(from left) FunnelAI Co-Founders Suja Kamma and Sridhar Kamma have built a company focusing on machine learning.
(from left) FunnelAI co-founders Suja Kamma and Sridhar Kamma have built a company focusing on machine learning. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

One of San Antonio’s downtown tech startups is gearing up for growth.

FunnelAI, headquartered on Soledad Street downtown, raised a $1.5 million seed round, which it plans to use to hire 10-12 employees over the next year or so. The company – whose software platform uses artificial intelligence to scour social media for customer leads – will focus its talent recruitment on San Antonio with sales, marketing, and software engineers eyed as the startup looks to “ramp up pretty quickly,” said Suja Kamma, FunnelAI co-founder and chief strategy officer.

“That’s what we wanted to focus on with the funding,” Kamma said. “Most of it will go to personnel – hiring the right talent.”

The company is aiming to grow by 30 employees over the next five years and secured a Bexar County skills development grant toward that end. The county grant would award FunnelAI $1,000 for each job it creates within the next two years. The startup’s plan calls for the creation of 15 positions paying at least $70,000 annually and 16 jobs paying a yearly salary of at least $50,000.

The $1.5 million in seed money came in part from San Antonio venture capital firm Active Capital, which was the lead investor in the funding round. Geekdom Fund, a local early-stage investment firm and a separate entity from the downtown coworking space; European retail and consumer investor True; and angel investors from San Antonio and Houston provided the rest of the capital.

Co-founded by Suja Kamma and her brother Sridhar Kamma, the company launched in 2017 in Austin but moved to San Antonio when the startup joined RealCo, a local program that helps tech startups during the first phases of their growth.

FunnelAI’s clientele consists almost entirely of auto dealerships, but the startup expects to expand into other markets, such as real estate.

“They’re really building a platform that can be used in all kinds of businesses all over the world,” said Pat Matthews, Active Capital’s co-founder and CEO. “But I love that they’ve homed in on one vertical and really used that as a beachhead.”

The startup’s algorithms can only search the web for public posts. For example, if a Facebook user posts publicly on a BMW enthusiasts page that they are in the market for a new vehicle, the FunnelAI platform would take that post, parse it for location data and contact information, and place it in dealership BMW of Austin’s customer dashboard.

FunnelAI’s next round of technical hires will look to beef up the platform’s cloud infrastructure.

The $1.5 million funding round follows an earlier “pre-seed” series of $375,000.

Although Matthews remains a staunch supporter of the San Antonio tech ecosystem, he has had to raise his standard for investing in local companies. As a mainstay of the San Antonio angel investor scene for several years, he said he has lost money investing in because he wanted to see them and their respective tech communities thrive.

“Because of that, I have a higher bar,” he said. “But FunnelAI exceeds that bar. FunnelAI … is easily one of the fastest growing companies in my portfolio of 20 right now.”

JJ Velasquez

JJ Velasquez

JJ Velasquez was a columnist, former editor and reporter at the San Antonio Report.