Conversational AI Startup Raises $52.5M

Enterprise conversational AI startup has closed a $52.5 million Series B funding round led by Tiger Global and Insight Partners. The company’s platform supports virtual assistants that can help customer service agents answer questions and carry out tasks for customers more efficiently.

Shelf Answers

When a customer begins conversing with an agent of a company using Shelf, the customer service agent starts seeing information and suggestions provided by Shelf’s MerlinAI on the side of the chat window, as can be seen in the clip above. According to Shelf, answer automation saves an enormous amount of time, cutting the length of a conversation by 25% and shortening the time spent looking for answers from more than four minutes to fewer than 20 seconds. The speed and efficacy of the AI-assisted interactions also reduces the need to send the customer to a higher-up by 40%. The four-year-old company saw accelerated growth over the last year, quadrupling in size due, in part, to the COVID-19 pandemic causing a spike in demand for customer service while limiting the staffing of call centers.

“With the remote distributed workplace now mainstream and an unprecedented volume of company content available on a growing number of cloud solutions, the need to quickly access answers within that information has never been greater,” CEO Sedarius Perrotta. “We leverage our proprietary MerlinAI to make it easy for any employee to get answers from across the enterprise’s content sprawl. We are excited to partner with Tiger Global and Insight Partners to help us meet the incredible customer demand.”

Enterprising Conversation is one of the many conversational AI startups obtaining significant investment over the last year or so. Though most of the more notable funding news has been for AI chatbots and voice AI to talk directly to the consumer, there’s always an element of analytics and suggestions for future encounters built into these kinds of platforms, especially as the AI improves. There’s been a steady drumbeat of new funding rounds for such startups, including $78.15 million for Yellow, $14 million for higher-ed chatbot platform AdmitHub in February, Rasa’s $26 million round last June, and the $100 million raised by Gupshup in April, a funding round also led by Tiger. Acquisitions are also an important part of the story, as in July, when Zoom purchased digital contact center Five9, a year after Five9 bought virtual agent platform Inference Solutions.


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