How Philly's own Guru landed Slack as an investor - Technical.ly Philly

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Jan. 4, 2017 12:59 pm

How Philly’s own Guru landed Slack as an investor

Yes, that Slack.
Guru cofounders Mitchell Stewart, left, and Rick Nucci.

Guru cofounders Mitchell Stewart, left, and Rick Nucci.

(Courtesy photo)

Sure, First Mark Capital led that $1 million round raised by Guru last summer, but now we know there was also some cash in there from San Francisco-based tech darling Slack.

As of December 2015, the company has been investing in companies working on Slack-related technologies through something called The Slack Fund, an $80 million initiative backed by venture partners like Accel, Andreessen Horowitz, Index Ventures, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Spark Growth and Social+Capital.

(Slack declined to disclose how much of that $1 million round it forked over.)

Guru, which developed its own Slack bot in May of last year, was able to tap into that fund by way of its primary investor, First Mark Capital. “We were introduced through FirstMark,” Guru CEO Rick Nucci said. “They had a relationship with the fund.” According to Nucci, it took about three in-person meetings to make the decision.

Here’s why this was likely a good deal for Slack: one of Guru’s pitch phrases is “Guru is a layer of knowledge that lives where you work.” The company, which promises to boost efficiency by housing and organizing team knowledge, will now spend that dough trying to make Slack a better experience for teams.

Guru’s been improving the Slack bot with new features. The lil guy allows users to turn their responses into FAQ entries, find answers quickly and check in with teammates to make sure old answers are still up to date. Also, the company has been working on the bot’s natural language processing to make sure users can converse naturally with it. (No preloaded jokes yet, though.)

But beyond the flashy AI advances, the money also allowed Guru, currently at 22 full-timers, to grow its outbound sales team. “We grew our sales team because that channel has and continues to work well for us,” said Nucci.

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The firm has nabbed a few biggie accounts, Nucci said: Airbnb, Square and Bit.ly among them.

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