AI-driven customer insights: our investment in Thematic

Thematic Founders: Nathan Holmberg and Alyona Medelyan

by John Henderson

Customer centricity is the defining characteristic of successful modern businesses. The iconic companies of today and tomorrow agonise over creating a customer experience that consistently delivers on their brand promise.

In order to build an incredible customer experience, companies need to listen to feedback from their customers, and they need the ability to do so at scale. In the online world, various tools are available including passive (user journey tracking, analytics etc.) and active (customer surveys, NPS etc.) methodologies.

Actual, written customer feedback is the holy grail. It is your customers telling you, in their own words, how they feel about your product. However, interpreting, understanding and responding to such feedback is also extremely difficult at scale. Imagine you are Air New Zealand, Vodafone, The Manpower Group or Stripe, and receive hundreds of thousands of pieces of written feedback from your customers every month … how do you make sense of it all?

This is where Thematic comes in. Thematic applies cutting-edge natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning to interpret customer feedback at scale. The product takes raw customer survey responses, finds recurrent themes in them, correlates these themes to customer satisfaction and loyalty, and provides actionable insights. This gives businesses unprecedented understanding of their customers’ wants and needs.

I first met Alyona, Thematic’s Kiwi founder and CEO in San Francisco in February (thanks Adam for the intro!). We were two antipodeans a long way from home, and Alyona immediately caught my attention after off-handedly remarking that she could easily outperform the summarisation tech we built at my previous company, Summly. Having seen her PhD work in NLP and lexical chains, and followed Thematic’s progress for some months, I now believe her! (Note to founders: there is no better way to get an investor interested than showing them you’re a much better entrepreneur than they were!!)

Alyona and her husband and co-founder, Nathan, are exactly the kind of founders we love to back. They are super-smart, hard-working Kiwis from deeply technical backgrounds who have just the right mix of humility and ambition. I can’t wait to work with them as they deliver deeper customer insights to the world’s most important companies.

We’re delighted to be making another investment in New Zealand and leading Thematic’s seed round. 🚀