Zoom.ai secures $2.1 mln in EVP-led seed financing

Canadian chatbot startup Zoom.ai Inc has raised $2.1 million in a seed-stage financing. Ten venture capital firms and angel investors backed the round, including leader Extreme Venture Partners (EVP) as well as Betaworks NYCMaRS IAFGolden Triangle Angel Network, BDC Capital, Good News Venture PartnersTribalScale and others. Founded last year by CEO Roy Pereira, Toronto-based Zoom.ai has developed an automated virtual assistant that helps offload unimportant workplace tasks and increase productivity. The company will use the funds raised to expand its team to include sales, customer success, support and marketing.

Photo: Roy Pereira, Founder and CEO of Zoom.ai Inc.

BLOG POST (reproduced courtesy of Zoom.ai)

Zoom.ai Closes $2.1m in Seed Funding

Today, we are officially announcing our seed round of financing. Let me tell you the story…

After Zoom.ai graduated from Betawork’s #botcamp accelerator in New York in September 2016, we started getting inquiries about funding. We put an investor presentation together and started having “friendly” chats. While there were some investments into so-called “chat-bot” startups, there weren’t many and most VCs were taking a wait-and-see approach. They were all very interested to talk… and listen… and ask questions…Timing, in most things, is everything!

In the new year, we kept pitching and honing in our messaging. Our presentation was memorized and smooth. But our demo was killer!

We didn’t even get to the presentation at one pitch. The VC was so excited and had so many questions that we went straight into a demo to answer those questions. Extreme Venture Partners turned out to be our lead-investor.

Once Imran Bashir and his Extreme Venture Partners team were on-board, we set out to bring in other like-minded VCs that believed in our vision of a modern productive enterprise software environment.

John Borthwick at Betaworks quickly followed from their angel investment. John, Patrick, and Matt have been huge supporters of the Zoom.ai team and our mission since May 2016 when we first spoke. Attending their #botcamp was one of the best business decisions that I have done in my career as that allowed me to learn from them.

Scott Pelton and Alex Barcley from MaRS Investment Accelerator Fund came next with the conviction that the current enterprise software market was ready for a share-up and our A.I. and chat-based solution was part of that solution.

In total, the $2.1m funding raise came in from more than 10 investors.

Extreme Venture Partners
Betaworks NYC
Mars IaF
Golden Triangle Angel Network
Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC)
Good News Venture Partners
Reuven Cohen, Randy Clements, and Ted Graham

Why so many? Because like our diverse team at Zoom.ai, I believe that a diverse set of investors helps us get to our goal faster. In fact, we kept pushing out our closing date to accommodate interest from VCs and angels that we wanted to be part of our team.

These investors will assist us in getting to our target market of large enterprises, bring in the best talent, and help us when we go out for our next round of financing.

With the funding, we’ve started to expand the team to include sales, customer success, support and marketing. The goal is to successfully target the large enterprise market.

I’m a huge believer in a positive workplace environment and culture as well as nurturing the best talent and letting them reach for the sky. During our early months (we’ve only been around since Feb 2016), almost all investors and customers told me that our team was awesome. That is definitely one of the reasons why we were able to raise our funding.

Now, as we expand our team, I am focused on putting together not only the most talented people but also ensuring that our culture and the way that we work together remains the kind of place that we all want to work at. We work hard, play hard, and chill when we need to. Most of all we execute to impress the hell out of our customers. They alone matter.

I want to thank our early team (Andre, Faisal and Pouria), our newest team members (Juliano, Jesse, and Jordan) and those who helped along the way (Diego and Matt). We wouldn’t be here without you!

Also, a HUUGGE shout-out to the tech community in Toronto. I feel the love! Everyday I feel like I have a horseshoe (even though I don’t believe in luck). The Toronto tech community has helped with advise, networking, customers, awareness and general support. It takes a village to raise a startup. Toronto is where it is at right now and I feel extremely proud that we are part of its ascendance into greatness.

Our vision is that Zoom.ai should be the next Salesforce.com. No, we aren’t a CRM. But we are using a new User Interface to leverage our solution’s benefits.

In 2000, Salesforce.com told the world to stop installing CD-ROMs and instead just use the Web Browser. Was their CRM software better than the incumbents? Can you now name any of those CRM companies that came before sf.com? Right. That’s my point.

The new UI, the web browser, allowed sf.com to play on a new field; to play a different game than their competitors. In fact, there were really no competitors because none of them were on the browser and thus couldn’t offer the game-changing benefits that sf.com could. (but it needs to be mentioned that the major reason for sf.com’s success was their amazing sales execution)

Once sf.com had mastered the sales CRM market, they expanded to marketing and support, and then opened up to become a platform. Solidifying their dominant position in the enterprise marketplace.

Zoom.ai started with a vision that today’s office environments haven’t kept up with the requirements of employees’ preferred work methods.

Instead of each new online application increasing an employee’s productivity, they now steal minutes away each day. While each of these tools may have created a productivity boom when there was just a handful of them, the typical corporate employee now has more than 20 such applications that need need to used on a weekly basis. Add up all of the wasted time on these apps and you get a very disgruntled employee since they feel that they do not have enough time during their work day to actually do what they are being paid to do.

Not to mention that the typical office tech-stack is out-dated and will not be updated any time soon. How can enterprises retain millennials, or anyone under 35 when their “on-prem” enterprise solutions look like nothing that their employees use in their regular day outside of work?

Zoom.ai’s conversational user interface ties into the enterprise’s existing tech-stack and allows the employees to automate their repetitive low-value tasks.

To do so, we incorporate machine learning to “read between the lines” of what the employees wants and natural language processing to allow the employees to interact in a natural manner without the need of further training. Chat also allows us to operate in the preferred UI of most employees; their chat client. No context-switching to email or the browser needed. And no special app to install since Zoom.ai support 15+ existing chat clients.

Zoom.ai is revolutionizing the way that employees work inside of the enterprise. Not just calendaring, not just information retrieval, not just document management, but all of the low-value tasks for an employee’s workday so that they can actually execute on what they are there for.

We have much, much more to do. I’m super excited as the opportunity to shake up a massive industry doesn’t come too often and Zoom.ai is our rocket ship to do it.

Roy Pereira, CEO, Zoom.ai Inc

Photo courtesy of Zoom.ai Inc