Loris.ai, a spin-out product from the maker of suicide prevention organization Crisis Text Line, has raised $2 million to help companies navigate conversations around harassment and other charged topics. Loris.ai’s seed round was led by Floodgate with participation from LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner, Kapor Capital and others.
“We started getting calls from companies and even one municipality — a law enforcement agency that does serious work including hostage negotiation,” Loris.ai founder and CEO Nancy Lublin told TechCrunch. “And these companies and municipalities are like, ‘you’ve trained people in how to handle hard conversations, can you train our employees?'”
That’s when the idea dawned on Lublin to repurpose some of the learnings from Crisis Text Line and build them into an artificial intelligence platform to sell to companies.
Crisis Text Line has trained over 12,000 counselors who have handled over 62 million messages. With Crisis Text Line, people in crisis can contact another human to help calm them down and walk them through whatever issue they are facing.
Built on the learnings of Crisis Text Line, Loris.ai is designed to help educate employees around conversations that about performance, human relations, upset customers, firings and layoffs, and diversity and inclusion.
“What we really want to do is work with the best,” Lublin said. “We plan on talking to 50 companies and then inviting in only a small handful of companies we think are committed to compassion, authenticity and empathy.”
From there, Loris.ai will train those companies on how to best approach hard conversations, and employ empathy and compassion. Within a company, the idea is to improve internal culture, and help out the sales and customer care teams.
“This is software to make humans better humans,” Lublin said.
If Crisis Text Line can help people in some of their hardest moments. Lublin says she is optimistic Loris.ai has value for someone who feels overwhelmed at the office, or doesn’t know how to talk to a transgender co-worker.
“We thoughtfully design so many things — clothing, software, cellphones — and yet take for granted how we design the literal fuel for all of the things we build — conversations,” Floodgate Partner Ann Miura-Ko said in a statement. “Conversations don’t happen when we are just talking about easy things. The fire that tests and tempers our relationships happens when we disagree or when we need to tell someone something they won’t want to hear.”
Loris.ai is not ready to launch quite yet, but Lublin says she has already heard from some companies that are interested. The plan is to be in beta by Q2 of this year with a handful of companies. Unlike Crisis Text Line, Loris.ai will be a for-profit venture. Lublin declined to comment on the price of Loris.ai at this time.