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Slang. aian AI-powered telephone answering product for the restaurant industry founded by two former Spotify data scientists, has successfully closed a $12 million Series A funding round led by Hunter Walk and Satya Patel. Home brewwith additional backing from fellow VCs and celebrity restaurateur Tom Colicchio from Top boss fame.
The funding will support Slang.ai’s goals to equip restaurants and retailers with its AI generative voice products, enabling restaurants and hospitality groups to augment their responsiveness with artificial human-like voices that can help customers book reservations or answer common questions about menu items and opening hours.
“Everyone is frustrated with the experience of calling a company,” explained Alex Sambvani, CEO and co-founder of Slang.ai. “No one likes waiting on hold with a retailer to check the status of an order or calling their local restaurant to make a last-minute reservation and getting the call sent straight to voicemail. It doesn’t have to be like that. AI has the potential to fix this broken experience, and Slang AI is bringing AI to the phone.
Samvani and fellow Slang.ai co-founder and CTO Gabriel Duncan both worked at Spotify as data scientists, where they “discovered how powerful and beneficial an AI-powered phone concierge could be for the restaurant/hospitality industry.” according to a spokesperson for Slang.ai.
A toast from new and existing investors
The company’s Series A round attracted participation from several major investors, including Stage 2 Capital, Wing VC, Underscore VC, Active Capital and Collide Capital. Scott Belsky, founder of Behance, also joined the round.
Additionally, existing investors, including executives from leading tech companies like Snap and Zoom, have ramped up their previous backing for Slang.ai.
When asked about the specific AI models or technologies behind its product, the company declined to answer directly. However, Sambvani provided VentureBeat with an email response: “Specific details of our technology stack are confidential. Our AI engine is based on a range of different technologies. This ensemble approach allows us to leverage the strengths of each individual technology and is backed by a proprietary training dataset of millions of industry-specific live telephone conversations.”
Avoid the “robot hostage situation”
Slang.ai says its software is specifically designed for busy restaurants and retail businesses, and aims to eliminate the need for customers to wait on hold, leave voicemails, or get stuck in overly robotic pre-programmed phone trees.
“Calling a company shouldn’t feel like a robot hostage situation, where you’re forced to listen to horrible hold music and can never reach a human,” according to the company’s website. “By 2030, we will save businesses and consumers 1 billion minutes of valuable time while transforming branded voice experiences into the preferred mode of communication.”
Using Generative AI capabilities, Slang.ai streamlines the phone experience, automates common interactions, and improves customer service.
The firm also provides businesses with insight into their inbound calling patterns. By analyzing customer inquiry data, companies can find the best opportunities to re-engage customers and entice them to spend more.
Towards a promising start (er course)
Slang.ai has already taken hold in the restaurant and hospitality industry. The company has more than 200 customers to date, including well-known restaurants Slutty Vegan, Palm House Hospitality Group, STUDS, PLANTA, Hammitt and Nikki Beach Miami, and claims to have achieved 6x revenue growth over the prior year since 2022.
Anthony Drockton, Hammitt The co-founder and president said in a statement that Slang.ai has significantly improved customer interactions at his leather handbags and wallets business: “Slang.ai has been a game changer, helping us take calls and serve our customers more consistently than we could have with our team alone.
Benson Wang, CEO of Hospitality of the Palm Houseechoed that endorsement, saying, “Slang.ai has become an essential tool for our business. Our team is thrilled with how it has reduced disruption to phone calls while improving the overall experience for our guests. With the intentional use of artificial intelligence at our disposal, we have no plans to go back.”
Provide supporting data
Despite the widespread proliferation of restaurant-finding apps and sites, research from Slang.ai suggests that 60% of customers still prefer to call restaurants on the phone. By handling more than half of incoming calls without human intervention, the company enables businesses to capture potential revenue that would otherwise have been lost to voicemail
In a recent study, Slang.ai says it saved 648 hours of phone time for a group of six restaurants by successfully handling reservations and orders.
Paul Weinstein, senior director of restaurants at PLANT, shared his experience with Slang.ai: “The phone is a data-rich channel, but we had no way to access it before Slang.ai. We now categorically understand what our guests require and can adjust the AI verbiage to quickly meet guests’ needs.”
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