Sequoia China backs AI startup Hyper Anna in AU$16m round

The funding will be used for expansion into Asia and the US.

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Hyper Anna co-founders Sam Zheng, Kent Tian, and Natalie Nguyen.

Image: Supplied

Artificial intelligence startup Hyper Anna has announced raising AU$16 million in a Series A round led by Sequoia China, with participation from Airtree Ventures, Westpac Reinventure, and IAG Firemark Ventures.

The latest round brings the total amount raised by the Sydney-based startup to AU$17.25 million since its founding in 2015.

The funding will be used to support expansion into international markets including China, Hong Kong, Singapore, and the US. An office in Hong Kong is already scheduled to open in September.

Founded by data scientists Natalie Nguyen, Kent Tian, and Sam Zheng, Hyper Anna's core product is an artificially intelligent data scientist -- touted the "Siri for analytics" -- that sits on top of company databases, answering questions about business performance in natural language.

"The idea behind Anna is that all businesses, regardless of scope or size, deserve to have access to data scientists to drive value from the data they create and own. With a shortage of talent in the market Hyper Anna allows customers to scale their data analysis requirements in a very efficient manner," Nguyen said in a statement.

Users can ask questions in plain English such as, "How are my sales doing?" and Anna will provide relevant insights.

"The intention is to track sales against time, and just like a human, Anna picks up on those nuances," Nguyen said.

"Intent is something that humans have a knack for intrinsically understanding, but something that machines have traditionally struggled with."

Eventually, users will be able to ask questions in multiple languages using voice, text, and email, and interact with any collection of data on any device.

Data held in applications such as Salesforce and Google Analytics can be accessed using APIs, while other data required for analysis can be fed into the system on an as-needed basis.

"The brain of Anna constantly needs to reap feeds of data so it gets smarter -- so having a central place for the brain to sit is extremely important and also helps with deployment time. We deploy literally within a day with Azure," Nguyen previously said.

Investors Westpac and IAG are also among Hyper Anna's early customers.

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