AI Rudder Raises $50M for Enterprise Voice AI Fluent in Southeast Asian Languages
Singapore-based enterprise voice AI startup AI Rudder has closed a $50 million Series B funding round led by Tiger Global and Coatue. AI Rudder’s platform produces virtual customer service agents for banking and finance firms capable of conversing in nearly 20 languages. The customizable voices speak a global range of languages, but Rudder stands out for including informal dialects of Southeast Asian languages lacking in many similar services, such as the English and Singaporean slang blend Singlish.
AI Rudder enables companies to design their ideal AI agent adapted to their business and customer base. The startup has signed up clients has cultivated clients from several industries, but has become known for its banking, finance, and e-commerce work. The startup claims its client list has grown to more than 200 since launching three years ago. The growth accelerated since the COVID-19 pandemic began, and Rudder’s revenue quadrupled last year, though it hasn’t shared specific figures.
“Advancements in machine and deep learning technologies are opening new possibilities for Voice AI to be more human-like. This fresh infusion of capital will support continuous enhancements to our suite of products, enabling our clients to deliver more frictionless digital experiences to their customers,” AI Rudder managing director Kun Wu said. “The ubiquity of technology and SaaS has allowed us to impact businesses across continents – in countries like Mexico, Kenya, Australia and beyond. We’re excited to lead this next phase of growth into new territories and industries to supercharge omnichannel customer experiences for our clients.”
The new investment comes just four months after AI Rudder closed a Sequoia Capital India-led $10 million round. Sequoia returned for the latest round, which included new investors Cathay Innovation, First Plus and VenturesLab in addition to Tiger and Coatue. The huge jump in investment dollars in a relatively short period of time speaks to both the growth in demand for enterprise voice AI and Rudder’s particular expertise.
“[I]n markets like Southeast Asia, conversational AI firms face a major challenge due to the multiple types of languages, dialects, slang and differing accents around the region. Such unique demands necessitate deep product localization and strong technological capabilities to understand as well as communicate in a natural and smooth way between AI chatbots and customers.” Cathay Innovation investment director Cathay Innovations wrote in a blog post. “Not only has AI Rudder created a bot that can comprehend sentiments, intent, and inconsistencies or interruptions between lines —but it can natively converse in multiple informal forms of language including Singlish (a blend of Singaporean slang and English).”
AI Rudder includes several non-Asian languages and the company is planning on adding several more languages as it grows. The startup is part of the ongoing trend of venture capitalists showering enterprise voice AI startups with cash worldwide. Plenty of early-stage startups are picking up checks including RedRoute’s $6.5 million, Talkmap’s $8 million and NLX’s $5 million. Rudder is edging closer to the higher end like the $70 million raised by Kore.ai or Shelf.io’s $52.5 million, though nowhere near the truly enormous stage represented recently by Dialpad’s $170 million or Uniphore’s $400 million last month.