Horizons Ventures backs AI startup Fano Labs in first Hong Kong investment



Horizons Ventures, the VC agency based by Hong Kong’s richest man Li Ka-Shing, has made a uncommon early-stage funding after it backed AI startup Fano Labs.

Horizons has invested within the likes of Fb, Razer, Slack, Unbelievable, Spotify and extra, and now it’s placing undisclosed cash into Fano Labs, which just lately graduated AI accelerator program Zeroth. This deal additionally marks the agency’s first funding in a Hong Kong-based firm.

Based by teachers, Fano Labs makes use of speech recognition and pure language processing to assist out at name facilities. No, the robots are taking these jobs (but) however they’re serving to name facilities themselves to run extra effectively.

That’s to say that Fano Labs’ expertise is used to pay attention again over all recorded name heart agent interactions with clients. As anybody who ever known as a middle is aware of, “your name could also be recorded” and that’s as a result of it’s checked over to make sure the agent has carried out inside the boundaries of the regulation (notably round monetary providers) whereas recordings are used to guage employees, examine on buyer suggestions and practice new joiners.

Name heart managers don’t have the time to examine via all of them, and that’s the place Fano Labs steps in. Its tech goes via the decision heart’s whole log to inform the busy supervisor which of them they need to hearken to, somewhat than selecting them at random.

“They solely pay attention to at least one to 2 % of all calls, sometimes,” Fano Labs CEO and co-founder Dr. Miles Wen advised TechCrunch in an interview. “Some banks in China declare 5 % however they’re mendacity, they’ll’t do it.”

Even once they do, Wen stated that “even the very best listeners will miss half” of the factors for follow-up. Fano Labs additionally helps by selecting out the important thing excerpts and serving to name heart managers guarantee they’re on high of every name they hearken to.

Fano Labs was began in 2015 by Wen, a PhD graduate from the College of Hong Kong (HKU), and Professor Victor OK Li, Chair of Info Engineering and Head of the Division of Electrical and Digital Engineering at HKU. It started centered on chatbots for customer support however flipped its focus to sort out name facilities.

Fano Labs founders Victor OK Li and Miles Wen (left and proper)

“It’s an actual ache level and there aren’t so many options that may do it,” Wen stated. “We plan to go very aggressive to name facilities — it’s vital to determine a market and be the very best participant — however in the long term, we’ll discover new functions earlier than this market will get saturated. We will adapt our expertise.”

Initially, the startup is concentrated on growing its speech recognition expertise for extra Hong Kong and Mainland China dialects to assist with name decoding. Already, it might probably deal with Cantonese, Sichuanese, English and Mandarin, and its shoppers embody property builders, utility firms and listening to firms.

“Horizons has a heritage of investing in industry-shaping speech and NLP applied sciences ranging from Siri, Viv, and now Fano Labs. We love deep-tech firms that apply this AI energy to enhance crucial human communications issues. Fano Labs’ resolution for a number of dialects permits for this rewind of the Tower of Babel story,” stated Horizons Ventures’ Phil Chen.

“Fano Labs is engaged on two massive issues — analyzing different Chinese language dialects and tackling the Chinese language market. We expect these massive issues characterize a singular alternative for progress, and Horizons agreed with our evaluation by making Fano their first ever Hong Kong funding. Miles represents the founders that we like at Zeroth — decided to resolve exhausting issues, centered on a market that’s completely different, and capable of study extraordinarily rapidly,” Tak Lo, companion at Zeroth, advised TechCrunch.

Fano Labs presently has 12 employees however Wen stated it plans to double that quantity over the following yr.

Featured Picture: Iakov Kalinin/Shutterstock


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