Forethought boasts a contemporary vision for enterprise search that leverages artificial intelligence (AI) to surface the vital content in the work context. Even though customer service serves as its first use case, the company has a wider ambition to operate across the business.
As a company with an unusual approach to search, Forethought utilizes an information retrieval method that is driven by AI underpinnings, which they then embed into the workflow.
Forethought’s Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder Deon Nicholas told TechCrunch that the technique is contrary to the keyword-powered experience utilized by Google. The startup calls its answer engine “Agatha.”
Similarly to other search products, Forethought’s approach starts by indexing important context. According to Nicholas, the company created the search engine in a bid to help index millions of documents at scale quickly. What ’s more, he added that it then uses natural language understanding (NLU) and natural language processing (NLP) in reading the documents in the same manner as a human being.
“We don’t work on keywords. You can ask questions without keywords and using synonyms to help understand what you actually mean, we can actually pull out the correct answer from the content and deliver it to you,” said Deon Nicholas. Customer support makes up the first use cases where Forethought is witnessing traction.
Nicholas explained: “Our AI, Agatha for Support, integrates into a company’s help desk software, either Zendesk, Salesforce Service Cloud, and then we read tickets and suggest answers and relevant knowledge base articles to help close tickets more efficiently.” He also added that their technique has raised agent efficiency by 20-30%.
Forethought ’s plan is to eventually expand beyond its original customer service use case into other fields of the business.
It also intends to follow the same path of indexing documents and embedding the solution, primarily into tools that individuals are leveraging to perform their jobs. Once the company reaches general release or beta, it will function as a cloud service whereby customers register by entering their Salesforce or Zendesk credentials and then the products start to index the context.
The founding team behind Forethought, who are mostly in the mid-20s, have always been enthusiastic about artificial intelligence (AI) since their time back in high school. As a testament to this, Deon Nicholas created an AI program not only to read his notes but also to ask him questions on history while still in high school.
He went ahead to publish a paper regarding machine learning while at the University of Waterloo. Furthermore, Nicholas secured internships at several leading companies including Dropbox, Facebook, and Palantir.
Forethought was established last year and they launched Agatha four years back in private beta. The company currently has six participating companies, the first of which has been transformed into a paying client.
The company has also culminated a pre-seed round of financing and even though they were not ready to share the amount, the investment round was led by K9 Ventures. Other companies that took part in the exercise include Original Capital, Village Global among other unnamed investors.