[Interview] Leading the Global AI Avatar Market in Two Years

Updated on
July 2, 2024
July 1, 2024

"AI Human global company? We have to do it.

We will leap to become the global leader in the AI avatar market within two years."

On the 1st, Se-Young Jang, founder and CEO of DeepBrain AI, said in an interview with ZDNet Korea, "In Korea, it is called AI Human, but in the United States, it is called AI Avatar," and revealed this plan. DeepBrain AI is a pioneer in the domestic AI avatar industry. It started in June 2016 under the name MoneyBrain. The company possesses core technologies in both AI-based video synthesis and voice synthesis. It gained attention by creating AI avatars of former President Moon Jae-in and presidential candidate Yoon Seok-yeol. The AI avatar of news anchor Ju-Ha Kim is also a product of this company. Last January, it was selected as one of the global top 250 'Generative AI startups'.

The company's main products include 'AI Studios,' a Software as a Service (SaaS) provided online, as well as ▲conversational AI ▲AI memorial service 'Rememory' ▲deepfake detection solution3D hyper-realistic avatars2D AI humans, among others. Among these, 'AI Studios' is a global SaaS service that automatically creates videos from input text. The latest version, 3.0, was launched last September. Its applications vary from education, news, to publicity. The price is $30 per month for personal use, and for enterprise use by businesses and public institutions, the price varies depending on the usage scale.

■ Global SaaS 'AI Studios' that creates videos from text draws attention

CEO Se-Young Jang explained, "It's a service where you input the desired content as text, and the AI automatically creates a video. It allows anyone to become a YouTuber. For example, if you ask it to create an interesting story about Cleopatra, it will make it into a video, including simple subtitles and background editing."

Currently, the number one in the global AI avatar market is Synthesia, a startup based in London, UK, founded in 2017. Besides Synthesia, American startup HeyGen and Israeli startup D-ID are also forming the global leaders. CEO Jang said, "Because the items are good, the competition to preoccupy the overseas market is fierce. In Korea, our company is the only one to be in the global top 3. It is not definitively ranked as third by anyone, but based on investment and sales scale, we see ourselves at that level."

DeepBrain AI is targeting overseas markets beyond domestic. CEO Jang's reason for spending the last two years in Silicon Valley is due to this ambition. While DeepBrain AI's technological capabilities are not inferior to global number ones, challenges remain in sales, marketing, capital procurement, and overcoming the Korea discount, making it insufficient to become the global top just yet, according to Jang. He expressed a strong determination, saying, "Growing in the global market is one of the most important goals as an AI startup. I learned a lot in the two years in the US. Marketing is completely different from Korea, and it took 1-2 years to realize this. Having paid a lot of tuition and worked hard, I now aim to challenge for the global number one in the next two years."

CEO Se-Young Jang explains the business strategy against the background of the company CI.

■ Overseas branches in the US and China..."If you succeed in the US, other countries are easy"

DeepBrain AI currently has overseas branches in two locations: the US and China. The US branch was established in Palo Alto, Silicon Valley, in February 2022, and the China branch in Shanghai in June 2020. Major export items include 'AI Studios' and 'AI Human (broadcast announcer)'. The US branch oversees global operations, while China is managed separately due to its unique national characteristics. Korea mainly handles research and development (R&D). CEO Jang stated, "We focus on the US market because getting known in the US makes it easier to expand globally."

The company's global market sales accounted for about 27% of the total sales (8 billion won) last year. Most of the overseas sales came from the AI-based video synthesis platform ‘AI Studios’. Besides 'AI Studios', the company also generated revenue from 'conversational AI' supplied to Lenovo, AKA Bank conversational AI moderator, and 2D and 3D characters in overseas markets. CEO Jang said, "Over the past year, 'AI Studios' has been used in a total of 111 countries. The US has the most users at 45.2%, followed by Korea (15.44%), Mexico (4.10%), and Australia (3.28%). It is also widely used in Canada, the UK, Germany, Japan, and India."

One notable overseas customer of DeepBrain AI is Lenovo. Lenovo supplies hardware capable of interactive AI conversation in the US market, and DeepBrain AI is the AI avatar partner for this business. This cooperation between the two companies began in earnest this year, and they are closely collaborating to expand the US market. It won't be long before AI products made by Korean ventures are used in distribution stores across the US.

