PolyAI, a London-based company that has built a platform for conversational artificial intelligence, announced it has raised $12 million in Series A funding. This round of funding was led by Point72 Ventures. Sands Capital Ventures, Amadeus Capital Partners, Passion Capital, and Entrepreneur First also participated in this round. Amadeus Capital Partners and Passion Capital were the lead investors in PolyAI’s $2.4 million seed round back in 2017.
“Developing sophisticated AI technology while formulating a compelling SaaS proposition is a significant challenge, and it has delayed the real-world deployment of conversational AI for far too long,” said CEO Nikola Mrkšić in a statement. “Attempts to bring modern AI to customer support have been largely unsuccessful – due to a lack of data and insufficient understanding of contact center operations. To make rapid progress, we plan to pursue very close integration with existing contact centers.”
Founded by Mrkšić, chief scientist Pei-Hao (Eddy) Su, and CTO Tsung-Hsien Wen (Shawn Wen), PolyAI powers conversational AI agents to guide users through complex customer support scenarios. And the agents are based on PolyAI’s proprietary machine learning and natural language processing technology — which allows them to scale seamless across different use cases and world languages.
“Our machine learning platform works to empower human agents, not replace them,” added Wen. “Our AI agents learn by listening to humans – then, they provide suggestions and improve through feedback. They can do many things that we as humans struggle with. They have instant access to all relevant information and can speak any world language. At peak times, they can handle calls autonomously if human agents are not available.”
PolyAI’s core team of scientists and engineers are from Cambridge’s Dialog Systems Group. Mrkšić was the first engineer at VocalIQ — which is a startup that developed proprietary software to improve dialogue interactions in voice-activated systems that were integrated into Siri after Apple acquired the company in 2015.
“We believe strongly in the potential for AI to transform existing industries by improving both customer satisfaction and workforce efficiency, and we’re thrilled to support PolyAI’s mission to build the world’s most advanced call centers,” explained Point72 Ventures partner Sri Chandrasekar. “Nikola, Shawn, and Eddy have put together an impressive team of builders and engineers at PolyAI who are poised to modernize this important aspect of customer service.”
PolyAI’s conversational AI agents are able to hold conversations without getting confused. And they are available 24/7 and can easily scale to support new cases and speak nearly any world language.
And Amadeus Capital Partners director Hermann Hauser pointed out that PolyAI identified a major market in need of intelligent automation. And he said that they have a deep knowledge of how “conversational AI can enhance human interaction and communication in order to transform the customer service experience.”