An exclusive look at AI Rudder, an 8-slide pitch deck voice assistant startup used to raise $50 million from investors including Tiger Global, Coatue and Sequoia.

  • AI Rudder provides an AI voice assistant to replace or complement human call agents.
  • The Singapore-based startup says the technology could support Southeast Asia’s digital economy boom.
  • An exclusive view of the decks used to raise funds from Tiger Global, Coatue, and Sequoia.

Singapore-based startup AI Rudder has raised a $50 million Series B funding round to supplement human customer service agents with artificial intelligence-enabled assistants.

Founded in 2019, AI Rudder’s AI technology aims to process and understand human language, also known as natural language processing. The software can be used by call centers to automate the handling of certain types of customer requests, co-founder Kun Wu told Insider.

Southeast Asia’s digital economy is booming. According to November, it is expected to be worth $1 trillion by 2030, up from $174 billion last year. report Powered by Google, Bain and Temasek Holdings in Singapore. According to the report, approximately 60 million new users adopted digital services during the pandemic, bringing the total number of Internet users in the region to 440 million.

At the same time, the call center was emptied due to lockdown. MIT Technology Review report.

All of this means that businesses, including online retailers, may not be prepared to handle the explosion of customer requests, Wu said.

“Many of these emerging businesses have very large customer bases to serve, and the traditional model of call centers will not be able to cope with such a large customer base,” he said.

Wu said he met co-founder Teng Ren while working for CooTek, a New York-listed Chinese mobile internet company for nearly 10 years.

Seeing the opportunity in speech and language processing, they decided to look to establish an artificial intelligence startup that sells software as a service, Wu said.

Wu and Ren visited Indonesia in mid-2019 to better understand the market, attracted by Southeast Asia’s large consumer population and diverse languages, Wu said.

Over the week, the co-founders saw how users flock to platforms like Shopee, Tokopedia, Traveloka, GoJek, and Grab for food delivery, online retail, and ride-hailing services. He also added that entrepreneurs have seen Indonesia’s myriad intonations and dialects make it difficult for these companies to provide the same level of service to their customers.

Wu and Ren started working on a prototype software that could talk to consumers “like real agents in a call center,” Wu said. The pair received $1 million in seed funding in early 2020. Then Ren becomes CEO of AI Rudder and Wu becomes Managing Director.

The startup has about 160 employees, supports more than 15 languages, and has more than 200 customers, Wu said. He added that most of his customers are financial institutions, and there are other customers in online retail, logistics and marketing as well.

AI Rudder closed its $50 million Series B round in March. In addition to major investors, Cathay Innovation, First Plus and VenturesLab joined as new entrants. Existing investors Sequoia Capital India and Huashan Capital also participated.

The startup plans to improve the technology behind its software and add more languages ​​to its database, Wu said. The fund also added that it will support the company’s expansion into the Asia Pacific region, along with plans to expand into Europe and North America in the future.

The company will also focus on engineering to bring algorithms to new platforms. Currently, AI Rudder is running chat bots on phone calls, websites and other social media sites, Wu said. Adding new channels like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger should give clients more options to communicate with them, he said.

One of the stakeholders AI Rudder will need to secure is the live agent itself. They have long feared their jobs will be completely replaced by artificial intelligence, a New York-based venture capital firm said in 2017 that could wipe out half of outsourced call center jobs due to automation, according to Bloomberg in 2017. report.

Wu said the company doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game, as companies can assign more routine tasks to artificial intelligence and chatbots in their call centers.

Check out the presentation below that AI Rudder used to raise $50 million for an AI-powered voice assistant algorithm.

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