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Two steps AI start-up Uniphore took to register 4-fold growth amid the COVID-19 crisis


One lesson the COVID-19 pandemic has taught most start-ups is the power of path-breaking technology and how it can change the business strategy of any company.

Two steps AI start-up Uniphore took to register 4-fold growth amid the COVID-19 crisis
In the words of Co-founder Umesh Sachdev, business at Uniphore is, “anything but usual”. And why not? If there's one lesson the COVID-19 pandemic has taught most start-ups it's the power of path-breaking technology, and conversational AI technology firm Uniphore is no different. "We are fortunate to still be experiencing strong growth of between 300 and 400 percent," said Sachdev in an exclusive conversation with CNBC-TV18.
The question remains: How Uniphore managed to notch up such staggering numbers during such a debilitating pandemic? "The onset of COVID-19 has accelerated the demand for technology to handle the increasing number of queries while cutting costs," Sachdev explained and added, "This has led to an uptick in the number of deals that were in the pipeline and an acceleration of plans that would have remained on the fence — despite a few deals on hold primarily by companies hardest hit by the pandemic, like travel, hospitality and retail."
Big-ticket partnerships
Just last week, the company inked a partnership with Mumbai-based business process management firm WNS, which Sachdev described as one of Uniphore's largest deals in 2020. "We will be providing our advanced conversational service automation (CSA) platform for WNS' recently-launched digital customer experience solution, EXPIRIUS."
The partnership with WNS isn't Uniphore's first forged amid the pandemic. In May, the start-up partnered with Sitel, in a multimillion-dollar deal, to help the company deliver over 3.5 million customer experiences a day. "Our CSA platform enables over 80,000 Sitel associates to better meet the rapidly changing and unique demands from over 400 clients," Sachdev said.
These deals mean Uniphore's is all set to earn big money from large business process management companies. "As a result of this deal, along with other deals, we anticipate about 30-35 percent of our global revenues will come from this sector," Sachdev stressed.
Targeted hiring
With the spate of online orders and contactless services brought about by the pandemic, Uniphore's internal study indicates that 80 percent of customers would rather pick up the phone and speak to a customer service agent than chat online, especially at the time of crisis. "Most of our clients are seeing an increase of four times the volume in call traffic," said Sachdev.
In August 2019, Uniphore closed its Series-C funding, which stood at $51 million. The co-founder explained that most of that money is still in the bank as the company has remained conservative, when it came to spending. "We are utilizing funds from our Series-C round for rapid global expansion. This plan involves on-boarding over 135 employees globally, including notable senior executives. While we are not at risk of running out of funds anytime soon, we are being conservative in our spending approach.”
The company is targeting market leadership in the US, where it has on-boarded 20 employees already, during the pandemic. Uniphore hopes to have its head count at over 350 globally, from the present-day 250. “Despite COVID-19 shutting down regions in March, we have hired over 65 team members globally and operate in 12 countries with rapid expansion in progress,” Sachdev added.
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