Bengaluru-based deeptech startup Agara Labs has raised $2.5 Mn in a pre-Series A funding round from venture capital firm Blume Ventures and Russian VC fund, RTP Global.
Coming out of stealth mode, the company said it will use the funds to continue its product development and establish a sales team in North America. It is also planning to acquire high-performance computing machines to strengthen its product development.
Prior to this round, the company raised an undisclosed seed funding round from US-based VC firm Kleiner Perkins in 2017.
Founded in 2017 by Abhimanyu Singh, Pankaj Gupta and Arjun Maheswaran, Agara Labs is an end-to-end system of engagement for large enterprises. It automates customer support operations by training sophisticated deep learning models on over 10 Mn historical customer support queries and other proprietary data sources.
Agara has launched its flagship product Sia which is a fully autonomous phone support agent. Sia can directly field calls with customers and handle their problems just the way a human agent would. The AI-based product understands everything the customer says, processes it in real-time and responds to them in natural language.
The company also operates BlueDot which is an autonomous email support agent. It can understand, auto-classify, extract important information and respond to the customer with or without assistance from a human agent.
A team of 18 people is catering to US-based consumer goods firms such as Procter & Gamble and other consumer firms, and currently powers all of their email support in North America and the United Kingdom.
Sanjay Nath, managing partner, Blume Ventures, said, “Agara Labs’ seasoned technical team, focus on deep tech for global markets fits in well with our new fund’s focus areas. They have created competitive technology from an India based team, targeted at a demanding global audience of Fortune 500 enterprises.”
Challenges Of Deeptech Startups
According to The State Of The Indian Startup Ecosystem 2018 report by Inc42, India ranked third in the global AI ecosystem, with deeptech startups bagging 5% of the total funding in 2017. At the same time, the increasing shutdowns in the sector are a matter of concern. Inc42’s Ecosystem report noted that so far the deeptech segment has seen 74 shutdowns, most of them due to a dearth of funding.
In a recent analysis, Inc42 DataLabs noted that slow growth of India’s deeptech sector is primarily due to the lack of monitoring and regulation, which leads to poor or failed execution of the government schemes. Some of the other reasons include lack of high-skilled workforce, low-level readiness of the Indian public towards technology and more.
In the first quarter of 2019, the deeptech sector recorded a total investment of $9.58 Mn, a mere 1% compared to ecommerce, which received $958 Mn. In fact, the deeptech was the only startup sector in India to receive lower funding than the quarterly average.
With the support of investors to grow the skills and technology in the segment, startups like Agara Labs have a long way to go for their growth.