Startup Pyxis One today announced that it raised $17 million in series B funding, bringing its total raised to date to $24 million. The company says it plans to use the funds to support the growth of its data science team, continue to advance its AI models, and further expand into the U.S. market.Read More
It announced $4 million in Series A funding, led by Inventus Capital India, and included existing investors Unicorn India Ventures, IAN Fund and Salamander Excubator Angel Fund, as well as individual investment from Jiffy.ai CEO Babu Sivadasan. In total, the company raised $4.6 million, co-founder Shameel Abdulla told TechCrunch.Read More
Customer data analysis startup Pyxis One today announced that it raised $17 million in series B funding, bringing its total raised to date to $24 million. The company says it plans to use the funds to support the growth of its data science team, continue to advance its AI models, and further expand into the U.S. market.Read More
Cresta, the Real-Time Expertise AI provider to the enterprise, announced the addition of seasoned technologist Ping Wu to its team as vice president of engineering and product. In this role, Wu will bring industry-leading experience building artificial intelligence solutions to the company as it enables Fortune 500 customers from Intuit to Cox Communications to transform contact centers from cost centers into value centers. Wu will execute on Cresta’s technology vision, contribute high-caliber AI experience, and build the company’s team of technical expertise to scale Cresta’s AI technology to support its rapidly-growing customer base.Read More
Uizard, a startup developing tools to transform UI images into code for building apps and websites, today announced that it raised $15 million in funding from Insight Partners with participation from Mariano Suarez-Battan, byFounders, LDV Capital, and av8 Ventures. According to CEO Mariano Suarez-Battan, the proceeds will be used to grow Uizard’s marketing and commercial teams and hire new talent globally, with a focus on Europe.Read More
Upscribe founder and CEO Dileepan Siva watched the retail industry make a massive shift to subscription e-commerce for physical products over the past decade, and decided to get in it himself in 2019.
The Los Angeles-based company, developing subscription software for direct-to-consumer e-commerce merchants, is Siva’s fourth startup experience and first time as founder. He closed a $4 million seed round to go after two macro trends he is seeing: buying physical products, like consumer-packaged goods, on a recurring basis, and new industries offering subscriptions, like car and fashion companies.
Merchants use Upscribe’s technology to drive subscriber growth, reduce churn and enable their customers to personalize a subscription experience, like skipping shipments, swapping out products and changing the order frequency. Brands can also feature products for upsell purposes throughout the subscriber lifecycle, from checkout to post-purchase.
Upscribe also offers APIs for merchants to integrate tools like Klaviyo, Segment and Shopify — a new subscription offering for checkouts.
Uncork Capital led the seed round and was joined by Leaders Fund, The House Fund, Roach Capitals’ Fahd Ananta and Shippo CEO Laura Behrens Wu.
“As the market for D2C subscriptions booms, there is a need for subscription-first brands to grow and scale their businesses,” said Jeff Clavier, founder and managing partner of Uncork Capital, in a written statement. “We have spent a long time in the e-commerce space, working with D2C brands and companies who are solving common industry pain points, and Upscribe’s merchant-centric approach raised the bar for subscription services, addressing the friction in customer experiences and enabling merchants to engage subscribers and scale recurring revenue growth.”
Siva bootstrapped the company, but decided to go after venture capital dollars when Upscribe wanted to create a more merchant-centric approach, which required scaling with a bigger team. The “real gems are in the data layer and how to make the experience exceptional,” he added.
The company is growing 43% quarter over quarter and is close to profitable, with much of its business stemming from referrals, Siva said. It is already working with customers like Athletic Greens, Four Sigmatic and True Botanicals and across multiple verticals, including food and beverage, health and wellness, beauty and cosmetics and home care.
The new funding will be used to “capture the next wave of brands that are going to grow,” he added. Siva cites the growth will come as the DTC subscription market is forecasted to reach $478 billion by 2025, and 75% of those brands are expected to offer subscriptions in the next two years. As such, the majority of the funding will be used to bring on more employees, especially in the product, customer success and go-to-market functions.
Though there is competition in the space, many of those are focused on processing transactions, while Siva said Upscribe’s approach is customer relationships. The cost of acquiring new customers is going up, and subscription services will be the key to converting one-time buyers into loyal customers.
“It is really about customer relationships and the ongoing engagement between merchants and subscribers,” he added. “We are in a different world now. The first wave could play the Facebook game, advertising on social media with super low acquisition and scale. That is no longer the case anymore.”
