Indonesian Natural Language Processing Startup Bahasa.ai secures seed funding from East Ventures

Fri Aug 24, 2018 - 9:10am UTC

24/8/2018 – Bahasa.ai, an Indonesian AI startup has recently completed an undisclosed seed funding from East Ventures to accelerate its mission to develop the most robust NLP/NLU (Natural Language Processing/ Understanding) modules for the Indonesian language.

East Ventures is one of Indonesia’s most active venture capital firms which specializes in backing startups in their early stages. Among its most successful investments are Tokopedia, Traveloka, and Ruangguru.

Commenting on the deal, East Ventures principal Melisa Irene said, “With over 700 dialects spoken in the country, most Indonesians could speak two languages: Bahasa Indonesia and a dialect.”

“This results in many variations of slangs, spellings, and abbreviations as we communicate in both verbal and writing, which presents a huge opportunity of NLP/NLU in Indonesia alone.”

Bahasa.ai describes itself as an AI-as-a-Service company and currently implements its technology to help businesses execute their chatbot strategy.

Bahasa.ai Chief Executive Officer Hokiman Kurniawan stressed that, two elements are essential to make a good chatbot, namely technology and design.

Technology can help overcome the challenges faced by Bahasa.ai, which includes the difficulty in adaptation to the dynamics of Indonesian slang words as well as the complexity of their grammatical structure.

Bahasa.ai has various methods to overcome these obstacles, including a special mapping method to overcome semantically repetitive words.

For example, the Indonesian words – saya, aku and gue – which means ‘me’ or ‘I’ in Bahasa Indonesia are semantically similar and will be mapped out by engines so that the chatbot will be able to recognize the conversation contextually.

Another method includes a crawler engine that will continuously learn the way people use the language on social media.

As for design, it is important to have a framework design that enables the chatbot to provide a tangible contribution towards the clients business objectives and help generate more profits and benefits.

“Although all of the founders are engineers, we always care about how we can be beneficial and bring a positive impact to our clients’ businesses,” said Hokiman. “Through our product, businesses are empowered to enhance their transaction process as well as resolve customer issues with more efficiency and at any time.”

Besides, Bahasa.ai is also designed so that clients can analyze their businesses and track their chatbot performance through the intuitive and easy-to-use dashboard.

Bahasa.ai Chief technology Officer Fathur Rachman Widhiantoko said, “Proper implementation and technology for AI chatbots can be very beneficial to businesses. A client of ours, who is a local distribution company, has consistently generated additional revenue of 600 million to 900 million rupiah monthly after implementing our chatbot strategy.”

With the funding from this seed investment, Bahasa.ai will develop their NLP/NLU engine to enable artificial intelligence applications to use a more contextual and relevant version of the Indonesian language.

“Our mission is to make a machine that understands the Indonesian language comprehensively. We believe that the implementation of this technology will not stop with chatbot, as there will be more to come when a machine can speak the Indonesian language well,” Kurniawan said.

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