Around 1.5% of the world’s population cannot communicate naturally using their voices. At present no product uses the instinctive medium of a speech-disabled person’s voice to communicate. Voiceitt and its product, Talkitt, are disrupting the complex world of communication boards and tracking technologies to restore natural fluidity to the 100 million speech-disabled, enabling them to speak to their family members, caregivers and friends.
KITE Invest: In the US and Europe alone (10% of speech-disabled people globally), Voiceitt estimates that a $19.99/month subscription fee to their service would generate $2.4bn per year. How will the technology be rolled out in further markets?
Danny Weissberg: Initially our mission is to focus on enabling the speech impaired to be socially integrated and not be left out of the user interface trend we are seeing. Talkitt can be integrated into various devices to make phone calls, use social media, and activate smartphones and assistive devices, facilitating communication and control on all levels. Talkitt can also be applied to a broader population as it can be integrated into existing speech recognition technology by changing the way the mass market uses speech-to-text, helping people with heavy accents and incorporating emotional recognition.
KITE: Initially Voiceitt anticipated offering a B2C product from mobile devices, what challenges does this approach hold in capturing interest, users, and later professional attention?
DW: The biggest challenge with a B2C model was getting Talkitt out to the market and completing all development and usability tests in the window we had previously planned. We are dedicated to our future customers and we see the enthusiasm they have for the product on a daily basis through the emails and messages we are getting. For this reason, we are working hard to get our initial product out and subsequent versions so as to not disappoint our user base.
KITE: Recognising the role of medical bodies and associations, Voiceitt has already partnered with a significant network of key players, hospitals, and associations, who are actively testing partners. How has Voiceitt found the process of attracting partners and maximising utility of partnerships?
DW: Attracting enthusiasm and collaboration from partners has been for the most part quite straightforward and trouble free for us. This is due to the fact that Talkitt is the first application for those with speech impairments that enables a person to use their voice to communicate. Because we are not bypassing the voice and enabling a person to speak in the most natural means, hospitals, associations, and schools that are eager to test our application in it’s early stages. Families of future users act as ambassadors for us as they are eager to finally communicate with loved ones. We have volunteers from around the globe helping us get the word out and for this reason we have an incredible network of very involved partners.
KITE: What communications and investment lessons has Voiceitt learnt in this process?
DW: The biggest lesson we have learned and one that we always try to abide by is that clear communication in terms of timing and features of the each version of the product is key. We strive to be open about our progress and each step with each partner and how we get to our result is conveyed in detail.
KITE: There’s no doubt that Voiceitt and Talkitt have a life-changing, empowering effect. What has your experience been of the balance between profitable enterprise and life-enhancing technology?
DW: We are lucky to live in a time and place where there are decreasing barriers to starting a business and at the same time opening up a new world of social change. We think this is why there is a global trend of social entrepreneurship. We are able to apply practical, innovative, and sustainable approaches to benefit society. We can do all of this with a growing talented technical and business team, which is extremely exciting for us.
KITE: Talkitt won the attention and accolades of various competitions including TEDMED and The Spain Startup South Summit and this has helped in the securing over $500 thousand in investment. How does Voiceitt intend to learn from the success of Talkitt in terms of communications and marketing as signified by Talkitt’s competition success?
DW: Talkitt’s success was largely a result of how much we reached out to the target population and began to understand exactly what their needs were. We began a digital marketing campaign with optimism because we knew what the speech disabled, their caregivers, and their families were looking for.
KITE: What, if any, funding is Voiceitt seeking and who are the company hoping to attract investment from?
DW: We are seeking approximately $500K in investment, preferably from angel investors.
In February 2015, Voiceitt won the competitive prize from Verizon for $250K, allowing for an accelerated development and release of Talkitt. The startup also won a $62K award by Philips during the first quarter of 2015.