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Business Observer Friday, Jan. 24, 2020 6 months ago

Tech firm, after $75M investment, plots global expansion

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CallMiner remains driven to capture new innovations.
by: Beth Luberecki Contributor

CallMiner ended 2019 with a bang, closing a $75 million investment round with Goldman Sachs. It’s the largest single investment ever made in the speech analytics firm founded in Fort Myers in 2002. It’s also one of the largest onetime capital investments made in a Southwest Florida company in at least the past few years.

“We had raised about $62 million prior to this, but it’s the biggest piece of investment capital we’ve ever had certainly in one slug,” CallMiner President and CEO Paul Bernard says. “It more than doubles the total investment into the company.”

CallMiner’s signature software platform, Eureka, uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to analyze customer interactions via call centers and other channels. That analysis provides its more than 400 clients — which include some of the world’s largest brands, financial institutions and communications companies — with actionable recommendations for improving customer service and efficiency.

This new investment will help the company grow its customer base both within the U.S., where it primarily works now, and worldwide. “There is lots of opportunity in Europe and Asia for us, and this will help fuel that international growth,” Bernard says.

The funds will also help the company tweak its software for complementary uses and even expand into other markets. For example, if a customer would like to close an account while on a phone call with a customer service agent, Eureka could recognize that and trigger a transaction to close that account without any additional actions from the agent.

'In a tech company you’re never done; you continue to advance the ball.’ Paul Bernard, CallMiner

“There are other types of users that would benefit from our software with a slightly different swizzle,” Bernard says. “So the investment will be used both on the product side and go-to-market side: taking the core functionality of our product and adding some additional features that makes it work in those additional market segments and then finding those additional types of users.”

In the past three years, CallMiner has averaged top-line growth of 30% over the prior year. (Bernard declines to provide specific revenue figures.) Bernard sees plenty of room for additional increases in what’s an $11 billion market for speech analytics and customer experience software and services. “We’re playing in space that’s only about 30% penetrated,” he says. “There’s a lot of running around room in those market spaces.”

CallMiner has benefited from having a scalable platform and from recognitions like being named a “Leader” in a recent report on artificial intelligence by Forrester. “That helped fuel a lot of interest in the company from prospects, new employees, investors and partners,” Bernard says. “You put that together with a market that’s growing pretty quickly, lots of green space in that area and a product that’s been around since 2002 and has gotten to a certain level of customer receivability, and it starts to feed itself.”

One lesson Bernard has learned with the growth? Constant innovation is a must to remain an industry leader. In 2019 alone, the firm introduced enhancements including its new Emotion Solution Suite, which helps Eureka understand and measure human emotions during customer interactions, and improved text analytics capabilities to support emojis and special characters. It also announced new partnerships like its team-up with DataRobot, a leader in machine learning.

“In a tech company, you’re never done; you continue to advance the ball,” Bernard says. “As we go into these additional market segments, part of what we have to do is continue to make the software easier and easier to use, make it faster and make it be able to deal with more and more different types of data.”

CallMiner has about 120 employees in Fort Myers, home to the software engineering, product management, customer support and other divisions and portions of the firm’s research, AI and marketing teams. Some 80 employees work at its executive and sales offices in Massachusetts, where Bernard is based. The remaining staff is in sales and support offices in various regions of the world.

Although Bernard says having offices all over makes it hard to “walk down the hall and be able to talk to all of my employees on a face-to-face basis,” there are benefits to a large Southwest Florida presence. One big one: CallMiner has a strong relationship with Florida Gulf Coast University’s software engineering program and hires many of its graduates.

In 2020, Bernard expects to make some small acquisitions to help the company enter new markets. Another focus? Maintaining CallMiner’s corporate culture that thrives on pushing the envelope. “What makes you successful is constantly bringing better and better products to the market to constantly improve your customers’ business,” he says. “When I think about all the different things we can do, in many ways the sky’s the limit.”

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