Sequoia Capital Leads US$12M Funding Round In Chinese AI Startup Recurrent.ai

Including the latest financing, the startup has raised over US$22 million to date

 

Chinese artificial intelligence (AI) startup Recurrent.ai, which provides AI-enabled corporate services to improve sales efficiency, has secured US$12 million in a new financing round led by Sequoia Capital China, the startup announced in a statement yesterday.

 

The round saw participation from Wanwu Capital and existing investor GSR Ventures, the statement noted. The startup also counts ZhenFund, one of the most prominent early-stage investment institutions in China, among its backers.

 

The startup had previously raised $10 million in its Series A funding round in September last year. With the fresh funds, Recurrent.ai‘s total capital exceeds $22 million.

 

The latest capital infusion will be dedicated to improving the startup’s product offerings through research and development, according to a report by Deal Street Asia.

 

Founded in 2017 by a team of AI experts, Recurrent.ai has dual headquarters in Beijing and Shanghai. The company offers an AI platform that leverages natural language processing (NLP) and deep learning technologies to analyze dialogues, provide accurate sales strategies with higher conversion rates, and increase sales efficiency to boost growth.

 

At present, Recurrent.ai has signed contracts with ZhongAn Insurance, Waterdrop, New Oriental Online, 51Talk, Ziru, and others in the fields of insurance, education and real estate, the statement noted.

 

Recurrent.ai‘s products support flexible deployment schemes such as localization, private cloud and public cloud, and follows the SaaS subscription fee model, the statement noted.

 

Recurrent.ai aims to extensively integrate online and offline sales scenarios to help more medium and large enterprise customers achieve sales efficiency and performance growth in the future, it added.

 

Challenges faced by medium and large enterprises in the sales process

 

According to the startup, digital transformation has increased the need for an efficient online sales process, especially when it comes to the sale of high value-added and complex products.

 

However, most front-line sales personnel lack professional communication skills and an effective response strategy, particularly when it comes to handling customer objections, leading to the loss of potential customers, the startup claims.

 

Moreover, it is difficult for sales managers to track the performance and improvement of their sales staff to determine the effectiveness and application of training in customer calls, the statement noted.

 

Most importantly, the difficulty and cost of obtaining new leads is on an upward trend while the conversion rate remains low, as companies lack the effective technical means to screen useful customer data to identify leads and increase conversion rate, said Recurrent.ai in the statement.

 

Additionally, when enterprise managers deploy AI systems, they often encounter problems such as difficulty in measuring input-output ratio and long return periods, the startup noted.

 

How Recurrent.ai solves the challenges

 

To solve these challenges, Recurrent.ai uses original NLP and deep learning technology to build an AI-based sales strategy generation and execution assistance system, that assists sales personnel in real time to improve their ability and professionalism in handling customer objections, the statement noted.

 

According to the startup, Recurrent.ai‘s system digs out key customer disagreements to prevent the loss of leads and potential customers owning to the failure of sales personnel to effectively address customer objections.

 

The system then mines best practices from massive benchmark sales communication data and provides real time assistance during sales communication between customers and sales staff, the statement said.

 

The startup claims that Recurrent.ai‘s ability to mine relevant data from huge databases, provide real-time transcribing capabilities with high-concurrency and low latency, and its understanding of the needs of frontline sales personnel, can help improve performance of the sales team.

 

Moreover, with its AI dialogue analysis, organizations can effectively manage their sales communication process, the startup says. Recurrent.ai records all communication between customers and sales personnel, allowing sales managers to understand if their sales staff have adopted the best practices, and how many customers were lost due to the failure to adopt best sales practices, the startup added.

 

According to Recurrent.ai, it can help companies efficiently identify hundreds of expressions with the same semantics, and conduct data mining and extraction for mass communication content, by leveraging its NLP and deep learning technologies.

 

Moreover, its AI system, records the result of sales communication of enterprises, that is, whether the conversations lead to a sale or not, to analyze the order rate for different response methods, and identify the best practices verified by the data, the startup said.

 

Besides, the business value created by the deployment of its AI system are easier to measure and provide faster returns than conventional AI systems in the market, the startup claims.

 

Additionally, Recurrent.ai also offers a set of forecasting solutions that can help companies screen out high-intention of purchase among customers, that can increase the conversion rate by two to three times, the startup claims.

 

Its forecasting solution analyzes past customer conversations and communication records with the use of NLP, unlike most other forecasting models that use customer behavior data, and helps companies improve sales efficiency and drive business growth, the startup noted.

 

Recurrent.ai‘s first deep learning model XLNet was penned by Recurrent.ai Co-founder and Head of AI and product Dr. Yang Zhilin and was jointly launched with Google AI and Carnegie Mellon University in 2019.

 

The model is currently used in 18 natural languages and ranked first among all NLP papers in the world last year, with over 1000+ citations, according to statistics from Google Scholars, the statement noted.

 

Commenting on the recent funding, Partner at Sequoia Capital China, Qingsheng Zheng said, “Founded by the top domestic AI team, Recurrent.ai is committed to improving corporate sales efficiency through voice recognition and natural language processing technologies.”

 

According to him, the startup analyzes unstructured voice and text data to quantify sales data, which not only improves sales efficiency, conversion rate and customer satisfaction, but also reversely guides the startup’s sales process to discover new opportunities.

 

He added that, the Recurrent.ai founding team “grasped the demands of business managers for the AI system, and at the same time, they were able to penetrate the work scenes of frontline salesmen, which is very rare for a young enterprise service company.”

 

According to Yutong Zhang, Partner at GSR Ventures, traditional SaaS only solves the problems of business processes and data access, and cannot directly quantify the value of reducing costs and increasing efficiency for enterprises.

 

On the other hand, Recurrent.ai‘s products are based on using AI to reshape everyone’s working methods, and truly increase productivity for the sales team, she added.

 

“The real-time speech assistant system launched by the company this year has effectively reduced the difference between new and old sales, making best practices and AI become the virtual coach of every employee, helping new employees to grow, iterate and surpass themselves smoothly,” Zhang added.

 

She also said, “As traffic and sales leads become scarce in the market, companies will turn to data-driven refined operations. We believe that products that effectively improve the conversion of the sales funnel will become a weapon for corporate sales management.”

 

Header image courtesy of Recurrent.ai

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