Words are more powerful when spoken rather than read. But while voice can transform written content with nuance, emotion, personality and feeling, achieving that effect at scale can be challenging. Not everyone has the confidence or ability to articulate themselves effectively – and the volume of written content potentially requiring audio is enormous.
That’s where Murf AI comes in. A start-up specialising in synthetic speech, Murf is today announcing the successful completion of a $10 million Series A fundraising, as it seeks to accelerate its already rapid growth. The financing comes just 16 months after the company’s $1.5 million seed funding round.
“So much content goes without audio,” says Sneha Roy, who co-founded Murf just two years ago with two college friends Ankur Edkie and Divyanshu Pandey. “Our aim is to make voiceovers accessible to anyone who is creating content.”
To do that, Murf has worked with professional voice actors, recording their spoken words in order to provide a training set of audio data for its proprietary artificial intelligence tools. Using this technology, the company has been able to develop a range of more than 120 voices in over 20 languages. Content creators simply choose the voice they want and Murf’s tool can then turn their written text into audio using that voice.
“The technology has evolved very quickly,” says Edkie. “We have developed something that is very close to the human voice – it’s nearly indistinguishable.”
Murf sees a range of different target audiences for its services. The e-learning market is one important source of customers, with training and development providers using its tools to create far more compelling course content. Advertising and marketing functions are another example of where the technology has obvious applications, enabling the creation of material far more quickly and cost-effectively. And Murf is also working with many individual creators – writers, podcasters and YouTubers, for example, all of whom are looking to create audio content but lack the confidence or capacity to do it for themselves.
Independent research suggests the opportunity is enormous. The global text to speech market is expected to be worth as much as $7.06 billion by 2028, which would suggest growth of almost 15% a year. Separately, the voiceover and dubbing market is predicted to generate $8 billion of annual sales by 2027.
Murf’s founders, Ankur Edkie, Sneha Roy and Divyanshu Pandey
“Synthetic media is poised to become omnipresent in the near future and voice is at the core of it,” argues Edkie. “We continue to make advances in our speech technology to put the diverse abilities of talented voice actors at our customers’ fingertips.”
Murf regards its proposition as a win-win for all involved. Customers can create all the audio content they need without paying for specialist equipment or time in a recording studio. And the voice actors get paid too, earning royalties each time a Murf customer uses their voice.
The tools are available through a software-as-a-service model, with Murf offering a range of price plans targeted at different types of user. Individual creators with more modest needs pay as little as $19 a month to access the technology, while larger enterprises and corporates pay more.
This model appears to be working well for Murf, which has recently seen the millionth voice project completed on its platform. Sales have grown 22 times over since the business’s seed round. “It’s early days, but we are also seeing enormous organic interest from website visits,” says Roy.
Murf’s latest fundraising will provide crucial funding for further product development. In particular, the company is keen to increase the range of voices it has available for customers, providing a more diverse selection to choose from, and is also working on a number of new features and enhancements.
The Series A round is led by Matrix Partners India, with participation from existing investor Elevation Capital, as well as a number of prominent angel investors.
“We’re big believers that AI will reinvent every market and Murf is reinventing a multi-billion-dollar category with its AI-voiceover technology,” says Pranay Desai, a principal at Matrix India. “Creating voiceovers is hard, and Murf’s unique IP makes it easy for every individual to create emotional and theatrical voices – faster, better, and cheaper.”
Source by www.forbes.com