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Papercup Technologies secures £16.24 million Series A investment led by Octopus Ventures

Papercup, a UK artificial intelligence start-up changing the dynamics of global video, has set an ambitious goal of bringing human emotion to AI dubbing services, as it receives a $20 million Series A investment round.

This funding will help the London-based company with its goal of making the world’s video content watchable in any language through emotive and realistic synthetic voices and AI dubbing as it targets a $100 billion future market.

Around the world, billions of hours of video content are trapped in a single language. Founded in 2017, Papercup created an AI and machine learning-based system that translates people’s voices and ways of expression into other languages.

Customers upload their videos, choose a target language and then receive a translated version with a synthetic voiceover, indistinguishable from human voices.

The technology has already been used by media giants Sky News, Discovery, and Business Insider, and was used to translate 30 seasons of Bob Ross’ iconic show ‘The Joy of Painting’. More than 300 million people have watched videos translated by Papercup over the past 12 months.

At the core of Papercup’s unique technology is the creation of expressive synthetic voices, which are specifically suited for video. Rather than leverage generic third-party AI voices that are intended for a range of uses such as chat bots and home assistants, Papercup has created its own catalogue of voices that offer realistic tones and emotions that are more engaging with viewers. This creates an enjoyable and authentic experience for viewers, complete with the subtlety and nuance of the original content.

Papercup’s emotive voices are complemented by its proprietary ‘human in the loop’ system, whereby translators annotate the content which is auto transcribed, translated and dubbed by AI. By applying human expertise at this stage, the quality of the video output is improved, and Papercup collects the very data Papercup can use to semi and wholly automate the process.

Combining AI and a human layer allows Papercup to offer a service that is radically different to what has been traditionally available in the dubbing sector, with costs running to just 1/5th of standard dubbing studios, and turnaround times shrunk to hours and days rather than weeks and months. 

Papercup’s proprietary technology will for the first time make dubbing accessible to all forms of video content, allowing content to be watched by the 6.5 billion people across the globe who don’t speak English. Extending their technology to all forms of video and audio content, including e-learning, corporate training, podcasts, and audiobooks, will unlock a $100 billion dubbing opportunity ripe for disruption.

Octopus Ventures leads the investment joined by Local Globe, Sands Capital, Sky and Guardian Media Ventures, Entrepreneur First, BDMI as well as a range of angel investors, including Des Traynor, Co-founder of Intercom, and John Collison, co-founder of Stripe.

Existing angel investors include William Tunstall-Pedoe, founder of Evi (now Amazon’s Alexa) and Zoubin Ghahramani, Senior Research Director at Google Brain, and former Chief Scientist at Uber. 

Success is no accident, it is hard work and perseverance. Congratulations to the entire team at Papercup on your funding. I wish you all the best in this endeavour.

Shishir Gupta, Founder and CEO, StartupLanes

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