April 16, 2024
Darwin AI gives small LatAm companies AI-powered sales assistant


Smaller companies are just as eager to use AI tech to supercharge their sales processes as their bigger competitors. However, they often lack the in-house IT expertise or the capital to implement enterprise-level tools, like OpenAI or Anthropic.

Darwin AI, a Brazil-based AI startup, is developing a conversational AI assistant for small businesses across Latin America who want to get into AI, but don’t have an IT staff. The assistant is designed to interact with customers in a more human-like manner to help generate more revenue. Should the conversation escalate, either negatively or become a sales lead, it will bring in a human to continue the conversation.

This is the second company for Lautaro Schiaffino and Ezequiel Sculli, who previously co-founded Sirena.app, a shared inbox tool for WhatsApp for mid-market companies. They grew the company to an annual recurring revenue of $15 million and presence in 25 countries before selling to Zenvia in 2020.

Schiaffino and Sculli left Zenvia in 2022 and started talking about what they were going to do next. They knew they wanted to help the same market and to take complex technology and simplify it for those without the technical team or time and skill to develop something on their own.

“AI is a great opportunity, but difficult to implement for small businesses,” Schiaffino told TechCrunch. “We saw the evolution of the mid market, as business-to-consumer in Latin America realized there are lots of leads, but the conversion rate is low. People have to talk to 100 or 200 leads to sell one product.”

So Schiaffino and Sculli began developing Darwin AI’s system that connects with a company’s customer relationship management tool and evaluates possible sales leads and escalates the ones, most likely to buy, to a human salesperson. Using AI, Darwin takes into account the needs of companies and then filters leads and customers. Schiaffino described it as a two-sided system that “talks” to employees and customers to advance the most important leads.

As more companies implement automation into their processes, the conversational AI market is expected to grow over 20% annually through 2030. That’s attracted a number of startups wanting to solve this for enterprise, most recently Rasa, Kore.ai, DXwand and OpenDialog.

Meanwhile, the company continues to configure the AI by onboarding more users. Darwin is also close to implementing a self-learning AI function that will get a company up-and-running in a matter of days without the need for a special IT team.

Since launching in 2023, Darwin has processed thousands of conversations and has customers in countries, including Mexico, Peru, Argentina, Brazil and Colombia. The company is on track to reach over 1 million conversations this year. It also has an integration with Zapier and can connect to regional CRMs.

The company has brought in revenue since the beginning. In fact, the founders realized they had a hit when customers were paying before there was even a user interface, Schiaffino said, though he declined to say how much revenue Darwin is generating. Darwin has a setup fee, a monthly fixed plan and also charges a usage fee per conversation. Additional plan tiers are coming this year.

Darwin has raised $2.5 million total including pre-seed and a seed round. Canary led the most recent round of $2.1 million and was joined by H20 Capital Innovation, Dalus Capital, FJ Labs, and Latitude Capital.

“The money funds will be for product development, go-to-market and also the operations teams to guarantee the quality of the product,” Schiaffino said.



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