When Enam originally devised the software behind Cresta at Stanford’s AI lab, he used local subjects — his fellow graduate students — to test it out. Studying conversations between teaching assistants and students, his software was able to analyze conversational qualities that made for a more effective TA.
After his own difficult conversation with his father about dropping out, Enam, who immigrated to the U.S. from Karachi, Pakistan, fourteen-years ago, tried to sell his tools to financial software giant Intuit. The company didn’t want to take a chance on a one-person company, he says. Facing rejection from dozens of other leads, Enam accepted an internship offer at the company as an opportunity to pilot his product from the inside. Five months later, Intuit signed on as a customer. Porsche, which invested through its venture arm, eventually signed up too, as well as Cox Communications.
Moving forward, Cresta plans to use the funding to launch new products over the summer, while investing in research and sales. At Sequoia, new investor and board member Carl Eschenbach says he was intrigued by the company’s ability to coexist with existing call center architecture, given the call center’s large amount of repeatable, automation-receptive work. (Eschenbach’s also on the board of $35 billion-valuation robotic process automation company UiPath, under registration to go public.)
Agents who use Cresta, Eschenbach says, are dramatically more productive. “We call them 10x agents,” he says. “They go from what they are doing today to be able to drive 10X increase in their performance.”
Cresta’s not the first to pursue that market — in 2018, Dialpad acquired another conversation analyzer, TalkIQ; Gong, which uses software to study customer interactions, reached a $2.2 billion valuation last year. A bigger question: whether higher productivity for agents means companies will simply employ fewer, cutting headcount to boost profits.
Enam insists Cresta serves to make people more effective, not to replace them. He thinks he’ll be the one to breakthrough in the end. “We want to take Cresta to as many enterprises in the world as possible,” he says.