New Delhi: Digital Dossier has identified five startups that are using advanced technologies including (artificial intelligence) AI and machine learning to provide a gamut of solutions in diverse areas. All of these startups are co-founded by women who are passionate about the cause they pursue.
Plop: Chat storytelling
Plop is the brainchild of Anushka Shetty who is trying to carve a new entertainment category of digital storytelling. What inspired Shetty to explore story telling was that people spend a lot of time on social media and texting apps. “This is when we thought that people are very comfortable texting and consuming large amounts of content via messenger and other chatting apps. So can we tell amazing stories in the form of chat messages?" Thus Plop started in early 2018 along with co-founder Vineet Shetty.
“We currently use many of the mobile phones’ native features like vibration, and backlights to add special effects to the stories. And we are experimenting with virtual reality to make the stories come alive," say Shetty. A majority of Plop’s users come from developed countries like the US, Japan and New Zealand.
Wysa: Building emotional resilience
Wysa, an AI-based “emotionally intelligent" bot, aims to help people learn skills to build emotional resilience. Developed by Touchkin, the AI-based virtual coach responds to emotions you express and uses evidence-based cognitive-behavioural techniques (CBT), meditation, breathing and yoga to help you build mental resilience skills and feel better. Wysa also tracks your sleep and activity.
“Wysa is an attempt to scale mental health support using AI. People are more comfortable talking anonymously to an AI bot about their issues. Available 24X7, Wysa doesn’t judge or give opinions. It just asks the right questions to guide you through self-help techniques" says Jo Aggarwal, co-founder, Wysa.
Wysa has a current user base of over 300,000 people from more than 30 countries across age groups. Agarwal claims 600,000 people have talked to Wysa till date, and 21 people have written to the company to say the bot saved their life. The Journal of Medical Internet research (JMIR) recently published a peer-reviewed study showing that using Wysa can significantly reduce symptoms of depression, according to Agarwal. The company is also adding voice and language support so that Wysa can be available on AI assistants like Google Assistant.
Flyrobe: Renting designer wear online
Flyrobe is India’s leading fashion rental service founded by three IIT Bombay graduates—Shreya Mishra, Pranay Surana and Tushar Saxena. Founded in September 2015, Flyrobe offers designer wear on rent for men and women in 15 cities of India. “Our company’s DNA is that of a technology company as much as being a fashion company. We have also developed proprietary in-house technology for our back-end operations that we use extensively for logistics management, inventory management and customer service," according to Shreya Mishra, co-founder, Flyrobe. “ Flyrobe claims it has over 0.5 million app installs and a monthly website traffic of 0.5 million users. It was also one of the 17 start-ups from across the world to be selected for Google’s Launchpad Accelerator program in 2016.
Inclov: Finding love for the differently-abled
Inclov is a matchmaking app for people with disabilities and helps them make friends and find love. “Our two major challenges lie in ensuring people with disability are empowered and enabled enough to use technology to their advantage like you and I can do today at our fingertips," explains founder Kalyani Khona. Since its launch in 2016, Inclov has brought together 12,000 couples, and has 35,000 subscribers across the country.
Through a project called Social Spaces, Inclov has already arranged nearly 50 meet-ups for those with special needs in 14 Indian cities, says Khona. Inclov has worked on making the user interface fully accessible to people with all kinds of special needs like autism and those having visual challenges. The next step, according to Khona, is to make the platform inclusive for amputees and people living with upper body immobility.
Espresso Labs: Redefining luxury
Espresso Labs aims to redefine luxury through voice with its AI-powered virtual concierge by building “applications for smart speakers like Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa, which can be used as a concierge in a hotel room". “Guests can simply talk to the device in their native language and the device will understand, translate and also automatically notify the staff," says co-founder Pallavi Gupta. Her company is currently running pilots with hotels in the Delhi-NCR including hotel chains like Hyatt Regency and Roseate House.
A luxury hotel, on average, gets more than 1,000 guest requests per day and all these requests are noted, logged and assigned manually, explains Gupta. This error prone process results in hotel staff missing out on 6% of service requests daily leading to a negative guest experience. Espresso’s suite of applications include Android, desktop and iOS apps and a complaint management software.