People.ai, a startup that uses artificial intelligence to automate and speed up sales operations and customer relations, just raised another $60 million from investors including Andreessen Horowitz and ICONIQ Capital — the latter of which is perhaps best known as a wealth manager for Mark Zuckerberg.
ICONIQ led the Series C funding, which was announced Tuesday and comes just seven months after the startup raised $30 million in a round led by Andreessen Horowitz.
People.ai, which is based in San Francisco and has about 145 employees, lets businesses automate a big chunk of a sales process, including logging and organizing customer information.
Founder and CEO Oleg Rogynskyy said the idea for the company, which he launched in 2016, was based on the frustrations he went through as a software salesman.
Fixing sales inefficiencies
“I started my career as a salesperson so I experienced all the inefficiencies that salespeople are going through today,” he told Business Insider.
Before launching People.ai, Rogynskyy had led the sales team at data analytics company Lexalytics in Silicon Valley and Semantria in Montreal. He also served as vice president of marketing at H20.ai, an artificial intelligence startup.
He also worked in sales for a small content management company in Montreal where his team was ordered to manually insert data into the company system. That was one of the frustrating experiences that led him to launch People.ai, which he developed as a fellow at the famed startup accelerator Y Combinator, he said.
To put a finer point on it, most sales reps get to spend only 30% of their time with clients or would-be clients. They end up spending the other 70% on admin work, shifting through the customer relations management system and “trying to figure out what to do next,” he said.
He said People.ai’s technology dramatically reduces time spent on sales admin work, the equivalent of giving “every salesperson back one day a week on their calendar which is significant.”
AI that helps you find new opportunities
On Tuesday, the company also unveiled a new feature that takes its AI-powered platform to another level by giving sales teams actionable insights by crunching data from daily operations and activities, including email traffic, phone conversations or from collaboration tools, such as video-conferencing tool Zoom or the Slack work chat app.
“We provide the salesperson with intelligence, with the best action that can be taken next,” Rogynskyy told Business Insider. The feature, dubbed “the Wire,” serves as a “co-pilot” for a sales rep “whispering in your ear what’s around the curve,” he added.
For example, the People.ai system could flag that a client rep has changed jobs based on a new email signature, and send a message to a sales rep to reach out to that client rep to explore possible new deals.
People.ai says its AI platform, which counts Red Hat, Lyft and Splunk among its top customers, has processed 300 million sales activities and near 40 million contracts.
Peter Levine, general partner at Andreessen Horowitz, said the venture capital firm found People.ai’s technology “very compelling.”
“The notion of using existing data inside an enterprise for second-order benefit was an incredible insight that People.ai had,” he told Business Insider.
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