Synthetic speech technology startup Murph Literally a voice for content creators of all sizes. Murf, which now has a library of more than 120 human-equivalent AI voices in 20 languages, announced today that it has raised $10 million in Series A funding, led by Matrix Partners. Participation from several prominent angel investors including returning investors Elevation Capital and Ola founder Ankit Bhai; SVP of Disney Streaming Products; Ashwini Asokan, founder of Mad Street Dap; and Pushkar Mukewar, founder of Drip Capital
Murf was founded in October 2020 by IIT-Kharagpur school friends Sneha Roy, Ankur Edkie and Divyanshu Pandey, following a funding announcement of a $1.5 million seed round led by Elevation Capital and angel investors to help them recruit talent, invest Product innovation and user acquisition. Since its seed funding round, it has grown its ARR 26 times and synthesized more than a million speech items in a variety of speaking styles and tones, Murf said.
Some examples of how Murf’s technology has been used include a tech entrepreneur and artist who created an entire movie using AI art models, deepfakes and AI voices from Murf Studios; an entertainment animation company using Murf’s voice to create a TV series; the author used Murf’s AI voice to create an audiobook of fantasy novels; and there was a YouTube influencer who used Murf’s AI voice to create a rap video.
Murf CEO Edkie told TechCrunch that although Murf’s founding team worked in different fields in the past, they all encountered pain points in creating high-quality voice-overs. This includes creating and updating product demos and recording radio and video commercials. He added that the pandemic “has boosted multimedia creation and the demand for scalable audio content is growing rapidly.”
Murf’s clients use it in a variety of ways, including advertising, audiobooks, interpretive videos, and e-learning. Murf.ai is its SaaS platform designed to make it easier for customers to create high-quality, natural-sounding voiceovers for any commercial purpose. The company’s clients range from individual content creators to SMBS and businesses, and work in education, corporate, healthcare, media and entertainment, marketing, advertising, podcasting, 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 “tedious, expensive and time-consuming.” Murf, on the other hand, lets users generate “human-like” voiceovers without having to buy recording equipment or hire a voice-over artist.
The company also wants to remove restrictions on text-to-speech capabilities. “While TTS has been around for a long time, limitations in speech quality have limited its use. By leveraging recent advances in artificial intelligence and deep learning, we can create high-fidelity synthetic speech that mimics the natural prosody and pronunciation of human speech. “
Murf’s platform includes an AI-enabled SaaS tool that helps users generate “human-like” voices, typically for use in videos or presentations, without procuring complex and expensive recoding equipment or hiring voice artists. Content creators have access to online recording studios, where they can experiment with various speaking styles. Murf hopes to bridge the diversity gap of traditional text-to-speech platforms by including voices with different accents including African American, British, Australian and more.
According to a market report used by the founders of Murf, the global text-to-speech market is expected to reach $7.06 billion by 2028, growing at a CAGR of 14.6%. Meanwhile, the dubbing and dubbing market is expected to generate $8 billion annually by 2027.
Text-to-speech has been around for years, but quality limitations mean they’re mostly used by voice assistants and chatbots. But recent developments in artificial intelligence and deep learning now mean that synthetic speech with the prosody and pronunciation of human speech can be created. Murf’s AI engine is trained on hours of actual human speech, and Murf Studios offers over 120 human AI speeches that speak 20 languages. Murf is also working on bringing in more diverse accents by working with voice actors to bring voices such as African-American, British and Australian English abroad.
Murf’s AI-powered text-to-speech can also learn from contextual information to return the correct response. The founders describe Murf as an “all-in-one voice solution” that enables users to add images, video and background music. It also features the ability to pronounce using the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), as well as voice customization that changes the user’s pitch, pause, emphasis and speed.
Murf makes money through subscription plans for its services. It completed beta testing in January 2021, and over the past 18 months has seen a 22x increase in ARR, synthesizing over 1 million voiceover projects to date.
Edkie said Murf’s main competitors are big tech and cloud companies such as Google, Amazon, Polly and Microsoft, which have the market-leading text-to-speech platforms. Murf stands out for its natural AI voice, while supporting multiple accents and styles.
“In addition to simple text-to-speech tools, our platform provides users with the ability to add images, videos, presentations and voiceovers, including background music and fully sync them to create engaging content,” Edkie said. Murf’s AI-powered TTS can also learn from a wealth of contextual information to create contextual speech. For example, it has built-in context awareness to recognize common entity formats such as numbers, currencies, percentages, addresses, dates and times, reducing their randomness and bringing them closer to predefined standards, Edkie added.
Mukul Arora, co-managing partner at Elevation Capital, said in a prepared statement: “AI-driven, lifelike voiceover is the next frontier in the text-to-speech market. Murf has a best-in-class founding team and unique IP, Fully poised for leadership in this space. Their execution capabilities and technology-first focus are evident in the solid traction and growth they have demonstrated to date. We are really excited to double down on our partnership with Murf.”