Synthetic speech tech startup Murph literally gives voice to content creators of all sizes. Murph, which now has a library of more than 120 human-parity AI voices in 20 languages, today announced it has raised $10 million in Series A funding led by Matrix Partners. The participation comes from Elevation Capital Returning Investors and several prominent angel investors such as Ankit Bhai, founder of Ola; Disney Streaming SVP of Production; Ashwini Ashokan, founder of Mad Street Dop; and Pushkar Mukewar, founder of Drip Capital
Founded in October 2020 by IIT-Kharagpur school friends Sneha Roy, Ankur Edki and Divyanshu Pandey, Murph’s previous funding announcement was a $1.5 million seed round led by Elevation Capital and angel investors, which helped them invest in talent acquisition, product innovation and customer acquisition. Since Murph’s seed round, it has grown 26X in ARR and synthesized more than a million voice-over projects across a wide variety of speaking styles and tones.
Some examples of how Murph’s technology has been used include a tech entrepreneur and artist creating an entire image using AI art models, deepfake programs, and AI voices from Murph Studio; An entertainment animation agency that created a TV series using a collection of Murph voices; Authors creating fantasy fiction audiobooks with Murph’s AI voices; and a YouTube influencer who used Murph’s AI voice to create a rap video.
Edkey, Murph’s CEO, told Technology Flow that although Murph’s founding team had worked in different domains in the past, they were all passionate about creating high-quality voice-overs. This includes creating and updating product demos and recording radio and video ads. He added that the pandemic “has spurred the creation of multimedia and the demand for scalable audio content is growing rapidly.”
Murph’s clients have used it in a variety of ways, including advertising, audiobooks, explainer videos and e-learning. Murf.ai, its SaaS platform, was developed to make it easy for clients to create high-quality natural sounding voiceovers for any commercial purpose. The company’s clients range in size from individual content creators to SMBS and enterprises and work in education, corporate, healthcare, media and entertainment, marketing, advertising, podcasting, customer support and more.
Edkey told Technology Flow that content creators and marketing teams often record voiceovers themselves or outsource the entire process, both of which are “messy, expensive and time-consuming.” Murph, on the other hand, allows users to create “human-like” voiceovers without the need to purchase recording equipment or hire a voice artist.
The company also wants to remove limitations on what text-to-speech can do. “Although TTS has been around for a long time, limitations in voice quality have limited its use. By using recent advances in AI and deep learning, we are making it possible to create high-fidelity synthetic voices that mimic the natural rhythm and articulation of human speech.
The Murph platform includes an AI-enabled SaaS tool that helps users create “human-like” voices, typically for use in videos or presentations, without acquiring complex and expensive recoding equipment or hiring a voice artist. Content creators can use an online voice recording booth where they can sample a wide range of speaking styles. Murph wants to bridge the diversity gap in traditional text-to-speech platforms by including voices in African American, British, Australian and other accents.
According to market reports used by Murph’s founders, the global text-to-speech market is expected to reach $7.06 billion by 2028, growing at a 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 quality limitations meant they were mainly used by voice assistants and chat bots. But recent developments in AI and deep learning have now made it possible to create synthetic voices that have the prosody and pronunciation of human speech. Murph’s AI engine has been trained on hours of real human speech, and Murph Studios offers more than 120 human-type AI voices that can speak 20 languages. Murph is working to bring more diverse accents by partnering with voice actors to bring voices overseas such as African American, British and Australian English.
Murph’s AI-powered text-to-speech can also learn from contextual information to provide the right responses. The founders describe Murph as an “all-in-one voice solution” that lets users add images, videos and background music. It has features for pronunciation using the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), voice customizations that change the user’s pitch, pause, emphasis and speed.
Murph makes money for its services through a subscription plan. It came out of beta testing in January 2021 and in the last 18 months, has seen a 22x increase in ARR and has synthesized over a million voiceover projects to date.
Murph’s main competitors are big tech and cloud companies like Google, Amazon, Poly and Microsoft, which have market-leading text-to-speech platforms, Edkey said. Murph is distinguished by natural-sounding AI voices that support multiple voices and styles.
“Beyond a simple text-to-speech tool, our platform gives users the ability to add images, videos, presentations and voiceover, add background music and synchronize them to create comprehensive content,” Edkey said. Murph’s AI-based TTS can also learn from large amounts of contextual information to generate contextual speech. For example, it has built-in context awareness that can recognize commonly used entity formats such as numbers, currencies, percentages, addresses, dates and times, reducing their randomness and bringing them closer to a predefined standard, Edkie added.
In a prepared statement, Mukul Arora, co-managing partner, Elevation Capital, said, “AI-driven, life-like voiceovers are the next frontier in the text-to-speech market. Murph, with their stellar founding team and unique IP, is perfectly poised to take a leadership position in this space. Their execution expertise and tech-first focus is evident in the solid traction and growth they have demonstrated so far. We’re really excited to double down on our partnership with Murph.