In the enterprise domain, conversational AI can free up employees from menial and repetitive tasks, catalyzing division-wide boosts in productivity. Customers don’t seem to mind, either — analysts at Forrester report that 45% of end users prefer chatbots to other forms of communication for customer service inquiries. Perhaps that’s why research firms like Markets and Markets anticipate the segment will reach $15.7 billion by 2024, driven by increased demand for AI-powered support services and omnichannel deployment, along with reduced chatbot development costs.
Startups like Paris-based Mindsay are filling the need happily. The company, which was founded in 2016, provides a software-as-a-service (SaaS) suite of conversational chatbots tailored to meet the requirements of large hospitality and service, transportation, and ecommerce companies. And it reports that after just three years, business is booming.
Mindsay today announced that it’s raised $10 million in series A financing led by White Star Capital, with participation from previous investors Partech and Mindsay customers Paris Aeroports and Accor. The infusion comes as Mindsay’s year-over-year revenue growth eclipses 300%, and as it prepares to expand its team of 40 people in Paris, Madrid, and the U.S. to 120.
According to CEO Guillaume Laporte, Mindsay will use the funding to further develop the AI model that allows its assistants to improve using real-time conversations, and to expand its offerings to retail.
“Through the creation of self-learning conversational marketing tools (virtual agents), our mission is to provide the most effective and precise answers to the most frequently asked questions from online customers,” said Laporte. “This improves customer engagement and satisfaction and reduces workload for customer support teams by 80%, allowing customer service teams to focus on complex requests and drive efficiency.”
Mindsay’s platform enables customers to build, maintain, and monitor on a single platform chatbots that work across websites, mobile apps, and social media, including WhatsApp, WeChat, Amazon’s Alexa, and the Google Assistant. Admins can connect to new channels using visual tools, or leverage a built-in cloning function to copy features and scenarios from existing bots to new bots.
Clients can import training data to kickstart a use case or tap models prebuilt by Mindsay, which support over 10 languages, seamless handoff to human agents, and real-time push notifications. (Configurable dynamic rules determine when a conversation should be handed over to an agent.) The chatbots’ human-curated knowledge databases can be edited, exported, and viewed from Mindsay’s cloud dashboard. From this same cloud dashboard, bot managers can access a drag-and-drop interface from which they’re able to add images, buttons, sliders, videos, maps, text, or media from external APIs, customer relationship management systems, global distribution systems, and more to each chatbots’ answers.
Mindsay’s approach might be more holistic than most, but it’s not terribly unique. Startups like Ojo Labs and Ada have raised tens of millions of venture capital for conversational AI targeting real estate and enterprise, as have Jane.ai, Clinc, and Wade & Wendy. But Laporte asserts that bespoke algorithms are its secret sauce.
Toward that end, Mindsay taps natural language processing to identify information contained in messages sent to its bots (like city names and departure dates, for example) and to retrieve and contextualize responses. Moreover, it measures 40 signals to analyze if the bot is giving the correct answer, which the company’s analytics team uses to identify high-frequency use cases and intents and to guide customers through future improvements.
Mindsay says that its customer base now spans five countries and includes brands like Disney; airline giants Iberia and Vueling; airport operator Groupe ADP; European rail operators RATP, SNCF, Keolis, and Thalys; and business travel company CWT. Mindsay’s chatbots have answered 12 million messages to date, the company says — a volume that’s growing at over 20% each month.
“With more than 100 million passengers traveling through our airports in Paris each year, ADP is constantly working to improve and personalize our passengers’ experience. Mindsay offers a powerful way for us to interact with our customers, giving them direct access to information about our airports at any moment,” said CEO of ADP Group Edward Arkwright, whose company will join Mindsay’s board of directors alongside Partech Ventures and Accor. “This funding will allow Mindsay to accelerate their growth, global expansion, and product development in partnership with ADP Group’s airport network in France and abroad.”