Youplus: Harnessing AI to Measure the World's Opinion in Video
Human history was passed down through the generations through the spoken word. Oral traditions define human evolution and have preserved the transfer of knowledge and wisdom from the dawn of mankind to the digital age we know today. Understanding how humans share and value information today is what drove two disruptive engineers and entrepreneurs, Shaukat Shamim and Baharat Vijay, to found Youplus. Youplus is measuring the meaning of the spoken word, expressed in video, for today's monetized digital world. Our fast paced, demanding, 24/7 life has changed the way we search and gather for information, and video has become the world's medium for discovery. Video is growing so fast that it drives 74% of traffic on the internet, and Youpluswas founded to provide technology solutions to this booming video space. In video, people express themselves differently than any text: facial expressions and voice inflections and gestures communicate profound feelings that cannot be captured by the written word. Youplus is building powerful AI to interpret these insights gleaned from the minds of consumers, and measure the value of opinions on any product, brand, or idea.
To know more about the firm, our representatives spoke to Shaukat, the engineer who runs the firm, here are the edited excerpts.
What circumstances led to the creation of Youplus, tell us a bit about the inception and compatibility within the entrepreneurial ecosystem of India today?
I was always fascinated by the emerging trends in technology and advancing ideas that can change the way humans communicate. Youplus is my sixth venture in pursuit of that interest. We are building the first platform to search, index and measure the world's opinions, expressed in video. We have a growing technical presence in India while setting the standard for world-class product and service development with the smartest, most talented people in the country. Our message to the world is that India is the future of technology. I believe that India is setting the standard for rapid market growth as evidenced by themany impressive startups being built in India.
Kindly brief us about the innovative industry trends infused and deployed by Youplus.
Video is a phenomenon growing at an exponential speed. People are already consuming over a billion hours of video and conducting more than 5 billion searches for video content every day. 90% of people report that videos heavily influence their consumer and other choices, 84% trust video reviews as much as they trust their friends. This vast video web of public opinions remains a black box: unsearchable, unquantifiable, and immeasurable. In response, Youplus pioneered the most advanced video search and AI technology on the market. We have successfully built the first platform to index and search the world's opinion in online videos, called VOISE (Video Opinion Index and Search Engine). Similar to how Google is cataloging the textual web by looking inside and indexing on keywords, VOISE uses computer vision, audio, and text analysis to actually look inside videos and associate the salient clipsto opinions. From VOISE, Youplus has built VISION, an advanced AI neural network that can unlock and predict qualitative insights and data trapped deep inside the vast "video web."
What kind of services and solutions does your company provide that makes you stand out among your peers?
Youplus delivers consumer insights at an unprecedented scale and speed. Considering that the average focus is around ten people, that generally takes months to conduc and even more time to analyze, our technology speaks for itself: we extract meaningful data from millions of videos and measure rich consumer insights in a matter of days. For ecommerce websites, we can deliver a stream of highly targeted opinion videos in a widget that is easy to embed, called VIEW. This channels the most influential opinions, Q&As, FAQs, and How-To videos to any website, increasing engagement in a significant way.
What are the values and factors that you attribute your success to?
Stay true and stay patient! It takes perseverance to build a company and bring new products to the market. You will hear "no" constantly – daily – and skepticism from everybody. You can't pay heed to it. The factor behind my success is the ability to build companies is around the ideas that I truly believe in. Success follows those who believe they can turn an idea into a reality, against the odds.
What are the challenges you expect to see in the market? How do you work on your long-term relationship with your clients?
There is one issue in the market that I believe is a challenging one: it is extremely hard to solicit the online feedback of users. Less than 1% of visitors to a website leave reviews when prompted. Yet the majority of online shoppers make their decisions on the basis of online reviews. Considering the power of opinion reviews, having them on a website is as imperative as the information on products and services. That is precisely why VIEW delivers targeted video reviews in a simple widget which is easy to embed. Any website can feature engaging video opinions that capture short visitor attention spans without the hassle of soliciting reviews or producing content.
What are your views on what an organization must look like today to compete?
To remain relevant, viable and competitive in a digital world, one has to be extremely flexible and adaptive to the developments happening around us. Things that worked yesterday will not necessarily work again with your audience. Open-mindedness is the key to find compatibility with the ongoing change. Which also means that traditional roles within a company will change as well, to keep up with the pace, teams will have to be collaborative and transparent.
Brief us about the milestones and awards earned by the organization.
We are fortunate to have gained so much traction at such an early stage from more than 600 iconic brands and agencies working with us in the US, UK, and India. The list of prestigious brands associated with us includes Unilever, Proctor & Gamble, Samsung, Coca-Cola, eBay, BMW, Tyson, and Colgate, to name just a few. Youplus has also raised investment from senior executives from Google, Yahoo!, Infosys, UT Starcom, and many experienced venture funds.
The Road Ahead
Our next step is to expand our influence worldwide with an exponential rate. We want to build on the opportunities that are unfolding before us. We are already a global firm operating in four different countries with offices in Silicon Valley, Chicago, New York City, London, Singapore, Delhi, Bombay, and course Bangalore. We are expanding that footprint even more in the next 12 months!
Co-Founder and CEO
Shaukat Shamim, an engineering graduate from the University of Texas, Austin, a repeat entrepreneur, a venture capitalist, and technologist was an early member of the core Yahoo! team, where he led the creation of the iconic Yahoo! Messenger platform. His life revolves around the digital world. As the Founder and CEO of Buysight, he developed one of the first online data remarketing and real-time brand advertising platforms, acquired by AOL in 2012. An early innovator in the video ad network space, Shaukat also founded Rhythm New Media, a mobile advertising company acquired by Blinkx in 2013, with the combined entities taken public. Youplus is Shaukat's sixth venture—the previous five now account for billions in total revenue at some of the iconic technology and media companies globally.
Co-Founder and CTO
Bharat Vijay, an engineering graduate from NIT Surathkal and master's in computer engineering from the University of California, Santa Barbara, a multilingual speaker was also an early member of the Yahoo! Team where he was responsible for building Yahoo!'s backend ad serving network and behavioral learning engine. Formerly the founder and COO of Yahoo! India, Bharat oversaw Yahoo!'s Asia-Pacific expansion, scaling the operation to more than 3,000 employees. As the Managing Director of Amazon India, Bharat launched the first online shopping site in the Indian market. Subsequently, Bharat led the A9 Search Engine technical team and is responsible for developing the search system still in use by Amazon today. Bharat also holds a patent in Model-based advertisement optimization, filed in July 2009.
How has been journey as a leader?
It has been a process and an evolution. In order to grow, one must learn from the mistakes made. Failure helps in building a successful strategy. It is counterintuitive, but that's how your team builds confidence, adapts to challenge, and learns how to solve problems together.
A piece of advice for the young entrepreneurs…
Stay true to yourself and stay humble. If someone rejects your ideas, it means you are probably on to something. Stick with it and be patient. Only you can make your ideas a reality.