Lightspeed’s investment in Thena.ai
powering the next generation of customer engagement
Today we are pleased to announce our seed investment in Thena.ai— a company that helps acquire, service and grow customers on business engagement platforms such as Slack and Teams. There is a recent wave of modern B2B organizations shifting customer management completely to Slack. However, as the number of customers grows, managing support tickets, product feature requests, feedback, etc, all over Slack/Teams becomes challenging and requires new tools. This is where Thena comes in.
Our investment thesis in Thena, first and foremost, starts with the team. This is a world-class team. Mike was the co-founder of Branch and helped take it from 0 →$100M ARR. He comes in as the operational ninja who is just relentless in chasing targets. Together with Govind who was called “ a bulldozer” by the CEO of Branch, this team is as customer-obsessed as they come. Unmukt was the Chief Data Architect at Goldman Sachs before leading the AI/ML team at JP Morgan and is already bringing in some of the best generative-AI first ideas into Thena. And finally, Ankit brings it all together as the CEO with a strategic vision across product and engineering, and fantastic experiences building and managing teams globally at Branch.
Second, there is a “slackification of work” going on where older systems of records such as Salesforce and Jira are serving as the backends while systems of engagement such as Slack and Teams are becoming primary platforms where work happens. Salesforce acquisition of Slack has accelerated this trend. Customer communication is a massive category undergoing this very shift, further accelerated by covid. Slack Connect had ~100K enterprise customers in mid-’22 (50% of all Slack users) and is growing faster than Slack. Several of our portcos use Slack Connect as part of their GTM motion and emerging case studies (1, 2, 3, 4) indicate higher conversion/retention when customers are engaged real-time over Connect vs email/Jira. In response, MSFT also launched their version of Teams Connect in Jul ’22.
And finally, customer support and engagement is one of the oldest and largest TAM in SaaS that is ripe for automation-led disruption. Gartner estimates the global spending on RPA (simple if-this-then-that automation) alone to reach $2.4B in 2022 (pre-covid estimates), growing at a 37% CAGR. Automation is growing in importance with over 85% of large and very large organizations having deployed some form of RPA by 2022 representing a total of $13–15B TAM upside if you crack complex forms of automation across mid-market and Fortune-2000. The reasoning capabilities of generative AI are a perfect fit for this category. Bringing in state-of-the-art automation, AI-first approaches to summarizing customer sentiment and solving their pain points, and de-fragmenting workflows into a single channel like Slack where everyone already sits 24x7 is key to unlocking this potential.
We first met the Thena team a year ago and tracked them as they built out a fantastic product and team. Over the last year, the team grew steadily, Ankit and Govind started to split time between India and SF, Mike joined soon after, while Unmukt built out the tech and product team from India — a combination we see in a lot of SaaS companies from this part of the world. Thena began commercializing earlier in 2023 and saw some tremendous traction and very positive feedback from high quality customers such as Incident.io, Mixpanel, Branch, Sprig, Guru, BoostUp and 50+ more!
Thena’s product is built as a simple slack integration that customers can get on-boarded to in minutes. The platform enables companies to manage their customer channels at scale by keeping track of incoming customer requests from Slack, gain visibility into customer interactions, and connect those channels to other systems like Zendesk and Salesforce. Thena is also using generative AI in some very interesting ways to auto-answer a variety of customer queries with an internal knowledge base. Since all of our customers use Thena to service their existing users, many of our customers are also using Thena as their primary marketing channels instead of emails. All of these fragmented workstreams are then brought together on a simple, elegant dashboard for the leadership team to survey.
An engaged customer is a recurring customer. An engaged customer is an expandable customer. An engaged customer is a champion of the product to other prospects. Customer experience needs an overhaul. As the median age group of software buyers reduces, the expectations are that of a modern, elegant, easy and conversational way to ask questions, get support, provide feedback, receive product and marketing updates, and so much more. With recent advances in generative AI, the entire category for end to end customer experience is ready for an overhaul with completely new thinking and meeting customers where they want to be served. Thena is at the forefront of this tectonic shift and we are excited to partner with this team alongside our friends at First Round and Pear VC.
— Hemant Mohapatra, Manjot Pahwa, Rikkin Majani
About Lightspeed: Lightspeed is a multi-stage venture capital firm focused on accelerating disruptive innovations and trends in the Enterprise, Consumer, Health, and Fintech sectors. Over the past two decades, the Lightspeed team has backed hundreds of entrepreneurs and helped build more than 500 companies globally including Affirm, Carta, Cato Networks, Epic Games, Faire, Forty Seven, Guardant Health, Mulesoft, Netskope, Nutanix, Rubrik, Sharechat, Snap, TripActions, Udaan, Ultima Genomics and more. Lightspeed and its global team currently manage $18 billion across the Lightspeed platform, with investment professionals and advisors in the U.S., China, Europe, India, Israel, and South East Asia. www.lsip.com