From Joe Biden and Kamala Harris' win to the Modi government's COVID-19 reach out⁠— a startup founded by two South Asians has scored big with brands and governments

From Joe Biden and Kamala Harris' win to the Modi government's COVID-19 reach out⁠— a startup founded by two South Asians has scored big with brands and governments
Representational image from a Joe Biden campaignUnsplash
  • Amplify.ai – the conversational AI (Artificial Intelligence) company drove the online chats with voters for Joe Biden and several other Democrats including Mark Kelly.
  • In India, it worked with the Modi government for outreach and support during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The four-year old startup co-founded by Mahi De Silva and Manoj Malhotra also works with Indian firms like the State Bank of India, ICICI, HDFC Life, Hero Motocorp among others.
Joe Biden’s win in the US Presidential elections is nothing short of historic, with thousands of people in not just America but across the world watching the results as they poured in. And amidst the thousands was the team at Amplify.ai – the conversational AI (Artificial Intelligence) company, which drove the online conversations with voters for Joe Biden and several other Democrats.

The four-year old startup co-founded by Silicon Valley veterans Mahi De Silva (from Sri Lanka) and Manoj Malhotra (from India) has clients like Google and Facebook. They also worked with Indian firms like the State Bank of India, ICICI Bank, HDFC Life, Hero Motocorp and also the Indian government.

From Joe Biden and Kamala Harris' win to the Modi government's COVID-19 reach out⁠— a startup founded by two South Asians has scored big with brands and governments
Mahi De Silva and Manoj MalhotraAmplify.ai and Manoj Malhotra/Twitter

Joe Biden’s win and the role of conversational AI


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The US elections fought in the middle of a pandemic saw Joe Biden reach out to millions of voters through a digital push. And Amplify.ai takes the credit for driving a lot of it. John McCrea, Chief Marketing Officer, Amplify.ai, believes that their work in the US elections is nothing short of ‘historic’.

“Civil discourse around politics has become really difficult, we are highly polarized. What we have been able to do is show how software can engage with voters in a way that is deep and meaningful across the political spectrum and done at a superhuman scale,” McCrea told Business Insider.

The company has built its own natural language processing engine and claims to have over 10 billion engagements over a billion people around the world. The chats were done through any channel that enables API-based conversational interaction, but mainly Facebook and messenger.
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From Joe Biden and Kamala Harris' win to the Modi government's COVID-19 reach out⁠— a startup founded by two South Asians has scored big with brands and governments
Screenshot of Amplify.ai conversation

In the US 2020 elections, Amplify.ai worked with five US democratic presidential campaigns, four of them in the primary and Joe Biden as well as 10 US democratic senate campaigns, including Mark Kelly, John Hickenlooper, and Jon Ossoff – some of who played an essential role in flipping the senate.

And one of their very first political clients was Kamala Harris in the primary back in May 2019. “We would engage with a voter and if he/she engaged back, we would say, well, you know, at this stage, how likely are you to vote for Kamala in the primary? This basically gave us an architecture to take some people down the supporter path, some people down the persuasion path, and some people down the opposition path,” said McCrea.

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But here’s why this conversational AI setup was important to politicians – it gave them data for their list building which would essentially be important for fundraising, which is a crucial part of the US elections. Joe Biden, was the first US presidential candidate to raise over a billion dollars from donors.

And McCrea credits his work in the US elections to be inspired by their work in India.

Working with the Modi government



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Amplify.ai during the 2019 elections drove 30 million engagements on social media during the LokSabha poll counting day on behalf of news organizations. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it worked with the Modi government for outreach and support. “During the pandemic, we were approached by the MyGov team and Facebook. We were a one stop solution provider where users from India can come and check-in, inquire about what's really happening, find out about the nearest food shelter and more,” Kartik Walia, India Operations Head, Amplify.ai told Business Insider.

During the pandemic, Amplify.ai claims to have served over 40,000 users per hour across almost all Indian languages.

Their work with the Modi government also made way for a lot of brands to be associated with them. “You've got to be compliant with a lot of security guidelines in order to work with the Government of India. So once you do that, you're secure and you're kind of able to prove that, you're not basically a tuckshop,” said Walia.

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Hiring and strengthening their team in india



While the company refused to share revenue details or India’s contribution to the global business, McCrea said India is one of their most important markets. “We look at India as a place where we're going to see new trends emerge that we ought to be able to replicate around the world,” he said.

And while they currently have a 25-member team in India, they are looking to expand it as they aim to ‘triple in size by 2021 globally’. “In India, we are hiring across engineering, customer success, business analysts and many more,” said Walia.

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