The long, strange trip of FunnelAI, a San Antonio tech startup

Despite the buzz about how tech thrived during the pandemic, at least one San Antonio tech firm was sailing in rough seas over the past year.

In early April, I wrote a column about tech companies moving out of San Antonio. A couple of sources mentioned how a flashy upstart called FunnelAI had fled the nest for Austin after growing and raising capital here. That’s how I first heard of the small business that uses artificial intelligence to scour social media and help clients find sales leads.

FunnelAI had a good run into 2020.

It scored a 2019 AI Tech Award as “Innovator of the Year.” By March 2019, the company had raised roughly $2 million in capital. Geekdom, San Antonio’s tech-focused shared workspace, noted its importance in the area’s “tech ecosystem” and said via social media “FunnelAI is on fire!”

In July 2020, the company hired automotive-industry veteran Laura Ryan as its chief operating officer, though she was only in the job through December, according to her LinkedIn profile. On Aug. 6, FunnelAI announced a partnership with Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute in Edmonton, Canada.

Then the startup fell silent.

Nobody from the company responded to my initial queries, but I included a line about how FunnelAI had left San Antonio.

A screen capture last week shows SocialMiningAI on the website. The

A screen capture last week shows SocialMiningAI on the website. The “Our Story” section has a “coming soon” note.

Screen grab

Its lead investor, Pat Matthews, founder of venture capital firm Active Capital, gave me a hint. But I didn’t realize it at the time. While he couldn’t comment on the specifics of its move, he said, “many of our companies, regardless of previous headquarters, have gone fully remote.”

I have to say, the company’s name confused me. Fun? Funnel like a kitchen utensil or a cake? Funnel A.I.! Or Funnelai, like some sort of tropical flower?

Then I read about the concept of business funnels and realized that’s what the name alluded to. You know, sales and marketing funnels? Funky jargon for the customer’s journey from awareness to purchase.

The process even has stages: awareness, interest, decision and action. I’ve seen the graphics with the multicolored upside-down cones.

All that to say, I fell into the funnel and experienced those stages chasing this story.

A note I received a few days after the column appeared piqued my interest in the company and its sibling founders, Sridhar and Suja Kamma.

The message came from a tipster we’ll call Mr. T. His note said I hadn’t done my research and that “FunnelAI went to Austin alright, but within a week of getting here, they fired everyone in the company and closed down.”

Mr. T. let me know that the company laid off its 10 employees on a Friday in November with no notice. He added that Sridhar is still in Austin and Suja went back to Canada.

The LinkedIn pages of several former employees corroborate this timing. Sridhar’s LinkedIn page is not visible, but business website Crunchbase indicates he’s still in Austin and has successfully “exited” from FunnelAI. It also said he’s focused on a new company called Neuro Apps AI.

So I reached out to FunnelAI, and Sridhar directly, multiple times in different ways. No response.

The Austin Chamber of Commerce had no record of FunnelAI operating there.

At the time, the FunnelAI website still showed the Sridhar and Suja origin story. There was no physical address in Austin or elsewhere. Hyperlinks to Slack and to contact a media rep at the bottom of the page both worked, but nobody responded.

A few weeks passed. I decided to dig. I circled back.

This time, the website was different. The branding on the homepage said SocialMediaAI. The site listed Geekdom’s address, 110 E. Houston St., seventh floor. The Slack and media contact hyperlinks were dead, and the origin story now said “coming soon.” No reference to the Kamma siblings remained on the site’s main pages.

Charles Woodin, Geekdom CEO, said he hadn’t seen FunnelAI people in the space recently, but he’d check it out and let me know.

So I clicked the link to “Schedule a Demo,” and very quickly I had an appointment with Gregory Cooper, founder and CEO of SocialMiningAI. His LinkedIn profile noted he served as FunnelAI’s chief revenue officer since May 2020.


When Cooper realized I wasn’t interested in purchasing a lead generation service, the convo faded. We haven’t spoken on the phone, but we’ve exchanged emails. I asked him if FunnelAI had become SocialMiningAI.

“That is not what happened at all,” he wrote. “(FunnelAI) didn’t become SMAI.”

He continued: “As far as I know you are continuing down an inaccurate account,” and he doesn’t know “with a 100 percent certainty” where Sridhar or his sister are today. He added that my original column “wasn’t correct with thinking (FunnelAI) moved to Austin.”

Crunchbase said SocialMiningAI acquired FunnelAI for an undisclosed amount in February. SocialMiningAI Inc. became a Delaware-registered company operating in Texas on April 30.

The Texas comptroller’s office shows Adam Maher as the registered agent. Maher’s LinkedIn profile lists him as CEO of Moki, a San Antonio-based mobile device management startup. Both Cooper and Maher previously worked in Draper, Utah, for DealerSocket, an Irving-headquartered automotive dealer software company.

And FunnelAI updated its Facebook page contact info with Cooper’s telephone number on May 17. Prior to that, the page hadn’t been updated since February.

Cooper said he’s busy moving from Utah to San Antonio and would make time to talk more sometime next month. I look forward to that.

In the meantime, we can’t fully lament the loss of FunnelAI to Austin because some version of it is back where it started. Or so it seems.

Brandon Lingle writes for the Express-News through Report for America, a national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms. [email protected]