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Conversational AI platform provider Yellow.ai today announced the close of an over $78.15 million series C round led by WestBridge Capital with participation from Sapphire Ventures, Salesforce Ventures, and Lightspeed Venture Partners, bringing the company’s total funding to more than $102.15 million. Yellow.ai says it will use the funds to build on its existing technology and establish a presence in the U.S., adding 70 employees to its workforce of over 500.

With digitalization on the rise, customer experience has become a major competitive advantage for companies. There’s been a corresponding rise in the adoption of virtual agents as organizations look to more effectively handle greater call volumes with existing teams. According to analysts, some enterprises that embraced chatbots for customer service next deployed them internally, not only to automate customer interactions but to flag HR problems and potential sales opportunities.

Yellow.ai CEO Raghu Ravinutala grew up in South India and worked his way up as an engineer for tech companies that include Broadcom and Texas Instruments. In 2015, he cofounded Yellow.ai with Jaya Kishore Reddy, Raghu Kumar, Rashid Khan, and Anik Das. A chance discussion with friends about poor customer experiences became the germ for an idea to create a conversational AI-driven platform.

“Every year, over 400 billion calls are made for customer support globally, and out of those, less than 0.1% have any kind of automation solution implemented,” Ravinutala told VentureBeat via email. “Over the next 10 years, the scope for implementing AI-powered automation solutions across channels is huge, and as a company we aim to capitalize on the opportunity, with a focus on high quality customer experience. Any enterprise that has over 100,000 customers or over 20,000 calls per month coming to their call center can benefit by deploying a voice bot.”

AI-powered conversations

Yellow.ai’s natural language understanding engine, which trains on billions of sales, marketing, and employee engagement conversations each month, leverages intent to guide customers to convert. Using its AI-powered virtual assistants, Yellow.ai says companies can resolve queries in over 100 languages and across more than 35 text and voice channels. The platform tracks trends and analyzes sentiment to help brands understand customer needs, offering resolutions to support user experiences and handing off to live agents when necessary.

“Yellow.ai’s platform allows brands to engage with their customers wherever they are, through conversational virtual assistants … for faster conversions [and] lasting loyalty,” Ravinutala added. “AI can’t replace humans, but automation helps self-serve 70% of queries and seamlessly loop in live agents when needed … it is not just a live agent handover;  it is an active learning loop across bots and humans.”

Yellow.ai

Yellow.ai claims it already has live deployments for voice bots across over 700 companies (up from 200 pre-pandemic) in telecom, banking, finance, insurance, and governments — including Amazon, Biogen, and Sephora. Revenue is up 4 times compared with last year, with roughly 40% coming from global clients and 60% from customers based in India.

“The pandemic brought unprecedented times for every organizations, and no one was ready for a lockdown and elongated work-from-home scenarios. Enterprises had to quickly adapt to ensure business continuity while minimizing redundancy across geographies, establishments, and teams,” Ravinutala said. “Our growth is driven by continuous product innovation [and the] latest implementations, such as deepening multilingual voice bot capabilities, expanding enterprise integrations, and launching a developer marketplace for virtual assistants. We have been rapidly expanding our footprint across the U.S., Europe, Latin America, Middle East, and Asia-Pacific regions.”

Ravinutala said pizza chain Dominos moved 100% of its customer service to “Dom,” an omnichannel AI assistant Yellow.ai developed for India. Waste Connections, a waste management company in the U.S. and Canada, deployed a Yellow.ai chatbot called Trina during the early stages of the pandemic. And Bajaj Finserv, a bank based in India, used Yellow.ai to turn its insurance division’s customer support into an upselling stream that it said brought in $100 million in three years.

“Yellow.ai has broken out of the crowded virtual assistant market with its automation-first, human-assisted model to deliver a higher customer satisfaction and incremental revenue growth to its enterprise clients,” Ravinutala continued. “With our rapid client and revenue expansion across the world, we’re geared to becoming the global leader in the customer experience automation space and are bullish on building our product, partnerships, teams, and community to truly democratize AI in the near future.”

Yellow.ai, which is based in Bangalore, plans to open a San Francisco, California-based headquarters and regional offices in the coming months.

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