Mesmer, a startup largely backed by Intel Capital, emerged from stealth today bearing robotic process automation (RPA) technology designed to drastically reduce the amount of time and effort it takes to perform customer experience testing for mobile app development.
In fact, Mesmer has been quietly operating since 2017, using a $4 million seed round of funding from True Ventures to create its product. In that time, Mesmer has garnered multiple customers, described in a blog post as “several large, well-known global companies.”
A new funding round, led by Intel Capital, along with True Ventures, totals $15 million.
Mesmer has appended a letter to the standard RPA abbreviation to more clearly define what it does: RPAD, or “Robotic Process Automation for Development.” It’s a SaaS offering that promises to reduce app testing, which Mesmer says consumes some 40% of developers’ time. Instead of performing endless manual taps on a multitude of devices, devs can have Mesmer automate the process.
The business opportunity is significant, if Mesmer is right that mobile application development is indeed a $40 billion industry.
For good measure, Mesmer trademarked the term Deep Learning Automation (DLA), which it describes as using “artificial intelligence, specifically computer vision, natural language processing, and path planning models to test apps in a customer-centric way.” These cover the full gamut, including testing infrastructure, UI testing, bug testing, and user acceptance testing (UAT).
Representatives of Intel Capital first met Ahmed Datoo and Waheed Qureshi, Mesmer’s cofounders and top executives, at a VentureBeat event in 2018. Datoo and Qureshi had street cred by dint of their previous work creating Zenprise, which Citrix acquired for $355 million back in 2012, and they stayed in touch with Intel Capital while they continued working on Mesmer. A couple of months ago, after meeting up with folks from the firm, Datoo and Qureshi showed enough progress for Intel Capital to jump.
“They’d made significant development on the progress, and frankly also just had a bunch of revenue from large enterprise customers while being in stealth — with no marketing or sales [team] whatsoever,” Nick Washburn, senior managing director of Intel Capital, told VentureBeat in a phone interview. “I was blown away by … what they’ve done with the tech stack,” he added.
So impressed was Washburn that he pulled in some of his senior partners for a meeting the next day, and they spoke with one of Mesmer’s big customers the following day and made an offer that night.