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Uniphore looks at overseas expansion

Speech-based mobile solutions provider eyes fund raising soon

Itika Sharma Punit  |  Bangalore 

Having created a foothold in India, speech-based mobile solutions provider Uniphore Software Systems is now looking to expand overseas. The Chennai-based company which has already established some kind of presence in South East Asia and West Asia from January this year, is also looking at raising funds for further expansion into newer markets.

Founded in 2008 by Umesh Sachdev (chief executive officer) and Ravi Saraogi (chief operational officer), Uniphore has an impressive list of clients in India, including the State Bank of India, Axis Bank, Cholamandalam and ITC among others. The company also works in the government space, especially with state governments. Uniphore has so far raised only a seed funding of $100,000 from investors including Rural Technology and Business Incubator (RTBI) - the incubator at Indian Institute of Technology-Madras.

"From the second year onwards, the company had become profitable. So our need for cash for internal purposes has come from our growth itself. But now that we are aggressively looking to grow outside India, we will look at another round of investment," Sachdev told Business Standard. "However, as of now there is nothing concrete, but hopefully soon there will be a (funding) round that we will look at."

Uniphore provides integration of speech recognition and voice biometrics with smart mobile technology to deliver solutions on the cloud. The company has developed two cloud-based platforms-VoiceNet, which is specially designed for feature-phones and provides a human-like interactive conversation using Interactive Voice Response (IVR), multilingual speech recognition, voice biometrics; and text to speech giving birth to a voice communications platform. The voice communication platform offers customisable profiles, automated transactions, information on demand, interactive conversations and voice recordings, and mCAS (Mobile Control and Access System), the company's smart mobility application development platform.

Uniphore's technology interprets and responds to the characteristics of 14 Indian languages and over 100 dialects. It's technology is use across industry segments such as agriculture, financial services, retail, education, and aviation, among others.

The company currently has a revenue close to Rs 10 crore (according to industry sources), and it has been clocking 3X growth in revenues for the last three years. Sachdev said, Uniphore aims to have annual revenue of $20 million (around Rs 124 crore) by 2017-18. This growth will mainly be backed by the overseas expansion.

"We expect around 20 per cent of our revenues for the current financial year ending March 2014 to come from its overseas operations," Sachdev said. "We are focused on only South East Asia and West Asia for the next few months, before we expand into other geographies."

International growth for the company would be 'partnership-led', wherein Uniphore will join hands with larger IT for going to market, Sachdev said. Under the partnership, Uniphore's technology could compliment with the partner's offering to clients or could be marketed as a separate offering, he added. Among others, Uniphore currently has 3i Infotech as a partner for West Asia.

Additionally, Uniphore's technology can be used to develop a business-to-consumer (B2C) product like intelligent personal assistant Siri which is available on iOS devices. This lets the users operate their smartphones by voice commands.

Sachdev said the company is currently focused on enterprise business and is not looking to develop an application for consumers.

"The reason why we started this company was that we believed that after touch, speech would be the next interface and it that is now becoming a reality. We would be more than happy if a few years down the line, some developers want to develop a product like Siri on our platform. But as a company, we are currently focused on the B2B (business-to-business) segment and are not looking at B2C," Sachdev said.


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First Published: Tue, March 04 2014. 13:50 IST