AI tech business with Columbus roots gets $750,000 investment

A high-tech business with local roots is receiving a sizable investment to help jump start its next round of funding.

John Thompson, chair of the Indiana Economic Development Corp. board’s entrepreneurship committee, recently told state officials that the committee approved four investments at its Nov. 19 meeting, including $750,000 to ConverSight.ai. The business describes itself as “the only AI-driven end-to-end supply chain management platform that uses text and chat capabilities to deliver results in seconds.”

This commitment requires $2.25 million in “private co-investment,” Thompson said at a recent joint meeting of the board of directors of the IEDC and the Indiana Economic Development Foundation.

ConverSight Board Chairman Charlie Farber said that the $750,000 comes through Elevate Ventures, which describes itself as the state’s “venture development organization/partner” that invests capital into startups. In this case, Elevate is the lead investor in ConverSight’s current round of funding.

“You can’t go forward with a funding round until some firm volunteers to lead,” Farber explained. “And that firm then sets the terms — that’s the group we negotiate with — the terms of the arrangement. And then they handle all of the legal aspects, the documents and the funding and all that for all the investors. So in addition to the money that they’ve provided, which is really helpful, being the lead is absolutely critical.”

Elevate also led a previous round in June of 2020. Farber added that Elevate also appoints a member to ConverSight’s board of directors, which provides “mentorship and guidance going forward.”

For the current round, the company is raising funds and anticipates closing in January. The round will be around $3.5 million to $4 million, said Farber. Other investment firms will be involved and invest on the same terms negotiated by Elevate. The required co-investment of $2.25 million will come from these entities.

“This round for us is all about scaling and growth,” he said. “So it’s hiring. So Elevate’s investment is really going to reap good benefits for business in Indiana, because that’s where the proceeds are going — to scale up and hire key positions and growth. So we’re excited about it, and we really appreciate their involvement.”

Director of Marketing Cassandra Karnick said ConverSight is looking at growing its United States team in terms of both marketing and sales.

The company moved from Carmel to a new office in Indianapolis’s 16 Tech Innovation District in August. However, it has deep roots in Columbus, said Karnick. Co-founders CEO Ganesh Gandhieswaran and Chief Technology Officer Gopinath Jaganmohan started the business in the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce’s Fish Tank co-working space. Chamber President Cindy Frey then introduced the business to Farber.

“From there, they kind of started to discuss the business with Gopi and Ganesh and were kind of able to help them fine-tune their business plan,” said Karnick. “Cindy also played a significant role introducing us to our first customer, and that was Jason Hatton, who’s the library director of the Bartholomew County Public Library. … That was a huge stepping stone for us.”

She added that a number of the company’s original angel investors came from the Columbus area and two of their largest individual investors are from Columbus. Local investors have also provided “valuable advice and mentorship,” said Karnick.

She described the company’s work as a “conversational intelligence platform that uses natural language processing and machine learning.”

“We base our technology off of an AI business assistant called Athena,” she said. “And Athena is kind of helping business users bridge the gap that exists today between users, everyday business users, and the vast amounts of data that they’re managing on a daily basis.”

ConverSight has seen “a lot of need” for its technology in the past few years, especially as COVID-19 has exposed existing gaps in supply chains, said Karnick.

“With our technology, supply chain leaders are able to close those gaps by overall gaining more visibility into what’s going on with their supply chain, where attention needs to be paid and how they can more accurately plan their business,” she said.