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Celebrating Women in Tech: Highlighting Symbl.ai

March 23, 2022
Surbhi Rathore

CEO and Co-Founder, Symbl.ai

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Editor's note: In the US, the UK and Australia, March is celebrated as Women’s History Month. Here at Google, we’re excited to celebrate women from all backgrounds and are committed to increasing the number of women in the technology industry. Over the next few weeks, we will shine a spotlight on women-led startups and how they use Google Cloud to grow their businesses. Today’s feature highlights conversation intelligence company Symbl and its co-founder, Surbhi Rathore.

For businesses with customer service or sales organizations, conversations with customers greatly impact both customer satisfaction and revenues. Sometimes people dialing in to a call center are notified that “this call will be recorded for training purposes,” but if the company is just creating written transcripts to be read by managers or having trainees listen to those audio recordings, they’re missing out on a great deal of potential business efficiencies and value.


What is Symbl?

I co-founded Symbl to harvest the rich contextual information embedded in voice, video, or text conversations and reveal actionable insights. I became interested in this area after a long time in the telco industry, where customer interactions happen at many different levels on a massive scale. Customer service organizations have sought to improve some of these workflows through chatbots and virtual assistants, using both voice and text. My co-founder and I observed an opportunity to not only use chatbots as a means for repetitive actions, but also to truly understand customers.

Using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), underpinned by Google Cloud infrastructure, Symbl’s technology goes way beyond just documenting what words are said, such as on a transcript. Instead we can measure and analyze conversation patterns and sentiments. We can also illuminate context and user intents.

Our clients are developers, who use our customizable interfaces via APIs and SDKs as part of the broader solutions they market to consumers and enterprises. By using our conversation intelligence products our clients can glean insights from customer interactions with an easily adaptable platform on which to build their own machine learning capabilities for unique, specialized functions.

Some examples of what our clients build with us are software tools to help with coaching of customer service and sales representatives, in real time during their calls. Symbl can help them better understand the problems at hand, automatically flagging moments that merit empathy or perhaps a need to be more polite. This saves time in post-call coaching, let alone potentially saving a customer relationship by steering representatives toward more successful, appropriate responses while a customer is still on the line.

Symbl enables automated auditing for safety and compliance, including monitoring many conversations at the same time, eliminating the need for a person to review conversations or create their own customized parameters and logic for an audit process. For a gaming or media site with lots of consumer commentary or other user-generated content, for example, our technologies can help detect profanity and redact inappropriate language.

In addition, our live captioning and real-time transcription can improve accessibility for more people. To support meetings and overall business productivity, we can also take things a step further with content indexing, searching, filtering for more targeted distribution, and powering workflow automations. Breaking down huge volumes of content into smaller pieces, then enriching and packaging those in useful ways, helps our developer clients offer more personalized user experiences to their customers.

Amplifying conversation intelligence with Google Cloud

Our fast data capabilities rely on a distributed Google Cloud environment using Cloud Functions, Datastore, and BigQuery. With Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE), we can scale more than 50 models very quickly for real-time data transactions. It helps us go from hundreds of requests per minute or per second to thousands and tens of thousands of concurrent requests. Compute Engine lets us add NVIDIA GPUs to our VMs in passthrough mode so that they have direct control over the GPUs and their associated memory, limiting latency to accelerate our machine learning and data processing. We also use Datastore as a NoSQL database for scalability, Cloud DNS for our services and Cloud Profiler for identifying code level non-functional issues by profiling services.

Since API platforms like Symbl’s are an integral part of someone else's product, reliability and resiliency are extremely important for us. Cloud Monitoring underpins our site reliability practices, giving us observability and allowing us to create SLOs with alerting to support our performance goals, and Cloud Armor for defense against attacks as WAF. We use Cloud Storage to store and maintain data for our internal pipelines and as a staging area for ongoing production processes.

Google Cloud’s reliability is a key benefit we valued from the outset, and is one of the biggest factors we continue to appreciate today. Overall, we were excited to find all of these capabilities under one umbrella with Google Cloud. By having all these building blocks with a single cloud provider, we’ve been able to focus our efforts on maximizing our speed to market. When new people join our company, training is faster as a result and it’s a positive experience for our developers.

We were fortunate to take part in the Google for Startups Cloud Program. As part of that we received $100,000 in Google Cloud credits, which paid Symbl’s cloud infrastructure bills for the first 12 months of operations. This was very useful to us when we were getting started with adoption and not worrying about early usage revenue and focus on value. 

Google provides a great community with helpful information we relied on to build and scale our systems. We leaned on Google Cloud support a lot, and their experts assisted us with optimizing our architectures, which can get complex.


Paying it forward

Now we’ve turned around and launched our own startup incubator ourselves. I think it’s very important to be able to give back, so we have a number of early-stage companies we support. Our Symbl.ai for Startups program offers them education, support, and credits for the Symbl platform, in addition to mentorship, help finding talent and customers, and a global community that hosts regular in-person and virtual events. Vocalize.ai, Evrmore, and Chatfully are amongst other several startups who are a part of our startup program.

We are excited to work with high growth startups like Hubilo, Airmeet Experience Welcome, Remo, and others who are making waves in defining the next generation of experiences for events, webinars, social collaboration and more. We have companies doing amazing work in the CRM and sales intelligence arena, such as Revenue Grid. I could go on; there are so many incredible opportunities in this space. We also work with some cool partners that are scaling voice adoption and voice intelligence across the ecosystem, like Agora, Vonage, Twilio, and Amazon Chime

As far as Symbl itself, we’re seeing amazing growth. The number of developers on our platform has grown 10x in one year. Our revenues are up 4x.


Being vocal to achieve success

My advice to other women hoping to launch a startup is to proactively look for opportunities, because they don't come to you. You have to seek out opportunities and then act on them. I've been intentionally doing this for a while now, which led me to co-found Symbl.

You not only have to work hard, but you also need to surround yourself with allies that will provide a support system to get where you want to go. You may have to go above and beyond to get to a stage that other people have access to more easily, such as getting in front of investors. A great ally ecosystem can make valuable introductions. Be vocal about getting the support you need. Use social channels to help you gain momentum.

I’m proud that at Symbl we care for our people first. We really are a company of equal opportunities, where things like gender, location, or knowledge gaps aren’t issues. It helps that we’re growing fast and there is so much opportunity in our industry.

We are excited to be at the forefront of so many different use cases that can derive value from unstructured conversation data. I truly believe now is the best time to be building a company around voice technology. We are just at the tip of the iceberg at this moment.

Hear Symbl.ai Founder and CEO Surbhi Rathore chat about building a company around conversation intelligence and how she grew her business on Google Cloud in a recent Startup Showcase at Google Developers Founder Fridays

If you want to learn more about how Google Cloud can help your startup, visit our startup page here and sign up for our monthly startup newsletter to get a peek at our community activities, digital events, special offers, and more.

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