Providing Voice AI Solutions & Addressing Language Barrier
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India, a country with a 1.3 billion population, is known to be a land where people with different beliefs coexist. Simultaneously with such a high population, people here communicate in over thousands dialects of various languages. However, to simplify, the government recognizes around 22 languages, which is still a significant number when compared to any other country which only recognises one language along with English.
India not being primarily an English-speaking country, many are left in the dark and are bereaved of the benefits offered by various companies. This is what Sourabh Gupta and Akshay Deshraj understood after interacting with various villages near Bengaluru in 2016. Both of them who were eager to build a technology startup spoke to farmers, small business owners and others for two months to realize that issues related to language barrier were far more profound than it looked over the surface.
“We soon realized that there was a language barrier, for these people as customers of large enterprises, as most interfaces whether text or IVR, were in English. We also learned that businesses were facing a hard time engaging with their multi-lingual customers, especially in tier II and III, cities, towns and villages. The problem was suddenly apparent, and it had to do with voice, and India’s unique multilingual challenge,” said Gupta.
It is during this point, the 27-year-old along with his friend decided to launch an AI-based voice assistant, VIVA (Vernacular Intelligent Voice Assistant) that will be designed to automate 80 per cent of calls handled by a call centre. Founded in 2016, Vernacular.ai claims to reduce agents’ average call handling time by 30 per cent.
Gupta takes pride in mentioning that their product has the ability to understand speech nuances and idiolect like age, vocal, gender, eagerness, sentiment, pace, etc., of a user and communicate with them accordingly.
He said in 80 per cent cases, they do not have a competition. The company as of date has raised $5.1 million and is expecting to raise their next round of funding in this year. The year 2020, which has been onerous for most of us, Gupta and his team believed pandemic acted as a tailwind to them. The company closed deals faster, grew their business by three times, expanded the company to southeast Asia and the US and hired new members.
The Bengaluru-based startup which considers to address $6 billion market opportunity in Asia-Pacific and $1 billion in India is currently handling over 25-plus enterprise clients from sectors like BFSI, F&B, travel & logistics, DTH and hospitality. Their main clients include Axis Bank and Barbeque Nation. In the coming future, the startup aims to mark its presence into the US and other multilingual countries like Indonesia and Malaysia.