There is so much software dedicated to helping businesses improve online interactions, whether it’s sales, marketing, or customer service.
But despite the rise of the internet and an increase in digital commerce, the fact remains that more than 85% of commerce still happens offline in the United States.
Enter Rilla voice, a new startup with a niche focus: building voice analytics software for field sales teams that sell in person rather than via Zoom or over the phone. The company just raised $3.7 million in seed funding in a round led by Crew capitalan under-the-radar venture firm co-founded by UiPath co-founder and co-CEO Daniel Dines and UiPath chief strategy officer Brandon Deer.
In its first year of sales, New York-based Rillavoice has grown to seven figures of annual recurring revenue and is “cash flow positive,” according to co-founder and CEO Sebastian Jimenez Bienen, who refused to reveal hard numbers. Interestingly, before even launching its software to the public, the startup received significant incoming revenue from “very large” companies, confirming the need for the offering, he said.
“In May and June 2020, we started having some of the largest retail companies look at our site, including Fortune 500s and 50s,” recalled Bienen. “They’d ask ‘Is this real? How tall are you?’ We didn’t do marketing, but that [interest] told me we had something. And some of them are customers today.”
For competitive reasons, Rillavoice is reluctant to name many of its clients, but Bienen did share some of his “dozens” of clients, including Window Nation, Rebath, and Fortune 500 company Duke Energy. The software is industry agnostic and can be applied to a variety of industries including home services, telecom, solar, pharma, insurance, CPG, payments and retail.
“Most salespeople in America and around the world don’t spend their days in the office talking to their customers over Zoom,” Bienen said. “They speak to their customers offline, face-to-face, in their businesses, at home and in their stores…there are billions of face-to-face interactions per month.”
Rillavoice’s software works by enabling salespeople to record conversations with customers, automatically transcribe those conversations to text, and then apply machine learning to gain insights that can be used to improve sales practices.” In simpler terms, the goal of the software is to analyze remote sales teams’ conversations with customers, understand what they say and how they say it, and generate insights for managers.
That collection and analysis of data serves a few other purposes: to save time on the part of sales managers, who often spend many hours shadowing salespeople or manually listening to recorded sales calls to provide feedback. Ultimately, the ultimate goal is to help increase sales for the company.
“The software offers 100 to 1000x more visibility and provides insights 100x faster,” says Bienen. “Our AI basically does the ride for you.”
What gives Rillavoice’s software an edge can be traced back to one of the co-founders, Bienen, Michael Castellanos, who previously devised a way to better predict autism by the sound of children’s voices. In doing so, Castellanos became “obsessed” with artificial intelligence. That ability to apply deep learning to analyze sound has been the foundation of Rillavoice’s software, which the company says uses “proprietary signal processing and natural language processing algorithms.”
“It’s very difficult to accurately process audio at scale personally,” says Bienen. “Others who have tried it didn’t understand the technical complexity.”
Rillavoice spent its early days building and iterating on its offerings. It formally started selling its software in January, and according to Bienen, its ARR is growing 30% to 50% monthly. Other co-founders include Chris Martin and Lukasz Niepolski.
The company received significant investor interest, but eventually agreed to allow Crew Capital to lead the round, mainly due to the fact that the team themselves were operators. It was also impressed with the level of due diligence carried out by the venture firm’s team.
“We talked to a number of other funds, but Crew Capital was so numerical. They called our customers and asked them the right questions. They really dug deep and we actually learned a lot as founders, like what numbers to follow,” Bienen told australiabusinessblog.com.
For the unknown, UiPath is one of the leaders in fast-growing Robotic Process Automation (RPA). That company will come in early 2021 Raised $750 million at a staggering $35 billion valuation.
“Rillavoice is transforming outside sales,” said Dylan Reider, partner at Crew Capital. “Sales in many industries are based on sales reps engaging customers in the field, outside of an office environment. Customers love Rillavoice’s mobile-first, easy-to-use SaaS platform because it increases sales rep productivity, generates more revenue for the company, and increases manager coaching efficiency. At Crew Capital, we support founders with a bold vision to enlarge or completely reshape an industry through technology, which is exactly what Rillavoice does in outside sales.”
The company has quietly supported more than 40 companies in the US, Europe and Latin America since its inception two years ago. It began as a joint angel investment vehicle for the two general partners, who later brought in Reider to lead the investment team. It is completely separate from UiPath and its venture arm.
“Our model is that a founder has a high degree of flexibility, similar to what you would expect from an angel. We are willing to take board seats or target ownership percentages, but we call that flexibility with a very high level of support,” Reider told australiabusinessblog.com. “We’re hands-on as far as our founders want us to be.”
Check sizes are usually in the low numbers of several million dollars, and the company typically does not lead investments, but rather acts as a more “strategic” investor.
Also participating in Rillavoice’s seed funding are Entrepreneurs Roundtable Fund, Jason Calacanis’s Launch Fund, Broom Ventures, Comma Capital and the NYU Innovation Venture Fund.
Rillavoice plans to use its new capital primarily for 5x its team of 10.
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