Only have 1 minute? Here are 3 key takeaways from the piece:
- Romanian-born Lisa Popovici and Andrei Negrau, co-founders of Cartloop, announced their new project Siena AI.
- Siena AI is an autonomous AI chat platform designed to elevate e-commerce by integrating human empathy and intelligent automation into customer service.
- The startup just secured a $4.7 million investment from prominent backers and they plan to expand their Romanian team.
Starting in the conversational commerce space nine years ago, Romanian-born Lisa Popovici and Andrei Negrau recently switched from building Cartloop, a US-based conversational marketing platform, to growing Siena AI, an autonomous AI chat platform for e-commerce.
Cartloop was the winner of How to Web Spotlight in 2020, receiving the prize of €225K. The team also raised an investment of €300K from GapMinder and Cristian Tamas, co-founder of TypingDNA. The startup served hundreds of brands in the USA, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom. So, why did its founders decide to sunset it?
In a dynamic startup landscape, Popivici and Negrau identified the need for more empathy and context understanding in Cartloop’s operations. Leveraging market and customer insights gained over the years, in 2022, they transitioned from human-powered text marketing to developing technology to address the broader customer service crisis issue.
Andrei Negrau, co-founder and CEO of Siena AI expressed the vision behind the shift: “We started Siena from a simple question: How can we create an AI-powered customer support solution that understands context, responds with empathy, and solves complex problems? Our vision was to transform customer service and create an autonomous AI that felt more like a human than a machine.”
“A key insight that led to Siena AI was when we saw the power of empathy-driven conversations. Traditional chatbots are notoriously bad at understanding context and emotions, and so one of our core tenets is an obsessive focus on customer experience through context and emotionally aware conversational AI. We think it’s a fresh approach that no other conversational AI platform has a core tenet,” adds Lisa Popovici, co-founder, and CMO.
They are now announcing their $4.7M investment to advance what they call the world’s first Empathic AI customer service platform. Investors like Sierra Ventures, Parri Passu Ventures, SpaceStation Investments, Village Global, The Council, and OpenSky Ventures will support Siena’s vision to transform customer service by integrating human empathy and intelligent automation.
“Our recent funding enables us to continue pushing the boundaries by making empathic AI the very backbone of modern CX. This pivotal moment marks not just an expansion but a redefinition of the customer service industry”, says Negrau.
Raising a round in today’s context is not a walk in the park.
“The biggest challenge was going through rejections and the demanding market of this year. The fundraising conditions were rough, but our resilience, timing, traction, and product market fit made it all happen,” concludes Lisa Popovici.
With a fully remote team of 23 people distributed across the globe, the AI startup can properly serve dozens of e-commerce brands such as Kitsch, Simple Modern, Verb, or K18, from beauty, health and nutrition, food and beverage, and fashion.
“We know how mid-market brands operate: their needs, their pain points, their technology stack, the aspirational brands they look up to, the influencers they trust, and most importantly—how they buy software,” Lisa Popovici explains.
The startup plans to utilize the new funding to expand its team, focusing on areas such as engineering, operations, product development, and go-to-market strategies. Currently boasting two team members in Romania, Siena AI anticipates growing its Romanian team soon.
To spread their insight and elevate customer service, the founders are gearing up to launch Siena AI Academy in Q1 2024: the learning hub to get teams up to speed on how to integrate AI into their customer service workflows. The Academy will cover topics such as “Building an AI Agent 101”, “Emotional Intelligence in AI”, and “The CX Metrics that Matter”.