Austin Arensberg of Scrum Ventures on Conversational AI

Austin Arensberg of Scrum Ventures on Conversational AI

With SuperBot right around the corner, we at Dashbot wanted to give you a chance to get to know this year’s speakers a little better. We sat down with Scrum Ventures’ Austin Arensberg to talk about conversational AI from his perspective as an investor.


Give us a quick background on yourself

I’m Principal at Scrum Ventures currently. Before that, I was working in Seoul as manager of Samsung’s Global Strategy Group where I focused on electric vehicles and energy storage, just to name a few things. I’ve also been the M&A manager at PTT, the national oil company of Thailand. I was a grantee of the U.S. National Science Foundation and a former Princeton in Asia Fellow, a program I still support and remain involved in.


Tell us about Scrum Ventures

Scrum Ventures is a generalist Seed and Series A firm that has a speciality focus on supporting companies expand and grow internationally. Scrum has $75M assets under management and over 60 portfolio companies in a broad range of industries. In recent years Scrum has invested across conversational interfaces in areas such as analytics, retail, and work management.

Why did Scrum choose to invest in conversational interfaces?

Scrum has a thesis that chat is the new operating system and UI. For much of the world that is only today getting online access, chat is their first experience with the internet. As the interfaces become more engaging and feature-rich, we will see traditional processes like checkout systems, signing documents, ordering food, and even entertainment all switch to chat-enabled platforms.

What factors do you take into consideration when you’re looking to invest in a conversational AI company?

One thing is unique value proposition. Do the conversational features provide more functionality than what is currently on the market?

Another thing I like to look at is a deep understanding of customer use case. The product needs to be developed with a clear understanding of the pain points of the customer today and better than what’s currently available. A simple question to ask is “Would I rather be talking to a human than utilizing the conversational product or am I indifferent?” If the use of the product is seemingly invisible and seamless, that’s a good indication of the product quality.

Where do you see conversational AI going in the future?

Conversational AI will become personalized. Much like Netflix recommends certain movies to you, chat agents will already know a lot about you before they begin a conversation and will be able to dynamically assist you throughout the interaction. Chats will move from robotic sounding interactions to human like conversations with tone adjustments, quirks and mannerisms that will make it difficult to tell whether you are interacting with a machine at all. This in turn will lower the threshold for learning how to utilize these tools and allow for new channels of engagement between brands and their customers.

Want to hear more from Austin? He’s coming to San Francisco April 2nd for SuperBot to join the larger conversation surrounding voice tech and chatbots. Get your tickets today and use code “AUSTIN” for 25% off 

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