Twilio Startup Labs Founder Spotlight: Karan Kashyap & Matt McEachern, Posh

September 21, 2023
Written by
Twilion
Reviewed by
Twilion

Company Name: Posh AI
Co-Founder Name(s): Karan Kashyap & Matt McEachern
LinkedIn: Posh AI Company Page 
Industry: Fintech
Stage/Funding: Series A $32 Million USD
Location: Boston, USA

This is a post in a series of interviews with startup founders who have worked with Twilio Startup Labs, a program for developers at early-stage startups to learn how to build, prototype, and demo on Twilio. We had the pleasure of working with Karan Kashyap & Matt McEachern on their startup, Posh AI

Describe your company (Startup) journey in 160 characters or less (the original length of a text message)

Founded in 15 at MIT. Pivoted to AI in '18. Grew to 100+ staff, 60 clients, $32M raised. Posh is modernizing banking with conversational virtual assistants.

Why did you start your company?

We originally started Posh as sophomores in 2015. We positioned Posh as a consulting company to work on cool, real-world software & AI challenges while we wrapped up our degrees.

Once we graduated, we pivoted towards current-day Posh in 2018, after we noticed the perfect balance of promise and skepticism in conversational automation. Language is hard-wired into all of us - it’s a stretch to even call it a human invention. Popular culture and Sci-Fi hinted that language [and conversation] would become a dominant form of HCI. It’s exciting to play a part in making this a reality.

We are also passionate about applying our tech to improve the negative stigma that shrouds the customer service industry, especially in banking.

How are you building on Twilio? E.g., how do you use email, SMS, WhatsApp, Verify, etc. to communicate with your customers?

We primarily use Programmable Voice. Our conversational virtual assistants are deployed on the telephone. Callers are greeted by an audible welcome message, and they’re free to simply ask for what they need. Programmable Voice is the technical bridge between the user’s phone input and our backend.

We also leverage SMS as means of sending textual follow-up questions whilst users are interacting with the assistant over the phone. For example, an SMS with branch location information is much more helpful than listing that information over the phone.

We leverage Media Streams for Voice Authentication.

What has the benefit or commercial impact been for your business since using Twilio?

We’ve used Twilio since the beginning of our business. It allowed us to rapidly build an MVP product that our market found valuable.  And we’ve iterated, polished, and scaled upon it since.

By building on Twilio, what has the impact been for your customers?

Clunky touch-tone menus at  1-800 numbers are very quickly becoming a thing of the past. Customers’ standards for good product experiences, especially in customer service, have never been higher.

We’re in a new era of intelligent virtual assistants. And Twilio’s API suite is the platform upon which delightful, voice-driven, “ask me anything” - style automation can be built.

Are there any future Twilio Products that you plan to integrate into your startup, and if so, why?

We’re excited to go deeper into Media Streams so that we can have more control over the Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) and Voice Activity Detection (VAD) systems.

What is the best piece of advice you would give to founders who are looking to build on Twilio?

Twilio’s APIs are highly approachable. Speed is the name of the game. MVPs aim to capture a large bulk of value in as little time as possible. Twilio’s API’s can help you build that rapid MVP>

But once you have Product-Market-Fit (PMF), Twilio’s APIs don’t stop there. They allow for a massive amount of intricacy and control, so that you can really polish your product UX, post-MVP.

Twilio Support & Staff are also very helpful to understand edge-cases.

What excites you most about being a founder?

I (Matt McEachern) thrive on the uncertainty. So much of my Posh journey has been characterized by putting relentless effort behind uncertain bets. It’s exhilarating [for the whole team] when those bets pay off.

Founder Biographies:

Karan Kashyap
Karan is Posh’s Chief Executive Officer and co-founder. His education at MIT included undergraduate and graduate degrees focused on artificial intelligence, where he was named a Siebel Scholar for his research work. He soon began AI and software consulting with enterprises across multiple industries, building a business foundation and establishing a pathway to the beginning of Posh. Posh has over 57 clients with over 100 products deployed across the banking and credit union space, with an ever-growing client base and employee roster. Outside of work, Karan has joyfully traveled across 20+ countries, plays various sports, including soccer, golf, and squash, and enjoys cooking. He lives in Cambridge, MA

Matt McEachern
As Posh’s Chief Technology Officer and co-founder, Matt has always been passionate about problem solving with conversational AI. His skillset was forged at MIT which is where he first met co-founder and CEO, Karan Kashyap during their freshman year. As co-founder and CTO, he has revolutionized AI with customer service in the banking sector working to ensure the functionality and implementation of AI tech for Posh. Additionally, he is passionate about making Posh a great place to work, especially for self-starters. Matt’s hobbies and interests include pickup sports, theoretical physics, and investing.

Thank you for reading. If you would like to read more Twilio Startup Labs Founder Spotlight interviews and learn how others build, prototype, and demo on Twilio, please check out the series of articles here.

For questions about Twilio Startup Labs or to learn how to get involved, please contact Frank Y. Owusu at fyawowusu@twilio.com

To find out more about how Twilio supports Startups, check out Grow with Twilio.