i.am+ is the tech startup founded by the international pop star and entrepreneur will.i.am. i.am+ has according to Reuters raised $117 million in funding. The startup also announced that it will be entering the corporate computing market with one of its first commercial products, a voice assistant intended for customer service.
The startup, i.am+ was founded in 2012 and at first focused on consumer electronics and gadgets like headphones (as did most musicians and pop stars). However with the advent of their new artificial intelligence product, not unlike Siri or Alexa, the young tech firm of 300 employees has made an unexpected detour.
The company’s most recent funding round, was an $89 million dollar round closed in March but not publicized and included a group of investors like Salesforce Ventures.
will.i.am, the talented musical megastar and music producer, earned adulation from fans and respect from his musical peers as a member of the American music group, The Black Eyed Peas. will.i.am believes that the corporate market could offer the company an opportunity to quickly develop and deploy its own personal assistant artificial Intelligence as a service product 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 to Reuters. “There’s so much you can do with a voice platform.”
There have been a slew of international celebrities and athletes mostly from the Unites States like Jessica Alba, Ashton Kutcher and Joe Montana who have forayed into tech space with their own personal brand backing their own personal startup but most of the products launched from these were consumer centric – B2C rather than B2B as will.i.am is attempting with his venture.
The news agency further reports that i.am+’s first corporate customer is from Germany. Deutsche Telekom AG (DTEGn.DE) is a giant in German telecommunications and is the parent company of T-Mobile. Since July this year, the i.am+ has been deplying Omega, their voice assistant, to enable an AI customer support chatbot. The tech startup also plans to expand to a voice phone system in the near future.
According to will.i.am customer support is only beginning of what is possible with Omega. The strategy is to implement the technology as they build more AI voice products for other businesses to use.
“One of those things is handling hundreds of thousands of customers’ inquiries about their data plans simultaneously,” Reuters reports will.i.am as saying. “If it can do that, your imagination’s the limit.”