Conversica, a sales platform that taps artificial intelligence (AI) to convert in-bound leads using automated email conversation, has raised $34 million in an “oversubscribed” series B round led by Providence Strategic Growth (PSG), an affiliate of Providence Equity Partners, with participation from Toba Capital, Wellington Financial, and Recruit Strategic Partners, as well as existing investors Kennet Partners and founder Ben Brigham.
Founded out of Foster City, California, in 2007, Conversica targets sales and marketing teams with a virtual sales assistant that automatically contacts, converses with, and qualifies potential customers who have contacted the company with questions. Conversica’s platform can scan the content of in-bound communications such as emails to understand the meaning of what is being asked and engage with the customer back-and-forth.
For companies that receive thousands of emails, automating the process saves a great deal of time and resources. Conversiva says that its system is used by 16,000 sales reps globally in companies that include IBM, CenturyLink, and Fiat Chrysler. The firm also offers industry-specific assistants for the automotive and financial industries, while a “Customer Success Assistant” works with existing customers.
The company had raised around $22 million in equity funding before, and its latest cash injection will be used to expand its sales and marketing and “support ongoing product development,” according to a company statement.
“Over the past six years, the Conversica team has created and evolved a unique and powerful way to solve a ubiquitous business problem — helping sales and marketing organizations better engage, qualify and delight their leads and turn them into paying customers,” said Alex Terry, CEO of Conversica. “We have already seen tremendous growth and success deploying our service into the sales and marketing sector, and are confident our unique AI technology can be deployed across a broad spectrum of customer engagement functions to automate and improve many types of important business conversations.”
Conversica operates at the crossroads between two closely connected emerging trends in 2016: AI and chatbots. With Facebook’s Messenger opening as a platform for third-party customer service functions, the social network recently revealed that it’s now home to 34,000 chatbots, which are being used to help drive subscription sign-ups, small transactions, and customer service.
Peer-to-peer (P2P) insurance firm Lemonade recently launched in the U.S., and the company revealed that its customer service was largely being powered by automated agents within its mobile app — this approach helps companies scale their support operations significantly.
“Applying data science techniques to machine-human interactions is an area where we are seeing incredible growth and innovation,” said Toba Capital and Quest Software founder Vinny Smith, an investor in Conversica’s latest funding round. “We have spent considerable time looking for the right company to invest in. Conversica has a proven track record of success and client satisfaction, but also has a real vision for the broader application of this technology.”