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Backed by Cresta founders, Trove’s AI wants to make surveys fun again

Surveys have become an integral part of many aspects of our lives, but most of them are tedious, leading to ineffective responses and actions. Dinghan Shen and Yuan Xue, two software engineers working in Silicon Valley, recognized an opportunity to leverage the breakthroughs brought by large language models to make surveys more empathetic and engaging.

Around six months ago, Shen and Xue, who had been friends since high school, started Trove AI, a SaaS platform that lets users create conversational surveys powered by GPT-4 and its own fine-tuned models. The idea has received backing already. Zayd Enam and Tim Shi, co-founders of Shen’s former employer Cresta, an a16z-backed unicorn empowering contact center agents with AI, invested an undisclosed amount in the startup’s pre-seed funding.

Launched six weeks ago, Trove’s first version has amassed over 1,000 users who are mostly small and medium-sized businesses from around the world. “Dozens of” them have sent surveys at least twice since. Still free to use, the platform has attracted a wide range of users, including a London-based spa, a K-12 school in Boston, and a travel agency focused on Latin America.

Applying conversational AI to surveys appears to be a low-hanging fruit in this era of ChatGPT frenzy. Enterprise-focused survey giant Qualtrics has adopted AI across its line of customer and employee feedback products. SurveyMonkey, the go-to survey provider for SMBs, is using AI to automate the creation process.

To differentiate, Trove aims to ultimately become a “customer and employee experience management platform” for companies of all sizes, Shen said. The product is essentially experience management around customers, employees, products, and more. Following the recent management saga of OpenAI that briefly disrupted its chatbot service, applications that build on top of ChatGPT, or “wrapper products,” are rethinking their heavy dependence on third-party APIs.

“We are 80% SaaS and 20% AI,” Shen told TechCrunch in an interview. As such, he reckoned Trove offers ample value in addition to its features powered by OpenAI. “We aim to do everything from survey creation, response, analytics, ticket creation to CRM integration… It’s an AI-generated feedback loop.”

CRM integration, specifically, would allow Trove to create highly customized surveys upon which the system can create a ticket automatically and send a personalized follow-up email to thank the customer for giving feedback.

“Fundamentally, we’re rethinking the experience management workflows from scratch in the context of the powerful large language model capabilities today,” said the founder.

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