Leiden-based Whispp, a Dutch AI startup, has raised €750K in a seed round of funding led by Eindhoven’s LUMO Labs, with additional funds from Leiden University holding Libertatis Ergo Holding BV (LEH) and other angel investors.
LEH is a seed investment fund wholly owned by Leiden University, that targets early-stage, high-impact startups, primarily in Life Science and Health.
Andy Lürling, LUMO Labs Founder Partner says, “The ability to speak heavily affects an individual’s well-being and sense of belonging. More than 1 per cent of the global population however suffer some kind of progressive loss of speech and/or speech impediments.”
“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 and inclusion,” adds Lürling.
An assistive voice technology for people with a voice disability
Founded in 2019, Whispp uses AI to provide individuals with speech impediments, a new voice.
The company’s real-time assistive voice technology and calling app restore the natural voices of those affected by conditions such as stuttering, throat cancer, vocal cord paralysis, and ALS, impacting around 300 million people globally.
Due to neurological changes in speech mechanisms, deliberately steering the voice towards whispering proves beneficial for various speaking disorders.
According to Whispp, severe stuttering can see an 85 per cent reduction when whispering, and conditions like Spasmodic Dysphonia or Recurrent Respiratory Papillomatosis show increased relaxation and fluency with whispering.
Users can create their personal Whispp voice using audio or video recordings of their past healthy voice by in-app recording of about two minutes of their voice.
Whispp will use the funds to fuel the launch of its assistive voice technology and debut a paid subscription-based calling app.
The funds will also be dedicated to refining Whispp’s AI technology and products, with plans to expand into European and the US markets through strategic partnerships with industry leaders.
Whispp founder and CEO, Joris Castermans says, “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.”
Castermans, who stuttered as a child, was inspired to create the revolutionary Whispp technology because of his own speech issues.
Sven Bakkes, Founding Partner at LUMO Labs adds, “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.”
Brief about LUMO Labs
Founded in 2016, LUMO Labs fosters impact-driven software and smart hardware startups through its current fund, LUMO Fund II.
This multi-stage capital fund, supporting pre-seed to series A, includes a two-year venture builder programme to enhance financial success and social impact.
LUMO Labs focuses on startups aligning with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, such as Sustainable Cities & Communities, Good Health & Well-Being and Quality Education.
The firm focuses its investment in areas like artificial intelligence, blockchain, the Internet of Things, robotics, drones, and Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality.
LUMO Labs advocates self-determination and traceable ownership of data and transparency and traceability of technologies.