Akashay Deshraj and Sourabh Gupta (L-R), Founders of Vernacular.ai
Sourabh Gupta and Akshay Deshraj came to Bengaluru in 2016 after graduating from IIT Roorkee. The duo was among the thousands of engineers who flock to the city every year with hopes to become entrepreneurs and start another Ola, Swiggy, or Flipkart.
Not sure of the problem they wanted to solve, they started doing what most potential startup founders do – they attended as many events as possible, kept meeting people and making new connections, and never stopped reading.
In a recent conversation with YourStory, Sourabh said, “By then Reliance Jio was already here, and everyone was talking about the next 500 million internet users.”
In order to explore what these ‘next 500 million internet users’ wanted and the problems they faced, the two friends started visiting villages in and around Bengaluru. In one of their visits to Kanakapura, a small town situated 55 kilometers from Bengaluru, they finally found the problem they had to solve.
Sourabh recalls having met a farmer who had a very particular and long-existing problem.
“I receive SMS on my phone from the bank. I know the message is from the bank because it has numbers, but I cannot understand what the SMS means because it is in English,” the farmer told him.
He (the farmer) had to cycle 10 kilometers to the bank every time he received an SMS to get the bank manager explain to him what the message meant. Most of the other farmers, across villages, faced the same problem.
“This was when we knew that the next generation of internet users are going to be voice-first,” Sourabh says.
After months of research and development, the IIT graduates launched their company Vernacular.ai. Based out of Bengaluru. The startup is transforming customer interaction through its artificial intelligence (AI) based voice assistant – VIVA. The startup empowers locals and equips enterprises to cater to the non-English speaking population of the country.
Vernacular.ai currently serves more than 25 enterprise clients in 16 different languages in the banking, insurance, food and beverage, and hospitality sectors. This includes the likes of Axis Bank, OYO Rooms, and Barbeque Nation, among others. According to the startup, it helps enterprises automate their call centre operations by up to 80 percent.
Image Source: Shutterstock
Also ReadHow SaaS startup Vernacular.ai is going global as voice AI adoption accelerates amidst COVID-19Bumpy ride
The journey from being a college student to a startup founder was not an easy one. When Sourabh was still preparing for the IIT-JEE examinations, the likes of Flipkart and Ola were ‘making a scene,’ says the Co-founder and CEO.
“I wanted to start a business of my own. I went to IIT not to become an engineer but because my parents wanted me to,” says Sourabh.
Back in college, Sourabh was the Head of the Entrepreneurship Cell in his final year of engineering. During the events, he met his co-founder Akshay. The duo worked on a couple of projects together as well.
When they came to Bengaluru, not many people took them seriously for their age, Sourabh tells YourStory.
“When we expressed that we wanted to build a B2B business, we were told that enterprises want ‘grey hair’ to sell them something,” Sourabh says.
Additionally, there was a misconception that in order to create a deeptech platform, a startup needed a PhD scholar to understand the nuances of the platform. Being fresh out of college did not help Sourabh and Akshay.
Cracking the deal
Coming to a new city and without a job, the duo borrowed money from their parents for the basics. “At a time when everyone sends money back home, we were asking our parents for financial support,” he adds. And with this, came the incessant questions regarding the progress. “All we were doing was reading!” Sourabh says.
Having incorporated the company in October 2016, Vernacular.ai was finally launched towards the end of 2017. Within the first 35 days of its launch, the startup raised an undisclosed amount as seed funding from Kstart Capital, the seed programme of venture capital firm Kalaari Capital. Recently, in May this year, it further raised $5.1 million in its Series A round. The round was led by Exfinity Ventures and Kalaari Capital. AngelList, IAN Fund, and LetsVenture also participated in the round.
Going forward, Sourabh says, “We will now be scaling exponentially and invest heavily in R&D for Indian and South-Asian markets.”
Want to make your startup journey smooth? YS Education brings a comprehensive Funding Course, where you also get a chance to pitch your business plan to top investors. Click here to know more.
Original Source: yourstory.com
May 1 is celebrated around the world as May Day or Labour Day. This year, the COVID-19 crisis is exposing uncomfortable truths about inequalities in societies around the world and stark contrasts in our lifestyles.
Some hop on to a chain of webinars, or discuss what movie to watch next, or share videos of exotic dishes cooked up in the kitchen. But the reality outside is grim for sectors and communities devastated by the pandemic.
The quotes in this compilation reflect gratitude to the spirit and dignity of labour across all ages and sectors. Their messages reinforce the importance of respect, solidarity, and human rights in these dark hours.
