An Indian startup that aims to use artificial intelligence (AI) to deliver faster and more personalised customer support for corporate clients is raising $51 million in funding from investors including March Capital Partners and Chiratae Ventures.
Uniphore Software Systems Pvt, based in Chennai and Palo Alto, California, plans to use the emerging technology to change the labor-intensive business of call centres, displacing workers with machines. Former Cisco Systems Inc. Chief Executive Officer John Chambers’ JC2 Ventures owns about 10 percent of the startup. Existing backers also include Analog Devices Inc founder Ray Stata and Infosys Ltd billionaire co-founder Kris Gopalakrishnan.
Umesh Sachdev, 33, founded the company in 2008 with his engineering classmate Ravi Saraogi. They are competing with technology giants like Google, Microsoft Corp and International Business Machines Corp as well as at least a dozen AI startups to automate the $350 billion
call center industry, helping agents deliver more useful support while decreasing the number of infuriating and ineffectual experiences.
“This is one of the largest rounds in an area of deep tech already seeing a lot of investor activity,” CEO Sachdev said in a telephone interview. “It represents the coming of age of conversational AI.”
He declined to reveal the startup’s valuation, but said it is “one step away from turning into a unicorn,” the tech industry’s term for a value of $1 billion or more.
Voice bots and automated messaging systems are already changing the world of call centres, and experts reckon the majority of human workers will be driven to obsolescence by artificial intelligence.