Automat has raised $8.3 million to grow its conversational marketing operation. In a round led by You & Mr, Jones, the majority of the investment will be focused on expanding the company’s engineering, research, and product teams.
Created in 2016 in Montreal, Automat ran stealth for much of its existence until releasing the Kalani Hilliker fashion advice bot on Kik then the L’Oréal Beauty Gifter bot that asks the gift receiver the sort of beauty or makeup gifts they want. The company is currently working on a bot for the National Bank of Canada, the company’s first financial services bot.
At F8 earlier this year, Automat was one of a handful of companies listed by Facebook as making up the fledgling chatbot industry ecosystem.
“It’s very clear to me the biggest aspect of messaging and chatbots is going to be conversational marketing, more so than things like customer service and other aspects of it,” CEO Andy Mauro previously told VentureBeat.
Automat is different than other marketing bot makers, Mauro said, because it works with brands and does not assume that every idea should become a bot or will make a good conversational experience.
“We actually think most people are right now building the right product,” Mauro said. “The thing that we do that our customers tells us is really different in our approach is we go in and ask them some pretty simple questions. We say why is this a conversational experience, what consumer problem is it solving, what business problem is it solving for you, and who am I talking to and why, because I think what you’re seeing in a lot of the early bot experiences is it wasn’t clear why it was conversational.”
The $8.3 million round was led by You & Mr Jones with participation from Comcast Ventures and Omidyar Technology Ventures.