Speechly, a Helsinki-based spoken language understanding startup, has raised €2 million in seed funding to build developer tools for next generation voice user interfaces. The round was led by Berlin’s Cherry Ventures, with participation from Seedcamp as well as Quantum Angels, Joyance Partners, Social Starts, Tiny.vc, Juha Paananen and Nicolas Dessaigne. Most voice assistant platforms on the market have hard limitations: they tend to fail with more complex user requests, they don’t integrate with common apps and UIs, and existing APIs don’t give developers enough creative control. Speechly’s technology allows developers to break through those barriers, to build more sophisticated, real-time and multimodal, voice-enabled user experiences. Through easy-to-use SDKs and APIs, Speechly makes spoken language understanding available for the vast majority of developers who are not Natural Language Understanding (NLU) experts. Plus the technology works on any platform or operating system. “Speechly’s technology can be the Twilio for voice UIs and change the way developers use and think about voice in the future,” explained Filip Dames of Cherry Ventures, comparing the startup to a familiar tech unicorn.
Hannes Heikinheimo, the company’s CTO, said: “Speechly offers developers the ability to easily build delightful voice user experiences that integrate well with their products and brands. We believe our technology will bring voice the same kind of renaissance as the iPhone brought for touch in 2007.”
Founded in 2016, the Finnish software is already used in e-Commerce, virtual reality, media, healthcare, and industrial services. The company realizes the challenges ahead as it attempts a foothold in voice recognition market, whose value is expected to reach $49 billion by 2024.
“It is hard but not impossible to compete against the likes of Google, Amazon and Apple. But our approach to voice UIs is different. We don’t need to monetize our customers’ data or tie developers into our ecosystem”, says Otto Söderlund, the CEO of Speechly. The seed funding will be used to further develop the tool and to release the public APIs.