increase investments in customer experience technology in the near term.

A number of banks have opted for automated customer support software. For instance, Kotak Mahindra Bank has a virtual assistant called Keya that converses in Hindi and English.

Speciale Invest

Speciale Invest is a $15 million seed-stage fund started by Travel Yari co-founder Arjun Rao and former Ventureast principal Vishesh Rajaram last year.

The focus areas of the fund include deep-tech products in the areas of enterprise software-as-a-service (SaaS), health-tech, fin-tech, Internet of Things (IoT), augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), among others.

The fund typically invests $100,000-500,000 (Rs 68.5 lakh- Rs 3.42 crore) in startups and works closely with them for the first couple of years.

Scapic Innovations Pvt. Ltd, a VR and AR platform, had raised $500,000 in a seed round from Speciale Invest earlier this year.

The fund had also invested in tech product developer iauro.

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