March 3, 2024
Luzia lands $10 million in funding to expand its WhatsApp-based chatbot


The availability of Large Language Models (LLMs) has made it easier for developers to make chatbots. Large companies such as OpenAI, Google and Microsoft have made ChatGPT, Bard and Bing Chat widely available. However, non-tech affluent audiences might not be aware of some of these bots. Spain-based Luzia is trying to introduce AI chatbot tech to users through a WhatsApp-based bot.

The company, founded in 2023 by Álvaro Martínez Higes, Javier Andrés and Carlos Pérez, is trying to address the Spanish and Portuguese-speaking market for chatbots. Using Luzia is pretty easy. You can save the chatbot as a contact on your phone and start talking to it on WhatsApp or Telegram.

Luzia co-founders from left: Javier Andrés, Carlos Pérez, and Álvaro Martínez Higes. Image Credits: Luzia

The startup said more than 17 million users have interacted with Luzia to date, with 8 million of them active on a monthly basis. While it didn’t mention its daily active users, the startup said it receives 13 million daily requests.

Martínez Higes told TechCrunch that most people forward Luzia as a contact to have their friends chat with the bot.

The company uses your phone number to detect the country that you’re in and starts talking in Spanish or Portuguese. As the company is expanding in the U.S., Luzia will start speaking in English, but if you talk to it in Spanish, it will default to Spanish. But given that it relies on GPT tech, it can converse in other languages as well.

Luzia currently is compatible with users in Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Spain, Mexico and now the U.S.

The idea is to introduce Luzia to users who might not know about AI models. The company said that a lot of first-time users compare the bot with a voice assistant, such as Siri or Alexa. While the app shows a basic onboarding message with some of the use cases, the startup is not actively sending educational messages to users to let them know about different sets of features.

The company uses a combination of models such as GPT 3.5/4, Llama, and Kandinsky to power the interaction. Just like any other chatbot, users can ask Luzia to generate text for email or answer questions. They can also forward a voice note or an audio file for the bot to transcribe it. Plus, Luzia can generate images based on the given prompt.

Asking Luzia about weather

Asking Luzia about the weather. Image Credits: Luzia

Luzia recently raised $10 million in Series A funding led by Khosla Ventures. Other investors participated, such as Basketball Hall of Famer Pao Gasol, A* Capital, Abstract Ventures, FJ Labs, Globo Venture, Mike Santos of Technisys, Sean Ryan of Sean Investments LTD and Grupo Product. Before this round, the company had raised $3 million.

The company is keeping the bot free for the moment and focusing on growth and creating user value.

“We have seen monetization tools like unlocking unlimited messages, long-length transcriptions and giving access to better models through paid plans. But those are quickly becoming commoditized in the industry. If we would have gone with that route, we would have been dead,” Martínez Higes said.

Adina Tecklu, a partner at Khosla Ventures, said that Luzia is positioned well to address the personal assistant market. Tecklu added that just addressing the LatAm and the Iberian Peninsula market is a huge opportunity.

“I have been looking at this space for some time — how can AI truly power consumer interactions. In Luzia, we saw a strong team with a very deep understanding of their consumer base resulting in exciting early traction. Their product is truly resonating with Spanish and Portuguese consumers and having such early user traction is impressive,” Tecklu told TechCrunch over email.

This year, Khosla has invested in multiple startups working on AI and LLM tech, including reading coach app Ello and conversational learning app Quazel.



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