Haptik: A Conversational AI Platform

 In Interviews, Startups
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AI. The very word is self sufficient to drive someone into a tizzy. Well, a lot of you would not agree. AI is the next big thing. Or maybe the next trendy thing. These days we have AI enabled cameras that make us look beautiful and relevant. With technology becoming more and more advanced, we might soon wake up to a day when our breakfast would be ready before we even wake up.

Talking about AI and about startups, this interview is a lot more relevant. Haptik is an enterprise that is a conversational AI platform. Reports say that it reaches 30 million devices so far, and has processed over a billion messages so far.

They had recently gotten in news, with Reliance Jio making a significant contribution in their startup. That apart, Haptik had participated at a pitching event organised by Exhibit, where they were declared winners.

Talking about their journey so far, their recent acquisition and way forward, co-founder and CEO Aakrit Vaish gives us a download.

Edited excerpts:

With the world slowly becoming tech enabled and AI gaining grounds, how do you think has the days ahead are going to be?

The world is rapidly, not slowly becoming tech-focused.  From a tool of enablement, technology such as AI, machine learning, conversational interfaces have become the norm. However, the concepts are new for almost every enterprise today, hence the implementations are somewhat similar in nature.  The future will be all about modifying these technologies to gain a market advantage, and improvise upon existing frameworks. The focus will shift from technological adaptation to evolution and customization. This is where Haptik steps in.

What is the estimated market size of AI in India like?

There has been an exponential increase in the number of AI-based start-ups over the last five years. These enterprises mostly cater to industry-specific requirements and run on the new oil i.e. data. A report published in October last year showed start-ups witnessed 108% growth in funding in India last year. AI was among those domains that witnessed the fastest adoption and high-growth potential. Currently, there are about 400 start-ups working on AI and machine learning domains, and the numbers are expected to grow rapidly with the rising pool of STEM talent and the youngest workforce globally by 2020. In fact, the potential is so massive, and pervasive, that the NITI Aayog came up with a national strategy for Artificial Intelligence in India.

How would you differentiate ‘Haptik’ from other players in the market?

Haptik is a dedicated conversational AI and virtual assistant platform. We provide enterprises bot driven solutions to optimize operations across categories.  In our domain, we have achieved a high success and have been endorsed by national and international brands for bringing a level of expertise which our competitors have yet to achieve.   We are one of the only enterprise platforms built on the back of real consumer data available through direct to consumer personal assistant service.

Additionally, we follow an interactive approach with our customers rather than working exclusively and then presenting a solution.  Our clients remain a part of the development process from start to end, which ensures they get exactly what they need.

We are a full stack one-stop shop. We have our own platform, own underlying AI tech, analytics engine, agent dashboard, 100+ ready to use chatbot templates, professional services team to help develop and customize, AI trainer team to continuously monitor and fix bots, etc. etc. etc. There is no other company that can offer the breadth of services that we do. If you want a bot, you come to Haptik and go nowhere else, we take 100% accountability for everything.

What is your business model like? Could you describe your product in detail.

Essentially Haptik develops conversational interfaces and the entire framework for enterprises to implement them in their day-to-day operations. Our products are mainly invested across 4 types of enterprises: E-commerce, travel and hospitality, BFSI, Media and Entertainment. We have an Enterprise SaaS model where we charge a one-time setup fee followed by monthly subscription fees, which depend upon number of messages transacted and several such parameters.

Tell us about your recent acquisition by Reliance Jio. How much was the deal worth?

Haptik has entered a strategic partnership with Reliance Industries, through its subsidiary Reliance Jio Digital Services Ltd. (RJDSL/Jio). The total transaction size, including primary capital investment, is about INR 700 Crores (~100 million USD), with INR 230 Cr as the consideration for the initial business transfer from Haptik to Jio. The Haptik team will continue to drive the growth of the business, including the enterprise platform as well as digital consumer assistants. On a fully diluted basis, RIL will hold about 87% stake in the company, with the rest with Haptik’s founders and employees.

Talking of numbers, what is the current traffic? Could you quantify?

We have processed over 2 billion interactions till date and reach over 100 million devices monthly.

What are your plans for scaling up in the near future? How do you plan on doing so?

Haptik is currently invested in developing several cutting-edge technologies that once implemented have the potential to completely reimagine the conversational assistance environment. Vernacular language equipped interfaces, deep learning,IOT integration, and intricate evolution of machine learning capabilities that enable completely human-like conversations are some of the areas we are invested in at the moment. Also, we have been approached by government and public enterprises to implement large-scale conversational AI-based solutions across the country to serve a range of public service purposes.

What are your immediate and long term milestones like?

Our immediate goals include global expansion and strengthening the automation aspect of our telephony framework by enabling it to communicate across all major Indian languages.

In the long term, we aim to be one of the largest conversational AI platforms globally.

If you recall, your first pitching was with Exhibit Magazine. Would you like to say a few words?

Yes we had actually participated for an award, which we ended up winning! Today that feels like a generation ago given so much has changed. We’ve always had a strong relationship with Exhibit Magazine and are glad to continue that.

Lastly, any advice for wannapreneurs?

If there’s one thing we have realized from Haptik’s journey till now, it’s that the only thing that matters is sheer persistence. While taking risks is a necessity to realize one’s vision, it is necessary to be pragmatic, and proper research about the potential of the business is essential. While it is okay to fail, be afraid of failure!

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