In addition to Lenovo, DeepBrain AI is collaborating with AWS, the world's largest cloud company, in a similar manner. Regarding the partnership with AWS, CEO Jang said, "We are jointly selling at a high level of partnership. We supply our products to seven regions through AWS. AWS recently held an event for automobile companies in Germany, and we were invited to this event."

Regarding the company's technical capabilities, CEO Jang stated, "Lip-sync technology is our strength. We have minimized errors by implementing natural mouth movements as if a real person is speaking. Compared to other companies, we can express the desired gestures at the desired time, making our AI avatars highly realistic. While other companies tend to focus on one service, such as LLM, virtual humans, or the metaverse, DeepBrain AI has accumulated know-how in both conversational AI and TTV (Text to Video) based generative AI. This has secured our competitiveness in the global market, earning recognition as one of the top three players in the world."

■ Services in more than 10 languages...Avatars can implement over 100 languages

To grow rapidly in the global market, DeepBrain AI provides services in various languages. Currently, services are operated in more than 10 languages, and the avatars within the service can implement a total of over 100 languages. CEO Jang explained, "We provide customized customer experiences through technologies such as custom avatars and dream avatars. Through these diverse approaches, DeepBrain AI meets the various needs of customers worldwide." Aiming to become a global top player, DeepBrain AI plans to focus more on overseas marketing and sales. They are also collaborating with famous creators to enhance corporate recognition and secure service users.

Visitors listen with curiosity to explanations about AI avatars exhibited by DeepBrain AI at an overseas exhibition.Considering labor costs and technical capabilities, entering the overseas market is not easy. CEO Jang said, "Hiring and operating employees in the US costs more than expected. Even as a KOSDAQ-listed company, it is not easy to target the overseas market. Fortunately, our company received large-scale investments before listing. Hence, we aim to take a shot overseas. AI, in particular, inherently incurs high costs. Besides the cost issue, there are risks. It took six months to establish a branch in China and another year to get service approval. Despite this, we are going overseas because there are limitations to growing the AI business solely in Korea."

Korean startups that have entered Silicon Valley unanimously say, "Koreans are smart and passionate." CEO Jang agrees and believes that Korean startups can achieve good results in the global market. The success of DeepBrain AI's overseas market entry depends on people, the members of the organization. CEO Jang is well aware of this, which is why the company operates various welfare systems.

■ Targeting listing next year, selected Samsung Securities as the lead underwriter...600 billion won in accumulated investment

CEO Jang said, "We are doing our best to secure competitive talent. To ensure ‘quick rewards’, we have implemented a quarterly performance evaluation system. Additionally, we have granted stock options for mutual growth between the company and its members. We provide 500,000 won as a reward for patent applications and registrations. When publishing a paper in a journal, we offer differentiated rewards ranging from a minimum of 2 million won to a maximum of 5 million won based on the journal's impact. Besides, we operate various welfare systems such as allowances for parents, housing support, family day, and referral bonuses. Beyond material rewards, many engineers are satisfied with seeing their technologies used globally."

DeepBrain AI aims to go public next year. Last year, the company selected Samsung Securities as the lead underwriter. It has raised investments three times, including seed money. The seed money was about 3 billion won, invested by a venture investment association. The 7 billion won Series A investment included participation from Openwater Investment, POSCO Technology Investment, KB Investment, Donghun Investment, and IDG Capital Partners Korea. The 50 billion won Series B investment saw new investors such as KDB Industrial Bank, IMM Investment, Nvestor, and No & Partners, along with existing investors POSCO Technology Investment, L&S Venture Investment, and Saneun Capital.

CEO Jang explains the company's major AI services and products.CEO Jang stated, "The current generative AI market is in its early stages. If we achieve results globally, it will have sufficient value for listing on the Korean stock market. We will focus on growth for 2-3 years even after listing." The top priority market for DeepBrain AI is the education sector, as it is expected to grow significantly globally. CEO Jang analyzed, "Large companies produce a lot of educational

Ava Seo


Specializing in AI education and corporate PR and marketing, I take on the role of strategically planning and creating diverse content, including blog posts. Fueled by a constant pursuit of the industry's latest trends and innovations, my focus is on accentuating the company's goals and values while actively enhancing its brand image.

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