Zendesk launches venture fund to fuel AI startups

Zendesk officially launched its global venture fund to back AI-first companies focused on enhancing customer and employee experiences. Zendesk Ventures also announced new investments in PolyAI, a developer of advanced conversational voice assistants, and unitQ, an AI-powered customer feedback platform. The fund empowers emerging companies to unlock their potential by providing capital, CX and AI expertise, and strategic partnership opportunities for growth and innovation.

“Every organisation is on a path to becoming AI-driven, and we’re eager to form partnerships with companies leading this new era,” said Ben Barclay, SVP of Strategy, Corporate Development, & Transformation, Zendesk. “Our goal extends beyond building our own products; we’re also supporting an ecosystem of startups whose visions align with ours. Customer and employee service is changing rapidly because of advancements in AI. Investing in these companies does more than drive their growth, it elevates our customers’ ability to provide exceptional interactions.”

“With the Make AI in India initiative by the Union government, the AI startup ecosystem is booming in India. Unique value propositions and immense growth potential make AI startups a great investment in India. Zendesk Ventures is focused on bringing the best technology, products, people and network together, to empower AI-first startups in the country that are focused on solving meaningful business problems in the CX and EX space. We are excited for what the future holds for AI startups in India – and the place Zendesk can play in their development,” said Vasudeva Rao Munnaluri, RVP India & SAARC, Zendesk.

The Zendesk Ventures portfolio already includes conversational intelligence platform Observe.AI, and field service management software provider, Zuper. The two new portfolio additions announced today are  focused on AI-powered CX and operational efficiency:

– PolyAI, a voice-focused solution, allows Zendesk customers to handle complex interactions such as order tracking and delivery updates as natural as a human conversation. This capability has increased revenue for customers across a variety of industries while also reducing human agent call volumes and time spent on inquiries.

– unitQ, an AI-powered product quality platform, enables businesses by efficiently collecting and analysing customer interactions and feedback across a range of 60+ sources in real-time, to pinpoint the root cause of all user fiction and improve Net Promoter Scores (NPS).

“The market is clamouring for more proficient, personalised customer experiences. This investment in a Zendesk and PolyAI future, alongside our mutual connections in the call centre space, signals a powerful synergy,” said Michael Chen, VP of Alliances, PolyAI. “With Zendesk Ventures strengthening our existing partnership, we’re poised to accelerate product innovation and enhance customer engagement, leveraging our voice AI technology to continue to deliver authentic, high-quality interactions over the phone. Together, we’re eager to forge the path ahead to the next generation of CX.”

“Partnering with Zendesk means joining forces with a leader that opens doors to top-tier talent and industry networks,” said Christian Wiklund, Co-Founder and CEO, unitQ. “This experience has cultivated a rich pool of insights that benefits our entire portfolio. We’ve gained more than just funding – we’re now connected to a community and receive tailored mentorship to help our company’s growth.”

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