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Papercup secures $20M to help make video content watchable in any language using AI

Image credits: Papercup

Papercup, a London-based AI startup, announced that it has secured $20M in a Series A round of funding led by Octopus Ventures. The UK startup has raised over $30.5M in funding to date.

Others, including 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, also participated. 

How will the funding be used?

Papercup says it will use the funds to accelerate its goal of making the world’s video content watchable in any language through emotive and realistic synthetic voices and AI dubbing.

Jesse Shemen, CEO of Papercup, says, People retain up to 70% more information when watching videos dubbed in their native language. With truly emotive cross-lingual AI dubbing, we can tackle all forms of content, making video and audio more accessible and enjoyable for everyone. This funding will allow us to double down on our promising research and break into new content categories.”

Text-to-speech system

Founded in 2017 by Jesse Sheman and Jiameng Gao, Papercup has developed a text-to-speech system capable of translating people’s voices into other languages, indistinguishable from human speech. 

Papercup says customers can upload their videos, choose a target language, and receive a translated version with a synthetic voiceover.

Rather than using generic third-party AI voices, Papercup has created its own catalogue of voices that offer realistic tones and emotions that are more engaging with viewers. The emotive voices are complemented by the company’s proprietary ‘human in the loop’ system. 

“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,” writes the company. 

Papercup’s technology makes dubbing accessible to all forms of video content, allowing 6.5B people across the globe to watch content who don’t speak English. 

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 300M people have watched videos translated by Papercup over the past 12 months.


Based out of London and New York, Octopus Ventures is a multi-stage venture capital investor specialising in B2B software, health, money, deep tech, and consumer.

With £1.3B under management and investing over £200M a year, Octopus Ventures is one of the largest and most active venture investors in Europe. 

The company’s typical investment is from £1M for Seed to £10M for Series B. So far, the company has backed the likes of IntigritiDelioTouchlab, and more.

Zoe Reich, an investor in Octopus Ventures says, “Spotify has 3.2M podcasts. Youtube 500 hours of videos uploaded every minute. Discovery, 100,000 hours of documentaries. CNN 4 million video assets. The volume of video and audio produced for consumption is rising exponentially, yet, only 1% is currently dubbed into multiple languages. Papercup’s use of AI to provide affordable, high-quality dubbing can unlock that content for audiences around the world and in, doing so, drive a 100-fold expansion in the video and audio translation market with Papercup at the forefront.”

Chris Eng, Principal, Sands Capital says, “In a world that has increasingly embraced online video during the last two years, Papercup’s solutions can have a resounding impact, expanding the reach and unlocking millions of hours of video content. Papercup can set the standard for high-quality video localization and demonstrate the immense value AI can bring to online and digital videos.”

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