Intento, a startup with Russian roots, has secured a $3 million seed round, reports CrunchBase.
Konstantin Savenkov, CEO, started the Berkeley, California-based company in 2016 with Grigory Sapunov, a deep learning and artificial intelligence expert who had worked five years at Yandex.
Initially, as reported by East-West Digital News, Intento positioned its solution as a new way to explore the content of instant messengers, which is generally ignored by traditional search engines. The startup claimed to have developed “the only automatic crawl-and-search engine indexing the content of public channels and chat bots” — including those in Telegram, Viber, ICQ IM and, since last week, Facebook.
Intento’s business has evolved since then: the company now helps companies process content through a range of third-party artificial intelligence solutions. It presents its product as an AI integration platform, which is already in use by companies in the retail, travel and technology spaces.
“One of the last pivots was in the beginning of 2019, when we started to focus more on large enterprises — guys who needed an integration platform and were struggling to use AI. As a result, we’ve been able to close on several good deals over the last year,” said Savenkov in an interview with CrunchBase.
The platform uses machine translation (MT) to train and evaluate MT models on more than 25 systems, such as Amazon and Google AutoML. The MT models are made available in those existing software systems and workflows, and can work with conventional integration platforms such as Salesforce, BMC and SnapLogic, as well.
The seed round was led by Flint Capital, a VC firm with Russian connections, with participation from Berkeley SkyDeck, SmartHub and other angel investors. It follows original funding of $1.3 million by the Berkeley SkyDeck Fund, PIK.vc and SmartHub that began in 2016, when the company was founded. In total, the company has raised $4.3 million in funding, Savenkov told CrunchBase.
In addition to the investment, Intento hired one of its early angel investors, Anton Antich, to be chief operating officer in April focusing on scaling Intento for multinational corporate customers.
Antich came to the company from Veeam Software, a Russian-founded company which was sold for $5 billion to a major US investor earlier this year. Antich served there as senior vice president of strategic operations.
Savenkov plans to use the new funding to grow Intento’s sales and marketing operations in Europe and in the U.S., as well as to expand its customer success team.
“We had success last year with me as a half-time salesperson, but our main goal right now is to have a normal sales staff that can bring in new clients and help our existing clients,” he said. “We also want to go beyond machine translations to adding speech AI services and be able to upsell those new services.”
The company’s client base is about half-and-half in Europe and the U.S., so Savenkov aims to open a hub in Europe in the future. Its revenue also continues to grow, and he estimates to bring in more than $1.6 million in annual recurring revenue.
As part of the investment, Flint Capital partner Andrew Gershfeld joined Intento’s board of directors. He said the seed round was in line with investments Flint has made in startups focusing on artificial intelligence over the past year. One of its most notable was cybersecurity platform CyberX in March 2019, which was acquired by Microsoft in May.
Gershfeld said he sees that a lot of enterprise clients demanding business process automation are looking for a company that has product ties with an AI adoption platform.
“Other companies take a service-based approach with their integration, but we like what Intento is doing, where the integration is quick and they take a product-driven approach,” he added. “We also see the progression they have with customers, with opportunities to scale inside, not just selling one solution to one department, but being able to spread their sales inside the customer to different departments. We believe that is a huge potential point to grow revenue.”