RedRoute, a speech-based customer service experiences and conversational artificial intelligence startup, is pursuing an emerging $350 billion customer service automation sector.
When Brian Schiff, Sam Krut and Jacob Cooper founded the company in 2015, they were still students at Cornell University, and it was initially an Uber-like social transportation app to help people find rides on college campuses where the transportation giant wasn’t operating. .
Working with a number of taxi companies, Schiff told TechCrunch that they realized that much of the company was coming to taxi services over the phone, and that there would be too many requests and not enough telephone representatives. Then they realized there was an opportunity to fix the customer service and contact center back-end channels.
Seeing the modern world of voice technology as more people outfit their homes with Amazon’s Alexa, Google Home, and voice-activated televisions, the trio changed their business in 2017 to create a similar experience for the world of customer service.
Here’s how it works: Imagine you call customer service and are greeted by a voice-activated “Alexa-like experience” that can communicate back and forth with a caller to help them resolve the simple requests that come in, Schiff explained.
It takes just 30 minutes to set up RedRoute and customers can try the software with no upfront cost and no risk, performance-based pricing, an industry first, said Schiff. He estimates that RedRoute’s AI can handle 50% of requests entirely with the product on average. For the remaining 50% of more complex conversations, RedRoute takes information and passes it on to agents who now have more time to spend on those conversations.
They worked on their product for a year and hit the market in early 2018 to partner with their transportation customers. When the pandemic hit in 2020, RedRoute moved further into the contact center space and is now partnering with clients such as Brooklinen, UNTUCKit, Pair Eyewear and GNC.
“It was an opportunity to move into e-commerce and we got a first batch of successful pilot customers and started scaling it up,” said Schiff. “Then we went to the fundraiser to really double those efforts.”
The funding round he refers to is $6.5 million in seed funding led by ScOp Venture Capital and Bullpen Capital, with the participation of a group of angel investors. RedRoute has previously raised a $2 million pre-seed round.
Schiff plans to use the new capital to grow the company across the board, product development and key leadership.
Among RedRoute’s competitors, he sees that his company stands out by offering those zero upfront costs and the call automation technology that intelligently engages with the customer, conducts a conversation and independently fills requests. The company is also targeting smaller contact center organizations, where Schiff said call automation technology isn’t being used much yet.
“These are companies that want to buy turnkey things that are pre-integrated with their existing tech stack and require no engineering or heavy upfront investment,” he added. “We come in with that solution where you can get into the product, no upfront money, it’s free for 30 days, takes about 30 minutes to turn it on and you can see the results on the first day.”
Meanwhile, RedRoute is pushing 100 customers today, a triple growth in the fourth quarter, where sales also grew 10 times. That all happened with a workforce of 25, a number Schiff expects to increase to 40 by mid-year. The e-commerce side of the company is “growing at a stellar performance,” while the transportation side is recovering, he added.
“We feel we are in a position where we have a product-market fit,” said Schiff. “We’ve had strong traction in a big month, we understand how to grow it and this is the opportunity to scale it up. That’s really what we think about and work on every day.”