The highlight of the first-ever Bhasha festival that united entrepreneurs, experts and policy makers to stand up for our local languages was the showcase of 14 startups working to ensure that local languages thrive in the digital ecosystem.
Supported by the Ministry of Culture, along with language partner Reverie Language Technologies, the first-ever Indian Languages Digital Festival, Bhasha, organised by YourStory on March 11 in New Delhi opened opportunities for more such startups working in the language space.
The 14 startups include: BiliTutor, eReleGo, IndusOS, IndianTTS, Lipikar, Linguavista, Megdap Innovation Labs Pvt Ltd., Matrubharti, Planet GOGO, Pratilipi, Shabdanagri, Shradhanjali, and Tide Learning.
Here’s a brief about what they do:
BiliTutor: This startup combines the power of Kindle with Duolingo, that is, an e-book reader that gives the language learner an engaging and entertaining experience. The founder Amarsh Anand has had a successful pilot in China recently.
eRelego: eRelego Digi Media is a market place (e-commerce platform) for publishers, including those in local languages to sell the publications to online users across the globe. eReleGo publishes books, magazines, newspapers online for a new generation of readers who prefer digital over print publications.
Indus OS: This startup is addressing Digital India’s biggest challenge -- to develop technology to cater to the diversity of the economic, social and regional diaspora. They use the smartphone as the medium to connect the digital world with the masses. Indus OS’s technology team has developed the world’s first Regional Mobile Operating System made especially for the regional language user. It also recently signed a first-of-its-kind MoU with the Government of India’s Department of Electronics and IT (DeitY) to develop a native operating system with integrated text-to-speech technology in regional languages. The company recently raised $ 5 million Series A funding led by Omidyar Network and is also funded by angel investors such as Snapdeal Co-founders Rohit Bansal and Kunal Bahl, Quikr Founder Pranay Chulet and InMobi Co-founders Naveen Tewari and Amit Gupta, Hari Padmanabhan and Mayank Singhal from Temasek.
Indian TTS: This is a text-to-speech system for local Indian languages with a strong significance on rhythm and prosody of speech that is closer to the natural enunciation. IndianTTS languages provides Indian accent voice. They build Hindi TTS API to use with IVR software for any kind of machines and any kind of mobiles. Earlier, IVR software was a pre-recorded voice which had an interrupted sound. Their solution provides normalization of the voice. Thus if IVR pronounces your name or order in a regional language or Hindi, it is more effective and improves customer’s engagement.
Lipikaar: Lipikaar is a patented solution that simplifies typing in all Indian Languages -- currently supports 18 languages, including popular ones like Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, and Telugu. The product suite comprises a multi-lingual editing software for Windows PC, keyboard app on Android phones, various browser plugins and a Web API. Lipikaar was awarded the 2008 Manthan Award South Asia for mass appeal and simplicity in product innovation. Its popularity comes from its easy and intuitive typing method. Lipikaar (unlike transliteration) does not require its users to be comfortable with English, allowing them to think and type in their native language.
Linguavista: Founder CEO Abhishek Chakrabarti started Linguavista with a simple vision of developing state-of-the-art language technology and combining it with outstanding language services to aggressively drive the businesses of global companies across the international markets. He started his journey with Linguavista at the age of 20 and has since led the company to having international presence in India, China, and Japan.
Megdap Innovation Labs Pvt Ltd.: Megdap was founded with the single goal of bridging the digital divide by creating an ecosystem for business that blends local relevance with a sustainable business model for all stakeholders. Megdap has created a technology platform, products and tools that enable real time delivery of content in multiple local languages. It provides a Language Technology Platform (TexLang) for consumption by third parties. This includes the ability to localize content for high churn areas like e-commerce, govt. media, travel and hospitality and education among others. TexLang will be a language technology platform that enables companies to localise their online/offline business, communications and every other customer interaction channels into local languages
Matrubharti: Matrubharti is a self-publishing platform for authors and an app for readers to download ebooks of authors in local Indian languages. In the last year, Matrubharti has achieved over 35000 readers, 900 writers, 3300 ebooks and over 3.6 lakhs of downloads of ebooks. Their milestone also includes reach in 22 Indian states, five languages and readers in 42 countries.
Pratilipi: Pratilipi is possibly the fastest growing self-publishing and reading platform for Indian language literature. In less than 18 months of its existence it already has over 2700 Indian language authors in six languages, including many who have won Sahitya Academy and Jnanpith awards, and their content has been read over 3.5 million times on the platform.
Planet GoGo: Gurgaon-based Planet GoGo is a lock-screen app for content discovery in local languages that delivers personalised content and news to Android users. Users are rewarded ‘GoGo points’ that can be used to redeem free talk-time from mobile operators, in exchange for reading content or even unlocking their phone.
Shabdanagari: Incubated in IIT Kanpur, Shabdanagari is India's first social networking site in Hindi. They are addressing the content generation in local language piece of the puzzle. The portal went live a little over a year ago and has been gaining traction faster than anticipated.
Shradhanjali: Sradhanjali.com helps people keep the memories of their departed ancestors and relatives. One can upload, store, publish and share biographies (multiple languages), family details, photos, videos, post condolence messages (multiple languages), set music and also set death and birth anniversary reminders year on year. The portal has more than 350 subscribers. It supports condolence messages in as many as nine Indian languages.
SWEN is NEWS spelt backwards. India’s first app that is not just about news. It offers content in local languages across categories.
Tidelearning: Their mission is to develop tech-assisted learning tools, which will create new learning experiences in education for teachers and less privileged children across the globe. Technology Initiative for Development of Education (TIDE) intends to create a platform that while suitably providing a link is also dynamic in nature to address ‘wide-eyed’ students’ quest for knowledge and a committed teachers search for ‘answers’. At the same time it endeavours to keep the classroom in touch with its local culture, language and traditions. It intends to assist teachers in reinforcing their knowledge by making available suitable content, new concepts and facilitators in teaching while also tracking the progress of their learners. It is also developing an independent English as a Second Language app for the rural and less privileged audience.