Interview with CEO & Co-founder of Symbl.AIby@surbhirathore

Interview with CEO & Co-founder of Symbl.AI

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Symbl is a programmable platform that empowers developers and businesses to monitor, act, and comply with voice, video conversations at scale in their products and workflows. Surbhi Rathore, the CEO and cofounder of Symbl.ai, has raised an early-stage venture round of $6.5M which deployed capital to grow a global team of tech enthusiasts to more than 50 people. He has been honored with the Women in Voice Award for Founder of the Year, Amazon’s Top 10 Women to Watch in 2020.

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HackerNoon Reporter: Please tell us briefly about your background.

I am Surbhi Rathore, the CEO and cofounder of Symbl.ai. Symbl is a programmable platform that empowers developers and businesses to monitor, act, and comply with voice, video conversations at scale in their products and workflows without building their in-house data science expertise.

I am a Techstars alum, co-founded Symbl almost 3 years ago and is now backed by Amazon and has raised an early-stage venture round of $6.5M which deployed capital to grow a global team of tech enthusiasts to more than 50 people.

For more than a decade, I have worked in technical and customer-obsessed roles in both startups and enterprises such as Nevis Networks and Amdocs. Before co-founding Symbl, I worked in the Conversational AI space with a focus on delivering value to Telecommunication users.

With a geographically distributed presence, I am excited to be an international tech leader who advocates for Women in AI with a personal mission to inspire more women to work in Data Science.

I am a national speaker, an accessibility equity champion, and the ultimate venture capitalist. I have been honored with the Women in Voice Award for Founder of the Year, Amazon’s Top 10 Women to Watch in 2020, and the Will Reed Top 50 Companies in 2021.

What's your startup called? And in a sentence or two, what does it do?

Symbl enables developers to build next-generation AI-powered communication experiences with APIs that deliver the most relevant and accurate speech recognition and contextual intelligence in milliseconds.

We are proud to be empower a community of builders that are championing the voice-first movement and pushing the limits of how conversation data is used for the growth of individuals and businesses.

Businesses building with Symbl are enabled to build more inclusive and accessible communication applications with live captioning, AI-powered search and indexing, real-time call tracking for coaching, compliance, automation and more.

What is the origin story?

My co-founder Toshish and I were working on a conversation AI platform for the telecom domain to make it easy for telco businesses to adopt conversational interfaces in their self-service applications - enabling chatbots and virtual assistants for basic telco workflows.

We had a strong thesis that while chatbots will help automate some functions, talking to humans will never go away. We had the opportunity to experience customer conversations at scale in the Telecom domain and see firsthand the impact of AI/ML.

Owing to the limitations of not being able to use existing technologies to contextually comprehend human conversations that are by far the most chaotic and unstructured data and to be able to passively listen to conversations on calls and videos and provide recommendations to users to do better, we started Symbl.

What do you love about your team, and why are you the ones to solve this problem?

We are a platform by builders, for builders. Our team is built with engineers and experts that are passionate about solving problems with AI/ML at the intersection of communication tools. We never give up and are hustlers and opportunity seekers, who are customer-obsessed and only care about delivering the best experience to our developers and customers.

We are a diverse team from several cultures and backgrounds coming together and working as one big family. We thrive on innovation and ideas that are brought, worked, and nurtured in an open environment without the biases of who started what!

If you weren’t building your startup, what would you be doing?

If I were not building Symbl to democratize conversation intelligence tech for developers, I would build Symbl to solve the adoption of AI/ML in the telco space which I have spent years in. I know the value of shaving even seconds off a call.

Roles don’t matter, but I am sure I’d be helping create value and opportunities for the maturity of the voice ecosystem.

At the moment, how do you measure success? What are your core metrics?

Customer happiness and product value are the ultimate success metrics for our company. Another important one that I like to add is employee growth since that people are really what defines the journey of the company.

What’s most exciting about your traction to date?

Symbl is working with some of the world’s best high growth VC-backed startups like Airmeet, Yac, Hubilo, Racket, RevenueGrid, Moonbeam. It is so exciting to work with other founders that are equally passionate about changing the landscape of online communications in this new normal.

We are also extremely excited and proud to partner up with with Agora.io - the leading developer platform for real-time engagement for voice and video in just a year of releasing our platform.

We continue to collaborate with community drivers like Postman, Dolby.io and AWS to make it seamless to adopt conversation intelligence over voice or video applications.

What technologies are you currently most excited about, and most worried about? And why?

I am really excited about the evolution and maturity of the NLP landscape and how that gets applied to speech, audio and video interfaces. We are losing extremely valuable data today in voice conversations and leveraging that for the next generation of experiences that I am personally very excited about.

What drew you to get published on HackerNoon? What do you like most about our platform?

I have always been drawn to community platforms where people can authentically connect, collaborate and learn from each other - and HackerNoon lies in the centre of builders supporting builders!

What advice would you give to the 21-year-old version of yourself?

Backpack around the world and then join a startup where you can make an impact early on.

P.S There is no better way to learn than to collaborate with other diverse cultures and minds.

What is something surprising you've learned this year that your contemporaries would benefit from knowing?

Customer stories are the most important part of an early-stage business for investors, new team members and also other prospects to understand the value of your platform in an authentic way. Time-box writing a case study with the first customer you sign in 3 months of working with them to be sure you are able to quantify value.


Don’t forget to vote for Symbl.AI as Startup of the Year in Seattle.

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