Hyper Anna, a Sydney-based Australian start-up has secured a $16 million series A funding round, led by Sequoia China, to launch its virtual assistant in new international markets.

The start-up has created an AI agent called Anna which plays the role of data scientist, giving customers business intelligence and on-demand insights based on natural language requests. Think Siri for analtyics.

The raise was led by Sequoia China, with significant investments from Airtree Ventures, Westpac Reinventure and IAG Firemark Ventures. Both Westpac and general insurer IAG are two of Hyper Anna’s early customers.

The cash will be used to support international expansion in markets including Hong Kong, Singapore, China and USA.

The Hong Kong office is scheduled to open in September. As part of its move into these markets, Hyper Anna exposes the artificial intelligence software to new languages and cultures. In doing this, it will begin learning about the financial sector at a global scale across the world.

Hyper Anna will continue to focus its sales efforts in the financial services sector, following its success in Australia, for example with IAG and Westpac, which both use ‘Anna’ to answer questions about business performance.

Natalie Nguyen, co-founder and CEO, Hyper Anna, said: “We’re delighted to have closed our Series A, which ensures we can continue our aggressive growth expansion up into Asia and then to the US. In each of these markets, many organisations are struggling to find data scientists to do the analytics and get the insights they need. We fix that problem with Anna.

“If you ask ‘how are sales going?’ and I told you that you had sold 100 units, on its own, that information does not provide much insight into the performance of the business. The intention is to track sales against time, and just like a human, Anna picks up on those nuances. Intent is something that humans have a knack for intrinsically understanding, but something that machines have traditionally struggled with.”

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