Conversational AI agency Versa has announced its expansion into India, capitalizing on demand for specialized conversational strategy and design in a market with a population of more than 1.3 billion people, and an installed base of nearly a billion mobile phones.
Versa India will be a 50/50 joint venture between Versa (Headquartered in Melbourne, Australia; with US operations out of Seattle) and Mogae Consultants, owned by Sandeep and Tanya Goyal. Dr. Sandeep Goyal, is an advertising and media veteran who has been a past President of Rediffusion, ex-Group CEO of Zee Telefilms, and former Founder Chairman of Dentsu India. Tanya Goyal has been a six-term member of the Governing Council of the Advertising Agencies Association of India.
Tanya Goyal will be Versa India’s chairperson. Ashish Dabral, an ad industry veteran, will be the CEO of the Indian venture. Versa Asia Business Director Adi Sharma will head up business development out of Delhi. Sunando Bannerji, formerly of WPP’s Group M and Star TV, will head revenue out of Mumbai. The venture will utilize Versa resources from Australia, the US, and Singapore to complement its own Indian-based resources, sales team, and P&L capabilities.
Versa CEO Kath Blackham said the expansion would create opportunities for the Australian business to build a significant Indian operation and fill a gap for conversational AI and voice expertise in the multi-lingual country where low-cost smart speakers such as Amazon Alexa, and mobile Google Assistants are already very popular.
“Many tech companies in India have the experience to build platforms such as websites, chatbots, and apps but lack expertise in conversational strategy and design,” said Blackham. “We will leverage our established relationships with Amazon, Microsoft, and Google to improve customer experience and make lives better by giving the Indian community access to information they traditionally would not have had.
“This partnership will give our Australian operation access to a much bigger market, including the ability to trial projects at scale. We look forward to working with Mogae’s experienced team to support our global clients and partners.”
Tanya Goyal said the venture reversed the traditional outsourcing paradigm, with India outsourcing tech development and specialist consulting services to Australia and the US.
“Yet, we will have enough local capabilities to cater to client requirements in the domain of voice ‘skills’ and more,” added Goyal.
“Versa India will focus on creating conversational experiences that help streamline customer experience teams and developing solutions such as contact center AI bots, websites, and apps that have a foundation of conversational AI built-in. We will be working closely with big brands in India to help them realize the potential of conversational AI and voice and how they can best infuse the technology within their organization. It is an exciting time for voice and conversational AI in India, and we look forward to helping established and well-known Indian brands embrace these emerging technologies for the Indian market.”
Versa’s expansion into India follows a successful launch into the US market close to a year ago.
“Since we launched Versa into the US market, we have been experiencing great success working with well-known organizations and brands including American Red Cross and Pampers, both of which recognize the power of conversational AI as part of their overall marketing strategies,” said Russ Whitman, President, Versa USA. “Our expansion into India is testament to Versa’s exceptional capabilities and we couldn’t be more excited about the partnership with the Mogae.”
The Versa India operations launched post-Diwali but will go commercial live from early 2021.
“Global expansion is critical for any business that specializes as much as we do at Versa, and we are excited for this next step, and the opportunities that lie ahead for our team,” added Kath Blackham.
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