In this collection of quotes, we span a wide range of labour, including gig workers, contract labour, migrants, farmers, and the informal sector. We also look at concerns of inclusive workforce practices to empower more women, the differently-abled, and marginalised communities. Other perspectives include how emerging technologies like AI/ML will impact labour.
There are so many people to thank for making our world a better place, and whom we need to support even more during these months of crisis. Health professionals, cleaners, delivery staff, security personnel, NGOs feeding the needy – the list goes on and on.
Across the political spectrum, leaders and activists have varying perspectives of the rights and responsibilities of labour. What is clear today is that workers need food security and protection of health and livelihood even more so in the coming years.
The quotes in this compilation are drawn from YourStory articles and Storybites columns, as well as a range of online resources. See also our Resource Centre for Startups and SMBs, and our pick of 60 quotes on coping with a crisis.Also ReadOn Labour Day, we look at non-profits that equip workers against exploitation, ensuring fair pay and good working conditions
All labour that uplifts humanity has dignity. – Martin Luther King, Jr.
Labour disgraces no man; unfortunately, you occasionally find men who disgrace labour. – Ulysses S. Grant
As we celebrate Labour Day, we honour the men and women who fought tirelessly for workers' rights, which are so critical to our strong and successful labour force. – Elizabeth Esty
The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others. – Mahatma Gandhi
There is a triangular relationship between poverty, child labour and, illiteracy who have a cause and consequence relationship. We will have to break this vicious circle. – Kailash Satyarthi
The Millennium Development Goals were a pledge to uphold the principles of human dignity, equality and equity, and free the world from extreme poverty. – Ban Ki-moon
The labour movement did not diminish the strength of the nation but enlarged it. – Maratin Luther King, Jr.
The place of labour is side by side with the businessman and the farmer – and not one degree lower. – Harry S. Truman
Business, labour, and civil society organisations have skills and resources that are vital in helping to build a more robust global community. – Kofi Annan
Work is no disgrace; the disgrace is idleness. – Greek proverb
Take not from the mouth of labour, the bread that it has earned. – Thomas Jefferson
Workers' rights should be a central focus of development. – Joseph Stiglitz
Also ReadDignity of labour, the LabourNet way
A man is not paid for having a head and hands, but for using them. – Elbert Hubbard
Every historical form of society is in its foundation a form of organisation of labour. – Leon Trotsky
Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing. – Thomas Jefferson
From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs. – Karl Marx
Fundamentally, the basis of all modern progress is the efficiency of labour. – Charles M. Schwab
Human dignity is based upon freedom, and freedom upon human dignity. The one presupposes the other. – Rollo May
It is essential that there should be organisation of labour. This is an era of organisation. Capital organises and therefore labour must organise. – Theodore Roosevelt
It is not the quantity but the quality of knowledge which determines the mind's dignity. – William Ellery Channing
It is not wealth one asks for, but just enough to preserve one's dignity, to work unhampered, to be generous, frank and independent. – W. Somerset Maugham
It was the labour movement that helped secure so much of what we take for granted today. The 40-hour work week, the minimum wage, family leave, health insurance, Social Security, Medicare, retirement plans. The cornerstones of the middle-class security all bear the union label. – Barack Obama
Also ReadThis startup has made a difference to the lives of over a million daily wage workers through its platform
Overwork is repulsive to human nature-not work. – Pyotr Kropotkin
Schooling doesn't assure employment but skill does. – Amit Kalantri
The gig economy is empowerment. – John McAfee
There is no surer token of a little mind than to imagine that anything in the way of physical labour is dishonoring. – Orison Swett Marden
What we've lost sight of is that performing manual labour with your hands is one of the most incredibly satisfying and positive things you can do. – Nick Offerman
The most luxurious possession, the richest treasure anybody has is his personal dignity. – Jackie Robinson
When an individual is protesting society's refusal to acknowledge his dignity as a human being, his very act of protest confers dignity on him. – Bayard Rustin
Peace demands the most heroic labour and the most difficult sacrifice. – Thomas Merton
Why are you all wasting human labour and the world’s wealth in building machinery to commit mass murder? – Eden Phillpotts
Without labour nothing prospers. – Sophocles
Work isn’t to make money; you work to justify life – Marc Chagall
Also ReadRestoring childhood: Meet 5 women working against child labour through education and recreation
