Alumni perspective: How the Fintech Innovation Lab helped Kasisto sign our first major banking client

11.30.2018 - New York

Over the past four years, our company, Kasisto, has established our platform, KAI, as a leader in Conversational Artificial Intelligence (AI) for the finance industry—powering virtual assistants that drive business results and delight customers. We have signed up heavyweight clients such as DBS, JP Morgan, Mastercard, Wells Fargo, Standard Chartered, and TD Bank, and have raised more than $28 million in funding.

One of the early developments that set us on this road to success was our participation in the 2014 class of the Fintech Innovation Lab.

When we entered the class, Kasisto was a new venture spun out from SRI International, a world-leading R&D lab with decades of AI research and IP. Coming from the same research center where Siri was invented, we knew that our leading-edge AI technology had some powerful potential applications in banking. We moved the business to New York from Silicon Valley to get close to the pulse of the financial services industry.

We set our sights high and decided to seek a place in the 2014 FinTech Innovation Lab for three major reasons: the reputation of the program among fintech entrepreneurs; the prominence of the mentors—which include the world’s most powerful financial services companies; and the opportunity to forge connections with investors and experts in the banking industry. The Lab delivered on all these expectations.

Looking back, our time in the 2014 class helped us to accelerate our growth and improve our business in three key ways:

  • It introduced us to senior digital banking executives who helped us to refine our investor pitch and product-market fit. The Lab has strong relationships with executives at all of the large banks in New York. What we found particularly useful was that the program allowed us to meet people from across the organization at our mentor banks—compliance, marketing, information technology and more. I won’t forget a meeting with the legal team at one of our mentors that unlocked a key insight for us into how our technology could streamline multi-billion-dollar compliance spending for banks.
  • It gave us perspective about the technology acquisition and procurement process at large financial institutions. This helped us to understand who the decision-makers and influencers are in a big, complex bank and how they arrive at their purchase decisions. We’re licensing a platform, not selling a piece of enterprise software, so the nuances are intricate and the insights into the process much more valuable. That, in turn, shaped our sales process and enabled us to refine our go-to-market strategy and value proposition.
  • It raised our profile and led directly to us signing one of our first key clients in the banking sector. Many banks around the world track the Lab because it is a prestigious program. When we graduated, we were approached by senior executives at DBS Bank in Asia to deploy our AI-powered virtual assistant in their new digital bank in India. Since then, our relationship with DBS has resulted into one of the world’s most comprehensive deployments of Conversational AI. DBS rapidly expanded its use of the KAI assistant from India to Indonesia and Singapore, and from mobile to the web and Facebook Messenger.

Four years later, we are still in close contact with many of the people we met as members of the class. It remains a powerful network for us. Recently, when we decided to target a new vertical, the Lab was our first stop to validate and get feedback on our product/market fit hypothesis. Within a matter of days, we had appointments lined up with many of the people we needed to see.

We wish the best of luck to the startups seeking a place in the 2019 class. Your experience at the Lab will no doubt be invaluable and, like us, you will experience long-lasting benefits and access to resources and people beyond the timeframe of the formal class.

About Zor Gorelov and Kasisto

Zor is the CEO & Co-Founder at Kasisto, the creators of KAI, the leading Conversational AI platform for the finance industry. Zor has over 20 years of experience in the enterprise software industry. Prior to Kasisto, he was the CEO & Co-Founder of SpeechCycle, a market leader in cloud-based contact center optimization solutions for the telco market, which was acquired by Synchronoss Technologies (SNCR). Before that, Zor founded and ran, a provider of enterprise collaboration and messaging software, which was acquired by (MLTX).

Kasisto is the fruition of Zor’s successful track record creating companies and solutions that power conversations. He’s put Kasisto on a mission to help financial institutions service, engage and acquire customers via human-like, intelligent conversations, anytime, anywhere.