In just eighteen months, mother-and-son duo Perla and Adrian Humphrey have begun building out an AI software company that’s already making waves.
Edifius is a code-free automated phone answering service that promises to be efficient, cost-effective, and easy for businesses to provide maximum self-service for their customers. Through its Simba technology, a conversational voice bot answers the business line, can carry on a human-like interaction with the caller with familiar FAQs, and will facilitate solutions and next steps.
While Perla presides as chief executive officer, Adrian is the chief technology officer and sole engineer of the tech, which they’ve named Simba. His talents give non-technical business owners the confidence to augment machine learning into their enterprises.
Both Perla and Adrian have STEM backgrounds, holding degrees in Computer Engineering and Computer Science, respectively. Prior to co-founding Edifius, Perla (a Clark Atlanta University MBA grad) established an impressive track record as a senior techie manager at reputable firms such as Oracle, Deloitte Consulting, and NCR Corporation.
Their artificial intelligence SaaS platform is designed for the non-techies who want the benefits of automation for their enterprises—including transcribed call logs and analytics–without the high cost of software developers or a team of AI consultants.
In the short span since launching and dividing time between Atlanta and Silicon Valley, the Humphreys have already gotten on the radar of Backstage Capital founder Arlan Hamilton. Edifius is also one of the participating startups in the newly launched WeWork Labs Atlanta. The company has several more opportunities lined up in 2020 to further accelerate their brand.
Read on to hear about their entrepreneurial journey, upcoming conference stops, and creative marketing campaign to raise awareness about their company.
What has the process been like in starting your company?
Perla: Starting Edifius has been a grind from day one.
Our journey started about 18 months ago when Adrian Humphrey, our CTO, came up with the idea of our product, Simba, an AI-powered voice bot that answers a business phone and has a human-like conversation with the caller to take action on the reason for the call. Within weeks of the idea, we attended San Diego Startup Week as an opportunity to pitch the idea to fellow founders and investors. We received positive feedback and advice from an angel investor to build it to prove out the technology.
We met Arlan Hamilton at the event, who invited us to a private pitch session a few months out, along with several other founders. In preparation for the pitch, Adrian built a prototype of Simba so that we could demo him during the pitch. We pitched, the prototype worked, and Arlan asked for a follow-up meeting. This was the start of a conversation and a relationship, with periodic updates to keep Arlan updated on our progress.
Over the next year, we continued to bootstrap our startup and made a decision it was time for us to commit full-time to the business. To prepare fundraising materials, I applied to and was accepted into Founder Gym.
Just before Founder Gym’s graduation day, I sent an update to Arlan. The update led to an investment in our business from ArlanWasHere Investments fund.
Can you explain the technology that you’ve made easy for non-technical business owners to use?
Adrian: We’ve taken the more sophisticated technologies for NLU (natural language understanding), machine learning, speech synthesis, VOIP (voice over IP), security proxy for VOIP servers, virtual machines, APIs, back-office systems and webhook integrations, all built on cloud infrastructure, and made them work “seamlessly” together for business people to build their own voice bots on an easy-to-use web platform, which before now required the skills of developers.
What’s happening with the company right now?
Perla: We closed a Friends & Family round made up of several of my graduate school classmates at Clark Atlanta University. Our startup was selected to participate in WeWork Labs Atlanta, managed by Joey Womack. We have been selected to pitch at Plug and Play for the Enterprise Tech category. We have been selected to exhibit at Collision 2020 tech conference in Toronto in June. And, we will exhibit and have a speaker role at the Call & Contact Center Expo in Las Vegas in October.
What’s the motivation behind your creative marketing idea?
Perla: We want to do something different yet engaging for our marketing. Although our software is industry-agnostic, our initial marketing spend will target pizzerias, in which there’s a U.S. market size of $50 billion. For pizzerias, Simba can take phone takeout orders and send them to a dedicated iPad in the kitchen where they can be printed from a Blue Tooth printer.
Given that I am a former independent filmmaker, we’ve decided to launch our marketing campaign with a web film series titled ‘The Pizzeria’, fashioned after ‘The Office’ comedy series. We will film 12 two-minute episodes and release an episode each week on social media, followed by relevant content marketing.
The script was written by my teenage daughter, who’s a witty, talented author.
As people of color with STEM degrees in Computer Engineering and Computer Science, what has your experience been like in this field? Why is it important that Black and Latinx people get involved and succeed in tech?
Adrian: My experience in software engineering has been rewarding and has given me an opportunity to contribute to the success of other companies. Now, I’m leveraging what I’ve learned in college and have taught myself to build my own company.
In my opinion, if Black and Latinx people don’t get involved and succeed in tech, we run the risk of being job seekers instead of job creators, borrowers of funds instead of givers of it. With technology, we can create so much, including meaningful jobs for ourselves. We can also create wealth and contribute to building a pipeline of Black and Latinx technologists for generations to come.
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