How Clinc AI is changing the game for conversational artificial intelligence

Blog post by ELP Student Andy Walner (Computer Science| Class of 2019)


“I ate some awesome food in Chicago this summer when I was there for my birthday. Can you show me those transactions so I can go there again?”


That’s a quote from Johann Hauswald, co-founder of Clinc AI, during the company’s debut at a leading FinTech conference in 2016. Sounds like he’s talking to a real person, right? Wrong.

Founded out of an artificial intelligence research lab at the University of Michigan, Clinc has built a Siri-like voice assistant that can understand conversations far more complex than the capabilities of your Amazon Alexa.


Rock star research team


Clinc’s founding team is as intriguing as it is competent. The team consists of husband-and-wife duo Prof. Jason Mars (CEO) and Prof. Lingjia Tang (COO), along with two of their PhD students, Dr. Michael Laurenzano (CTO) and Dr. Johann Hauswald (Chief Architect).

Together, these co-founders have created dozens of computer science research publications and won multiple awards in the field. Their cutting-edge research has been the cornerstone of Clinc’s success, allowing them to compete with the AI prowess of leading tech companies like Google and Amazon.

And thanks to the founding team’s deeply-rooted connections with University of Michigan, the Ann Arbor based startup has had no trouble funneling in top engineering talent.


The ultimate pivot


Initially, the plan was to sell voice assistant capabilities to commercial banks who would integrate Clinc’s tech directly into their own applications. While the B2B SaaS model remains intact, Clinc is now looking beyond personal finance.

Voice assistants reach into every corner of the market, and can take the form of a drive-thru ordering system, a scribe in your doctor’s office, or a central command center in your car. By expanding their market from banks to enterprise as a whole, Clinc will be unleashing their tech to solve all kinds of new and exciting challenges.

But that’s easier said than done. Companies who purchase voice assistant technology want new capabilities specific to their business, requesting many features which would quickly bog down an engineering team. That’s why Clinc came out with a new solution: Spotlight.

Spotlight is a one-of-a-kind platform that puts the power of conversational AI into the hands of the customer. Without even writing a line of code, Clinc’s customers can add new data and expand on Clinc’s already substantial set of features. By empowering customers to create their own AI, Clinc has created an immensely scalable business that appeals to nearly every section of the market.


What’s next for Clinc?


Companies are moving fast to get in on Clinc’s technology. Major banks USAA and IsBank (Turkey’s 2nd largest bank) are already on board, while many others are in the pipeline.

In order to meet the growing demand, Clinc has already opened a second office in San Francisco, and is hiring aggressively to round out its quality team of engineers. And the momentum doesn’t stop there.

In September, the tech world will be eagerly watching as Clinc’s CEO Jason Mars takes the main stage at TechCrunch Disrupt, the ultimate showcase for up and coming startups. With this early traction along with the move to expand beyond banking, Clinc is locked in on its mission to pioneer the next evolution of conversational artificial intelligence.

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