No race can prosper until it learns there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem. – Booker T. Washington
Agriculture was the first occupation of man, and as it embraces the whole earth, it is the foundation of all other industries. – Edward W. Stewart
Agriculture is the noblest of all alchemy; for it turns earth, and even manure, into gold, conferring upon its cultivator the additional reward of health. – Paul Chatfield
Agriculture is our wisest pursuit, because it will in the end contribute most to real wealth, good morals, and happiness. – Thomas Jefferson
Farming is a profession of hope. – Brett Brian
Farming is inescapably a part of human life that it may provide a clue to what is most basically human, and so a clue to our place within the cosmos. – Stephanie Nelson
Farming isn’t a battle against nature, but a partnership with it. It is respecting the basics of nature in action and ensuring that they continue. – Jeff Koehler
A farmer is a magician who produces money from the mud. – Amit Kalantri
The farmer has to be an optimist or he wouldn’t still be a farmer. – Will Rogers
The farmer is the only man in our economy who buys everything at retail, sells everything at wholesale, and pays the freight both ways. – John F. Kennedy
The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings. – Masanobu Fukuoka
To a farmer, dirt is not a waste, it is wealth. – Amit Kalantri
Also ReadThese five women-led farming initiatives are making an impact in India’s agriculture industry
Having land and not ruining it is the most beautiful art that anybody could ever want to own. – Andy Warhol
Factory farming came about from a moral race to the bottom, with corporations vying against each other to produce more and bigger animals with less care at lower cost. – Matthew Scully
If the rain spoils our picnic, but saves a farmer’s crop, who are we to say it shouldn’t rain? – Tom Barrett
If you tickle the earth with a hoe she laughs with a harvest. – Douglas Jerrold
It is impossible to have a healthy and sound society without a proper respect for the soil. – Peter Maurin
Life on a farm is a school of patience; you can’t hurry the crops or make an ox in two days. – Henri Alain
Strong communities are built around local, real food. Food we trust to nourish our bodies, the farmer and planet. – Kimbal Musk
The cities are but the branches of the tree of national life, the roots of which go deeply into the land. We all flourish or decline with the farmer. – Bernard Baruch
We have neglected the truth that a good farmer is a craftsman of the highest order, a kind of artist. – Wendell Berry
While farmers contribute to our survival, let us also do our part by showing them respect in form of not wasting food. – Mohith Agadi
When tillage begins, other arts follow. The farmers, therefore, are the founders of human civillisation. – Daniel Webster
Also Read[Year in Review 2019] From a startup improving the lot of dairy farmers to apps that help the dyslexic and blind learn better, read the top 20 social stories
Although women do two-thirds of the world's labour, they own less than one percent of the world's assets. – Isabel Allende
I measure the progress of a community by the degree of progress which women have achieved. – B.R. Ambedkar
Gender equality is more than a goal in itself. It is a precondition for meeting the challenge of reducing poverty, promoting sustainable development and building good governance. – Kofi Annan
No country can ever truly flourish if it stifles the potential of its women and deprives itself of the contributions of half of its citizens. – Michelle Obama
If they don't give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair. – Shirley Chisholm
Whatever women do, they must do twice as well as men to be thought half as good. Luckily, this is not difficult. – Charlotte Whitton
Achieving gender equality requires the engagement of women and men, girls and boys. It is everyone's responsibility. – Ban Ki-moon
No man can call himself liberal, or radical, or even a conservative advocate of fair play, if his work depends in any way on the unpaid or underpaid labour of women at home, or in the office. – Gloria Steinem
For women, then, poetry is not a luxury. It is a vital necessity of our existence. – Audre Lorde
Gender parity is just not good for women – it’s good for societies. – Angelica Fuentes
Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day. Give a woman a fish and she'll feed the whole family for a week! – Cameron Semmens
Life is not a competition between men and woman. It is a collaboration. – David Alejandro Fearnhead
Urging an organisation to be inclusive is not an attack. It's progress. – DaShanne Stokes
Only collective strength and action will allow us to be free to fight for the kind of society that meets basic human needs. – Roxanne Dunbar
Also Read5 Indian women whose activism has led to change
This pandemic is a collective crisis, more so for daily-wage workers who have been rendered without work and therefore meals. – K Ganesh
In the absence of a migrant labour workforce, our economy would come to a standstill. – Divya Varma
In the fight to end this crisis, we truly can't afford to lose anyone behind. – Priyanka Chopra Jonas
Let us all take a moment to thank everybody around the world who are helping to defend us against this pandemic. – Rachna Muralidhar
