Slang Labs, one of the industry leaders in India in terms of in-app voice assistants, and a pioneer of the Voice Assistant as a Service (VAaaS) technology, has become one of the first companies in the field to secure a funding from Google Assistant, among others. The Bengaluru-based startup has raised a sum of $500,000 in a fundraiser led by Google Assistant under its Investments programme, with participation from 100x Entrepreneurs, Thomas George, Velu Murugan, and Endiya Partners.
Kumar Rangarajan, Co-Founder and CEO at Slang Labs, has expressed excitement over the backing, saying, “So they (Google) typically back companies that build skills on top of Google Assistant. We are the first in-app voice assistant, a parallel assistant framework, that they have backed.” He adds that the funds will be directed towards scaling operations, as well as sales and marketing efforts. Additionally, overseas operations are also on the cards, and will most likely be carried out by the end of this year. This can help platforms boost their numbers of consumers significantly, up to 400 million in Tier 2 markets.
How the technology works is rather simple to understand. All that happens is that the multilingual assistant gets embedded inside the e-commerce app as a multi model overlay, allowing a direct voice interaction with its interface. There are many smart AI components that have been included in the mix, from automatic speech recognition (ASR), to text to speech (TTS).
He also said, “Right now the markets that we’re looking at are the English-speaking markets to start with, like the US, Australia, England and then we’re also talking Middle East. We already are in conversation with a few customers in those markets.”
The firm is well-known for its ‘Slang Conva’ tech, which pioneers the Voice Assistant-as-a-Service, a tool to allow e-commerce platforms to incorporate multilingual in-app voice assistants into their offerings. What this means is that customers and buyers become capable of browsing and performing online transactions using just their voice, and that too, in a language they prefer.
Slang Labs was founded in 2017 by Rangarajan, along with Satish Chandra Gupta and Giridhar Murthy, and has since become a leader in VAaaS offerings. Rangrajan is a well-known name in the Indian industry, as another one of his startups, Little Eye Labs, became the first Indian firm to be bought by Facebook in 2018. It had developed a software tool to analyze the performance of Android apps.
This new funding comes in the wake of a growth in the customer base, along with improved interactions and integrations with consumers, especially in the current quarter. Now, the client base at Slang Labs includes biggies like Shine.com, BigBasket, and RedBus, among other notable names. And that’s not all, as a handful of other large clients are expected to come aboard in the following months. The firm cites an increased penetration into the e-commerce market in India as the chief reason for the same.
In Rangarajan’s words, “Last year, more than 40% of e-commerce transactions came from Tier II and III cities. More and more brands are realising that they need to be able to provide a much better customer experience than they had traditionally been providing,” he said. “That experience powered by voice is the lowest-hanging fruit, the easiest way for them to…reach out to a lot more people.”