Technology conglomerate Cisco’s executive chairman John T Chambers said he is picking up a 10% stake in Chennai-based Uniphore Software Systems Pvt. Ltd for an undisclosed amount as a part of the speech recognition software firm’s Series B funding round.
“While I am a believer in India and its potential, startup growth rate in the country is just 10% while it should be 50%. The reason for this is unavailability of role models in the country. Silicon Valley scaled fast due to role models,” Chambers told VCCircle.
“Uniphore was early to realise the need for deep technology in speech recognition. I will help it scale up operations and create more employment opportunities,” he said, adding that he will also act as chief mentor at Uniphore.
Chambers, who is also chairman of US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF), said he is looking to invest in four more startups working in the artificial intelligence, natural language processing, Internet of Things, robotics, machine learning, drones and security segments.
“India produces at least 650,000 engineers yearly. I want to see if we can make use of this great resource base and scale up businesses and at the same time generate employment,” Chambers said.
Uniphore’s existing investors IDG Ventures and IIFL will also participate in the round, the firm said.
The startup plans to use the funds to deepen research for product enhancement, upgrade customer service infrastructure, expand sales and hire talent.
Uniphore, which was founded in 2008 by Jaypee University of Information Technology alumni Umesh Sachdev (CEO) and Ravi Saraogi, has raised close to $13 million in funding so far, according to VCCEdge, the data research platform of News Corp VCCircle. Sachdev has also co-founded Singularis Technologies.
The company’s product portfolio comprises speech analytics platform auMina, virtual assistant akeira and portable voice biometrics platform amVoice.
“We are looking at becoming the top player in the speech recognition space and are looking to expand to North America soon,” said Sachdev.
Uniphore, which has offices in the Philippines, UAE, Singapore and the US, claims to have more than 70 enterprise clients.
Earlier, Uniphore raised investments from Infosys co-founder Kris Gopalakrishnan, India Angel Network, YourNest Angel Fund and Ray Stata.
In October 2016, the company raised $2 million in a bridge round led by IDG Ventures.
In June this year, Uniphore strengthened its technology and business verticals by appointing Pat Pattabhiraman as senior vice president of core technologies and former Salesforce India executive Ravi Kompella as India business head.