i.an+ the tech startup founded by pop star Will.i.am has raised $117 million in venture funding as it enters the enterprise market for a voice assistant for customer service news released by Reuters.
The company, founded in 2012, initially focused on consumer electronics devices such as headphones.
The new artificial intelligence product, similar to Google’s Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa, marks a sharp departure for the firm, which now employs about 300 people.
Will.i.am, who rose to prominence as a member of The Black Eyed Peas, said the corporate market offered the company an opportunity to quickly deploy and develop its assistant, called Omega.
“I wanted to create something that allows us to do many things,” said will.i.am, founder and chief executive of the company, in a telephone interview with Reuters. “There’s so much you can do with a voice platform.”
I.am+’s first enterprise customer is Deutsche Telekom AG (DTEGn.DE), the German telecommunications giant and parent company of T-Mobile.
Since July, the company has been using Omega to power an AI customer support chat bot and it plans to add a voice phone system soon, i.am+ said.
Will.i.am said customer support is just the start of Omega. The plan is to use the technology to build several more enterprise voice AI products.
“One of those things is handling hundreds of thousands of customers’ inquiries about their data plans simultaneously,” will.i.am said. “If it can do that, your imagination’s the limit.”
Will I am is an avid supporter of education for coding who he himself also learnt to code believing “its one of the most creative spaces”.