SoftBank Latin America Fund and SaaS B2B sector boutique Illuminate Ventures are investing $7 million in Birdie, an insights software company for product management.
SoftBank, which has three-quarters of Latin America’s unicorns in its portfolio, announced its first investments in early-stage startups in December 2021 (for Worc, Abstra, and BotCity). Now, Marco Camhaji, managing partner of early-stage investments at SoftBank Latin America Fund, and Cindy Padnos, founder and managing partner at Illuminate Ventures, will join Birdie’s board of directors.
The startup’s co-founders, Patrícia Osorio, Alexandre Hadade, and Rodrigo Pantigas, were already working together at a marketing solutions company, Arizona, where they are still partners.
Talking to some clients at that time, Osorio says the companies’ product teams were still “analog” and worked with consultancies and traditional research firms to understand the consumer.
“We had a super opportunity, there is no shortage of online consumer opinion today. E-commerces have a lot of reviews, you have a lot of people discussing and giving opinions in social media discussion forums. There are tons of information available and marketing teams use engagement tools that look more at the brand, whereas product teams still had a huge pain to understand the market,” she explains.
At the same time, product teams need to be increasingly innovative and launch products faster and more efficiently. So Birdie was born in 2017 with the idea of refining the new oil: data. The company created an AI (Artificial Intelligence) model that processes and organizes databases with customer opinions about some products. The partners built the company with their own capital and Astella invested a $1.6 million Pre-Seed round in the startup in August 2020.
Birdie also helps product teams understand market trends to launch and monitor acceptance. “We process millions of data daily for our client to push a button and visualize three weaknesses and three strengths of the product,” exemplifies the CRO. The company monitors 150 data sources that include online retailers, app shops, private consumer experience in call centers, satisfaction surveys, and social listening platforms. By next year, the idea is to reach 450 data sources.
The software charges a monthly fee from these companies, which varies according to the services purchased and can cover the full cycle of management, product idea, launch, and optimization. Birdie promises to deliver insights 40% faster than traditional research firms.
They have brought in Everton Cherman as a partner in the startup and CTO of the team. Cherman is an AI specialist and was one of Brazil’s youngest PhDs. Leading the technology area, he has built a team with PhDs, in which all who work with the programming model are Brazilians. The teams are remote, spread over thirteen states in Brazil. The startup also has business teams in Europe and the United States, where the co-founders are based.
Most of the new funding will be allocated to technology, in particular, to refine the AI model in different languages, interpreting slang, for example. Another destination of the money is the hiring of the commercial team, since, to date, Birdie has not gone to market. The company got its first six contracts through networking.
The startup serves companies such as Microsoft, HP, Midea, and Jetson. Through these big names, Birdie is expanding across countries and is already present in the United States, Brazil, United Kingdom, Mexico, Spain, and Germany.
By the end of the year, the company wants to increase the coverage area to 15 countries, adding Japan, China, Italy, France, India, and Russia, as well as reaching 24 clients. “Now that we are going to market, we will be able to generate volume,” says Osorio.