Umesh Sachdev, 33, co-founder and CEO of Chennai based Uniphore, is the only Indian in TIME magazine’s list of “10 millennials who are changing the world”. His first attempt as an entrepreneur developing a mobile theft security product soon after college wasn’t a commercial success, but Umesh Sachdev and his friend Ravi Sarogi didn’t give up. Mentored by the incubation centre at IIT Madras, Uniphore took wings.
Their cutting-edge speech recognition software enables even illiterate rural people enjoy benefits of the internet in their own language using basic phones and voice bio metrics. Made for India in sixteen languages, Uniphore, has now gone global, transforming lives of five million users in nine years.
“Now an ordinary person making financial transactions using the Jan Dhan Yojana speaks on phone ‘transfer 500 rupees to Shobha’ and it’s magically done in their own language. Farmers use it to find prices and good markets. Many are even able to learn English, correct their pronunciation using this technology,” says Umesh Sachdev.
According to reports, Sachdev says funding is no longer a problem. His investors include Infosys co-founder Kris Gopalakrishnan. Sachdev says that many in India are imbibing Silicon Valley’s research and start up culture. With just a few people working from their lab in IIT Madras, Uniphore, he says has grown 140 per cent in the last three years with more than hundred personnel across six countries.
His target is to gain two billion users in two years and to make his products available to more devices beyond mobile phones like smart TV, watches, glasses, etc. Welcoming the government’s Make In India thrust, Umesh however said the a lot more can be done to nurture startups in India.
“As a startup when we raise venture capital the rules applied to us are very similar to that of a large listed company. So the whole ease of doing business for a startup has to be re-thought. It’s still hard to do business with the government, the opportunities, the whole process of applying and competing with other larger players. The intent certainly seems to be there but I think as we hear more announcements more things would happen,” he said.