FullStory, a customer experience analytics company, today announced it has closed a $103 million series D round led by Permira, Kleiner Perkins, GV, Salesforce Ventures, and others. The startup says the new capital, which brings its valuation to $1.8 billion and total funding to $170 million, will be used to expand its business internationally and enhance its digital experience observability platform.Read More
Conversational AI platform provider Yellow.ai today announced the close of an over $78.15 million series C round led by Sapphire Ventures, Salesforce Ventures, and Lightspeed, bringing the company’s total funding to more than $110.5 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.Read More
For any business, putting in efforts to develop, market and sell a good product or a service is only half the battle won. You could have the most innovative marketing campaign, amazing product experience but if you fail to provide strong customer service, you have lost a potential customer. Why is customer service important?Read More
Businesses now realize the need for a customer-centric approach to transforming their customer experience (CX). According to the Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report 2021, 75 percent of company leaders agreed that the global pandemic accelerated the acquisition of new technologies to get customer-centricity right. But, there are challenges too.Read More
Dixa, a startup developing conversational customer engagement software, today announced that it raised $105 million in a series C funding round led by General Atlantic, with participation from Notion Capital and Project A. CEO Mads Fosselius says that the proceeds will be put toward product development, new acquisitions following Dixa’s purchase of Melbourne-based Elevio in January, and quadrupling Dixa’s engineering team by the end of 2022.Read More
Consolidation is continuing in the customer experience (CX) industry with acquisitions focusing in one area in particular: companies specializing in artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities. TELUS International acquired Playment on July 6, shortly after its acquisition of Lionbridge AI in March. NICE snapped up privately held ContentEngine in July, which came soon after its April acquisition of MindTouch to expand its CXone offering. “Our recent acquisitions of ContactEngine and MindTouch, plus our native Enlighten AI and data lake investments, puts NICE CXone in the unique position to cover 100% of customer need events through the addition of proactive outbound, intelligent self-service, and self-learning AI to make better bots faster,” said Chris Bauserman, NICE CXone vice president of marketing, in a prepared statement. TELUS International president and CEO Jeff Puritt offered a similar sentiment around his company’s purchases in a prepared statement.Customer Experience M&A Is Sending a Clear Message “There’s been a spate of acquisitions of AI developers by CX vendors, and I believe there are clear messages to read there,” said Marshall Lager, a Chicago-based CRM industry analyst. “First, customer experience is where the big work is being done in the CRM world now. Second, artificial intelligence is currently the best way for vendors to enhance their offerings, whether it’s something that customers will see or not. Lastly, I think generalist vendors are at the end of what they can do to develop AI, and there will be more acquisitions of specialists in the near future. The end result we can expect is CX tech that is more flexible and scales even better.” “Recent mergers and acquisitions in the digital CX business suggests that customer-centric companies are seeking to improve the automation in their first line of customer interactions,” added Vivek Astvansh, assistant professor of marketing at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business. “This realization leverages the emergence of machine learning and conversational artificial intelligence. Feeding this M&A are technology startups that are developing proprietary machine learning programs that train themselves using the voluminous and fast-changing data that a company has about each customer.” John Talbott, director of the Center on Education and Research in Retailing at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business, agreed. “Over the last several years a myriad of new companies have emerged in the CX space supported by early-stage capital and often focused on some subset of the overall customer journey. Many are attempting to apply ML and AI processes to better understand customers and also enable predictive analytics. I think we are now in the second stage of this wave which is being dominated by failure or acquisition.”Related Article: What’s Behind Sitecore’s Avalanche of Acquisitions in 2021?Relevancy and Acqui-hiring: 2 Drivers of Acquisition Momentum Another part of this merger process is that larger and more well-capitalized firms are insuring their continued relevancy by acquiring new technology and methodology expertise by acquisition rather than hiring, according to Talbott. “The term Acqui-hire has been thrown around and certain big tech firms in the social space have been doing this for years. It’s difficult to know which of the myriad of innovations will be the next big thing so more established CX firms try to keep their perspective fresh by buying new intellectual horsepower.” Another driver for this M&A activity is the the CX consulting business is very strong, Talbott added. “Retailers and forward-facing entities of all types have realized post pandemic that they must change the physical experience and seamlessly integrate it to the digital experience. Apps which for many companies were languishing and did little other than provide a small screen engagement mechanism for their e-com site. The deployment of a user friendly integrated and highly function app is challenging and expensive another area for CX consulting to find engagement opportunities.” Drilling deeper into the most recent M&A activity, Lager added: “NICE Systems has been making significant, if usually fairly quiet, advances in the use of AI in the contact center. CXone SmartReach is not one of those quiet ones. It’s a clear new footprint, a statement that this is how it’s going to conceptualize and build its solutions going forward. ContactEngine’s AI, which powers SmartReach, is a good example of using the AI as a platform to support varied processes and applications together.” The TELUS International—Playment deal provides TELUS with vision systems and data annotation are critically important for any development of AI systems, Lager said. Adding Playment’s capabilities to its own expertise will give TELUS more tools to continue innovating in this field.A Cautionary Note: AI and ML Aren’t a Magic Wand Astvansh cautioned that companies looking to optimize digital CX could fall into the trap of romanticizing machine learning and AI. “While statistics is the base of machine learning, and computer science the foundation for developing scalable programs that can implement machine learning algorithms, both statistics and computer science are the means to an end,” Astvansh explained. “The end is to offer a superior customer experience, which in turn must lower a company’s costs and raise its sales.” He added that multidisciplinary startups must consider hiring not only statisticians and computer scientists but also linguists, voice analysts, psychologists, economists and marketers. Multidisciplinary teams can prevent the data scientists-led startups from viewing AI as an end in itself and instead measure how well the AI is lowering costs and raising sales for the client organizations.
Phil Britt is a veteran journalist who has spent the last 40 years working with newspapers, magazines and websites covering marketing, business, technology, financial services and a variety of other topics.He has operated his own editorial services firm, S&P Enterprises, Inc., since the end of 1993.
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