LUMO Labs invests in Whispp, a voice technology startup poised to significantly improve millions of lives worldwide
Press release January 09, 2024
EINDHOVEN, Netherlands – Whispp, a Dutch AI startup, has secured a EUR 750,000 seed round from lead investor LUMO Labs and follow-on funds from Leiden University Holding, Libertatis Ergo Holding BV (LEH) and other angel investors. Whispp uses Artificial Intelligence to give people with speech impediments a strong new voice. Whispp’s real-time assistive voice technology and calling app converts speech diminished by stuttering, throat cancer, vocal cord paralysis and ALS into the person’s original, natural voice. This affects an estimated 300 million people worldwide.
Due to neurological changes in the speech mechanism, for several speaking disorders deliberately steering the voice towards whispering is helpful. People who stutter severely can reduce their stuttering frequency by an average of 85 percent while whispering. 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, particularly the larynx, speak much more relaxed and fluently when they whisper.
Founded in 2019, Whispp’s latest investment round follows a 2022 pre-seed round led by Libertatis Ergo Holding B.V., an independent, wholly-owned subsidiary of Leiden University. The founders will use the fresh capital to launch its assistive voice technology and its first paid and subscription-based calling app. In addition, the LUMO Labs investment will be used to perfect the AI technology and products on the way to expanding into European and U.S. markets by creating partnerships with industry leaders.
“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,” said Whispp Founder and CEO Joris Castermans. “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.
“It is always special to meet a founder who has turned their own struggles and obstacles into innovative and groundbreaking solutions for others,” said Sven Bakkes, Founding Partner at LUMO Labs. “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 Founding 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,” Lürling said.
“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,” he added.
Portfolio profile Whispp