Ada, a Canada-based startup that is setting out to help companies develop their own automated customer service tools, has raised CAD$19 million (USD$14 million) in a series A round of funding led by New York-based VC firm FirstMark Capital, with participation from Leaders Fund, Burst Capital, Bessemer, Version One, and computer scientist Barney Pell.

Founded out of Toronto in 2016, Ada develops chatbots and related artificial intelligence (AI) software to help companies manage inbound customer queries. The company shouldn’t be confused with Berlin-based Ada Health, which also works in the chatbot realm.

At its core, Ada allows non-technical teams to set up chatbots to deal with queries more quickly. Users can create new question-and-answer templates, so if any similar questions come in over live chat, responses can be dispatched immediately.

The templates can also include photos, videos, and GIFs.

Above: Ada: Question and answer template for training Ada

In its two short years, Ada said it has already claimed big-name clients like Telus, Upwork, Shopify, Medium, and Coinbase.

Automated chats

The chatbot market was pegged at around $370 million last year, according to some reports, though it could become a $2 billion industry by 2024. Indeed, chatbots are now permeating many facets of industry, and customer contact centers are an obvious conduit for such technology to thrive.

Mobile-first insurance carrier Lemonade has raised bucketloads of cash for a platform that uses bots to automate insurance claims from customers, while London-based DigitalGenius has also raised big to help companies train their own chatbots using transcripts from historical customer service interactions. Elsewhere, Conversica recently raised $31 million to grow its conversational AI assistant that helps sales teams convert in-bound leads through automated conversations, while LivePerson snapped up conversational AI startup Conversable.

The idea of boosting profits by shrinking call centers seems to be gaining ground. Ada said it helps companies automate up to 70 percent of their customer interactions, saving “millions of dollars” in the process, with teams better resourced to allocate agents to focus on things that chatbots may not be suited to, such as more complex in-bound questions and proactive sales.

Above: Ada: Example chatbot conversation

This is also why Ada has now secured $15 million from some notable investors. Indeed, lead investor FirstMark Capital has previously invested in the likes of Airbnb, Pinterest, DraftKings, Shopify, Upwork, and Riot Games, as well as AI-focused startups such as X.ai.

“Ada has delivered transformational, measurable results to some of the world’s most innovative brands, helping them shift from a reactive, expensive support strategy to a proactive model that reduces customer effort,” said FirstMark Capital managing director Matt Turck. “Ada has played an important role in driving automated customer experience, and we’re confident in the team and the platform to surpass their rapid projected growth.”

Ada had raised around $2.5 million in a seed round of funding led by California’s Bessemer last year, and with another $15 million in the bank it plans to expand its product globally and into new sectors, including travel and financial services. It added that it plans to double its internal head count throughout 2019.

“This funding is a testament to the results we’ve seen with our platform,” added Ada cofounder and CEO Mike Murchison. “With backing from such a diverse group of global and local investors, we can continue transforming the customer experience for businesses and their customers around the world.”

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