Symbl.ai, the Seattle-based company that provides APIs to developers to build applications capable of understanding natural human conversations, has raised $ 17 million in Series A funding.
Symbl.ai says its APIs unlock machine learning algorithms from a variety of industry partners and sources. The company helps developers ingest data from voice, email, chat, and social media conversations, and provides understanding and context around language, without the need for initial training data, trigger words, or custom classifiers.
VentureBeat connected with co-founder and CEO Surbhi Rathore to get a broader perspective on what this funding means for Symbl.ai and the emerging industry research firm Gartner has called communication platform as a service (CPaaS).
Conversational intelligence API
While a ton of vendors have stepped in to provide developers with APIs for conversational artificial intelligence, Symbl.ai says it seeks to differentiate itself by providing an end-to-end conversation analytics platform.
Rathore told VentureBeat: “There are other top API products that provide NLP services, custom classifiers, speech recognition, all of which are part of the broader conversational intelligence capabilities. Symbl.ai ties these pieces and more together with a connected context without relying on large data sets and machine learning insights. “
Many providers of conversational artificial intelligence target specific industries. In the sales industry, for example, companies like Gong.io and Chorus.ai are gaining momentum. But more end-user customers are looking to create conversational AI experiences in various functional areas, including webinars, customer experience, team collaboration, and more.
Symbl.ai says it enables companies to compete with these brands and create differentiated AI-powered experiences in their products cost-effectively and with a shorter time from lab to market. Symbl.ai offerings include Transcription Plus, Conversation Analytics, Conversation Topics, Contextual Insights, Customer Tracker, and Summarization.
Turn conversation into data
Recent projections of Mordor Intelligence show that the CPaaS industry will grow from $ 4.54 billion in 2020 to $ 26.03 billion by 2026 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 34.3%. Compared to 20% in 2020, 90% of global companies are expected to leverage API-enabled CPaaS offerings as a strategic IT skill set to bolster their digital competitiveness by 2023. These figures provide critical insights into the unanticipated adoption rate of today’s digital communications. However, even with this recent growth, Symbl.ai claims that current solutions do not allow companies to unlock the potential of communication content and analyze conversation data at scale.
“Companies seek to differentiate themselves beyond ‘just’ allowing communication to meet the expectations of their customers”, the company Press release set. The company says it will continue to facilitate developers’ access to communication data and help product managers to iterate early on new user experiences for their product, eliminating the need to build ML models from scratch.
“We are optimistic about empowering builders with the right toolkit to unlock the value of conversational data across all digital channels. Conversations are by far the least used data source, and this data has a lot of potential. The tools should alleviate the problem of capturing, managing, understanding and acting on this data, and that is exactly what we focus on. With this funding, we will further accelerate our product roadmap to scale awareness, adoption and growth of conversational intelligence-driven experiences for developers, ”said Rathore.
Speaking about what this means for the CPaaS industry, he added: “CPaaS platforms must allow developers to easily access raw streams, so that the experiences created go beyond just enabling voice and video. Symbl.ai is pleased to partner with leading CPaaS platforms to collectively enable their adopters to extend communication experiences and use machine learning to understand the content of that communication, take action on it, and learn from the best through plug and play APIs. “
Building the technology
Symbl.ai says that a major trend in the industry is transcription, as it has become a widespread use case for live captions. “This is critical for products to create an accessible and inclusive experience – voice analytics that were primarily restricted to the contact center industry are finding ways to enter other verticals like recruiting, educational technology, marketing, and more. Products and companies are beginning to leverage insights from text messages, chat, email, calls, and videos of customer interactions to personalize the user experience, ”said Rathore.
“The trend for digital conversations, which has increased over the past year, is here to stay. Surbhi, [CTO] Toshish [Jawale], and his team have built a special engine to deliver this data in a developer-friendly manner, and we are excited to partner with them in their next stage of growth, ”said Ray Lane, Managing Partner of Great Point Ventures.
According to Rathore, “Traditional NLP and NLU techniques fall short of conversations. “Symbl.ai technology combines various deep learning and machine learning models to convert unstructured raw text or voice conversations into a structured format that can be accessed and leveraged programmatically to create intelligent experiences in applications in a plug-and-play way.
“Our system contains more than 50 different internally built models that work together to solve three levels of problems. The first layer models the fundamental characteristics of conversation, language and speech, taking advantage of various existing languages and speech modeling techniques. The second layer is for contextual correlation modeling between different concepts and their relationships. The third layer performs reasoning tasks to draw conclusions or eliminate improbabilities. These layers are specifically required to understand human conversations, allowing our system to model various dimensions of human conversation that help us draw inferences and conclusions for actionable information, regardless of the domain of the conversation, ”said Rathore.
This investment round was led by Great Point Ventures, with additional participation from Gutbrain Companies, PBJ Capital, Crosscut Ventures and Flying Fish Ventures.
Rathore said this additional capital is expected to accelerate the development of its end-to-end conversational intelligence platform, foster team expansion across the company, and meet growing demand for the technology.
The company says its clients include Rev.ai, Airmeet, Intermedia, Rowing, SpectrumVoip, Intuit, Bandwidth and Hubilo. “Symbl.ai allows developers not to spend months, but just days to integrate, saving time and money with the most accurate and scalable conversational intelligence stack,” the press release read.
In the context of this funding, Lane of Great Point Ventures will join the Symbl.ai board of directors. The round will also be used to recruit the best talent.
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