Unilazer Ventures Limited, a Mumbai-based private equity firm promoted by Ronnie Screwvala, has made a seed round funding in Niki.ai, an artificial intelligence (AI) startup, with a commitment of up to Rs 5 crore. The funding will be majorly used for product development and expanding service offerings.
Niki.ai, founded in April this year by four IIT-Kharagpur alumni Sachin Jaiswal, Keshav Prawasi, Nitin Babel and Shishir Modi, currently has a 16-member team comprising developers, designers and growth hackers. It is building a product Niki, a bot built to let users order anything through a simple chat interface.
In stealth mode for the last seven months, Niki.ai was focused on building the product and was working closely with a limited set of beta users. Niki supports end-to-end bookings for Ola and Uber cabs, and has an in-chat payment option using Paytm wallet.
"Tech-first companies have dominated the market globally with firm focus on user experience and simplicity, a trend which has started in India as well. We back amazing, savvy and gutsy entrepreneurs. They (Niki.ai) have a stand out team and are on the brink of some innovative work. We are closely working with them to realise this vision," Ronnie Screwvala said in a statement on Thursday.
According to co-founder Sachin Jaiswal, Niki as a technology is built to be simple for customers to use and scalable as a product.
"Many users are not able to follow up with the continuing increase in the number of apps due to low-memory phones and slow Internet connections. There is a need to cut the noise around excess content to a more personalised suggestion and decision-making. The answer is a chat bot which could simplify online ordering," he said.
Unlike other AI applications like Siri and Google Now that focus mainly on productivity, Niki.ai's focus is commerce. In the long run, Niki will be powered with voice capabilities, and close-knit integrations with all online platforms including web and smartphones. Additionally, Niki will also be accessible on calls or SMS, the company said, adding that Niki's Android app will be opened for public shortly.