involve.ai Story: From Idea to $16M Series A
involve.ai is one step closer to making our vision to create a more customer-centric world a reality.
Today, I am excited to share that we’ve raised $16M in a Series A financing round led by Cathy Gao at Sapphire Ventures, with participation from existing investors like Bonfire Ventures, Greycroft, Launch Capital, BDMI, and new investors like GTM Fund, Fenwick, Gokul Rajaram, Stanford University and Michael Whitmire. We want to welcome Cathy Gao to our board alongside Mark Mullen at Bonfire Ventures.
But before we discuss Series A, I am going to tell you a story...
Let’s Rewind to the Beginning
I grew up in the suburbs of New Delhi, India. We grew up poor. I lost my dad to cancer when I was two years old. My mom had to work extremely hard, day in and day out, to provide for my older brother and me.
Understanding my mother’s hardship, my brother and I wanted to help. We decided to start working at a really young age. But frankly, there’s only so much we could do as kids. We began by picking up several odd jobs. But from there, our strategy evolved to maximizing our effort by finding the job that would make us the most money.
That’s when I discovered coding and realized its massive potential in the world. I fell in love with it. I knew that coding was the path for me.
I started coding at 10 years old. Two years later, I built my first video game and never looked back.
High School Coding Class
I was 15 years old when I met my co-founder, Saumya, in a programming class. Mind you, this was a massive class with 160 students, but there were only 3 girls. Back then, programming wasn’t very popular for women. Saumya and I called ourselves “Class A nerds” because we were fighting for the front seat of the class. In hindsight, it didn't make either of us cool. But as you might have guessed, she always got the front seat!
Photo: Saumya (left), Gaurav (right)
Our first project solved the number one problem in India’s healthcare system, which was the lack of quality software that addressed the patient experience. We built a platform called ITI for radiologists to track their day-to-day activities, produce reports, and create a central database to track high-risk cases for lower-income families.
Saumya and I built and ran the company for five years with 40 employees. When I turned 21, we decided to sell it to another healthcare company. Customer Obsession was core to how we ran the company.
Why Did We Launch involve.ai?
We launched an employee volunteering and engagement platform in 2016. Users grew, and so did customers. We had nearly 440,000 users on the platform. However, churn became an issue for us. We were losing customers at 20% MoM and wanted to figure out why this was happening and how we could stop it.
To solve the issue, we built a simple version of a customer intelligence platform internally.
It was designed to unify key indicators for customer experience from product usage, support, and communication signals from our Salesforce, Snowflake, product backend, Zendesk, JIRA, Gmail, and Zoom platforms. These signals would then go through our python algorithms to predict top churn risks, revenue expansion opportunities, and tasks to improve the overall customer experience.
Our product didn’t just work; it worked well.
In fact, it’s a huge reason we were able to get through COVID. With COVID, the value of each customer became more critical than ever. So we gave our internal platform to 4 companies to try, and they couldn’t stop raving about it. One company reduced churn by 16% and added $400K expansion revenue in just two months.
That was our “aha!” moment.
Slack was a gaming company for many years before building a collaboration tool internally. If Slack could pivot, so could we. We knew we had built something to solve a problem many companies like ours were facing, and our product could have a massive impact on the world. So in 2020, just last year, we decided to launch involve.ai.
The Current Industry Problem
We are in the growing subscription economy, where driving net dollar retention (NDR) is becoming the new growth engine. NDR measures the changes in recurring revenue over time by analyzing the difference of upgrades, downgrades, and churn from the existing customer base. It is also important to measure for many product-led growth companies like Zoom and Slack. More importantly, a study cited by Sapphire Ventures shows that the NDR rate is highly correlated with company valuation. Companies with higher NDR receive higher valuation multiples. But how can you increase your NDR?
For many organizations, you are up for renewal with your customers regularly. There is a 50/50 chance that customers will leave for a different service in every renewal period--whether you delivered value or not. Especially in this highly competitive market, switching between cloud technologies has never been easier. Many market leaders began to invest in Customer Success to prevent churn and increase customer revenue, where Customer Success Managers are in charge of the customer lifecycle experience.
However, keeping track of each relationship becomes challenging as the company grows and the customer pool expands. CSMs have to navigate through many channels, gather information to paint a comprehensive view of the customer account, and deploy engagement strategies. Many software tools are siloed, and millions of unstructured data points don't get analyzed. Analyzing these signals at scale is impossible.
One common practice for customer teams is to track “health scores.” Yet, tedious data entry, complex analytics, and time-consuming interpretation processes make it impossible for them to calculate health scores accurately and efficiently. They frequently have to deal with highly messy and qualitative data that is dispersed across the organization. Frankly, customer teams have the least advanced tools in the market compared to all tools available for sales and marketing professionals.
We realized that companies must be proactive and data-driven to stay ahead of churn and expand revenue. With the involve.ai platform, companies can now automatically capture and analyze data for insights to predict potential customer issues and understand their growth potential.
The Number #1 Customer Intelligence Platform
We started involve.ai one year ago. Customer-centricity has always been key to the businesses that we’ve run. Our vision is to create a world where every company has access to the most accurate customer intelligence.
Why? So employees and leaders can transform their companies into customer-centric organizations. And have the tools to retain, grow, and delight their customers.
In a perfect world, customer intelligence will serve as a real source of truth for leaders to confidently and accurately make decisions instead of biased opinions and assumptions.
We developed CHIA, our most intuitive, automated, and actionable AI model, to address this need.
Photo: Early Warning Dashboard
CHIA helps businesses prevent churn and accelerate revenue growth, unlocking predictive customer intelligence from existing data. We trained our model on over 120 million data points, focusing on dispersed qualitative data (email, call notes, chat records, and more), which makes up the lion’s share of a company’s records.
As a result, our early warning dashboard has an average accuracy of 94% in predicting churn for customers while continuously improving and automating workflows and industry best practices.
For more detail and to see how it works, click here.
Looking Forward: $16M Series A Funding
Now, back to today’s news: Our $16 million Series A financing round.
Since we launched, we have grown 40% MoM and have added 22,000 users to the platform. Our goal is to get to 200,000 users by 2022. The new funding will enable us to fulfill strong market demand for our customer intelligence platform by investing heavily in our product, engineering, and AI teams. It will also accelerate our product roadmap to establish market leadership, expand go-to-market teams and improve customer experience.
Our growth is only possible thanks to the customers who have been with us throughout the journey, partners who believe in our mission and values, and the extraordinary team we have at involve.ai.
A Fantastic Team of Superstars
Our team has been growing exponentially over the past 8 months. We continue to seek amazing and talented people with a passion for customer-centricity to help build involve.ai.
Truthfully, I am very proud of the team we have here. Our engineers are some of the most talented big data and machine learning developers in the market. Our go-to-market team members are incredibly hardworking, product and customer-obsessed. And our product team has the most customer-centric and thoughtful individuals.
Photo: involve.ai Superstars
And to Mom
This is for you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything you have done.
The Future is Bright
By 2025, we strive to be the most highly trained, accurate, and automated customer intelligence platform on the market. We will continue to invest in building new features and enhancing the customer experience to the highest level. We will also invest in our people and provide them with the necessary tools and resources to grow personally and professionally.
Our 100-year goal is to become a generational company and create 1 million jobs for people to do their best work and support their families. We’re excited about what’s to come!
Also, check out our funding story on VentureBeat.