2019 was our first official year going to market, and it’s safe to say it was one for the books. While we’re focused on building even more momentum in 2020, we’d like to share our biggest wins and learnings with you.
There was a lot to consider. Over the last 12 months, we grew our team from 15 to 60 people across three global offices in San Francisco, India, and Dallas. We began the year with 8 customers and $8M in funding. We ended it with more than 100 and raised a $26M Series A round bringing our total funding to $34M.
Along the way, we built partnerships with organizations like Talkdesk (today’s fastest-growing software provider for customer service), Concentrix (the largest BPO in the world for outsourced customer support), and were welcomed into the prestigious Microsoft for Start-Ups program.
We rolled out new features to enhance our contact center AI platform that enabled us to offer the highest accuracy for speech transcription in the support industry (80%+) and only speech-based sentiment detection. We also closed our first multi-million dollar deal, brought on TripAdvisor - one of the largest global travel brands; and added Andy Vitus onto our board.
Most importantly, though, we learned a ton about how to grow our company and team. Here’s what 2019 taught us.
Product Market Fit
Today, it’s eye-opening to look at some of our early investor pitch decks and see the gap between where we started and where we are now. Early on in our journey, we’d built a rockstar technical team who’d done amazing work in natural language processing, speech recognition, and machine learning, including Jithendra Vepa, one of the world’s leading experts in speech processing. Yet few of us in our early days had spent extensive time in contact centers.
To really make an impact, we needed to walk the floors of the largest call centers in places like India and the Philippines.
So we did, visiting more than 10 contact centers in our first three months to learn more about the operational challenges they were facing at every level, from supervisors, quality analysts, and the agents themselves. We also brought on dozens of new teammates who’ve worked at companies like Twilio, Zendesk, Cisco, and Conversica, as well as people who’ve trained agents in contact centers, like our onboarding manager Adrian Valenzuela. It’s incredible to see the strides we’ve made since.
In April, we brought on our first Head of Product, Jason Turpin. With his help, we rolled out major enhancements to Observe.AI that have enabled our customers to automate the most tedious parts of their quality assurance processes and drive 86% efficiencies. We also made it easier to coach agents in real-time right within Observe.AI.
In 2019 we also made critical investments in better data security (ISO27001, GDPR), and more efficient storage and call processing. We are proud to analyze more than 250K calls each day across seven countries.
Alliances & Sales Engineering
For many young companies, partnerships and alliances are difficult to crack. But as you look at the contact center buying landscape, alliances play a critical role. In that sense, 2019 was a landmark year for us with alliances driving over 50% of our revenues.
In 2019 we brought Pete Lee onboard to lead alliances and he, along with our co-founder, Sharath Keshava, drove the partnership expansion model establishing key relationships with Talkdesk, ERC BPO, ItelBPO, Concentrix and several strategic master sales agents.
This contributed to an eye-popping multi-million dollar pipeline for 2020 and enabled us to recruit new hires like Jay Acosta (Ex-AppDynamics, Cisco) and Art Russo (Ex-Convergys, Salesforce, Twilio, Zendesk) who will continue to add fuel to the fire.
We also invested in sales engineering -- a team that is ably led by Christian Wathne who has enabled several landmark wins, including our first banking deal in December.
Marketing & Customer Success
It’s hard to believe what we accomplished in 2019 without a formal marketing function in place and with a small, but mighty team dedicated to Customer Success.
As we enter 2020, these are two areas we’ve doubled-down on.
With the help of Amitt Sharma, who previously led customer success teams at Sprinklr; Lindsey Plocek who helped market companies like Chorus.AI; and our Demand Gen leader Ashish Kanoongo, we made several investments across marketing and customer success.
As an example of our upcoming engagements, in early January, we’ll host a webinar with Talkdesk and Root Insurance. We’ll also be attending more than 10 events in 2020, including CCW Nashville and CCW Exchange in Q1. Let us know if you’ll be there!
Communication & Company Culture
At Observe.AI, we’re building our company for the long-term. To do that, we’ve gotten much smarter about what each function owns, as well as how we’ll operate as a team and company. As CEO, my main priority is building a thriving company culture and communications architecture.
Going into 2020, we’ll put even more emphasis on initiatives that have been working for us, including setting OKRs at the company, team, and individual level; establishing accountability contracts; and conducting bottoms-up planning so every team member can contribute to important decisions, such as how we’ll use our new funds. We’ll also continue to prioritize SaaS metrics like revenue per employee and year-over-year growth as we measure the health of our business.
Our dedication to culture and communication also means putting our company values into practice every day, which we recently established. They are trust, ownership, transparency, friendliness and a commitment to ethics/integrity.
As an example of our values in action, every teammate here at Observe.AI has access to our company financials and how we’re tracking toward goals.
All in all, it’s been a great year to be here at Observe.AI. If you’re interested, now is the time to join us on this ride! We’re aggressively expanding across every team.
If you’d like to learn more about our mission to turn agents into the best possible brand representatives, check out our new homepage at www.observe.ai.
Let’s get at it!