Kopi Chat Da Bao with Jennifer Zhang, Wiz.ai: Five takeaways for start-ups working on Voicebots industry

Contributed by Chen Yi Ting

Voice interfaces are gaining traction and becoming ubiquitous in our daily lives. They can be found in smartphones and are increasingly being integrated in home appliances such as washing machines etc. With the ability to simplify the experience as users are only required to speak verbal commands, it is expected that voice interfaces will continue to evolve and enhance our lives.

Our guest speaker for June’s Kopi Chat session is Jennifer Zhang, CEO and Co-founder of Wiz.ai, a Singapore company focused on AI-driven personalised conversational talkbots. Prior to the launch of Wiz.ai, she was in the VC for 7 years and managed two funds in Los Angeles and Beijing. In addition, Jennifer is the co-founder of PlusYoou, the biggest US-China start-up community in Southern California.

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Jennifer Zhang, Co-founder & CEO of Wiz.ai (left) with Soh Hui Min (right) of NUS Enterprise

During our chat, Jennifer shared insights for start-ups based on her experience as a venture capitalist and subsequently, serial entrepreneur, across China, US and Southeast Asia.

1. Voice is the next big thing in the AI industry.

Voice engagement, a natural means of interaction, can be used across sectors such as healthcare, telecommunications, banking and finance, insurance, government sectors and other service industries like hospitality and aviation. For instance, it can be used for sending patient reminders, checking on status and immigration security. Moreover, it can operate anytime and relieve manpower on non-work days. With such a broad range of usability and the recent COVID-19 pandemic resulting in less face-to-face interactions, voice bots are highly relevant and practical across industries.

2. Southeast Asia provides a good ecosystem for start-ups dealing with conversational AI.

Southeast Asia, a growing economy and growing environment, is a conducive environment with a rich source of data for Wiz.ai. In particular, the diverse range of languages and accents within a single language like English in Singapore allows for Wiz.ai to build its competitive advantage globally by being able to localise the language and accent of its users.

3. Designing voice AI requires understanding of the environment.

Understanding the kind of environment and customer needs is vital when deploying voice solutions. For Wiz.ai, training with local daily data in countries like Singapore and Malaysia can help to churn out a lot of information about how locals speak. After which, solutions can be tailored for customers for tasks such as product promotions, sending reminders, servicing calls and also in-bound calls for FAQs by combining customer software and voice engine technologies. Currently, Wiz.Ai’s solutions can be adapted for different languages such as Bahasa Indonesia, Mandarin and even for the Bangladeshi community. In Singapore’s context, Wiz.Ai’s talkbot is also able to pick up Singlish to be deployed for local companies and their users.

4. Understanding human behaviour is key.

Not only is training data in terms of languages and accents important for voice AI, understanding how and why humans react in a conversational setting helps to further humanise talkbots. Human behaviours like mimicry and use of filler words like ‘uh’ and ‘huh’ can give a personal touch to the machine. For example, if you speak softly and the machine whispers back to you, you would think that is smart. Interactive captions like “try to wait” or “try to reply” also helps to humanise the machine.

5. Pitching your product requires tons of preparation.

Before pitching to VCs or investors, knowing your VC and content is paramount to success. Background research on VC such as his domain knowledge and investment portfolio allows you to discover ways to impress him with deep understanding of the industry, environment or the future. Gradual updating of information in between rounds of pitching then allows for VCs to get into your game. Last but not least, preparation for intensive and professional testing by VCs is crucial for success.

Watch the full session here: https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?v=244204746841347&ref=watch_permalink.

If you are a corporate looking to adopt Wiz.ai solutions or interested to join Jennifer’s team, you can reach out to Jennifer at info@wiz.ai.

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