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Passage AI raises $7.3M to help businesses build bots

The company gives businesses the tools and the AI to allow them to build a conversational interface

Financial trends and news by Steven Loeb
May 2, 2018
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/4b79

Just a few years ago, it's likely that if you told someone they were talking to a robot instead of a human it would have seemed incredible to them. Now it has become commonplace. We not only expect most businesses to deploy chatbots but a huge number of people now have them in their home as well. Chatbots are a huge and growing market; Research and Markets estimates the virtual digital assistant market will exceed $15 billion by 2021.

Of course, actually building one is easier said than done, and that's where Passage AI comes in. It's the company working on the back end, allowing businesses to build those bots by providing the artificial intelligence, natural language understanding and processing, and deep learning technology, along with bot building tools, that allow them to create and deploy a conversational interface. 

On Wednesday, the company announced that it raised a $7.3 million Series A round of financing, led by Blumberg Capital. The round brings Passage AI’s total funding to $10.3 million.

Founded in 2016 by by Madhu Mathihalli and Ravi Raj, two former members of WalmartLabs, as well as Mitul Tiwar, formerly of LinkedIn, Passage AI offers a self-serve bot building platform, which doesn't require any code.

Once businesses build a bot, they can then deploy it to multiple platforms simultaneously, including chat messaging apps, voice assistants, and their own website. They can add features to the bot, such as matching intents to actions, using APIs with a webhook, building decision trees and integrating knowledge bases. Customers can also track the bot usage in real time on Passage AI's analytics dashboard. 

The typical customer for Passage AI, Raj told VatorNews, "is a customer service professional who wants to improve customer satisfaction and lower customer services costs by using AI to automate responses to customers queries."

"We want a business or a brand to be able to converse with their customers instantly and efficiently anywhere anytime."

Currently the company has over 20 large G2000 customers and just exceeded $1 million in annual recurring revenue within 6 months of launching its product.

Unlike its competitors, which include big names such as IBM Watson and Oracle, what separates Passage AI from them, according to Raj, is "the accuracy of our AI/NLP technology, which is over 95 percent."

The funding will help the company expand deeper into its current industries, namely retail, telecommunications, automotive and education.

"We see an opportunity in answering customers questions in a conversational, either text or voice, manner. This could be getting help on the right product to buy, finding our why your phone bill is so high or getting answers to frequently asked questions," Raj said.

In addition to the funding, it was also announced that Bruce Taragin, managing director at Blumberg Capital, has joined the Board of Directors at Passage AI.

"Bruce is a proven veteran, who sits on the Board of companies like Nutanix and Hootsuite. His product vision, business acumen and ability to take companies to the next level will be very valuable to Passage AI," said Raj.

Businesses want this technology, that much is clear. A survey done by Oracle in 2016 showed that 80 percent of businesses worldwide wanted a conversational interface by 2020, and surely that number is even higher now that more and more people are becoming comfortable with them. What Passage AI wants to be is the company that allows them to accomplish that.

"The current goal, which is also the ultimate goal, is to build the best conversational AI platform in the world that delights our customers and, more importantly, their end-customers," said Raj.

"We want to continue our relentless focus on using AI to improve the end-consumer experience and will be hiring folks with the right talent who’ll help us accomplish this goal."

(Image source: passage.ai)


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