It's not every day you see a Latin American startup funded by a U.S. venture capital firm based in the midwest. Playvox, a Colombian startup that wants to bring a positive twist to customer service monitoring announced a $25 million investment from Five Elms Capital, a Kansas City, MO VC firm. It has now raised $34 million.
While it was at it, Playvox also announced something else unusual for an early stage company: an acquisition. The startup bought an Australian company called Agyle Time, a workforce monitoring SaaS tool. The acquisition brings together two companies with similar missions to provide a more complete customer service solution.
Playvox founder and CEO Oscar Giraldo founded the company in 2012 and has been quietly building it into an international business with brand name customers like Dropbox, Electronic Arts and Wish. The company's Workforce Optimization platform works as a layer on top of customer service center management tools like Zendesk and Salesforce Service Cloud, allowing management to monitor digital channels and give customer service agents feedback to help them do their jobs better.
"When you call a contact center or a company, you may hear that 'this call may be recorded for quality and training purposes'. So Playvox is a technology that works on the backend of [the customer service system] to manage the workforce that is responsible for providing a great customer experience," Giraldo explained. It does this, but instead of for calls, it focuses on chat and email interactions.
Giraldo got the idea for the business nine years ago when he was working as a software engineer in Argentina and toured some customer service centers, where he observed a lot of disgruntled and unhappy employees. He wanted to start a company that would help give feedback to these employees in a more constructive and positive way.
"Instead of the traditional approach of customer service QA that was punishing the agents [for mistakes], what we do is we use that data to train them with a learning management system that is integrated in the platform, and have coaching tools that allow our customers to provide timely feedback to the agent so they can change their behavior for the better," he said.
The Agyle Time acquisition enables the company to expand beyond this feedback system into customer service workforce scheduling and position them to compete in the enterprise market with a more complete toolset. "What we see is that combining the quality management agent optimization tools that Playvox has built with Agyle Time's workforce management will allow us to be a unique vendor in the marketplace," Giraldo said.
As for Five Elms, it's a firm that invests between $4 and $40 million in companies that have between $2 and $20 million in revenue. They like SaaS companies in atypical places with portfolio companies in Fayetteville, AK, Columbus, OH and Brisbane Australia. Playvox fits nicely in that group.
"Playvox continues to deliver extraordinary products, add renowned brands to its customer base, and attract exceptional executives because of its company values and culture," Ryan Mandl, managing director at Five Elms Capital said in a statement.