Reverie: Bridging the language gaps in digital ecosystem

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Over 3 billion people worldwide are unable to experience text communication on mobile devices in their preferred language. Thus, mobile phones are voice only devices for such users. Founded in Nov. 2009  by Arvind Pani, Vivekanand Pani (his sibling) and S K Mohanty (Vivekanand Pani’s colleague at CDAC) in Nov 2009, Reverie Language Technologies, enables text communication for complex languages of the world, on digital platforms. This includes all types of mobile phones, Set Top Boxes, Navigation devices, Appliances, etc. They specialize in pluggable solutions for complex languages that can be embedded into devices and applications. Reverie currently supports over 50 global languages.

Reverie Language Technologies is a Bangalore-based IT product company and a market leader in providing local language technology products and solutions

Apart from helping businesses and app developers, Reverie understood that the main hurdle for reaching Govt. to common people is language barrier, which stops Govt. communication and initiatives to reach the needy. Reverie has partnered with Rajasthan and Karnataka Govts. to help in this regard.

Techaloo got an opportunity to have a chit-chat with Arvind regarding his journey and future plans. Let see what he wants to share with us.

Techaloo: What motivated you to move into Entrepreneurship?
Arvind: After finishing my engineering degree from NIT Rourkela, I worked in several large corporates like like Sail, L&T, Intel but entrepreneurship was always a wish. Around 2000, I discussed a possibility of starting our own company in the local language space with my brother Vivekanand. However, at that time, mobile phone was a luxury item and who ever could afford it, could speak English. Thus, we decided to wait for the right time to start our company. By 2009, market began to show promising changes. The mobile phone subscribers base was touching a new high m-o-m, tariffs had started to come down and non-English speakers experienced mobile telephony. We felt, it is the right time to launch our venture because as first time non-English users will experience internet on various digital devices, local language support on these devices will play an important role.

Techaloo: What was your vision/mission while starting Reverie Technologies?
Arvind: Our vision is to empower every digital device user to experience internet, texting, utility, social media and other such things in the language of their choice. The user should be given a choice to converse in their language. We also want to make sure that the engagement experience of local language users is nothing less than what English language users have been enjoying since the first mobile phone. Hence we are working towards equality of languages.

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Techaloo: What hurdles did you face while starting?
Arvind: The main hurdle was to convince decision makers in various companies on whose products our software would work. Since, decision makers were English users themselves, it took a lot of time and effort on our part to build awareness that sooner or later, they would need their businesses to engage with the consumers in their language. Our efforts have shown remarkable results. Earlier, when we approached a customer to provide our solution, the decision cycle was anywhere between 9 months to a year, which has now come down to 1-3 months.

Techaloo: Tell us something about your services.
Arvind: We provide a complete language experience for user facing businesses. Our value proposition to our customers is to let them focus on growing their core business and we would handle the language experience for increasing their reach beyond non-English users.
We provide a unique and first of its kind platform called LaaS – Language as a service – delivered over cloud, which ensures fastest go-to-market time for our clients. They just have to plug into our cloud services and their business devices are language ready. We currently provide support in more than 50 languages of the World.

Techaloo: Today, Google and others are providing services to break language barriers, e.g., local language dictionary, translator etc. What makes you different from them?
Arvind: Our focus is not just on technology but on providing a delightful language experience. Technologies and products are enablers of the experience. Our language platform that provides plug-and-play solutions for various business verticals and our go-to market approach are very different from what has been done in this space so far.

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Techaloo: Why did you choose mobile space only? Isn’t there a similar need in desktop/ laptop space?
Arvind: Our platform is not restricted to mobile only. It can be used in any digital channel.
Our solutions are for the entire ecosystem and device agnostic. We work with smartphones makers, service providers, chip makers, app developers and content developers. We are the only company in the local language space which address everyone in the ecosystem and product which can work on any digital device like smartphones, desktops, set top boxes, GPS devices, LED displays etc.

Techaloo: How can an app developer use your services?
Arvind: An app developer can focus on building the core functionality of his app and for enabling the language features, he can just plug into our language platform to reach out to non-English users as well. Being able to provide services on a cloud, makes it easy for our stakeholders to add language capabilities in their devices.

Techaloo: How do you make sure that performance of the local language app or technology will be same on various mobile hardware or OS?
Arvind: Our platform is optimised for popular OS and well-known smartphones brands. However, we undertake a series of testing from time to time to make sure performance is never compromised while our solutions is running on various devices.

Techaloo: What pre-requisites are required to be able to use your services for an app developer?
Arvind: The only pre-requisite is to develop an app and willingness to provide local language features for the end-user.

