Giri Amarakone and Dennis Chan are the Co-Founders of DeepPiXEL, a Founder Institute Toronto portfolio company that is using Artificial Intelligence to transform customer service experiences.
Today, customer service comes in many different flavors, from personalized experiences that leave us feeling delighted to those horrible robo calls that make us angry. Press one to discuss an unrelated problem, press two to hang up and throw the product away. Sound familiar? If so, it’s because B2C businesses today know that they need customer support, but the volume of support they need to offer can sometimes be overwhelming. And unfortunately, because high quality customer service can often come at high costs, businesses instead rely on technology to fill in the gaps, and in most cases the related technologies just aren’t quite yet ready for primetime.
Take for example AI powered chatbots, which are gradually becoming more fluid and human-like. Though nice to have and extremely affordable compared to hiring an additional human customer service representatives, the accuracy and ability for AI chatbots to deviate from basic FAQs is still far less than perfect. However, Toronto-based startup DeepPIXEL has found a way to utilize these AI chat technologies without hampering overall customer service quality or results.
Rather than the AI interacting with the customer or client directly, DeepPIXEL’s AI works actively hand-in-hand with the support agent instead.
According to DeepPiXEL Co-Founder and CEO Giri Amarakone,
DeepPiXEL aims to revolutionize how businesses look at answering questions from their customers. We are working on the latest bleeding edge research in the field of Natural Language Understanding that allows for computers to take any domain of knowledge, and understanding it well enough to get the right answers to workers quickly. We expect to deploy this technology with some of the best brands in Canada and the US this year. Upon launch this technology will make all other current systems such as chatbots outdated.
Amarakone, along with his Co-Founder and CTO Dennis Chan, have successfully developed a solution designed around the needs of enterprise organizations that don’t only want to delight their customers who are seeking answers, but who also want to tackle additional industry issues tied to customer service. Namely, regardless of organization size, customer service teams often face a great deal of turnover. This employee churn further drives up the cost of customer service, requiring new employees to be trained quickly, which means quality can go by the wayside as an unintended consequence.
DeepPiXEL’s AI solutions allow their clients to reduce costs, quickly get the right information into the hands of their customer service teams, and assure that all information is unified and on-brand each and every time.
As a result of their initial customer success stories, the DeepPiXEL team has successfully raised a seed funding round, and is continuing to bring on new clients. It might come as no surprise that both Amarakone and Chan had extensive backgrounds in AI and technology prior to co-founding DeepPiXEL. Amarakone recounts their startup's origin story, saying,
I was at NVIDIA and working on some of the most advanced AI projects in the world with Google, Facebook, etc. One day, I asked Dennis, ‘Why don't we go after this AI field?’ Dennis and I have known each other for 20 years and have been building various gadgets in our space. But this time we decided to build something and take it to market. We started with me in the Valley and him in Toronto, but soon I quit my job and joined him in late 2015. We set out on this journey to put the product in front of clients and get their feedback. We have done that, and now we are going to the next step.
That next step is exactly what is happening today. With more than an MVP product already on the market, DeepPIXEL is focusing on widening its technology's abilities by bringing on diverse types of new clients, specifically from across the e-commerce, financial services, and retail industries. In continuously researching and speaking with enterprise organizations from each of these targeted industries, DeepPiXEL has honed in on each of the issues tied to customer service. According to Amarakone,
Initially we thought we could build something that directly engaged with customers. We found out quickly that the technology was not mature enough, and companies did not want to take a risk on their precious customers with technology that was still maturing. We know that eventually AI will be directly talking to the customers, but today this is very hard. Humans have an ability that AI cannot easily copy. We can understand context quickly. Even the smartest AI today does not understand context well.
According to an American Express report from 2017, 70 percent of consumers say they have already made a choice to support a company that delivers great customer service, and 68 percent of customers believe the key to great customer service is a polite customer service representative. Another 17 percent of consumers say they will even pay more for brands with superior customer service compared to that of their competitors. If these data points are any indicator, DeepPiXEL’s focus on enterprise organizations, with their mission of helping these organizations to satisfy their own customers, is sure to become an ever-larger space for future AI growth.
When asked what Amarakone would tell other entrepreneurs seeking to follow more than their dreams, he focused on pursuing your drive.
Never give up. Even when you feel like this is it, hold on a bit longer. Better news is sometimes 15 minutes away. Keep telling yourself that every person who has made it had to first fail and get back up.
Graduates of the Founder Institute are creating some of the world's fastest growing startups, having raised over $800M in funding, and building products people love across over 180 cities worldwide.
See the most recent news from our Grads at FI.co/news, or learn more about their stories at FI.co/journey.