Canadian Conversational AI Design Tool Voiceflow Raises $20 Million In Series A
Canadian collaborative conversational AI tool Voiceflow announced today that it has raised $20 million in a Series A round led by Felicis Ventures. Other investors include Craft Ventures, True Ventures, Figma cofounder and Under 30 honoree Dylan Field, Ripple Ventures’s Matt Cohen, Conversation design leader Cathy Pearl, Eventbrite founders Julia & Kevin Hartz, Amazon’s Alexa Fund, and more.
Voiceflow’s cofounder and CEO Braden Ream says that they started the company as another company called Storyflow with the goal of creating their own conversational experience, targeting people’s assistants, and creating interesting games.
What they found out while creating these conversational apps was that it was very difficult to collaborate, as conversations are generally very nonlinear.
“They (conversations) are abstract, and they can branch into a bunch of different ways, so we found that a lot of the existing tools people in the industry were using like Word docs, Excel sheets or flowcharts, weren’t conducive and we felt like we were using this antiquated technology,” Ream says. “I you come from the visual design world you got great tools like Figma and Sketch and Photoshop, and meanwhile folks who were working on conversational AI were using Word docs.”
So, Ream and his cofounders decided to build their own internal tool so that the technical folks can work with the non-technical folks, essentially introducing UX to conversational AI, and not solely focusing on the technical elements.
“You can imagine the technology stack for conversational AI: you have your natural language processing and understanding, speech recognition, dialogue management, all these core infrastructure technologies,” Ream says. “Voiceflow works with all these underlying technologies to help orchestrate them, and provide easy to use visual platform that allows users to create great experiences and bundle all technologies together.”
Voiceflow is a SaaS platform offering three plans: free, pro, and enterprise. It currently counts 70,000 users (designers, developers and teams) ranging from individuals to companies like Spotify and US Bank. The revenue has grown 7x last year.
Prior to co-founding Voiceflow, Ream co-founded a social networking app called Flare which operated for three years prior to closing. However, during that time he met three classmates (all of whom had various startups) and all decided to drop out, join forces and start Voiceflow in 2019. The Toronto-based company, cofounded in 2019, currently counts 25 employees and had raised $3 million in seed.
Aydin Senkut, founder and Managing Partner at Felicis Ventures, who led the round says that his team was impressed with Ream right from the beginning, as in 10 minutes Ream built an interactive voice response system for Felicis.
“Investing in them was a no-brainer,” he says.
Senkut adds that he can’t imagine but every business at some point using a service like Voiceflow.
“We think that everything in the world will at some point have a voice interface, so a company that solves this problem for all the businesses that have to create this voice interface and AI would be extremely valuable,” Senkut says.
This article was written by Igor Bosilkovski for Forbes.