Hyper Anna raises AU$1.25m from Westpac's Reinventure and AirTree VC

Hyper Anna, an AI analytics startup, has accepted its first round of investment from Reinventure and AirTree, and has just started working with Insurance Australia Group.

Sydney-based startup Hyper Anna has raised AU$1.25 million from Westpac's VC firm Reinventure and AirTree Ventures.

This is the first round of investment Hyper Anna has received since its founding in 2015 and will be used primarily for talent acquisition.

Currently in beta mode, Hyper Anna is an artificially intelligent data scientist that sits on top of company databases to answer questions about business performance.

With Hyper Anna, users can ask questions in plain English such as, "How are my sales doing?" and Anna will provide relevant insights. Eventually, users will be able to ask questions using voice, text, and email, and interact with any collection of data on any device.

Hyper Anna was founded by data scientists and ex-Quantium employees Natalie Nguyen and Sam Zheng, who wanted to make big data more interpretable without the need for companies to consult with data scientists on a day-to-day basis.

Nguyen, who named IBM Watson as Hyper Anna's closest competitor, told ZDNet that the startup is targeting enterprises that have been strategically collecting data for at least two years.

"What we have seen is upper management of these companies are big advocate for data analytics adoption within enterprise. What we offer is a solution to deliver data analytics for everyday ordinary workers. This democratisation would help enterprise to drive analytics adoption at a much faster speed when compared with what's currently on the market," said Nguyen.

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," said Nguyen.

Hyper Anna is now working with Insurance Australia Group and a project is underway with Westpac, though Nguyen was not able to disclose any further details.

Hyper Anna is scheduled for general launch in early 2017, with plans to expand into the US soon after.

This isn't the first time Westpac has invested in data analytics. In 2013, Westpac created a business performance and analytics team, bringing together analytics professionals to drive value from enterprise information resources.

Earlier this year, the bank contributed to Data Republic's AU$10.5 million funding round and partnered with the company to launch the world's first data banking service called Databank, allowing corporate clients to separate and store customer information and authorise broader data insights for analysis and exchange.