Adam Turaev of Praktika.AI: Life-Like Robot Characters Will Change Language Learning

Tell us about your career and how you founded or joined this company.

I’m a serial entrepreneur, so Praktika.AI isn’t my first startup. My partners and I previously launched Cleverbot, a software company that developed AI solutions for more than 10 million users.

Praktika is a synergy of our skills and technological advancements. We came up with the idea when we ran up against barriers in cross-cultural communication. We intended to help people, particularly job seekers in emerging markets like LatAm.

With Praktika.AI, you can dive deep into a target language through virtual reality. Our users interact with robot characters in real-life situations, such as job interviews. By practicing in an immersive environment — at a fraction of private tutoring costs — people can learn better. As a result, they can access new opportunities across the globe.

How does your company innovate?

We use cutting-edge machine learning technology to create the best possible facsimile of a native speaker in an English-language environment. Our users receive real-time AI-driven feedback on their pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary, and fluency. Natural language processing (NLP) helps understand human language and give relevant responses.

Also, we use technology to make our content fun and engaging. That’s what makes us stand out from the competition. For example, our virtual characters are created with the help of an AI-video generation model.

How has the coronavirus pandemic affected your business, and how are you coping?

Throughout the pandemic, education changed dramatically, which led to the rise of remote learning and digital platforms. But even before COVID, education technology (EdTech) was a growing sector, and its potential was self-evident. In 2019, global EdTech investments reached almost $19 billion.

The global education technology market is expected to hit $350 billion by 2025. And the demand for online learning tools is high, so the pandemic didn’t affect our business. But it created the digital divide we’re observing in the developing markets, which we are trying to close now.

Did you have to make difficult choices, and if so, what lessons did you learn?

Developing a product is never easy, especially in an unpredictable environment with many variables, all in constant flux. But the primary difficulty was figuring out which features would appeal to our customers.

We had to conduct constant research, interviewing users to ensure we got everything right. Techpreneurs who don’t listen to their users develop products nobody needs with unnecessary features no one uses.

The main lesson I learned was not to rely on my opinion or my team’s confidence unless our ideas were supported by at least ten users and analytical data.

Without customer feedback, it isn’t easy to prioritize and focus on the right features. Also, any assumptions not confirmed by data can lead to disagreements within the team.

What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this market uncertainty?

To manage our projects, we use the scrum development approach — an adaptable, fast, and effective agile framework. It’s especially applicable in a changing environment.

We develop features and evaluate their priority every week. The prioritization board could be transformed dramatically from week to week. Thanks to our flexible approach, everyone on the team is ready for that change. It allows us to stay relevant when the environment is changing rapidly around us.

We use Jira, Slack, and Notion to manage the software development processes.

Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?

There are a few AI startups, such as Loora in Israel or Toko in Taiwan, but mostly our competitors focus on substituting personal tutors. Our angle, learning with AI robots, is fairly unique. We give our students the ability to dive into different real-life situations.

Many voice solutions, such as Alexa and Siri, don’t have faces. Our users interact face-to-face and maintain eye contact with a robot. This makes their experience truly unique. Through stories narrated by game developers and enacted by avatars, students access an immersive learning experience in the virtual world.

Source: Advertising Review