Why We Invested: Bonobo AI
Customers are talking to you. Are you listening?
Bonobo AI announced today that they have raised a $4.5M seed round led by us and Capri Ventures. The company — backed by industry veterans Don Duet (former Global Head of Technology at Goldman Sachs) and Alex Pinchev (former head of sales at Red Hat and Rackspace) — was founded in Tel Aviv, but is now in the process of shifting their go-to-market team in New York.
I visited Tel Aviv for the first time in April. The trip was centered around a board meeting for G20 portfolio company, Siemplify, but gave me a chance to meet with some of the local venture capital firms and entrepreneurs. The entrepreneurial energy in the city is striking and I left believing that the Siemplify model of a founding team in Israel with the CEO moving to Boston or NY to build the go-to-market team would likely prove to be attractive for additional G20 investments.
One entrepreneur, Efrat Rapoport, a Forbes 30 under 30 member, made a particularly strong impression during my trip, and I made a note to stay close to what she and her team at Bonobo AI were doing. In the months that followed, my partners and I had a chance to get to know the team and watch their progress. Along the way we’ve also developed a strong belief that conversational interfaces will continue to rise in importance as they provide the most natural form of engagement; expect to see more focus on that thesis from us.
Efrat and her team honed their skills in the elite Israeli intelligence forces, and have focused on the problem of deriving rich insights into customer behavior from unstructured data like voice and chat. The platform integrates with all of a company’s sources of customer interaction including voice, chat, email and video and uses AI algorithms to classify interactions into actionable buckets. For example, certain types of interactions might be indicative of churn risk or upsell opportunities. As organizations grow, it is near impossible for people to capture and identify these interactions at scale, but it is a problem well suited to AI/deep-learning algorithms
Bonobo AI’s conversational intelligence platform will allow company’s to effectively “listen” to what their customers are saying. In any business, nothing is more important than that.
Finally, I would add that we’re proud to have added our first female-led company to the portfolio, building on a process that began with our participation in the #StartWithEight program Mike wrote about a while back. A little effort to enlarge our network has payed off in many ways for us, and while we still have work to do here, it does feel like we’re now on the right track.
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