Cisco's Executive Chairman John Chambers has picked up 10 per cent equity in speech analytics software firm Uniphore Software. This was part of the Series B round of funding of an undisclosed amount that saw participation from existing investors, including IDG Ventures.
John Chambers, also the Chairman of US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF) has made the investment in his personal capacity. With this move Chamber will also take up the role of Uniphone's Chief Guru, a role especially designed for him, as he has already been a mentor and guide to the company since the last one year.
This is Chambers' first investment in a startup outside of the United States.
"I am a big believer in India and its potential for producing globally relevant startups like Uniphore. The company was able to foresee the growing need for deep technology in the area of speech recognition and has innovated ahead of the market to capture this significant opportunity," Chambers said making the announcement.
He added that the focus will be to expand to more locations and geographies. "Companies can't become great companies unless they become global."
He said he is looking to invest in a few more startups in the areas of machine learning, artificial intelligence, internet of things, drones and robotic capabilities. "I think India will grow more than 10 per cent in the next decade that would enable each household to double their income every 5-8 years which should be the fastest in the world," he added.
Uniphore will utilize these new funds to improve tech capability in speech recognition to understand dialects and solve noise related issues, upgrade its customer service infrastructure, expand its sales reach to newer geographies and recruit new talent.
The start-up offers speech analytics product auMina and virtual assistant product Akeira to over 70 enterprise customers. Commenting on the market potential of their products, Umesh Sachdev, Co-founder and CEO of Uniphore Software Systems, elaborated, "Globally, the speech analytics and the virtual assistant verticals are estimated to grow by 2021 to a combined size more than $10 billion."
The company was incubated in IIT Chennai, India in 2008 and currently has offices in India, Singapore and U.A.E with about 100 employees spread across all locations. Uniphore's investors include John Chambers, Kris Gopalakrishnan, IDG Ventures India, India Angel Network, YourNest Angel Fund and Ray Stata.