Enterprise Conversational Voice AI Startup PolyAI Raises $14M
Enterprise voice AI startup PolyAI has closed a $14 million funding round led by Khosla Ventures. The company is planning to grow its presence in the U.S. as a tool for call centers and customer service.
PolyAI offers virtual agents for phone calls to businesses and call centers that can answer questions and complete transactions independent of human support. The company claims its voice AI can handle 95% of incoming calls using machine learning to improve its performance. The British startup serves a mix of banking, hospitality, and telecom clients at the moment but is looking to expand, particularly in the U.S. PolyAI spun out of research done at the University of Cambridge on applying machine learning to understanding intent in human voices. The new round doubles PolyAI’s total investment raised to $28 million.
“Customers are now very comfortable with voice assistants, thanks to Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant. People prefer to speak to voice assistants immediately, rather than wait for 20+ minutes to speak to a human agent,” PolyAI CEO Nikola Mrkšić said in a statement. “The technical term for our technology is ‘multi-turn conversational AI’, but all the caller has to do is talk to it, like they would to a human. Compared to existing call centers, our assistants can boost customer satisfaction scores by up to 40% and reduce handling times by up to five minutes.”
PolyAI is just one of the many conversational AI startups working in enterprise services to receive a big check. There’s been a steady drumbeat of new fundings for companies in this space for almost two years. The trend accelerated especially as the COVID-19 pandemic caused a simultaneous drop in the number of people at call centers while raising the number of incoming calls to some businesses by an enormous amount. For instance, Observe.ai raised $54 million a year ago, while more recently, there was the $78.15 million raised by Yellow, the $14 million for higher-ed chatbot platform AdmitHub, Rasa’s $26 million round, and the $100 million raised by Gupshup.