AI-Enabled Property Management Platform AskPorter Becomes Google Assistant Investment Program’s First International Investment
London-based AskPorter announced this week that has closed funding from the Google Assistant Investment Program and claims to be the first international commitment by the fund. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The company completed a £500,000 investment in January 2018 led by individual investors. AskPorter provides an AI-enabled property management software platform with features for both tenants and property managers. Company founder and CEO Tom Shrive commented in an email interview with Voicebot:
“Porter (the assistant) liaises with tenants and recommends next actions for the manager to help streamline and provide best practice. We actually have over 30 different chat flows from guiding people through property inspection reports, to troubleshooting boiler problems.”
AskPorter includes both voice and chat capabilities and according to the company already supports over 500,000 properties and one million tenants. The solution uses “Google Cloud AI for recommending next steps” and also incorporates Twilio services for communications. Shrive mentions in the media announcement that the company will use the recent investment for hiring and preparing for a larger “A” round of financing in 2019. The announcement also said the Google Assistant investment program includes “access to support and resources from Google’s technical, product, and business development teams.”
The Rise of Vertical Voice AI Solutions
AskPorter is a good example of the recent rise of vertical (i.e. industry-specific) voice AI solutions. Most of the activity around voice assistant applications to date has been to support general use cases targeting consumers. However, we are now seeing more solutions that attempt to solve a narrow set of problems for a specific set of users, often in business settings. Voicera has a solution for automated meeting note taking on conference calls. Amazon has announced Alexa for Hospitality which is designed to meet the needs of hotels implementing smart speakers in guest rooms. N-powered sells solutions for colleges to use smart speakers in dorm rooms and common areas around campus. Virtual Concierge recently won an industry award for its solution for providing information to guests staying in private vacation rentals.
This list will expand further in 2019 as more companies combine industry specialization with voice, conversational, and AI solutions. This is also where early movers in the chatbot space may re-emerge with voice-first, chat-second offerings. AskPorter offers tenant access to its solutions on mobile as well as through chat and voice and serves as an interesting example of a vertical AI offering with multimodal and multichannel interaction options.