So much software is dedicated to helping businesses improve interactions online, whether it be aimed at sales, marketing or customer service.
But despite the prevalence of the internet and an increase in digital commerce, the fact remains that over 85% of commerce still happens offline in the United States.
Enter Rillavoice, a new startup with a niche focus: building speech analytics software for field sales teams who sell in person as opposed to via Zoom or over the phone. The company has just raised $3.7 million in seed funding in a round led by Crew Capital, an 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 declined to reveal hard figures. Interestingly, before even launching its software to the public, the startup received significant inbound from “very large” companies, which validated the need for the offering, he said.
“In May and June of 2020, we started getting some of the biggest companies in retail looking inbound on our site, including Fortune 500s and 50s,” Bienen recalls. “They would ask ‘Is this a real thing? How big are you guys?’ We were doing no marketing. But that [interest] told me we had something. And some of them are customers today.”
Due to competitive reasons, Rillavoice is reluctant to name many of its clients, but Bienen did share a few of its “dozens” of customers, including Window Nation, Rebath and Fortune 500 company Duke Energy. Its software is industry-agnostic and can be applied to a variety of industries, including home services, telecom, solar energy, pharma, insurance, CPG, payments and retail.
“Most sales people in America and around the world do not spend their days sitting in an office, talking to their customers on Zoom,” Bienen said. “They speak with their customers offline, face to face, in their businesses, in their homes, and in their stores…there are billions of face-to-face interactions every month.”
Rillavoice’s software works by allowing sales reps to record conversations with customers, automatically transcribing those conversations to text and then applying machine learning to gain insights that can be used to improve sales practices.” In simpler terms, the aim of the software is to analyze outside 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 sales reps or manually listening to recorded sales calls to provide feedback. Ultimately, the end goal is to help boost revenue for the company.
“The software offers 100 to 1000x more visibility and gives insights 100x faster,” Bienen said. “Our AI is basically doing the ride along for you.”
What gives Rillavoice’s software edge, according to Bienen, can be traced back to one of its co-founders, Michael Castellanos, who previously figured out 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 leverages “proprietary signal processing and natural language processing algorithms.”
“It’s really difficult to process audio in person at scale in an accurate way,” said Bienen. “Others who have tried just didn’t figure out the technical complexities.”
Rillavoice spent its early days building and iterating on its offering. It formally started selling its software in January, and is growing ARR by 30% to 50% monthly, according to Bienen. Other co-founders include Chris Martin and Lukasz Niepolski.
The company received significant interest from investors but ultimately agreed to Crew Capital leading its round mostly due to the fact that the team were operators themselves. It also was impressed with the level of due diligence that the venture firm’s team conducted.
“We talked to some other funds but Crew Capital were so number-driven. They called our customers and asked them the right questions. They really dug deep, and we actually learned a lot as founders, such as what numbers we needed to be tracking,” Bienen told TechCrunch.
For the unacquainted, UiPath is one of the leaders in the quickly growing robotic process automation (RPA) space. In early 2021, that company raised $750 million at a staggering $35 billion valuation.
“Rillavoice is transforming outside sales,” said Dylan Reider, partner at Crew Capital. “Many industries’ sales are predicated on reps engaging customers in the field, away from an office setting. Customers love Rillavoice’s mobile-first, user-friendly SaaS platform because it increases sales rep productivity, drives more revenue for the business, and increases managers’ coaching efficiency. At Crew Capital, we back founders with a bold vision to augment or completely reshape an industry through technology, and that is exactly what Rillavoice is doing in outside sales.”
The firm has quietly backed over 40 companies in the U.S., Europe and Latin America since it was founded two years ago. It started out as a vehicle for joint angel investing for the two general partners, who later brought in Reider to lead the investment team. It is completely separately from UiPath and its venture arm.
“Our model is that a founder has a high degree of flexibility similar to what you’d expect from an angel. We’re willing to either take board seats or target ownership percentages, but we call that flexibility with a really high degree of support,” Reider told TechCrunch. “We’re hands-on to the extent our founders want us to be.”
Check sizes tend to be in the low digit single millions of dollars, and the firm doesn’t typically lead investments but rather serves as more of a “strategic” investor.
Also participating in Rillavoice’s seed financing 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 to 5x its team of soon-to-be 18.
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