Ojo Labs, AI-Enabled Chatbot Maker for Real Estate, Raises $20.5M
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increasingly being used in a variety of customer-facing businesses, not only in real estate, but also by retailers and customer call centers. In two years, a quarter of customer service operations will use virtual assistants like chatbots to handle inquiries from customers, up from less than 2 percent last year, according to research firm Gartner.
Ojo Labs was founded three years ago when Berkowitz and his co-founder David Rubin had developed their technology and began looking for the best way to deploy it. “We knew there was a huge business opportunity in any place where businesses interact with large numbers of humans at scale,” he says.
They settled on the real estate market and made the chatbot available commercially about six months ago. Berkowitz says the new investment funds will go to further development of the startup’s AI technologies, and to make about 25 hires in Austin to add to its 103 employees total.
The company also employs about 75 people in St. Lucia in the Caribbean, who serve as a back-end line-of-defense of sorts in ensuring that consumers have a smooth experience talking to Ojo. When a consumer is interacting with Ojo, company employees are at the ready to jump in, if necessary, Berkowitz says.
“If Ojo says, ‘I’m 90 percent confident this person is saying this and I’m 80 percent confident you can trust my 90 percent,’ it’s telling us the competence of what it knows,” he explains. “If that [confidence level] drops below a certain level, a human operator confirms or fixes.”
In the course of all those transactions, Ojo is constantly learning, Berkowitz says. “But the consumer always has a great experience,” he says. “Ojo never says, ‘Hey, can you repeat that to me?’”