As soon as you open the Haptik website, you are welcomed by BotGuru, a chatbot assistant for helping users with queries. One of the world’s leading chatbot platforms is building similar applications for consumers, publishers and enterprises across the globe. Being at the forefront of the paradigm shift from apps to bots, Haptik is working across various chatbot use cases across retail, customer service, utility and lead generation. Counting Coca-Cola, HDFC Life, Samsung, Amazon Pay among others, as their clients, Haptik, founded in 2013 in Mumbai has a long way to go.
The Eureka Moment
Founded by Aakrit Vaish and Swapan Rajdev, Haptik came out in the market as a conversational platform when the term ‘chatbot’ had not become commonplace yet. Vaish recalls, “Swapan and I were working in San Francisco when the mobile app industry was taking off. One of the categories of apps that we saw take off significantly was messaging. We noticed people using messaging apps more than any other type of app, and the addiction to the interface was crazy. We figured there is something here to build on, and potentially a platform to support conversations everywhere beyond simply peer to peer chat. That’s when Haptik was born”.
Over the past five years, Haptik has strived to push the boundaries of existing technology with a ‘can-do’ attitude. “This dedication is what has helped us innovate and come up with solutions especially in the chatbot industry where we have no precedent to guide us,” says Vaish.
The Haptik team consists of innovators from every field and background with several self-made entrepreneurs and graduates from illustrious institutes such as the IITs and BITs, among others. Vaish proudly says that their work culture promotes a transparent exchange of ideas an agile with a ‘‘think it, build it, ship it, tweak it’ product building method. Most of their projects are opened to the team internally for collaborative critiquing which makes each of Haptik’s products the best they can be.
Virtual Assistant By Haptik And The AI Behind It
Haptik’s virtual assistant is a service which was launched in 2014 with the vision that people should not require complicated apps for every little task. It should be as easy as sending a message and getting things done. The 24×7 personal assistant app allows users to complete daily tasks over a few simple messages.
“As the number of users has grown over the years, we’ve scaled our product to be able to handle a thousands of concurrent requests while delivering an experience that’s as akin to normal human speech. Our assistant service now offers everything from reminders to flight or cab bookings to bill payments to jokes and everything is simply a message away. We constantly listen to what our users want and keep updating our services to match,” shares Vaish.
Like for every chatbot, machine learning is the core of Haptik’s conversational platforms, which is used to understand what a user is saying, have conversation to get all the required information and be able to find the best possible answer. “Multiple different machine learning algorithms work together to be able to fulfil every request of our users”, shares Vaish.
How Do They Stay Ahead Of The Competition
“Haptik was one of the earliest entrants in the industry and has over four years of experience building chatbots from scratch. Every bit of software required to develop, maintain and customise a bot is fully built in-house”, shares Vaish. And Haptik invests heavily in technology to be at the forefront of the chatbot wave.
“All our products leverage our experience of over five years where we handle over five million chats a month to continuously train its model to better understand and satisfy user intent. Using a combination of machine and deep learning technologies, we are able to understand user intent far better than other platforms in the market”, he adds.
Each one of Haptik’s chatbots is customised to the needs of their client, and can easily handle spelling errors, transliterations, short-forms, syntactical errors, making the bot extremely efficient and smart.
Vaish also shares that Haptik is looking to invest at an enterprise level, which will be a first for any company in India.
Partnering To Become A One-stop Mobile Commerce Platform
Talking about the company’s ambitions, it lets any company that wishes to turn their traditional service pipeline into a conversational model to partner with Haptik.
That being said, a majority of their clients at the moment belong to the BFSI and FMCG industries. Some of their clients include, Edelweiss, ICICI and HDFC Life in the BFSI sector, Coca Cola in the FMCG sector, Dr Batra and Lal Pathlabs in the medical sector, Housejoy in Home Services, TOI, Uber and PhonePe among others. They have also recently built a bot for AkanchaAgainstHarassment that helps victims of cyber harassment.
Growth Story- Listing Major Milestones
Vaish shares timeline with Analytics India Magazine on growth trajectory of the startup:
- March, 2014: After a really unsuccessful beta phase and almost deciding to stop, we launched the Haptik app on 31 March 2014 and the first 24 hours saw five times more traffic than we expected. We knew we were on to something.
- August, 2015: We were two months away from running out of money after an investment agreement fell apart when a chance meeting with Satyan Gajwani led to a Series B with Times Internet in April 2016, giving double the return to our earlier investors.
- February, 2017: We hadn’t stepped into the enterprise chatbot use-case when Coca-Cola wanted to meet with us for a Facebook chatbot idea. We had never built a Facebook bot, but we gave them enough confidence to bet on us after a brief meeting at Mumbai Airport. Since then we have signed on 12 more clients of similar size and our enterprise business is the fastest growing business line in the company.
- October, 2017: We launched an integration with the Times of India Android app, where Haptik is embedded inside the app. This is a technological breakthrough where more than 20 services and six PGs/wallets are integrated inside a news app for the first time globally, all in under 1 MB. We expect our monthly active users to double every month from here on for the next 6 months.
- December, 2017: Haptik won the Amazon AI Award for Customer Engagement, a major validation for our efforts as a company and the work we’ve done to build engaging enterprise solutions.
With these major milestones, Vaish shares that for the coming year, they are going to focus on three key areas of technology — make chatbot building easier where anyone is able to build a bot in 10 min, voice interfaces, and regional language support.
Challenges Of Being In A Chatbot Space
Vaish says “Being at the forefront of an industry which is still evolving means that there is no predefined playbook which can be followed to assure results. At Haptik, on an everyday basis, we try out various different experiments some of which succeed while some of them don’t”.
“We face challenges on all aspects of engineering starting from scaling, research in machine learning, product and design. We perform research in-house and work closely with academia and other institutes to be able to find the best solutions to advance the chatbot and machine learning space”, he adds.
Having said that, it cannot be denied that chatbot space is growing by leaps and bounds, with traditional slow moving businesses automating their procedures and using chatbot to become more efficient. The founders of Haptik believe that with the growth of AI technology, bots will be able to understand regular human speech in both text and voice.
“Vernacular language support is another interesting field that is currently open to innovation. We can also expect to see chatbots on various other platforms apart from websites and messengers. Chatbots will become more prevalent and be a part of everyday life for everyone who owns a smartphone!”, he said while concluding.