Rasa today announced the closure of a $1.1 million funding round to grow its bot platform and open source natural language understanding (NLU) for businesses. The company also announced that its Rasa Stack recently surpassed 100,000 downloads, up from 30,000 in September 2017.
As part of the funding round expansion, Rasa will open offices in New York and hire a community engineer to encourage more developers to participate in the creation of its open source offerings.
“That’s really important for us,” cofounder Alex Weidauer told VentureBeat in a phone interview. “We’re going to have somebody who spends time helping people succeed with the open source and build cool stuff with it, going to conferences and writing tutorials and things like that.”
Rasa customers include UBS bank, BMW, Swiss insurance companies like Helvetia, and women’s health bot startup Tia.
Weidauer and cofounder Alan Nichol made Rasa to give users the option to train, tweak, and improve a custom NLU model and to offer businesses more flexibility than out-of-the-box solutions like Microsoft’s LUIS or Google’s Dialogflow. It was also made to give customers the choice of tapping into cutting-edge methods for conversational AI. Additional full-time AI researchers will be hired as a result of the funding round to bring more innovative approaches to Rasa’s offerings.
“There’s all this great ML research, but then there are all these developers that don’t have time to read all these different researchers. But that’s what we do as a company. We bring and ship the latest, greatest research into a library that’s production-ready and you can run however big you want to,” Weidauer said.
The round was led by Basis Set Ventures, with participation from angel investors, including MuleSoft founder Ross Mason.
Rasa has 15 employees and is based in Berlin.