7. PolyAI Redefining what’s possible with voice assistants, thanks to a conversational AI that responds, rather than predicts. Richard Parris January 9, 2023 4 min read About us Startups was founded over 20 years ago by a multi-time entrepreneur. Today, our expert team of writers, researchers, and editors work to provide our 4 million readers with useful tips and information, as well as running award-winning campaigns. Founders: Nikola Mrkšić, Tsung-Hsien Wen, Pei-Hao SuFounded: 2017Website: poly.aiNo one loves waiting in a phone queue to get through to customer services. But, with rising call centre costs and the push to divert calls to online chat and knowledge bases, it can be even more frustrating if a customer finds they can’t make a phone call at all.PolyAI aims to change all of this, thanks to its innately capable artificial intelligence voice assistants. The technology has been designed to work so smoothly, that you shouldn’t realise you’re dealing with an AI at all.It may all sound a bit sci-fi, but PolyAI’s business aim is also quite grounded – the company wants to make its AI voice assistant systems accessible and affordable for enterprise customer services to use. While other voice assistants fall into the trap of trying to predict conversations, PolyAI's own tool uses sophisticated machine learning so that it can be more genuinely reactive AI may not feel quite such a new concept anymore, and digital voice assistants are available in everything from TVs to cars. So, what is PolyAI doing that’s so innovative?One of the core differences in PolyAI’s approach is that while other voice assistants fall into the trap of trying to predict conversations (typically using a limited set of possible responses), its own tool uses sophisticated machine learning so that it can be more genuinely reactive within a conversation.The basic model for PolyAI’s platform has been trained on over a billion real voice conversations. Major UK brands including Metro Bank, Greene King, Whitbread and Starling Bank are already entrusting customer support calls to PolyAI’s technology. The PolyAI founders met at the University of Cambridge’s Dialogue Systems group – the world’s pre-eminent research lab focused on spoken dialogue systems. During their time at Cambridge, the founders identified that voice assistant technology simply wasn’t good enough to understand what people were saying in the real world, especially over noisy phone lines. They founded PolyAI to develop voice assistants that would understand every caller equally well, and actually be enjoyable to use.“Previous generations of voice assistants created a lot of frustration,” says PolyAI co-founder Nikola Mrkšić. “Customers don’t look forward to automated experiences over the phone, which means that deployed solutions have to go the extra mile to create goodwill with consumers.”Of course, the question all of this raises is what does it mean for workforces in call centres? Does PolyAI spell an end to their job security?In fact, Mrkšić argues that PolyAI reduces the day-to-day essential calls for human workers, and gives them time back for the more in-depth conversations that truly need the personal touch. “Our technology allows customers to access the immediate support they need without waiting. This frees up contact centre agents to focus on building customer relationships.”The result has been the call centres using PolyAI’s voice assistants have been able to automate between 50-90% of all phone calls. The even better news is that customers haven’t been deterred by the change – clients have increased customer satisfaction scores by as much as 40% along the way.Major UK brands including Metro Bank, Greene King, Whitbread and Starling Bank are already entrusting customer support calls to PolyAI’s technology. Following a recent $40m series B funding round, PolyAI is poised to increase its global expansion. Its own team comes from 35 different countries, and speaks nearly as many languages. The PolyAI tech itself, meanwhile, is able to rapidly learn new languages, while maintaining its core logic, and keeping up an appropriate tone of voice for whichever brand has elected to use its platform.We’re confident that with its truly innovative tech and experienced team of founders, we’ll be hearing a lot more from PolyAI. Startups 100 2023: List in Full 1 Caura 2 Sensat 3 Hack The Box 4 The Modern Milkman 5 Wild 6 Nourished 7 PolyAI 8 Lottie 9 Beam 10 Flexa 11 Pasta Evangelists 12 Revlifter 13 Peppy 14 OnHand 15 Infogrid 16 Sano Genetics 17 Jubel Beer 18 Birdie 19 AUDIOMOB 20 Element 21 Surreal 22 Vinehealth 23 Toqio 24 Kind Bag 25 The Youth Group 26 Natterhub 27 Tiney 28 Zeus Labs 29 Homethings 30 Power Sheds 31 UniTaskr 32 Human Forest 33 Poplar Studio 34 Volta Audio 35 Zeelo 36 Strolll 37 SlothMove 38 Intelistyle 39 Hausbots 40 The Mothership Group 41 Touchlab 42 TeamSportz 43 Climate X 44 Veremark 45 Pollinate 46 KYC Hub 47 Weavr 48 Sprout.ai 49 Worldr 50 Harper 51 Happity 52 Boundless Activated Snacking 53 SymTerra 54 Grubby 55 Olly's 56 RareCan 57 Drop Bear Beer 58 KinKind 59 Credas 60 Concrete4Change 61 Travel Hands 62 bide planet 63 snuggy 64 YEO Messaging 65 Genie AI 66 Deazy 67 Pitchbooking 68 GiGL 69 PushFar 70 for peat's sake! 71 Sook 72 Tiwani Heritage 73 Legacy of Lives 74 Ambl 75 Pretty Mama 76 Pawprint 77 Class-ify 78 Clever Lili 79 KeyNest 80 Neat Home 81 Vendoir 82 PocDoc 83 CoolMed 84 Mintago 85 Scout 86 Bold Bean Co 87 Further 88 Packfleet 89 WhisperClaims 90 Yonder 91 LOANHOOD 92 Legislate 93 Cauli 94 Jiva.ai 95 Earthly 96 Kiteline Health 97 Gigged.AI 98 Anansi 99 Treepoints 100 Essentialise Workplace Wellbeing See more Startups.co.uk can help your business succeed At Startups.co.uk, we're here to help small UK businesses to get started, grow and succeed. As well as rounding up some of the biggest success stories in our annual Startups 100 list, we have resources to help new businesses get off the ground. What Does Your Business Need Help With? Project Planning Creating a Website Business Loan Marketing Get Started Share this post facebook twitter linkedin Richard Parris Managing Editor Richard joined the Startups team in 2021, and has a career in publishing that has spanned over 15 years. As a researcher, writer and editor, Richard has worked on brands across the UK, US and Asia in both print and online, including at the BBC, on the US-focused tech industry site Tech.co, plus at Which? magazine and its website, where Richard oversaw technology reviews and advice publishing. Richard has been an interviewee and contributor on television, radio, newspaper, magazine and online publications, and has featured in interviews including on the BBC and The Scotsman.Richard is passionate about converting potentially complex topics into clear, actionable advice and recommendations, and works alongside the in-house Startups team and its growing network to promote the needs of the UK small business community.