This article is sponsored by Qualcomm Ventures
There has been a massive influx of digital technology into India recently. With the penetration of smartphones in Tier II and Tier III cities, Indians are using the internet like never before. There are around 300 million internet users in the country who are fluent in English, but the 280 million remaining internet users are not comfortable with the language. Then, there are the 650 million Indians who do not have access to the internet yet. Since approximately 75 new Internet connections are being set up in India every minute, there is going to be a huge influx from this untapped population into the realm of the internet.
With more than half of all web content being in English, how can online services reach out to the non-English speaking population?
Reverie Language Technologies, a Bengaluru-based startup, has been working to close this gap. They provide regional language capabilities to organisations for customer engagement, and to devices manufacturers, and games and application developers, among others. Arvind Pani, co-founder and CEO, Reverie Technologies, says that they realized the challenges that India’s wide variety of local languages and dialects would pose to mobile phone growth as early as the year 2000. But it was only in 2009 that he, along with co founders Vivek Pani and S.K. Mohanty, started up Reverie.
Reverie’s language software was still in the prototype stage when it won Qualcomm Ventures’ QPrize seed investment competition in 2011. The prize money of $100,000, along with some bootstrapping, helped them go commercial. The team not only received mentoring from Qualcomm, but was also introduced to potential customers and investors through them. They also had the opportunity to license some of their products to Qualcomm, adding to their ability to earn revenue. Arvind feels that, at the same time, they had the freedom of doing things their way, with minimal interference from Qualcomm.
Clients and Revenue
Reverie’s cloud-based language engagement platform makes big contributions to businesses across various sectors. Companies like HDFC Securities, Hungama, and several other large ones, are their clients. Arvind has seen local language users increase from around 20% to 50% in the last few years. Reverie is focussing on large, high impact areas like e-commerce, retail, travel, chat and cab apps.
Since theirs is an innovative SaaS (Software as a Service) product, the team predicts an increase by five to six times in the usage of the language engagement gateway, by next year. In 2013-14, Reverie’s revenue came primarily from technology licences. In the first half of 2015, however, revenue increases were found to have doubled in the language platform. This exponential rise is expected to continue till 2016.
They have had good traffic on both mobile and PC. Reverie’s multilingual keypad, Swalekh, enables typing in several regional languages. With a total of 80 million smartphone users till last year and an additional 90 million new users just in this year, Reverie has big plans for mobile languages. Reverie Technologies has 50 languages as of now, including several international languages, on its language engagement platform. Unlike English, many of these languages have complex scripts that demand more work. A lot of research and development goes into making these languages work well and in a user-friendly manner. The languages seeing the most traction for them are Hindi, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali, and Assamese among the Indian languages, and Arabic, Burmese and Thai, among foreign languages. Currently, nearly 300 million devices are powered by Reverie language platform worldwide.
Apply for QPrize 2015 today! To submit your business plan for the QPrize, visit here now. Last date for applications – July 17th, 2015.