MasterCard is developing a virtual sales assistant using AI technology from Rainbird – a startup identified by its Start Path programme.
Rainbird’s software will capture knowledge and experience in the current sales function and encode it into software that learns with time and experience to bring efficiency to the function of its UK sales teams working with banks to provide loyalty schemes and other card benefits.
Based in Norwich, Rainbird was selected to be a part of MasterCard’s most recent Start Path Global class in November last year. Since 2014, Start Path has worked with over 60 startups, and helped them scale by providing funding and business opportunities. Through participation in Start Path Global, Rainbird obtained a new business opportunity within MasterCard’s sales function, as well as access to its commercial partners and tailored mentoring from a host of MasterCard experts.
“There was a time when lines were clearly drawn between startups and established companies,” said Stephane Wyper, global lead, MasterCard Start Path. “Now, early-stage companies are partnering with large financial institutions, retailers, or digital players to build the future of commerce together. By working with Start Path, startups like Rainbird benefit from engaging with large global brands who are their future customers, channels and collaborators in a structured manner. At the same time, established companies such as MasterCard and its partners can identify and tap into new technologies to build efficiencies within existing systems or capture new opportunities.”
By using Rainbird’s AI software, MasterCard will extend the knowledge that was previously locked in a single team or among a few employees and make it accessible to the rest of the sales organisation.
The software captures knowledge and groups together nuggets of disparate information to create a knowledge-base that will power an automated, virtual sales assistant.
All members of the MasterCard loyalty sales team in the UK can use the virtual assistant that is equipped with the experience gained from the entire sales team and the thousands of customer conversations.
This will help streamline sales processes and systems by applying standard best practices to manage leads and close deals with prospects. The virtual assistant will also possess the capacity to learn with time as more knowledge and data is added to the database.
“Rainbird’s technology can structure sales expertise, knowledge and experience in such a way that it can augment knowledge-sharing and decision-making across all levels of MasterCard’s sales function,” said Ben Taylor, CEO Rainbird Technologies. “Bringing efficiency to the sales function is an important use-case for our AI software. This pilot opportunity with MasterCard adds weight and credibility to future projects within this vertical.
Rainbird is one example of how Start Path is partnering with startups to develop and test the next-generation of technology solutions. Rainbird joined the program along with five other startups late last year. Start Path is helping several other startups from that batch to explore new markets and businesses.
The Start Path team has also just begun working with dopay, a startup based in the UK that enables employers to pay wages electronically to employees with no bank accounts; and Universal Basket, also based in the UK, a universal shopping cart that allows consumers to buy items from multiple retailers but pay via a single checkout. As part of the programme, dopay and Universal Basket gain access to a global network of MasterCard experts, connections with MasterCard’s commercial partners, and the opportunity to integrate with MasterCard products and tools.
Each quarter, MasterCard Start Path recruits a new class of startups to embark on the six-month virtual programme. The program is currently accepting applications for its next class. The application window to join the next class is open until March 21, 2016.