The top 50 Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) brands in the U.S. generate over $200 billion in sales annually, with $150 billion coming from their 14 billion drive-through and phone-in orders per year. However, the industry has been facing several challenges for continued revenue growth, such as rising wages for service agents, increased wait time for drive-throughs, inaccurate orders due to human errors, and missed upsell opportunities. In 2019, McDonald’s acquired Dynamic Yield and Apprente to make ordering faster and more accurate by using conversational AI, a speech-based digital assistant that automates communication and delivers personalized customer experience at scale. These acquisitions put additional pressure and urgency on other QSR brands to improve their operation and service experience.
We are excited to announce Tensility’s investment in ConverseNow’s $3 million seed round. ConverseNow develops conversational AI software to automate drive-through and phone ordering for QSRs. By deploying ConverseNow’s automatic speech recognition and natural language processing technologies, restaurants can now simplify its operations and increase its revenue through data-driven, personalized upselling. We see several key advantages in ConverseNow’s approach to the market compared to its competitors: First, the company is highly focused on serving QSRs and improving their workflows, as opposed to offering a one-size-fit-all solution. Second, ConverseNow closely partners with key vendors in the QSR ecosystem, such as providers for point of sale systems and self-service kiosks and is therefore able to effectively reach customers. Lastly, ConverseNow follows a low risk, step-change rollout - by allowing customers to deploy an AI-assist solution before implementing a fully-autonomous AI - which helps accelerate adoption.
The company was founded in Austin, Texas in 2018. The founders, Vinay Shukla and Rahul Aggarwal, both bring more than 15 years of IT consulting experience. They have also built a strong technical team with deep expertise in both machine learning and natural language processing. To date, the company has successfully completed several pilots and its solution is now live across multiple franchises and restaurants. We have been impressed with the speed and execution capabilities of the ConverseNow team, and we look forward to partnering with them to enhance the restaurant ordering experience!