Enterprise Conversational AI Startup OpenDialog AI Launches With $5M Raise
Conversational AI startup OpenDialog AI has debuted its enterprise service platform in tandem with a $5 million seed funding round from undisclosed investors. The company spun out of TPXimpact Holdings PLC to compete as both the market size and competition continue exploding in size and investment.
OpenDialog AI offers a platform for businesses looking to design chatbots that can converse with people across different channels and achieve goals within those automated discussions. The platform’s flexibility gives its clients more than just standard customer service chatbots, however. For instance, a legal firm uses OpenDialog to filter applicants to a class-action lawsuit so that it doesn’t eat up resources in initial discussions. A pharmaceutical company client, meanwhile, has leveraged the tech to automate interviews with people testing its medicine as a way to collate reports on side effects.
OpenDialog began as part of British corporate giant TPXimpact’s GreenShoot Labs subsidiary. The startup is headed by former Thoughtonomy CEO Terry Walby, who sold his firm for $100 million in 2019. He officially co-founded OpenDialog with Thoughtonomy’s chief commercial officer Dean Chapman and Ronald Ashri, who led the development of OpenDialog’s technology. The co-founders paid $2.76 million in stock for all of GreenShoot Labs, with TPXimpacet stockholders anticipating a better return than keeping the startup in-house.
“OpenDialog will finally enable businesses and consumers to realize the game-changing potential of conversational AI – moving beyond the often painful experiences delivered by current chatbots and AI assistants,” Walby said. “The market has been crying out for a solution like this, one that not only drives real operational efficiencies but also enhances and joins up customer experience across a wide range of channels. We’ve brought together a highly experienced team that is incredibly excited about the potential of this technology, and this initial round of funding will enable us to quickly scale the business and build on the foundations that are already in place.”
The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the push for integrating AI into customer service and support. Demand for automating these interactions has flooded startups with investment capital. The $5 million is likely only the start for OpenDialog as enormous checks are regularly being given to others in the field. The range goes from e-commerce conversational AI startup Zowie’s recent $14 million and voice-based customer service AI developer Tenyx $15 million up to Observe.AI’s $125 million last month and the $400 million raised by Uniphore in February. Meanwhile, Gupshup has applied the $340 million raised last year and gone on a buying spree of conversational AI providers specializing in verticals like banking and e-commerce.
“Conversational AI is changing how humans use computer systems. For the last 40 years, the way people interact with machines has remained the same – a keyboard, a mouse and a screen. We have to understand how to use the machines in a way that fits into their very narrow and limited capabilities for interaction,” Ashri said. “But we’re turning this on its head, putting the onus on technology to understand humans. OpenDialog, through a novel combination of AI techniques, introduces a new approach for facilitating natural, context-rich conversations with machines and makes these capabilities easily accessible to all enterprises.”