Finnish Voice Recognition Startup Speechly Closes €2M Funding Round
Helsinki-based voice technology startup Speechly closed a €2 million seed funding round. The round, led by German venture capital firm Cherry Ventures, will go toward completing and releasing Speechly’s APIs for businesses who want to create voice experiences without turning to the most well-known names in voice assistant development.
Finnish Voice AI
Speechly began in 2016 as Speechgrinder, before getting renamed last year. The startup’s platform is built around the idea that current voice assistants can’t understand complex language. Speechly’s software uses speech recognition and natural language understanding to bridge the gap between a verbal request from a human and the tasks that an app or website can perform. Speechly describes their solution as able to support more kinds of experiences than the other voice assistant platforms currently on the market.
“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,” Speechly CTO Hannes Heikinheimo said in a statement. “We have designed our own proprietary speech recognition technology from the ground up to support a significantly wider range of voice-related user experiences compared to existing products out there.”
Experience and Data Control
Building on the bigger platforms usually requires a limited variety of formats and sharing data with the company behind the voice assistant. To lure potential clients away from the giants of the industry like Amazon and Apple, Speechly says it gives the businesses using its software to control much more control over the data and user experience.
“It is hard, but not impossible to compete against the likes of Google, Amazon, and Apple,” Speechly CEO Otto Söderlund said in a statement. “But our approach to voice UIs is different. We don’t need to monetize our customers’ data or tie developers into our ecosystem.”
Instead, Söderlund and his team see the smaller companies in the space as the real rivals. The ones that have created their own technology as Speechly did, with more control over the data for the client. The demand by businesses for voice interaction technology has spurred the growth of several companies that want to fulfill those needs. The approaches differ, however. For instance, speak2web created an e-commerce focused plug-in for websites and apps to enable shoppers to search and purchase items online by voice. Then there’s Denver-based Valyant, which focuses on offering voice AI technology to restaurants with drive-thrus. There are a lot of potential verticals for companies with a voice AI platform to offer and if Speechly’s platform can provide a viable alternative to Alexa or Siri, plenty of them will be interested in trying it out.