India: Bharti Airtel acquires 10% stake in AI tech startup Voicezen

A pedestrian looks up while walking past a Bharti Airtel Ltd. store in Mumbai, India, on Saturday, April 21, 2018. Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg

In a strategic investment, Bharti Airtel has picked up a 10 per cent stake in Voicezen India Pvt. Ltd, an early-stage startup focused on conversational AI technologies, for an undisclosed amount.

According to a statement issued by the Sunil Mittal-led telecom company, the transaction has been routed through its Airtel Startup Accelerator Program.

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

“AI is a big focus area for Airtel given the deep positive impact the technology can have in transforming customer experience,” said Bharti Airtel chief product officer Adarsh Nair.

The investment will give Airtel access to Voicezen’s technologies, which, in turn, can be deployed across its customer touch-points in multiple languages.

Voicezen is the third startup to become a part of the Airtel Startup Accelerator Program. By becoming a part of this program, Voicezen will get the opportunity to deploy its technologies on a massive scale and work closely with Airtel on developing India-first platforms.

“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… with this strategic investment, we will work even more closely with them (Bharti Airtel) to continuously improve our AI models,” said Voicezen founder Apurba Nath.

Airtel Startup Accelerator Program allows startups to leverage Airtel’s robust ecosystem, including its core strengths in data, distribution, networks and payments. It recently made headlines when it acquired a strategic stake in fitness startup Spectacom Global Pvt Ltd.

The global conversational AI market stood at $4.2 billion in 2019, according to industry data available. It is expected to touch $15.7 billion by 2024, opening up opportunities to companies operating in this area.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.