Today we have selected Michal Hrabi to take his interview. He is the CEO Of Phonexia.
First of all, what do you do, and how does your business work in practice?
Even though it has been a challenging year for everyone, we feel pretty good.
As the digital industry rebounded and showed growth in almost every country globally, our business used it to its advantage. We were even able to launch a new product for the government segment.
Nevertheless, the big obstacle for us was the restriction of travel. We have a large part of our customers and partners from all around the globe, so we lacked the opportunity for personal contact to strengthen relationships and maintain lead generation (which somewhat slowed down).
By not attending any physical conferences, which are our biggest source of contacts, it wasn’t easy to establish new partnerships, especially in the government sector.
The transition towards online conferences was also a big challenge for us – every conference participation took place in a virtual form, which was completely new to us. In addition, some of our partners and customers (mostly from the government sector) are not allowed to share their personal details, which worsened the communication with them compared to personal contact.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded or joined this company?
In the past, I have worked as the Chief Editor of CIO Magazine, where I have completely changed the image and offering of the magazine. I split paid and unpaid content to provide more relevant content and introduced new headings, which increased subscribers and nearly tripled advertising growth in months.
Furthermore, I was the manager of the Microsoft Innovation Center for more than five years and manager of the startup program JIC, during which I founded StarCube – the first Central European startup accelerator. More than 250 business plans passed through my hands every year, and the startup companies that I consulted in the last three years received over CZK 90 million in seed investments.
I joined Phonexia in 2014 as a Product Manager and later was in charge of managing the company’s operations as Chief Operations Officer. In 2016, I became the company’s CEO to enable its technical director, Petr Schwarz, to devote himself fully to his position.
In the beginning, I had only a two-member team at Phonexia, but in 2015, as I became a COO, I already led 22 people. Subsequently, in 2016, already as the company’s CEO, I was in charge of the entire company, built a new management team, set up a new department, and, after a few years, transformed the entire company to meet the needs of the market and employees.
My vision is that thanks to Phonexia, it will be possible to do many activities in the future more easily using the voice interface so that a person is more focused on fulfilling their creative work and leaving routine activities to robots.
Have you introduced any significant innovations recently?
The turning point was last year. We started to focus on the commercial sector much more significantly. We launched a new product, Phonexia Voice Verify, that helps banks and insurance companies improve the security and satisfaction of customers in call centers. This solution is used for the voice identification of a caller within 3 seconds of net speech and thus enables the authorization of various requests over the phone and the detection of fraud.
This year we launched another new product, Phonexia Orbis, which is focused on the government sector this time and designed specifically for law enforcement agencies. Phonexia Orbis is a revolutionary on-premises software solution that enables the rapid investigation of audio recordings. The solution uncovers all important information from audio instantly and provides investigators with a modern, intuitive interface for managing case-specific notes, performing further analyses and visualizations, and creating reports.
How the Coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
In 2021, we expect a slower rate of turnover growth than it would be without the effect of the coronavirus.
Thanks to long-term partnerships and the number of business cases in progress, we expect turnover to increase slightly. The biggest obstacle to our progress was travel restriction, which went against our standard approach to the world market.
However, we are pulling through because of the amazing job of the all Phonexia team that was able to work remotely even harder than before.
We also try our best to keep our company’s spirit, focus on new challenges, maintain good relationships with our partners and clients, and most importantly, make sure that we solve everyday challenges through voice.
We also focus on strengthening sales in the commercial segment and increasing our recurring revenue.
When the Covid hit the world, and we were forced to change our lives from day to day, we realized that we did not need some products and services or how they were delivered to us. We shifted to the online, remote world, as did almost the entire human society.
As a side effect, this global shift had many e-shops and call centers experiencing unprecedented call peaks, causing huge customer disappointments when not being served as usual. The number of frauds increased, and the customer experience decreased due to overcrowded contact centers.
This was why we started following the trends relevant to the call centers of banks, insurance companies, utilities, and others and try to help them.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
We try to continuously adapt and update our tools and skills as the crisis changed our workflow.
However, as we are a technology company, we lived a real remote life during the Covid time. And like many others, we started using Teams and Zoom as our main communication channels. We used these tools for video calls, conferencing, webinars within the company, and communication with our partners and customers.
Who are your customers? How do you think you are different from your competition?
Our clients mainly include call centers, financial institutions, forensic experts, police, and security forces. Our technologies are used, for example, to identify a speaker based on voice biometrics, transcribe spoken language, analyze voice, or improve the quality of customer service.
We choose our customers. We strive to ensure that our technologies do not fall into the wrong hands. We only cooperate with partners from countries that are safe from NATO’s point of view. We have contractually and within the framework of our code of ethics outlined the purposes for which our technologies can be used.
The Code of Ethics is legally binding on all our partners and customers.
Phonexia was the first company on the market to offer Deep Embeddings™ technology for human voice recognition based entirely on deep neural networks. This set us apart from the competition.
Thanks to Deep Embeddings ™, the accuracy and speed of Phonexia speech technologies have been significantly improved, allowing not only to recognize what has been said but also to determine the speaker’s identity, gender, and age with high accuracy.
Your final thoughts
Our vision for the future is to become an inspiration for other companies. Not only by what Phonexia does and how it automates the world but also by the way it does.
The company offers comprehensive products, but we want them to be easy to use and deploy in production for customers. What the user encounters should be as easy and user-friendly as possible.
We want to make the world a safe and intuitive place for everyone to live. We believe in the power of voice and are doing our best to bring the voice-first future into the current reality as soon as possible.
People should enjoy their lives through creative activities rather than boring, repetitive work that can be easily automated. This is why we want to connect people with intelligent solutions effortlessly through the human voice to relax and focus on their passion.
- Spokesperson: Michal Hrabi
- Company: Phonexia
- Website link: http://www.phonexia.com/