Indonesia’s KataAi rises from the remains of YesBoss, to close series A round soon

KataAi, Indonesia’s B2B artificial intelligence platform, is set to announce the closing of a series A fundraising soon, founder and CEO Irzan Raditya told DEALSTREETASIA.

“We closed a pre-series A round last year which we did not announce. But this time we will,” Raditya said, adding that the investors participating were all from abroad. He did not disclose additional details.

The funding will follow KataAi’s transformation from the old business model, previously known as YesBoss.

In October 2015, YesBoss, the first virtual personal assistant service in Indonesia, announced that it had raised seed funding leading VCs including 500 Startups, Japan’s IMJ Investment Partners, and Indonesia’s Convergence Ventures.

The idea seemed very promising: users could ask an AI bot to complete tasks such as booking a plane ticket, sending flowers, or ordering food through a text message.

With funding, demand increased too. It was a time that Raditya would later go on to describe as “the honeymoon phase for Indonesian startups”. Within four months since its launch, YesBoss had 20,000 registered users and a long wait list of “several thousand” prospective users. But it did not take long for the founders to realize the AI bot was still underdeveloped to handle thousands of requests. In order to keep up with demand, the company hired dozens of customer service personnel to help answer texts. Capital requirement ballooned while it was still struggling to make a profit.

“We then realized that monetization and scaleability were the problem. We could have kept the course and continued to grow, but it would have required a lot of capital. After some assessments, we decided to pivot the business. It was a tough call,” Raditya recounted.

The company had to let go about 50 CS personnel, changed the business model, and rebrand itself. Now, with 16 employees, the firm is ready to start again. Yet, this does not mean the startup has to start from scratch. There is one asset that was handed down to KataAi: data.

During its lifetime, YesBoss received more than four million messages from users that KataAi can now use to refine its AI tech. The messages, loaded with slangs and abbreviations, will help KataAi’s bot to sound more natural, and more clever.

The new venture’s pipeline include potential clients operating in various industries from FMCG, e-commerce, banking, to telecommunication. Two kinds of products are being developed: marketing engagement and customer service.

“Marketing engagement will include surveys, quizzes, and games. Meanwhile, bots for customer service will be in high-demand too, as most of the pain points for telco companies is handling complaints,” said Raditya.

Going forward, KataAi has said that it is aiming to become the most advanced platform that offers Natural Language Processing (NLP) technology in Bahasa Indonesia. To support this vision, a local Deep Learning and NLP expert, Jim Geovedi, has also joined the company and has been assisting the team as Technology Advisor.

Also Read:

Indonesia: YesBoss Group Launches AI platform Kata.ai

Indonesian virtual PA service YesBoss raises seed round from 500 Startups, Japan’s IMJ & Convergence Ventures

Philippines: IMJ, Machine Ventures fund real estate startup GetPlace

Exclusive: MDI Ventures to invest $100m in startups, set to close 3 more deals by year-end

Convergence Ventures closes $30m Indonesia-focussed VC fund

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.