Uniphore, speech recognition based artificial intelligence technology (AI) solutions company, raised $51 million in Series C funding led by March Capital Partners, with participation from Chiratae Ventures (formerly IDG Ventures), Sistema Asia, CXO Fund, ITP, Iron Pillar, Patni Family, and other investors.
The new round of funding of the startup is largest to date and marks one of the most substantial funding rounds in the conversational AI sector. Uniphore will use the funds to accelerate its go-to-market in North America, invest in research and development for the next wave of innovation on its platform and grow its talented employee base globally.
Commenting on the funding, Uniphore CEO and Cofounder Umesh Sachdev said today’s announcement of Series C funding represents a major milestone for Uniphore and the conversational AI market as a whole.
“This funding will accelerate our vision to redefine customer service through AI-enabled Conversational Service Automation (CSA). We have always been strong innovators, and our global customers continue to rely on our solutions to help them deliver exceptional customer service. With this new round of funding, we will be able to accelerate our global expansion and better serve our customers by developing and delivering innovative CSA solutions to more organizations around the world,” said Umesh Sachdev.
Uniphore Software Systems Pvt. Ltd, which holds Uniphore, is founded in 2008 by Umesh Sachdev and Ravi Saraogi. The company offers speech products like Akeira, a virtual assistant focused on business-to-customer engagement, amVoice, which offers voice authentication, and auMina, for speech analytics.
The company’s high-end AI products helps it to compete with technology giants from Silicon Valley like Google, IBM, Microsoft Corp and other dozen AI startups across the globe. These companies are competing to automate the $350 billion call center industry, helping its workers deliver more useful support. The competitive product will help in cutting down the number of mundane experiences.
March Capital Partners Managing Director Sumant Mandal said Uniphore recognized early on that the customer service industry had fundamental limitations which were not being addressed.
“Brands were not building meaningful relationships with their customers because they were simply reacting, rather than being proactive. Uniphore’s conversational AI technology is changing the way brands are serving and engaging with their customers,” said Sumant Mandal. He also pointed out that Uniphore’s unique technology enables a proactive approach by recognizing the true intent of customer calls and predicting what is coming next.
“Uniphore is not only anticipating what the future of customer service will be – they are leading the charge, and we look forward to working closely with them as they continue to innovate. We are excited to be part of the journey of a world-class team building globally competitive products at Uniphore,” said Sumant Mandal.
According to analyst, the company registered 300% year-over-year growth in 2018 and most likely to join the unicorn club if its growth rates continue in the current pace. “We have to realize the fact that voice bots and automated messaging systems are going to change the landscape of call centers across the globe. By 2021, about 70% of organizations will find that artificial intelligence driven technologies can work far better than human beings,” states an analyst.
When Cisco chief executive officer John Chambers took stake in December 2017 Uniphore became the cynosure of all eyes. John Chambers took 10% stake in his personal capacity looking into the long term importance of AI in various business verticals. “The continued success of the company is a testament to its ability to foresee the next market transition and evolve the business model based on that insight promptly. Uniphore’s innovative conversational AI solutions address the growing needs of businesses to provide personalized customer experiences more efficiently and effectively,” he said.
John Chamber said Umesh and his team are well positioned to revolutionize the customer service industry while continuing to expand the market share. “I echo March Capital’s sentiment that the future is extremely bright for Uniphore,” said John Chambers who is an active advisor to Uniphore.
Most recently, Uniphore CEO Umesh Sachdev moved to Silicon Valley to expand the company’s reach in North America. The move has paved the way for several strategic new hires. Annie Weckesser, veteran of Cisco and NIO, joined as Chief Marketing and People Officer in April. Additionally, in May, Jafar Syed, joined as Chief Strategy & Growth Officer from NTT Data, and in June, Karen Smith, former executive at Directly and Convergys, started with Uniphore as Chief Revenue Officer. Additionally, Mary Ann Bianco joined as Chief Customer Officer after leading customer success for Oracle’s Cloud SaaS applications business. In July, Ashwin Chalapathy joined as Managing Director in India and Senior Vice President, Services, Asia Pacific.
While the company raised undisclosed funding from investors including Infosys Ltd co-founder Kris Gopalakrishnan and others in its Series A round in May 2015, Uniphore raised undisclosed amount in its Series B round in 2017 from Chiratae Ventures, Indian Angel Network and YourNest Angel Fund.
In 2018, the company experienced 300% year-over-year growth and the year prior, Uniphore had an exciting Series B round with participation by various existing and new investors including IDG Ventures, IIFL and JC2 Ventures. Some of Uniphore’s customers include BNP Paribas, NTT Data, and PNB MetLife.
According to Paper.vc assessment, Uniphore is expected to be valued at $130 million after the current round of founding.
Uniphore is a global Conversational AI technology company with offices in the U.S., India and Singapore. Uniphore believes the future of customer service is every voice being truly heard. The Company’s vision is to bridge the gap between people and machines through voice. Uniphore enables businesses globally to deliver transformational customer service by providing a platform of Conversational Analytics, Conversational Assistant and Conversational Security that changes the way enterprises engage their consumers, build loyalty and realize efficiencies.