niki.ai, an artificial intelligence (AI) based chatbot, announced that Ratan N. Tata, Chairman Emeritus of Tata Sons, has invested in the company along with Ronnie Screwvala’s Unilazer that did a follow up round to their first seed investment. niki.ai leverages the technology of natural language processing and machine learning to converse with the customers over a simple chat interface, and places their orders within seconds with the partner businesses.
niki.ai was founded in April 2015 by four IIT Kharagpur Alumni – Sachin Jaiswal, Keshav Prawasi, Nitin Babel and Shishir Modi and has now grown to a 21 member strong team. Niki as a product has gone beyond search having built a stateful dialog manager, which remembers the context of the conversation to engage in a two way dialog with the user, thus helping them get things done. The company works on a channel partnership model and generates revenue for every order processed on its platform. It is now, also working with brands to provide them chatbots for their use case and application. Currently, Niki chatbot offers bill payments, cab booking, recharge, food ordering, home services, cricket scores with many more in pipeline.
The company had earlier raised a seed round from Unilazer Ventures, who participated again in this round. Ronnie Screwvala, founder of Unilazer said, “Chatbots have now picked up globally and Niki has been at the forefront of this innovation, building the technology for over a year now. We continue to support the team as we believe in their vision to simplify transactions for consumers.”
To enable these services, niki.ai has partnered with 25+ brands. The company has grown to a user base of 40,000 spread PAN India. Sachin Jaiswal, CEO of niki.ai, says “It’s a proud moment for the company to have an investment from Mr. Tata and for Unilazer to do a follow on round. The vision with Niki is to be the enabler for everything commerce, across platforms whether Android, iOs, Messaging or otherwise. With the continued support from our investors, Unilazer, we now want to expand aggressively across categories and facilitate more consumer delight.” Globally, chatbots have been much talked about in the recent weeks, with Facebook opening its Messenger platform for developers during the F8 conference. Microsoft, Slack, Telegram, Kik – all have opened their platforms to develop chatbots. It’s been considered the next leap in innovation as we move towards “bots as the new Apps”. Google too announced their own chat App Allo powered by machine learning capabilities being considered as their answer to Amazon’s Echo.
Two days back, Ratan Tata has also invested in the San Francisco based medical emergency response startup app company, MUrgency Inc., developing One Global Emergency Response Network.