ReplyYes is an e-commerce technology company with an AI focus. (Courtesy of ReplyYes)
Seattle startup ReplyYes has sold more than 100,000 vinyl records purely through text messaging.
And now the company, which spun out of Madrona Venture Labs in December 2015, has just inked a deal for Universal Music Group to use ReplyYes’ technology to sell its own albums and merchandise.
ReplyYes is an e-commerce company with an artificial-intelligence focus. It runs a chatbot that suggests products to customers via text and Facebook Messenger and learns about customer preferences over time.
The startup has been running its own two stores called The Edit and Origin Bound, which sell vinyl records and comic books, respectively, since last spring.
The Edit, for instance, sends a text message to customers each day suggesting a record to buy. If the customer wants it, they can reply “yes.” They can also indicate “like” and “dislike” to help the technology learn what types of music they like.
ReplyYes has raised $6.5 million from investors and plans to use the funds to keep expanding its technology to more business customers, CEO Dave Cotter said.
Universal Music Group is the first company to sign on. It will use ReplyYes’ technology to set up e-commerce stores for specific artists and music genres.
The startup offers broad customization, letting business customers decide how frequently messages are sent, what they contain and the tone of the communication.
Universal “wanted to be able to have expanded control,” Cotter said.
ReplyYes — which combines mobile, e-commerce, messaging and chatbot technology — doesn’t rely entirely on AI. It also has a team of music enthusiasts that respond to customers through the messaging service, answering questions and suggesting music. The startup makes sure not to blur reality with technology; customers always know if they are interacting with a human or robot.
Investors in ReplyYes’ latest funding round include Madrona Venture Group, Cross Culture Ventures, Lowercase Capital, Muse Capital and Arnold Venture Group.