When we covered Leena AI as a member of the Y Combinator Summer 2018 cohort, the young startup was firmly focused on building HR chatbots, but in the intervening years it has expanded the vision to a broader HR policy platform. Today, the company announced an $8 million Series A led by Greycroft with help from several individual industry investors.
Company CEO and co-founder Adit Jain says that in 2018 the company was concentrating on building an intelligent virtual assistant for HR-related questions. It allowed employees to ask the bot questions like how many vacation days they have left or what holidays they have off this year.
Over the last couple of years since leaving Y Combinator, the company has moved into broader HR service delivery. “So I’m talking about having an intelligent case management, knowledge management and document management system, which is backing the virtual assistant as well,” Jain explained.
He says that users should think of it as an entire system where the chatbot is the user interface for employees to interact with the HR information on the back end. For example, he says that the knowledge management component is where the chatbots find the answers to questions, and as employees interact with the chatbot, it grows more intelligent based on the feedback from them.
The document management piece enables HR to write or import HR policies and the case management system comes into play when the situation is too complex for the chatbot to handle and it has to be escalated to a human HR representative.
When we spoke to Jain in September 2018 at the time of his startup’s $2 million seed round, he had 16 customers and hoped to have 50 in the next 12-18 months. Today the company has 100 enterprise customers with 300,000 employees using the platform worldwide.
In fact, the pandemic has fueled business with more than half of those customers coming on board this year. He says this is because companies are looking for ways to digitize processes like HR as employees are working from home more.
“This is a trend that’s going to continue as organizations have realized the value of doing things with more and more digital applications taking care of your processes […] especially mundane, repeatable tasks being handed over to technology more and more,” Jain said.
As the business has grown this year, the company has expanded from 30 to 75 employees and he hopes to double that number in the next year. As he does, he has discussed with his lead investor how to build a diverse and inclusive culture at Leena AI.
One thing he is trying to do is raise some money from a diverse group of investors, approximately $400,000, and his hope is that these diverse investors can help him build solid diversity programs as he adds employees to his growing company.
That the startup hasn’t only grown during these turbulent times, but thrived, shows that companies are looking to modernize every part of the enterprise technology stack, and that includes HR.