Chatbox is raising more cash to help businesses improve how they communicate with customers online.
The Seattle-based startup has reeled in another $2.1 million in funding, which follows a $2.35 million seed round almost exactly one year ago. Participating investors in the new round include Gotham Capital’s Robert Goldstein, Prosperity Capital’s Mattias Westman, PayPal veteran Scott Banister, former Yahoo President Sue Decker, John W. Rogers Jr., and Graham Holdings, which previously owned The Washington Post.
Founded by professional poker veteran and long-time entrepreneur Phil Gordon, Chatbox is developing an enterprise collaboration service that aims to help companies communicate more seamlessly with their customers across texting, chat, and social networks like Twitter.
The startup, which hired former LivingSocial chief revenue officer Doug Miller as its CEO last month — Gordon is now president and chief product officer — employs 14 people and is already working with large enterprise clients, helping them utilize custom tools for sales and support scenarios specific to their product or service.
“We are thinking about this not just in terms of being a communication problem, but also a data problem,” Miller told GeekWire today.
The new CEO explained that unlike a typical messaging scenario where you might exchange texts back and forth with a friend, communicating with businesses often includes a moment where a customer or employee has to pass along specific, structured information like a ticket number or checklist.
Chatbox allows its clients to facilitate this type of data exchange more efficiently all from one place, whether it be forms, documents, wizards, photos, e-signatures, or other information.
“We make it very flexible and easy for businesses to create these mini-applications that can be presented to the consumer inside of the messaging stream,” said Miller, a former Expedia executive.
For example, Chatbox is working with a large gaming company that sells hardware devices. To address common issues that a customer may have, the company has developed a check-list and deploys that via Chatbox. If a customer gets stuck on a specific step, the service agent can identify that immediately and come back into the chat to help.
“We’ve seen a lot of validation with large enterprise partners who absolutely recognize that the consumer is changing,” Miller noted. “They do not want to pick up a phone, they do not want to sit on hold, they do not want to go into an email queue and exchange emails — they want to communicate via messaging.”
The fresh funding will be used to help Chatbox, which was founded in early 2014 under the business name Tetrapod Software, accelerate its go-to-market strategy and hire more employees. Total funding to date for Chatbox is now $4.4 million.
The Chatbox team includes engineering co-founders Aaron Davidson, Scott Fortin, and Jason Spencer, veterans of the engineering team that built Full Tilt Poker, the world’s second largest online poker site.