Dutch AI startup Whispp, a firm that uses artificial intelligence to offer people with speech impediments a strong new voice has just secured a €750k seed round from lead investor LUMO Labs, which is a follow-on fund from Leiden University holding Libertatis Ergo Holding BV (LEH) coupled with other angel investors.
The startup’s real-time assistive voice technology and calling app converts speech diminished by stuttering, throat cancer, ALS, and vocal cord paralysis, into the person’s original, natural voice. However, speech impediments, a global concern are estimated to have affected 300 million worldwide.
As a result of neurological changes in the speech mechanism, for several speaking disorders deliberately steering the voice on the path of whispering is helpful. More importantly, people who stutter severely can reduce their stuttering frequency by an average of 85 percent while whispering. Equally, it’s been observed that those who suffer from Spasmodic Dysphonia, a voice disorder characterized by involuntary muscle spasms in the muscles of the larynx, or Recurrent Respiratory Papillomatosis, a condition where (non-cancerous) tumors called papillomas develop in the respiratory tract, notably the larynx, speak much more relaxed and fluently when they whisper.
“Our big bold dream is to have Whispp’s assistive voice technology available on every smartphone and laptop worldwide to create a more inclusive world. To make this happen, we need and want to partner with mobile network operators and the largest technology companies in the world. We are confident that LUMO’s vast experience and valuable network will boost our growth”, Whispp Founder and CEO ‘Joris Castermans’ said.
While efforts are made by the AI startup Whispp in this trajectory, it should be borne in mind that Castermans, who stuttered as a child, was inspired to create the revolutionary Whispp technology because of his personal speech challenges.
Founded in 2019, Whispp’s latest investment round follows a 2022 pre-seed round led by Libertatis Ergo Holding B.V., known to be an independent, wholly-owned subsidiary of Leiden University. The fresh capital will be deployed by the founders to launch its assistive voice technology and its first paid and subscription-based calling app. Additionally, the LUMO Labs investment will be deployed to perfect the AI technology and products on the way to expanding into the U.S. and European markets by creating partnerships with industry leaders.
Responding to this development, ‘Sven Bakkes’, Founding Partner at LUMO Labs commented: “It is always special to meet a founder who has turned their own struggles and obstacles into innovative and groundbreaking solutions for others. We are deeply impressed with the tenacity, creativity, and positive mindset of Joris and his co-founder Akash and are much looking forward to working with them going forward”.
‘Andy Lürling’, LUMO Labs Founder Partner, noted that real-time vocal communication is such an elementary part of human connection, both personally as well as professionally. “The ability to speak heavily affects an individual’s well-being and sense of belonging. More than 1% of the global population however suffer some kind of progressive loss of speech and/ or speech impediments”. Adding that, “Whispp allows these people to literally be heard and participate and contribute to society like anyone else. Propositions like this have a unique and tremendous impact on diversity, equity inclusion”, said Lürling.
While we’re braced with digitization, it will be fair to share your thoughts on AI startup Whispp!