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GE's AI CX Spinoff Raises $5M

August 10, 2017

GE has spun off the customer service machine learning company it bought late last year. The new entity is called And last week the former announced it has raised $5 million.

Madrona Venture Group of Seattle was the sole investor in the Series A round. The VC’s managing partner S. “Soma” Somasegar gets a board seat as part of the deal.

He’s a former Microsoft executive vice president. SmartAssist’s chief executive is also a former Microsoft guy.

SmartAssist CEO Pradeep Rathinam most recently served as CEO of IT company Aditi Technologies. There, he grew the company and executed a successful sale to Symphony Teleca and Harman International. Prior to his work at Aditi, Rathinam spent 12 years at Microsoft.

Prashant Luthra is SmartAssist’s founder and CTO. During his more than 20 years in tech, he also helped establish and served as CTO at TalentWise. That’s a human resources software company that Sterling Talent Solutions bought last year.

Aswin Natarajan is vice president of engineering at SmartAssist. He also heads up the company’s product and engineering team in India. He formerly played a similar role at e-commerce startup Jumbotail out of India. Prior to that, he was the leader of a machine learning engineering team in Bangalore at Amazon.

In a July 25 blog Rathinam explained that SmartAssist uses AI algorithms to:

  • scan incoming tickets,
  • analyze the language,
  • review past customer interactions,
  • select the most appropriate available representative to handle the request,
  • offer suggested responses pulled from an approved database, and
  • provide automated responses without transferring to an agent for repetitive questions.

“This powerful solution uses AI (which only grows more effective the more it’s used) to achieve instant prioritization and split-second routing, and shortens the CSR’s learning curve on each ticket by pre-scanning the contents and suggesting appropriate responses based on past interactions,” he wrote. (CSR stands for customer representative. It’s another name for a call center or contact center employee.)

“In practice, SmartAssist results in dramatically faster turnaround times for support tickets without ever losing that vital human touch that only a flesh-and-blood CSR can bring to the customer support experience. Even at volumes exceeding one million tickets per month, the SmartAssist solution keeps a streamlined customer support team humming along at maximum efficiency day in and day out.”

The company’s customers include Groupon, Gusto, MailChimp, Republic Wireless, Thumbtack, Twilio, and others.

Edited by Alicia Young