Synthetic speech technology startup morph It gives a voice, literally, to content creators of all sizes. Murf, which now has a library of more than 120 AI voices for human parity across 20 languages, has announced that it has raised $10 million in Series A funding led by Matrix Partners. Participation came from returning investors Elevation Capital and several prominent angel investors such as Ola founder Ankit Bhai. Disney Streaming SVP of the product; Ashwini Asukan, founder of Mad Street Dap; and Pushkar Mukwar, founder of Drip Capital
Founded in October 2020 by IIT-Kharagpur school friends Sneha Roy, Ankur Edkie and Divyanshu Pandey, Murf’s previous funding announcement was $1.5 million led by Elevation Capital and angel investors who helped them recruit talent, invest in product innovation and user acquisition. Murf says that since his initial tour, he’s grown 26 times in ARR and has compiled over a million audio projects, in a variety of speaking styles and tones.
Some examples of how Murf technology has been used include an art entrepreneur and artist making an entire movie using AI art models, deep fakes, and AI voices from the Murf studio; Animation entertainment agency that created a television series using a range of Murf’s voices; Authors making fantasy fantasy audiobooks with the voices of Murf’s AI; and a YouTube influencer who used Murf AI’s voice to create a rap video.
Edkie, Murf’s CEO, told TechCrunch that while Murf’s founding team has worked in different areas in the past, they’ve all experienced the pain points of creating high-quality audio sums. This included creating and updating product demos and recording radio and video ads. He added that the pandemic “has provided a boost to multimedia creation and the demand for scalable audio content has been growing rapidly.”
Murf clients have used it in a variety of ways, including advertisements, audiobooks, explainer videos, and e-learning. Its SaaS platform, Murf.ai, has been developed to facilitate customers’ work to create high-quality natural soundtracks for any commercial purpose. The company’s clients range in size from individual content creators to SMBS and businesses, working in sectors such as education, corporate, healthcare, media and entertainment, marketing, advertising, podcasts, customer support, and more.
Edkie told TechCrunch that content creators and marketing teams often record voiceovers themselves, or outsource the entire process, both of which are “cumbersome, expensive, and time-consuming.” On the other hand, Murf allows users to create “human-like” soundtracks without the need to purchase recording equipment or rent a sound artist.
The company also wants to remove restrictions on what text-to-speech can do. “While TTS has been around for some time now, limitations in voice quality have limited its use. By taking advantage of recent advances in artificial intelligence and deep learning, we make it possible to create high-fidelity synthetic sounds that mimic the natural voice and pronunciation of human speech.”
Murf’s platform includes an AI-powered SaaS tool that helps users create “human-like” voices, typically for use in videos or presentations, without the need to purchase complex and costly re-encoding equipment or an audio artist. Content creators can use an online voice recording kiosk, where they can sample a wide variety of speaking styles. Murf wants to bridge the diversity gap in the traditional script of speech platforms by including voices across dialects, such as African American, British, Australian and others.
According to market reports used by the founders of Murf, the global text speech market is expected to reach $7.06 billion by 2028, with a growth rate of 14.6% CAG. Meanwhile, the voiceover and dubbing markets are expected to generate a total of $8 billion annually by 2027.
Text-to-speech has been around for years, but the quality limitations mean that it has been used primarily by voice assistants and chat bots. But recent advances in artificial intelligence and deep learning now mean that it is possible to create artificial voices that have the liking and articulation of human speech. Murf’s AI engine is trained on hours of actual human speech and Murf Studios offers over 120 AI human voices, which can speak in 20 languages. Murf is also working to bring in more diverse dialects by partnering with voice actors to bring in overseas voices such as African American, British and Australian English.
Murf’s AI-powered text-to-speech converter can also learn from contextual information to return correct responses. Murf’s founders describe it as a “comprehensive audio solution” that allows users to add photos, videos, and background music. It also has features for pronunciation using the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), and voice customizations that change users’ pitch, pause, emphasis, and speed.
Murf makes money with a subscription plan for its services. It came out of beta testing in January 2021, and over the past 18 months it’s grown 22 times in ARR and over a million audio suspension projects have been manufactured to date.
Edkie said Murf’s main competitors are big technology and cloud companies, such as Google, Amazon, Polly and Microsoft, who have the primary text and speech platforms in the market. Murf distinguishes itself with natural-sounding AI voices that also support multiple accents and styles.
“Going beyond a simple text-to-speech tool, our platform provides the ability for users to add images, videos, presentations and voiceover, embed background music and sync them together to create compelling content,” said Edkie. Murf’s AI-powered TTS can also learn from large amounts of contextual information to create contextual discourse. For example, it has a built-in context awareness that can recognize commonly used entity formats such as numbers, currencies, percentages, addresses, dates and times, reduce their randomness and bring them closer to a predetermined standard, Edkey added.
Mukul Arora, Co-Managing Partner, Elevation Capital, said in a prepared statement, “Reality and AI-driven voiceovers are the next frontier in the text-to-speech market. Murf, with its outstanding founding team and unique intellectual property, is poised to Perfectly to gain a leadership position in this field. Execution prowess and focus on technology is primarily evident in the traction and growth they have shown thus far. We are really excited to double down on our partnership with Murf.”