Aakrit Vaish is the CEO & Co-founder of Haptik, one of the world’s largest conversational AI platforms. Besides spearheading the overall business operations of the company, Aakrit also oversees key aspects such as revenue & finance, hiring, and defining the strategy and vision of the company.
Haptik helps enterprises leverage the power of AI to automate critical business processes like Concierge, Customer Support, Lead Generation and E-commerce. The company has been at the forefront of the paradigm shift
from apps to chatbots, having built a robust set of technology and tools that enable any type of conversational application.
Haptik recently made waves when Reliance Industries via its subsidiary Reliance Jio Digital Services Limited bought a majority stake in the startup in a deal worth >$100 million overall.
In his first interview post-acquisition by Jio, Aakrit Vaish interacted with Namagiri Anand on Haptik’s journey thus far, Jio’s acquisition, and the roadmap ahead.
Namagiri Anand: From Consumer App to Conversational AI, Haptik has had a huge growth curve. Tell us about the Haptik journey thus far.
Aakrit Vaish: The journey has been pretty exciting, and not without its challenges.
We founded Haptik in 2013 out of a belief that mobile messaging will become the preferred mode of communication over the next decade. Users who downloaded the Haptik app basically used it as a troubleshooting tool - sending messages to virtual assistants (representatives of various companies) via the app and getting responses. For the first few years, we enjoyed tremendous success as a consumer app. Haptik was one of the Top 25 apps on Android, and Top 50 apps on iOS. We had over 100,000 total downloads, 40% of whom were active in any given month.
By 2017, the applications of chatbots for enterprises started becoming clearer. This was when we decided to shift our focus to the B2B market. Today, Haptik is a provider of Conversational AI solutions to enterprises for key use cases such as Customer Support, Lead Generation, Customer Feedback and User Engagement.
Currently, in 2019, we have over 100 live bots, have reached over 100 million devices, and have processed over 2 billion interactions. We have a full-stack platform which comprises of our own underlying AI tech.
Namagiri Anand: In light of Jio’s recent acquisition of Haptik, what will Haptik’s focus be going forward in India?
Aakrit Vaish: Just like the last 250 million Indians who came online skipped the desktop revolution, we believe the next 500 million may skip the interface revolution and go straight to voice interactivity. Therefore, the creation of deep proprietary voice-enabled NLU (Natural Language Understanding) in major Indian languages shall be a key focus, which will enable this paradigm shift across all our products.
Namagiri Anand: Will it be text and voice, or VoiceAI only? Sector focus?
Aakrit Vaish: We are looking to become Voice first, but text bots will remain our focus as well. The sectors we will predominantly be focusing on include E-Commerce & Retail, Media & Entertainment, Travel & Hospitality, and Financial Services.
Namagiri Anand: What would be Haptik’s technology-focus agenda for 2019 and beyond?
Aakrit Vaish: Developing IVR and Email bots, as well as working on our WhatsApp integration, will be key technology-focused priorities for 2019 and beyond.
Namagiri Anand: Will your focus be limited to India, or would you still have an open focus to global markets as well?
Aakrit Vaish: We will continue to focus on both domestic as well as global markets.
Namagiri Anand: What’s the one piece of advice that has stayed with you thus far?
Aakrit Vaish: Building innovative technology is cool, but at some point everyone has to figure out the long term business model. This is when we started seriously thinking about the enterprise business and doubling down on it. Also, when looking for someone to join your team, experience is overrated. Look for attitude, aptitude and values.