Bharti Airtel acquires stake in conversational-AI tech startup Voicezen

Bharti Airtel Ltd. has acquired a 10% stake in Voicezen, an early-stage startup focused on conversational artificial intelligence technologies, under its Airtel Startup Accelerator Program. Financial details of the deal weren’t disclosed.

Gurugram-based startup Voicezen has been working on developing advanced solutions that leverage machine learning, AI, speech-to-text, and voice technologies to offer real-time analytics to help brands serve customers better.

Apurba Nath, Founder, Voicezen, said,
“Voicezen helps brands deliver a better customer experience in Indian languages using conversational-AI. Having worked on AI solutions in the past, we knew what works well in a lab, most often doesn’t work in the real world, because either the training data is not large and relevant, or the problem has little business significance.”

“Our partnership with Airtel helps us solve these challenges. With this strategic investment, we will work even more closely with them to continuously improve our AI models, and build out an enterprise-grade, battle-hardened product that will make customer interactions more efficient, especially in this post-COVID-19 world, where business operations are facing large disruptions,” Apurba added.

The investment will give Airtel preferred access to Voicezen’s technologies, which can be deployed across its customer touch-points in multiple languages, Airtel said in a release. These solutions will offer real-time analytics and insights to make Airtel’s conversations with its customers more engaging, frictionless, and enable faster resolution. It will also allow Airtel to make contextual offers to customers based on real-time conversations.    

Adarsh Nair, Chief Product Officer, Bharti Airtel said, “AI is a big focus area for Airtel, given the deep positive impact the technology can have in transforming the customer experience. Voicezen has built some promising products that are very relevant for a market like India. We are delighted to welcome them to the Airtel Startup Accelerator Program, and look forward to partnering them in scaling these innovative ‘Made in India, for India’ applications and implement them in the real world.”

Voicezen is the third startup to become a part of the Airtel Startup Accelerator Program. Last year, the company had backed two startups including Bengaluru-based software  development startup Vahan in October and Gurugram-based startup Quikmile, which focuses on building tech-enabled logistics platforms for India, in November.

Airtel Startup Accelerator Program allows startups to leverage Airtel’s ecosystem, including its core strengths in data, distribution, networks and payments. This includes access to an online and offline distribution network that touches 300m+ customers, market understanding and platform of global strategic partners. Further, startups also get access to advisory services from Airtel’s executive team. In India, Airtel serves customers across mobile, landline and DTH verticals.

The global Conversational AI Market Size is expected to grow from $4.2 billion in 2019 to $15.7 billion by 2024. The megatrend will be driven by surging demand for AI powered customer support services and omni-channel deployment. Increasing customer engagement through social media platforms and integration of advanced AI capabilities will offer massive opportunities.

Telecom operators are increasingly seeking tech partnerships and solutions to expand revenue from data customers.

Last month, Vodafone Idea, announced the launch of VIC, an AI-powered digital customer service and support virtual assistant for its customers. Rival Reliance Jio has recently collaborated with Facebook-owned Whatsapp to enable retail services through the messaging app.

Jio’s parent Reliance Industries has also invested extensively in natural language processing and AI-based chatbot startups like Reverie and Haptik with a view to expanding solutions across its app ecosystem.

– Authored by Ayush Sharma

  Content Developer, StartupMonk

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