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Interview: Vernacular.ai co-founder Sourabh Gupta says, “Voice is the future of human and machine interaction”

In a conversation with the TechGraph editorial team, Sourabh Gupta, Co-Founder & CEO of Vernacular.ai, said: “Voice is the future of human and machine interaction.”

He shed further light on his company Vernacular.ai while delineating major trends in the global market. Here’s an excerpt:

TechGraph (TG): Before we start the interview, can you let our readers know more about Vernacular.ai?

Sourabh Gupta: We are a Series A funded, AI-first SaaS business based in Bengaluru. Using our voice AI solution, we enhance customer experience and engagement through intelligent voice conversations. The vision was to build a unique voice AI platform, which would enable a multi-lingual audience to engage with interfaces online. 

We have picked call centers as the first vertical to go after. Call centers are traditionally places where there are high costs, high attrition rates, and for the end-users IVRs are frustrating, and wait times are irritating. 

Large enterprises in India will be spending $30 million – $50 million per year on call centers. But I would say getting a cab in five minutes is much higher than getting connected to a call center in five minutes, and this is where our product VIVA comes in and solves not just costs but also customer satisfaction.

Our ultimate goal is to become the leading voice automation/AI platform in the world. Akshay Deshraj and I co-founded Vernacular.ai in the year 2016 straight after graduating from IIT Roorkee. 

In order to service clients across multiple sectors like BFSI, travel & hospitality, and F&B, we developed a voice AI/Automation platform that delivers the best possible engagement experiences for customers.

TechGraph (TG): What is your role at Vernacular?

Sourabh Gupta: Being the Co-Founder and CEO at Vernacular.ai, I serve on the Board of Directors and have played an important role in getting the first few customers onboard. Amid a global crisis, we have managed to secure Series A funding of USD 5.1 Mn, and have been able to double our talent-count into a 55-member team. 

My main responsibility is to look after the revenue growth of the company. I spend most of my time focusing on solving the complexities of multilingual speech recognition while devising strategies to take the company globally.

TechGraph (TG): What are the industry challenges you have observed that coerced you to jump into the integrated voice and conversational intelligence-based services?

Sourabh Gupta: Akshay and I came to Bengaluru in 2016 with a dream to build a startup. We knew each other from IIT-Roorkee. We were aware that there would be a surge in demand for financial products as the next 50 billion people come online. For the next two months, we extensively traveled to villages and visited rural areas. 

We talked to farmers, small businesses, and people who fell under the category of lower middle-class households. It then made sense that there was a language barrier, as all the interfaces exist only in English. We also learned that businesses are facing a hard time engaging with their multi-lingual customers, especially in Tier II and III, cities, towns, and villages. 

That is when we decided to launch an AI-based voice assistant – VIVA (Vernacular Intelligent Voice Assistant) – an ideal and unique customer engagement solution for customers across industries in India.

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TechGraph (TG): Could you please shed light on Vernacular’s innovative product portfolio?

Sourabh Gupta: Voice is the future of human and machine interaction. We built our state of the art AI-based voice automation platform – VIVA (Vernacular Intelligent Voice Assistant). 

VIVA is a next-generation multilingual voice AI platform built on top of VASR (Vernacular Automated Speech Recognition). Which is a state of the art STT technology that enables enterprises to convert the audio to text by applying powerful neural network models in an easy-to-use API. 

Our unique service helps accelerate engagement strategy and utilizes innovative speech recognition and NLU technology. It provides the best customer engagement and experience possible. 

With 150,000+ hours of training data, VIVA has been deployed to help enterprises boost customer stickiness and loyalty through a deep understanding of the customer’s context and intent.

TechGraph (TG): The past few months have been challenging for the businesses, how did you deal with the pandemic?

Sourabh Gupta: With COVID-19, companies are investing in automation for the long haul. We have seen that there is a drastic acceleration in the adoption rate of voice automation across industries. While the volume of queries has gone up significantly, customers are also expecting a quicker response and real-time updates. 

Voice automation has taken center stage for customer engagement for enterprises. This is also a time when voice-processing technologies need to evolve and communicate better than ever before. COVID-19 has accelerated this shift from touch to talk. 

Earlier, adoption of voice AI was relatively low among industries, especially the BFSI, travel and hospitality and F&B, but we have recorded tremendous adoption in the past years, with use cases across enterprises, particularly for those that have a significant volume of customers in Tier II and III cities, towns and villages as well.

TechGraph (TG): What is the kind of growth did Vernacular registered during this period?

Sourabh Gupta: Our revenues have doubled driven by the adoption of customer experience automation through voice AI.

TechGraph (TG): Is there any plan to enter new verticals too?

Sourabh Gupta: We have witnessed tremendous adoption in the past years even in other industries like ISPs, Hospitals/Diagnostics/Healthcare, Automobiles, and Retail/E-commerce.

TechGraph (TG): What is the roadmap for Vernacular.ai going forward?

Sourabh Gupta: We want to build a language engine for the world. We envision a world where human-machine interactions over voice will become second nature to everyone. Our mission is to build the structural components to ensure this revolution unfolds. 

With our recent Series A funding, we are planning to expand to newer markets in the US and Southeast Asia and develop our R&D. We are also planning to double our team to help drive our goal of becoming the leading voice automation/AI platform in the world.