Footwork leads the Seed round in the company bringing better training and quality assurance to high stakes call centers.
There are many founders who are building applications on top of large language models (LLMs) just because they became such powerful and well-known platforms over the past year. But at Footwork we’ve never been interested in tourists, in entrepreneurs who’ve just started a company for the sake of starting a company, or because they spotted an exciting trend like generative AI. What we love are builders who’ve been building for a while, who’ve uncovered a unique insight, and who realize they can’t do anything else but start a particular company as a result.
That’s the flavor of builders that Sam Dorison and John Callery are, the co-founders of ReflexAI. As leaders at The Trevor Project, an organization that does critical work in suicide prevention among LGBTQ youth, they started tinkering with OpenAI’s early models, such as GPT-2, in 2019. They realized the potential to use these models to help train full-time agents and part-time volunteers in having crisis conversations, and spent a couple of years building software to do this. Their Crisis Contact Simulator was named one of TIME’s best inventions of 2021, training thousands of counselors to better support kids with their mental health, especially in times of need, and saving many lives as a result. And then, in 2022, as the world realized the power of GPT-3, Sam and John understood that there was a bigger opportunity: to take their learnings from Trevor and apply them to build AI-powered support tools to train, develop, and empower frontline teams across many organizations and companies. ReflexAI was born. Here’s more about their why in a blog post published today.
ReflexAI is announcing today its first round of venture funding, a $3.3M Seed led by Footwork, with participation from Emerson Collective, Alt Capital, Gaingels, and angel investors with expertise across healthcare and technology innovation. More info in this exclusive piece by Erin Browdin at Axios. For ReflexAI’s co-founder Sam and for Footwork co-founder Nikhil, this is a particularly special partnership, given that they first met 16 years ago as college classmates, along with fellow co-investors Dan May and Jack Altman.
ReflexAI is moving quickly, with early launch partners such as Google.org and an award from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Through simulations, their software helps train agents to have challenging conversations, and will give actionable feedback to help them improve how they interact over time. It’s built by a mission-driven team (now 10 people across engineering, machine learning, and product) that’s been the customer themselves, and has a multi-year track record of working with these models (including GPT-4, to which they had early access from OpenAI). They are uniquely positioned to solve a tough problem, and are exactly the type of AI-enabled application software company that we at Footwork have been itching to invest in. We can’t wait to see the impact they have, for high stakes call center operations, and beyond. If you’re interested in what ReflexAI is working on, please respond to this email, or leave a comment.
Note: excerpts from this post first appeared in The Generalist piece What To Watch in AI.
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