Behind the scenes: How Hike uses AI and ML to super-charge expression for the masses


Unbundling Hike: SuperApp to Multi-Apps

In 2012, the Indian market was: 2G, expensive data and low-end smartphones, making it incredibly difficult for a mobile-first internet audience to use the internet. To solve for this, Hike pioneered and launched a SuperApp centred around messaging and built one of India’s fastest companies to cross the $1B mark.

Today, the market has evolved incredibly. We now have incredibly cheap data, 4G and very good smartphones across all price ranges so it’s no surprise the world is debating on whether SuperApps are needed or not. Hike, who pioneered the model in India, believes the SuperApp is no longer relevant because, with all the advancements in technology, the internet has become easy to use on a smartphone. Hike believes that effectively the smartphone itself has become the SuperApp.

Over the last year, we haven’t heard a lot about them, but they’ve been quietly working behind the scenes on a few big projects. Hike has been busy unbundling its SuperApp into individual apps that do one or two things really well.

Building a new social future

Hike recently updated its website and it’s quite a sight. They talk about ‘Building a New Social Future’ driven by 6 principles.

It’s intriguing and we can start to see some of this translate into their recent product announcements.

Hike launched Sticker Chat, a product that aims to supercharge expression by taking the world beyond the keyboard. Earlier this year, they announced that in a short 3-4-month span, the app already has over 1M Weekly Active Users (WAU) spending 33 minutes/day.

The second product was leading an investment of $5M into WinZO, a gaming company. The best metaphor for the WinZO product is an arcade in the online world. Remember those? You’d have a vast number of games, some with a single player, some you could play with your friends and even win prizes. Today, WinZO boasts of over 7M registered users with a usage time of over 55minutes/day.

AI and ML enabling this new social future

At Hike, the belief is that technology should wrap itself around people and not the other way around. Advancements in tech are now enabling Hike to actualise this vision. It talks about how today it can “push ML models on the device to help users find stickers they like in real-time” and how this is only possible because of 4G and better smartphones.

“AI and ML is at the heart of the company. We’ve used it in amazing ways to scale expression like never before. Our areas of research and application include Natural Language Processing, Computer Vision and Social Network Analysis. From creating the largest library of conversational stickers of over 1 million stickers to pioneering research and development in the field, we’re excited to enable the next leap in the ecosystem,” said Ankur Narang, VP, AI and Data Technologies, Hike.

With AI and ML at the core of the company, they’re pushing the boundaries and re-imagining a new social future. From building radically unique products at the intersection of Product, Design, Engineering and Art to cutting-edge work across NLP, Computer Vision and more.

The company has already made some significant leaps here— from showcasing at renowned global platforms such as IJCAI & ECIR to live application of research through its powerful sticker recommendation and discovery features. It’s also interesting to note that Hike is the only player that is using NLP to solve for local languages at a mass scale. Today, Hike is providing solutions for the massive regional market, with a focus on inclusive and hyper-local approach, catering to the low-end handset and low-bandwidth market areas.

With a huge focus on research-led innovation, they have also led partnerships with local academia such as Indraprastha Institute of Technology Delhi (IIIT-D). Hike’s unique advantage of enabling locally relevant research, especially for a diverse market like India, has been key for these partnerships.

AI First: A one-of-a-kind AI and ML event

Hike is delighted to invite you to be a part of AI First— a one of its kind AI and ML meetup hosted by Hike, India’s AI and ML led unicorn startup. The event will take place on September 21, 2019 at the Hike HQ, New Delhi. From NLP in local languages to research-led innovation and cutting-edge AI and ML work, there’s a ton of exciting things brewing at Hike. Check out Hike AI website to know more about how Hike is enabling advancements in the field of AI.

The event will focus on the areas they have worked on so far, and the road ahead. You will hear from Kavin Bharti Mittal (Founder and CEO, Hike), Dr. Ankur Narang (VP of AI and Data Technologies), and Anshuman Misra (VP of Operations), on all things AI and ML and how they continuously invest in building great teams.

So, what are you waiting for? If you want to be a part of this exclusive event, go ahead and register for AI-First and find out more.


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