Techaloo: What is your pricing strategy?
Arvind: We have two kinds of pricing models. For app developers, it is a subscription-based model and for devices makers it is per device model.

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Techaloo: How is the response till now?
Arvind: The response has been stellar. Today, our solution is loaded on more than 200 million digital devices and counting.

Techaloo: You have partnered with various state governments in India. What can we expect from this partnership?
Arvind: We are directly working with Rajasthan state government to implement many citizen facing initiatives where we provide our services for translating citizen data for various departments within the government. Similarly, we are also implementing Karnataka State e-gov and m-gov projects also. We are in talks with other large states to assist them in government citizen initiatives.

Techaloo: You launched with the Qualcomm QPrize win in 2011 of $100,000. Have you got any funding recently or looking for the same?
Arvind: We received a funding of $1,00,000 from an HNI who is US-based and the prize money from Q-Prize in 2011. We have not raised funding after that and have been bootstrapped. The company achieved break-even in the last fiscal. Now, we have plans to enter international market and expand our market in India too. We are currently in talks to raise funds to take the company to the next level of growth.

Techaloo: What are your plans for next 3 years?
Arvind: The next 3 years are crucial for Reverie as we have plans to go beyond India to other countries like the Middle East and South East Asia. We have already made some inroads in markets like Dubai. We will also be focusing on establishing our leadership in the Indian handset market. Investments will also be made into scaling up our cloud platform for enterprise and app developers.

Techaloo: What will be your advice for budding entrepreneurs?
Arvind: My only advice to them is to focus on your idea, build a sustainable business, strengthen your client and product pipeline before you think about fund raising. These days, we are seeing mad rush to raise funds and investors also keen to park their money, but an entrepreneur has to think what is the right time for him to raise money.

Techaloo: What do you think about techaloo.com?
Arvind: TechAloo.com is doing a good job of being a one stop online portal for entrepreneurs fresh out of college. I believe you have a loyal readership and I wish you good luck for the venture, which I understand purely runs on passion to bring out success stories of the startup ecosystem of our country.

Team Behind the Success

Arvind Pani

arvindArvind had seen this gap, which he terms “Digital Language Divide” way back in 2000 and had been looking for an opportunity to address it. However, the mobile phones during those times were considered luxury and language was not a major hindrance. That changed significantly in the last part of the decade and Arvind along with his 2 other co-founders believed it was the right time to start Reverie. He also believed that the challenge of languages could not be solved by addressing any one section of the problem. Thus Arvind envisaged the 3 segments of language usage – text consumption, interaction, and automated processing as the building blocks of Reverie’s language platform. Prior to starting Reverie, Arvind worked for Intel, L&T and SAIL in various capacities. Arvind has done his graduation in engineering from National Institute of Technology, Rourkela.

Vivek Pani

vivekananda

Vivekananda drives technology development and Innovation at Reverie. He has been working in the area of language computing specific to complex languages for over 15 years. His journey into language computing started at CDAC where he led the language computing team and pioneered several tools including the first free text transliteration from English to Indian languages for regular text and Names. He was involved in developing the first Indian language solutions for Television Set-Top Boxes in 2001 and also introduced the first Indian language support solutions for mobile phones with text prediction and accurate rendering. He brings the value of architecting high performance solutions that scale across all range of devices. Vivekananda has done his B.Tech in Electronics and Instrumentation from CET, Bhubaneswar.

S K Mohanty

mohantyMohanty leads the fonts and aesthetics design and is the person behind the world-class fonts and type designs that deliver among the best user experience in the world. Mohanty has rich experience in the standardization of glyph for font design of Indian scripts. Prior to Reverie, Mohanty led the scripts standardization activities at CDAC and was the creator of ISFOC Standards for multilingual text display and printing in 8-bits, and ISCLAP Standard for multilingual Pagers for Indian Scripts. His contribution include Typeface designs in the complex Indian and south Asian scripts, which include Devanagari (Hindi & Marathi), Bengali, Assamese, Gujarati, Punjabi, Oriya, Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam, Sinhalese, Tibetan, Bhutanese. Mohanty has over 26 years of experience in digital font design, multi-lingual technology products, graphic design, visual communication and calligraphy. A recipient of FIE Foundation national awards in 1993, he has done his graduation in Applied Art from Sir J.J. Institute of Applied Art Mumbai, and post-graduation in Visual Communication (M. Des) from Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai.

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Mohit Bansal(23) is B.Tech in Electronics and Communication Engineering from Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad, India. He has interest in business and entrepreneurship and has published couple of research articles. He is also associated with various NGOs. He is with Techaloo when it was just in concept stage. The Techaloo site was not existing even then. Currently Mohit is working with Mu Sigma as a Business Analyst Profile.

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