Voysis raises $8 million to help it become the Twilio of voice AI

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Voice-powered artificial intelligence is not something that’s easy to set up for just any business, even if it might have real benefits in terms of driving sales or improving customer experience. Voysis is a startup that wants to change that, with an AI platform that can parse natural language input, and that works effectively in specific domains including e-commerce, entertainment and more. Voysis doesn’t want to be Siri or Alexa – it wants to the perfect shop assistant, or the extremely insightful video store clerk.

“Voysis is a complete voice AI platform,” explained Voysis founder and CEO Peter Cahill in an interview. “What I mean by that is that the platform enables companies and businesses to rapidly stand up their own artificial intelligences that can be queried by voice or text.”

In other words, the company is focusing on building a platform for a few specific, high-value domains with a deep working knowledge and strong reliability, instead of a more shallow, but more general voice-powered assistant. The idea is to create something that works well enough in a given domain that it can be made available via APIs, letting business owners plug their operation into the platform with minimal fuss and set up time, so they can get started delivering voice-based AI interaction to their customers right away.

Taking e-commerce as an example, which makes sense because it’s one of Voysis’ primary targets as an industry, a retailer might like the idea of voice-based search, letting shoppers say clearly and with natural language what it is they’re looking for. Typically, building this kind of tool would involve a lot of time training the system and classifying inventory, and basically either assembling a series of not quite fit-for-purpose tools to try to tackle the problem or building a bespoke (and very expensive tool), which also involves recruiting talent that’s currently scarce and comes at a high premium.