SmartAssist.io is a Seattle-based company offering an artificial intelligence powered service for customer support. They have recently announced raising $5 million in Series A financing by Madrona Venture Group.
As a part of the financing deal, Managing Director S. Somasegar of Madrona Venture Group will be joining the board at SmartAssist.io. In addition, Jeff Erhardt and Amit Mitall, from GE Digital and Kernel labs will join the board at the company.
Madrona Venture Group
Seattle-based Madrona Venture Group is a venture capital firm that invest in early stage technology companies that are located in the Pacific Northwest. It invests across the information technology spectrum, including wireless, networking and infrastructure, digital media and advertising, commercial software and services, and consumer Internet. The firm manages about $1 billion and was an early investor in Amazon.com, Farecast, Isilon Systems, iConclude, and World Wide Packets, among others.
In November of 2015, GE acquired startup Wise.io in order to improve its machine learning ability. Wise.io’s main product focused on helping companies manage their customer service requests. GE has now used Wise.io in this new company, SmartAssist.io, which will be used to expand work and service with existing customers who include MailChimp, Twilio, Zenefits, Zendesk, and more.
“SmartAssist was born out of the successful acquisition of Wise.io,” Pat Patnode, president of licensing and technology ventures at GE Ventures, said in a statement. “We recognized that the technology had great applications in areas that went beyond GE’s core industrial market strategy. Through GE Ventures’ Licensing team, we were able to incubate and spin out an innovative AI service company, with incredible technology and a very knowledgeable team.”
SmartAssist uses its artificial intelligence technology to route service requests to the correct human agents. In many cases, the service can actually respond automatically based on the ticket attributes and the company’s routing rules, which can be set individually. As with other machine learning systems, SmartAssist requires large amounts of data. The service works best for companies that have at least 10,000 tickets a month.
“We use a set of sophisticated NLP algorithms that read and understand all the interactions from past tickets between the customer support agent and the customer,” Rathinam, CEO of the company, said. “Once implemented, SmartAssist enables a business to automatically respond to simple known issues and more importantly assist the agents with the top three recommended responses to specific questions.”
“Applying ML/AI to intelligently automate use cases and workflows in enterprises is an area where we see a tremendous amount of opportunity and some of our recent investments reflect that investment thesis,” Madrona’s Somasegar wrote in an announcement. “As we think about beachhead use cases of ML/AI within enterprises, customer support stands out as one of the most tangible areas that could be fundamentally disrupted through technology.”
The team at SmartAssist plans to expand its service offerings to support chat-based customer service systems, which are becoming more and more common. The small ten-person company will also use the funds to hire more employees, expecting to have 25 employees by 2018.