Ensuring the security of payments poses a significant challenge for all businesses, but in the B2B sector, there’s an additional layer of complexity. It involves guaranteeing that the companies you’re selling to will uphold their payment commitments, avoiding unjustifiable excuses, insolvency, or attempts to escape their obligations through creative accounting, bankruptcy, litigation, or other means. Such challenges are relatively rare in the B2C realm.
So, how can B2B enterprises, especially wholesalers dealing in bulk products, ensure that they receive payments for the products and services they provide? Slope, a two-year-old AI startup based in San Francisco, aims to set the industry standard. They are developing a B2B payment tracking and processing platform that combines their own “rules-based” technology with OpenAI’s GPT-3.5 Turbo. Additionally, Slope is working on its proprietary in-house large language models (LLMs).
Recently, the company secured $30 million in an equity round led by Union Square Ventures, led by the renowned Fred Wilson, and saw participation from OpenAI CEO and co-founder Sam Altman, bringing their total funding to $187 million. Impressive, considering they have just 18 full-time employees.
Lawrence Lin Murata, CEO and co-founder of Slope, emphasized their efficient operation during a video call with VentureBeat. He acknowledged the challenges faced by B2B vendors from his own experience working in his parents’ wholesale goods business in Brazil. For B2B enterprises, timely cash flow is essential.
Slope’s technology covers the entire B2B customer payment journey. The funding will be utilized to expand their team and technology, including an online payment and invoicing tool for customers to accept various payment methods, including credit cards, ACH, and international payments.
Alice Deng, Slope’s co-founder and chief product officer, highlighted that their platform covers everything from customer onboarding and risk assessment to reconciliation and integration with the customers’ accounting systems. Slope even provides financing options for customers who can’t make upfront payments.
One of Slope’s key contributions is offering newfound visibility into B2B payment workflows, traditionally considered opaque and old-fashioned. Slope Timeline, for instance, provides real-time updates on payment and product shipping statuses, enabling both buyers and sellers to track their transactions to the millisecond.
A critical element of Slope’s approach is obtaining “clean data” from their enterprise customers. Clean data serves as the foundation for their AI-driven solutions. Slope collaborates with their enterprise clients to gather and format data related to orders, making it accessible and valuable within their platform.
SlopeGPT, which utilizes OpenAI’s GPT, plays a crucial role in assessing a B2B buyer’s creditworthiness and fraud risk. It transforms transaction and purchase order data into embeddings, distinguishing regular payments from anomalous ones. This information helps Slope surface relevant data and recommendations for both their customers and their customers’ customers.
Additionally, SlopeGPT is adept at spotting anomalies or fraudulent activities, such as attempts to impersonate other businesses or manipulate cash flow. It can prevent payments in these cases, ensuring more secure transactions.
Slope’s reliance on GPT’s capabilities was established by feeding it 2.5 million bank transactions over 18 months. Furthermore, the company is developing its proprietary LLM, trained on publicly available data, which promises even better risk identification and will be unveiled soon.