No one likes stumbling over their words — especially during a big presentation or when giving a speech at a wedding. However, hiring a speech coach can be costly, and practicing in front of a mirror can be time-consuming and inefficient without external feedback.
Speeko, a new Chicago startup, is hoping to solve both of those issues and turn its users into skilled orators on their own time.
“Speeko helps people improve their professional speaking styles,” said Nicolas Aguilar, CEO. “We do this by analyzing how you speak and looking at your voice in a variety of different metrics. Then we use those metrics to give you specific bits of automated coaching — all on a phone app.”
Speeko helps people improve their professional speaking styles ... by analyzing how [they] speak.”
Aguilar recently pitched the platform to investors at the Techstars Demo Day in October, during which he announced that the app had officially gone live in the app store that very day. Since graduating from the Techstars program, Speeko’s five-person team still works from the accelerator’s 1871 offices and is focused on incorporating proven academic science into the platform.
“There is a lot of information in communication science journals and other literature that we’re basing all of our algorithms off of,” said Aguilar. “We feel strongly that building our metrics and our knowledge of how we look at speakers needs to come from data-driven, published resources.”
The quest to create a digital speech coach began after Aguilar decided he wanted to better his public speaking abilities — a professional area he struggled with in the past and one he knows many people struggle with today. His hope is that speech recognition technology can help lower the barrier of entry to working on something many people feel self-conscious about.
“It’s sometimes an uncomfortable topic to talk about,” said Aguilar. “If we can make it more of an automated experience and have a machine help you take that first step in getting feedback and building self-awareness, that can be huge.”
The app uses voice recognition technology to record your speech then give constructive feedback — telling you everything from how many “ums” you used to exactly where your speech was too fast or slow. It then tailors plan for you to address your weak points and hit your goals, through various exercises and weekly challenges.
“The biggest challenge for us is, how do we make technology and analytics that can change your life, but make them feel accessible and welcoming,” said Aguilar. “That’s something we’re working really hard on, and we excited about bringing new life to this age-old problem through good design and strong technology.”
To overcome that challenge, Speeko is currently working on raising funds and further improving the platform based on feedback from early adopters.