Now is the time for us to look after the people who work for us. When a company steps up at a time like this, it builds loyalty, commitment, and long-lasting teams. – Arjun Agarwal
The crisis is worse for healthcare workers and police personnel who must choose between caring for pandemic victims and caring for their own children. – Kunal Malik
The group most prone to coronavirus includes homeless people and migrant labourers, who commute from one place to another on a daily basis to make ends meet. – Priya Sogani
If you invest in people during tough times, you will earn their loyalty for the long term. – Kaur Sidhu
Immigrants show up. They've shown up for work, shown up for this economy, and shown up with their political and social will. – Tenzin Seldon
Also ReadUP’s transgender community feeds migrant workers as they return home due to coronavirus
Even if the lockdown is unlocked, with the reverse migration that has taken place, it will take another year to get people back. – Velumani A
Everyday we are hearing heroic stories of how those on the frontlines are working around the clock to protect the public. – Ruchee Anand
Gig economy workers, often paid by the hour and with no sick leave privileges, end up delaying visiting doctors until their health situation worsens. – Srikanth Chunduri
It's the era of gig workers, distributed teams, flexible working models and fishnet organisations with malleable structures. – Sanjay Kapoor
Companies should be focused on developing a strategic plan for workplace flexibility, digitisation, virtual collabouration, and well being in the workplace. – Anshuman Magazine
Everyone wants work-life balance, so employers should shape a differentiated experience to attract the best talent. – Paul D’Arcy
Globally, on average, for every 10,000 workers, there are 75 to 80 robots available. – Satyanarayana P
Human capital is the most precious of all forms of capital available. – Ajay Ramasubramaniam
Also ReadCoronavirus: Long walk home for migrant workers returning to villages on foot amid lockdown
In a vast country like India, where the unorganised sector is predominant, entrepreneurship can be a key enabler in employment generation. – Rajesh Agrawal
India thrives when small and medium entrepreneurial ventures succeed. – Nikhil Arora
Investments in skills and education can be directly mapped to a country’s commitment to economic growth. – Vineet Chaturvedi
It is a trap to be satisfied; one always needs to change the status quo. – David Gurlé
People in rural areas tend to migrate to cities in search of a better job and lifestyle, leaving behind ancient culture and art forms. – Kalyani Gongi
Several youngsters across India do not get a chance to work on their vocational skills due to outdated education systems, inaccessibility, poverty, and other external factors. – Namrata Baruah
SMEs are the backbone of the economy and if India is to continue to witness high growth, then supporting them is non-negotiable. – Harshvardhan Lunia
The impact of heat stress on labour productivity is a serious consequence of climate change. – Catherine Saget, ILO
The new normal will be that 20 percent of the workforce will always work from home on a rotational basis. – Kris Gopalakrishnan
Wanting to help those who are helping us by doing their job highlights the strength of humanity. – Atul Satija
You have to reinvent yourself every 10-20 years. – Harsh Mariwala
Also ReadCoronavirus: Omidyar Network India announces funds for organisations helping migrant labourers
Empowerment is not a fruit that someone gives you on a tree; it's a sense of belief that you are equal and you deserve equality in every walk of life. – Gul Panag
Women are no longer envisaged as mere homemakers. They are being seen as upcoming entrepreneurs possessing numerous abilities. – Anjali Mohan
If India has to become a $5 trillion economy, companies need to hire more female workers. – Jyoti Nath
By empowering communities to deal with the differently abled, we can create a society of tomorrow where we are respected for our differences and not judged on the same. – Ganga Changappa
Inclusion is a pre-requisite for a diverse workforce to function effectively. – Archana Sasan
No organisation/committee can, on its own, provide a safe or positive/inclusive workplace to any employee without the equal reciprocation of such values by the employees. – Ashwini Vittalachar
Ultimately, the greatest lesson that COVID-19 can teach humanity is that we are all in this together. – Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw
Our life is about respectful cohabitation. – Sathya Raghu V. Mokkapati
Tough times call for tough measures, executed through compassion and empathy. – Agnelorajesh Athaide
The power of togetherness is the greatest power of all. – Iti Rawat
YourStory has also published the pocketbook Proverbs and Quotes for Entrepreneurs: A World of Inspiration for Startups, as a creative and motivational guide for innovators (downloadable as apps here: Apple, Android).
(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)
How has the coronavirus outbreak disrupted your life? And how are you dealing with it? Write to us or send us a video with subject line 'Coronavirus Disruption' to [email protected]
Original Source: yourstory.com