A Toronto-based startup is looking to help businesses take advantage of artificial intelligence (AI) technology to grow customer engagement and revenue.

Integrate.ai, founded by former Facebook executive Steve Irvine, has created a software as a service (SaaS) intelligence platform that combines machine learning and big data to bridge the gap between AI and enterprises.

“All businesses have to acquire new customers, find ways to sell customers on their different services or products, and retain them over the length of their relationship,” Irvine tells ITBusiness.ca. “We’re interested in how we can apply AI in those situations in a way that makes them easier and more efficient, like reducing the steps a customer would need to take to get a service, or deliver a more personalized experience as they go through the process, so that we can take what we’ve learned about them and do a better job of predicting what they want from the business.”

The platform will bring a higher level of intelligence to business decisions so that they can provide a better experience to their customers, and at the same time, build more lucrative customer relations, he adds.

“We’re bringing those worlds together in a way that’s private, safe and secure, and in a way that’s especially meant for some of the more traditional players that historically have not been agile or adaptable enough to adjust and implement new technologies to build more profitable customer relationships.”

Move over, Silicon Valley

Integrate.ai is based in Toronto, which Irvine says was a deliberate choice. Despite coming from Silicon Valley in California, a worldwide hub of technological innovation, he points to Ontario’s capital as “the birthplace of modern AI research.”

“A lot of people don’t know this but many of the leading researchers that are running big AI research labs around the world today are people who studied or did their postgraduate degrees at the University of Toronto under Professor Geoffrey Hinton, who’s essentially the godfather of deep learning,” Irvine says. “There’s an unbelievable amount of talent that’s coming out of Toronto, and Canada as a whole, these days.

He also notes that with Toronto’s reputation as a diverse, world-class city in the current unstable geopolitical environment, as well as newfound support for technological endeavours from academic institutions and multiple government levels, it’s not hard for the city to attract global talent.

The company also chose Toronto to leverage its partnership with the University of Toronto, where the two will be working on applied research to further its AI platform.

Funding confidence

Integrate.ai has just completed a seeding round and in the process, has garnered $5 million USD in funding from Georgian Partners, an equity firm that invests in SaaS-based business software companies in the applied artificial intelligence, security first and conversational business fields.

“Georgian Partners, who is normally a growth-stage investor, has never gotten involved as early in a company, so this is an exception for them and we feel very fortunate,” Irvine explains. “The capital will allow us to grow quickly, build a good team, and scale up. There’s a ton of demand right now, as you can probably imagine, for these services, and not a lot of software companies that are able to help yet in this area, so we’ll be filling a huge market hole.”

Justin LaFayette, managing partner and co-founder of Georgian Partners, will join the Integrate.ai board of directors, according to a Feb. 6 company press release.

“This is a rare opportunity to be part of something that is very large and closely aligned with our applied artificial intelligence investment thesis,” LaFayette says. “Steve has a unique set of skills and experience that, along with the rich pool of AI talent available in Toronto, will enable Integrate.ai to scale quickly.”

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